Nairn County followed up their North of Scotland Cup triumph with a dramatic 2-1 victory against Forres Mechanics at Station Park thanks to a last-gasp penalty winner.
Andrew MacLeod slotted away the decisive spot-kick in the 97th minute as the Wee County maintained their fine unbeaten run.
Nairn manager Steven Mackay said: “We feared all the effort that went into last Sunday’s game, the physical effort and all the emotion that comes with that type of win, meant we feared we would get a flat performance.
“You could see it in the first 10-15 minutes we were off the pace. We got our noses in front, 1-0 up at half time, which we probably didn’t deserve to be to be fair.
“In the second half we made some chances and brought on some fresh legs – even then we weren’t as clinical as we have been previously.
“They get the equaliser, again probably deserved. It was one of those games you felt might just end in a draw but we brought Sammy (Gordon) on and decided to just go for it. We managed to nick something at the end, so I’m delighted.”
Late drama at Nairn v Forres
Nairn made the breakthrough in the 17th minute when Angus Dey crossed and George Robesten forced the ball home from inside the six-yard box.
Forres tried to hit back immediately and Ethan Cairns forced a one-handed save from Nairn goalkeeper Dylan MacLean from a Gregor MacDonald shot which just cleared the crossbar as the visitors pushed.
Nairn almost doubled their lead in the 75th minute but Sam Nixon was in the right place to head a Calum Mackay effort off the goal-line.
With just six minutes left on the clock the Can-Cans equalised. Mark McLauchlan sent a ball into the danger area and Craig Mackenzie reacted first to send a spectacular overhead kick into the net.
— ForresMechanics F.C. (@TheCansOfficial) November 18, 2023
In a dramatic finish to the match Nairn were awarded a penalty deep into stoppage time which MacLeod converted after McLauchlan was deemed to have raised his foot too high while clearing the ball from Nairn sub Calum Mackay.
Forres boss Steven MacDonald said: “It is incredibly hard to take. It (the penalty) was a remarkable decision.
“There is a difference between a high foot and clearing the ball. On your goal-line you have to clear the ball.
“We deserved something out of it. I’m disappointed we never pushed on after we scored – we should have being going for the win.
“We sat back and gave them too much time. It’s cruel when you’ve put so much into it.”
Clachnacuddin 4-4 Strathspey Thistle
Neither side was happy with the outcome as Clachnacuddin fought back to draw 4-4 with Strathspey Thistle at Grant Street Park.
The Grantown Jags led 3-0 and 4-3 before being pegged back and they remain bottom of the table, with the Lilywhites one point and one place better off.
Clach player-manager Conor Gethins said: “Our three half-time subs Zach MacPhee, Shaun Sutherland and Fergus Adams made a huge difference.
“Going in at half-time I thought we were done, but when I took a wee step back to compose myself Martin Callum, Robbie Duncanson and Blair Lawrie really geed them up.
“The early goal in the second half really helped us and when we got the second goal I knew we were coming back.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t win it in the end despite being 3-0 down, but I’m more disappointed with how poor we were.”
Strathspey assistant manager Michael Rae added: “We played very well in the first half, unfortunately our Achilles heel of defending set-plays has cost us again.
“When you’re 3-0 up at half-time it feels like a missed opportunity. We asked the boys not to sit back because we felt we needed the fourth goal to kill it off because we knew if Clach got one their confidence would be up.”
Liam Shewan gave Strathspey the lead from an Allan Kerr knockdown before Daniel Whitehorn’s finish and a Ross Logan header made it 3-0 to the visitors at the break.
Fergus Adams’ header from a corner reduced Clach’s arrears before a scramble and an own goal at another corner made it 3-2 after an hour.
Thistle then had Shewan sent off by referee Billy Baxter, with the attacker receiving a second booking for a challenge on Keith Mason.
Connor Bunce – who has signed a contract extension until the summer of 2026 – equalised in the 81st minute from Lewis Mackenzie’s cross.
Strathspey regained the lead instantly through Jack Davison’s curling shot, only for Bunce to salvage a point for Clach with a free-kick in the dying embers.