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Highland League Cup: Nairn County, Turriff United and Forres Mechanics progress to quarter-finals

Nairn County forward Ciaran Young, right
Nairn County forward Ciaran Young, right. Image: Brian Smith.

Nairn County will face Brechin City in the quarter-finals of the GPH Merchants Builders Highland League Cup after striking early to defeat Lossiemouth.

The Wee County were 2-0 up inside 10 minutes thanks to a double from in-form striker Ciaran Young.

With seven players unavailable for the cup tie, Nairn manager Steven Mackay had to call on reinforcements.

He said: “We were a bit threadbare but we have a big squad and we needed that.

“We brought some young boys in. Grant Hogg and Angus Dey in the middle of the park were brilliant. Everyone was excellent.

“We asked them to do a job and play in a particular way, which I felt would suit us and every player executed it – I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

“I was really pleased with the overall performance.”

Nairn took the lead in the fourth minute when Andrew Greig beat his marker on the edge of the 18-yard box and his cut back was swept into the net by Young.

Striker Young found the target again five minutes later after Conor Gethins picked him out and the striker skipped past his marker to score.

It was one-way traffic and Logan Ross was forced to pull off a couple of fantastic saves to keep out efforts from Hogg and Nairn skipper Fraser Dingwall.

Lossie made a determined start of the second half by but it was Nairn who came close to adding to their lead in the 48th minute when Greig cut in from the left and fired a shot off the base of the far post.

It was much better from Lossie in the second half and substitute Ross Elliot caused panic in the Nairn defence with a whipped in cross which deflected off Ross Tokely and goalkeeper Lewis Munro had to look smart to turn it behind for a corner.

The home side had a great chance to pull one back in the 70th minute when Ross Archibald picked out Adam MacLeod but he was denied by a great save from Munro.

But it was all over as a contest eight minutes later when Nairn sub Liam Shewan stole in at the back post to knock in Sam Gordon’s deep cross.

It just wasn’t Lossie’s day and Archibald was denied by a point blank save from Munro in the final minute.

Lossie manager Joe Russell said: “We lost two cheap goals early on, same as last week. We can’t afford to do that.

“It gave them a foothold in the game and we ended up chasing it. We were so bad in the first half it was unbelievable.

“We picked ourselves up in the second half but by then the game was gone.”

Turriff United 4-0 Clachnacuddin

Turriff United sent their supporters home ecstatic as they stormed into the quarter-finals of the GPH Builders Merchants Highland League Cup.

The four-goal hero was centre-forward Ewan Clark, assuming the lead role vacated by Aaron Reid – injured on Aberdeen FC duty – and bringing much delight to his manager Dean Donaldson.

Turriff United manager Dean Donaldson. Image: Kenny Elrick/ DC Thomson.

He said: “Ewan did well in taking his goals, but for me the big thing was we changed formation as it’s not been good enough the past few weeks.

“We worked on a few things in training and the results were there for all to see.

“We are not the finished article from a defensive point of view. But the important thing was to get a clean sheet and the boys worked so hard for it.

“It was game management for us in the latter stages because, even with 10 men after the loss of Gary Warren, I felt Clach played better than us.”

Clark slotted home the opener after four minutes when an attempted pass back to Martin MacKinnon came up short and the Turriff attacker pounced.

Clach right-back Donald Morrison then upended Callan Gray in the box and Clark hammered home the spot-kick with 21 minutes on the clock.

The hat-trick was completed in the 28th minute when Clark capitalised on more  dithering in the Clach defence to slot home into an empty net.

Clark’s fourth goal was tinged with controversy, though.

Former Caley Thistle captain Gary Warren saw red as he was adjudged to have tripped Clark for a last man challenge when the attacker looked offside. Clark saw his penalty saved by Clach substitute goalkeeper Daniel Rae, but followed up to net the rebound.

Clach boss Jordan MacDonald said: “We had plenty chances in the game, but it’s our mistakes which have cost us.

“Turriff took all their chances while we took none of ours. They were ruthless, capitalising on our schoolboy errors.

“At half time, I still felt we could come back as we had been good on the ball.

“I don’t know why Gary Warren was red carded as their striker was offside and the two players were side by side.”

Keith 0-2 Forres Mechanics

Forres Mechanics earned a trip to Banks o’ Dee in the quarter-finals of the GPH Builders Merchants Highland League Cup following a 2-0 win against the competition’s record winners Keith at Kynoch Park.

After a goal-less first half, an unfortunate own goal and a penalty conversion did the trick for the Can Cans.

Forres manager Steven MacDonald. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson.

Forres manager Steven MacDonald said: “We were on top in the first half but didn’t show enough quality.

“I was delighted with the second half performance, and Keith didn’t really threaten us to be honest.

“Although we have lost recently against two of the top teams, we are now playing more consistently.

“I felt that Calum Johnston was the best player on the park. He was exceptional and he is very underrated.

“Keeping the clean sheet was a big thing for us as well and we are delighted to be in the next round.”

An uneventful first half produced little for the spectators to enthuse over with neither goalkeeper being called upon to make any real saves.

Keith started the second half brightly and Tom Andrews wasn’t far away with a header off a Connor Killoh cross.

However, with 56 minutes played the deadlock was broken when Connor Grant headed a cross into his own net.

Keith goalkeeper Craig Reid, who had extended his contract prior to kick off, brilliantly tipped over Ryan Mcleman’s net bound effort in the 70th minute.

It was game over four minutes later when star man Johnston went on a surging run into the penalty area, only to be brought down by Dem Yunus.

Ben Barron stepped up to confidently slot home the spot-kick to seal his team’s path into the next round.

Keith manager Craig Ewan said: “It’s back to the drawing board to be honest.

“Although we lost at Locos the previous week, I thought we played well, but today in the first half we were average.

“Then, apart from the first five minutes of the second half, Forres were on top and deserved their win.

“Once the first goal went in there was only one team going to win.”