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Keith boss Craig Ewen praises players after Maroons end wait for victory with 3-1 win at Nairn County

Keith's Mathew Tough celebrates his goal.
Keith's Mathew Tough celebrates his goal.

Keith manager Craig Ewen was thrilled to end their losing run with a 3-1 Breedon Highland League victory against Nairn County.

The Maroons had lost six straight matches but prevailed at Station Park courtesy of Scott Gray’s brace and Matthew Tough’s strike.

Glenn Main was on target for the Wee County, while both sides finished with 10 men after home captain Adam Porritt and visiting midfielder Liam Strachan were sent off.

Ewen said: “In the Highland League there are no easy games and when you’re against the top six or seven for a club like Keith just now they are difficult fixtures.

“We’ve seen that in the scorelines where we’ve been well beaten. But we had to stick to our task and keep believing as a group and I’m delighted to get a great three points away from home.

“I said to the players before the game that I felt a win was coming for us.

“We’ve had a tough run of fixtures against some of the big clubs.

“But I felt a win was coming and we came to Nairn and tried to get the three points, we didn’t play for a point and played with three up front from the start.”

Scott Gray was on target for Keith against Nairn County. 

Strachan’s second booking was for diving and Ewen added: “I was disappointed with the sending off

“The first booking is a booking, but for the second Liam is adamant he’s been fouled and is in a bit of disbelief at being sent off.

“Nairn will probably say the same about Adam Porritt being sent off and maybe these decisions even out over a season.”

Conor Gethins was unable to continue his fine recent goalscoring form. 

After a lively opening in which both sides had chances Keith took the lead in the 26th minute with James Brownie’s cross from the left nodded home at the back post by Gray.

The visitors doubled their advantage 10 minutes later with Strachan’s pass into the box touched on by Kieran Mooney for Tough to finish into the bottom left corner from close range.

Mooney and Tough both passed up good opportunities in the second half before Nairn were reduced to 10.

Skipper Porritt fouled Rhys Thomas by the corner flag, for which he was booked, and then picked up a second yellow card for kicking the ball at Thomas.

In the 59th minute County pulled one back with Main scrambling the ball home from Conor Gethins’ corner.

However, Keith responded instantly with Gray planting a left-footed shot into the top left corner from just inside the area.

In the 62nd minute the Maroons were also reduced to 10 men with Strachan – who was booked for a trip on Angus Dey in the first half – receiving a second yellow card from referee Harry Bruce for diving.

Keith celebrate Scott Gray’s goal at Station Park as they ended their wait for a victory. 

Nairn kept plugging away in the closing stages as they looked to take something from the game, but Keith held firm.

County first-team coach Mark Greig said: “It’s a sore one, I thought Keith wanted it more. All over the park I think we struggled to get a grip of the game and were devoid of quality at times.

“The goals we lost were poor goals to lose and we’re really disappointed with that.

“I didn’t see Adam’s sending off, I asked the linesman what happened and he said there was the tackle and then kicking the ball at the player warranted the two yellows.

“It’s disappointing because the game seemed to fall apart. We scored and then they scored straightaway which was disappointing.”

It was also Greig’s last game as part of Ronnie Sharp’s coaching staff.

He added: “My partner has started a new job which means I can’t attend training so I’ve taken the decision to step down.

“I’m gutted to leave but family has to come first, I’ll still come and watch the team.

“I’ve been here five years with the Under-17s and U20s and the first-team for the last three years and I’ll miss it.”

Nairn County (3-1-4-2) – MacLean 6, Ednie 5, Fyffe 6, Porritt 5; Dey 5 (MacDonald 86); Gordon 7, Williamson 5 (MacKenzie 57), Young 5 (Mutch 57), McKenzie 6; Main 6, Gethins 6.

Subs not used – Grant, Lean, Hallam, Counsell.

Keith (4-3-3) – Shingler 7, Thomas 6, Abdulkarim 7, Robertson 7, Yeats 6; Brownie 7, Yunas 7, Strachan 5; Gray 8 (Hutcheon 66), Tough 7 (McKeown 90), Mooney 7 (Ironside 70).

Subs not used – Stewart, Irvine.

Referee – Harry Bruce 6.

Man of the match – Scott Gray.

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