It was another busy afternoon throughout the league with the title race still continuing and a cup final decided, we now bring you the reports from today's matches.
Formartine 1 Nairn 3
Reporter: Steven Rattray
Formartine were on the front foot from the off with pinning Nairn back on the edge of their box throughout the first ten minutes. They could have taken the lead on the sixth minute when a David Donald cross spun off the shin of Martin Macdonald, bounced across the face of Michael Maccallum but bounced out off the inside of the far post and was cleared.
On the tenth minute a foul by Michael Morrison on Michael Ewen right on the edge of the box gave Daniel Park the chance to let fly with a set piece. But Michael Maccallum leapt to his left to make a great diving save, turning the ball away for a corner.
Nairn hadn’t threatened in the first quarter of an hour but they were to take the lead with a well executed set piece. Daniel Park gave away the foul on the right touchline 40 yards from goal. Conor Gethins delivered the ball across the six yard box where it was met by Martin Macdonald and he rose to guide a perfect header into the corner of the net.
The next quarter of an hour saw both Craig McKeown and Mark Smith head wide of the left hand post but the there was little of note until the 34th minute when Daniel Park skidded the ball across to Calum Bagshaw who, six yards out, twisted, turned and then fired a shot in that was tipped over the bar by Michael Maccallum. Then a corner was headed goalwards bny Craig McKeown but Daniel Park’s attempts to flick it over the line only saw him divert it over the bar.
In the 39th minute Sean Webb was penalised for manhandling Daniel Park as he backed into the defender. The award was one foot outside the box in a central position and Craig McKeown came forward to hammer a low shot right into the middle of the goal, through the Nairn keeper.
Half Time: Formartine United 1 Nairn County 1
Two minutes into the second half the dynamic of the game changed once more when Nairn took the lead for a second time. Conor Gethins was alive to the opportunity to nip onto the ball, skip round Andy Shearer and then roll the ball into the empty net from four yards.
Gethins very nearly made it 3-1 on the 52nd minute as Nairn pieced together a classy counter attack. Robbie Duncanson robbed Daniel Park inside his own box and advanced down the left before playing it on to Adam Naismith. He passed it into the corner of the six yard box to Conor Gethins who turned Stuart Smith before opting to cut the ball back in at the near post but Andy Shearer’s feet kept the home team in the game.
There was no denying the striker on the 59th minute as he scored a goal fit to grace any stage. A throw in on the right saw Conor Gethins take a touch, turn and then lift the ball from virtually on the touchline, 22 yards out, high over the stranded Andy Shearer who could do nothing to stop the ball dropping under the crossbar.
You got the feeling it wouldn’t be Formartine’s day when Mike Ewen blazed over the bar from six yards as the home team were able to counter as for the first time in the match Nairn committed four players into the final third.
Stuart Soane, Paul Napier and Kevin Webster replaced Tommy Wilson, David Donald and Hamish Munro as the news of Cove being ahead at Rothes meant that only a win would prevent a final day showdown.
Chances were few and far between though. Mark Smith had a header from a Napier cross that flew straight at Michael Maccallum and the keeper was equally well placed to collect a Stuart Soane header from a Kevin Webster corner.
Nairn were compact and with the Formartine midfield pushing high the defence were left to lump long hopeful balls into a mass of bodies with Nairn winning either the second (if not the first) ball time after time to the vocal frustration of the home crowd.
Mark Smith fired over from 25 yards then headed a long diagonal ball from Paul Napier just wide of the left hand post but in truth there was never any indication that a comeback was possible and so all roads will lead to Pitmedden next weekend for the title showdown with Cove Rangers
Full Time: Formartine United 1 Nairn County 3
Rothes 0 Cove Rangers 2
Reporter: Craig Brian
The game between Rothes and title contenders Cove got under way and Rothes started the better side as they created a few nice looking chances in the opening twenty minutes or so.
Could the goal drought finally come to an end? Coves defence looked poor early on and the Speysiders looked to take advantage of the slow start from the visitors back line. Would they manage to be successful
The first half slowly ticked away and no proper juicy chances were created in the first forty five minutes. If any chances were going to come around it looked like it would go in the home sides favour.
The first half came to a close and both teams marched down the tunnel whilst Greame Roy spoke to Thomas Shaw about his decisions in the first half.
The second half started in terrific style from coves point of view. As just three minutes into the second period a goal for the visitors came around. It was a goal on the forty eighth minute from Jamie Lennox. He received the ball from midfield whilst he stood at approximately ten yards. He drilled the ball across the face of the goal, and it bobbled into Fyfe's bottom right corner. The goal going slightly against the run of play after Rothes' first half performance.
Just two minutes after the goal from Lennox, Cove fired in another crucial goal in their race for the Highland League title. It was a cross from the left wing towards the head of Martin Johnston. He meets the ball and hammers it into the gaping net from six yards whilst Rhys Fyfe sprints out to try and collect the ball, he fails to do so, and the ball finds the back of the net for the second time in five minutes.
This put an end too the creative play from Rothes and Cove looked comfortable in the last few minutes of the tussle between the teams. The game finished two nil to the visitors, and Rothes' final home game of the season ended in defeat.
Turriff United 1 Clachnacuddin 2
Clachnacuddin claimed a fine away win at Turriff. The hosts spurned an excellent early chance to take the lead in the game. They were awarded a penalty, however the clash of the Campbells saw Clach keeper John come out on top against United striker Paul, as the vastly experienced stopper guessed correctly. The visitors opened the scoring with ten minutes of the first-half remaining.
Scott Graham headed the ball off the bar, and it came back down for Neil MacDonald to fire the ball home past deputising Turriff keeper William Gatt. However, the home side were level just seven minutes after the restart. Stephen Gauld drove forward with the ball at his feet, before rolling it across the face of goal for Donald Fraser to convert from close range.
Midway through the second-half though, Clach regained their lead, albeit under bizarre circumstances. Blair Lawrie’s free-kick, which was intended as a cross, took a deceiving bend which saw it drop into Gatt’s net at the far post. Clach manager Ian Polworth was ordered from the dug-out late on, but Clach held on to grab the points.
Buckie Thistle 0 Forres Mechanics 3
Forres opened the scoring in the fifth minute, as youngster Ben Stewart was caught out in trying to guide the ball back to his goalkeeper Kevin Main, and Ross Archibald capitalised on the indecision and set up the on-form Lee Fraser for an easy finish.
The visitors remained threatening, and were it not for Bob Duncan’s clearance off the line from a powerful Kyle Scott effort the Jags would have found themselves two goals down.
Amidst their dominance it was no surprise when the Can-Cans doubled their lead on 36 minutes. Fraser turned provider to prod the ball through to Archibald, and he waited for Main to commit to going down for the ball before firing past the keeper.
Buckie’s best chance of the game came when a long Main kick out went all the way through to Lewis MacKinnon who fired his effort wide when clear through on goal with Forres stopper Stuart Knight.
However, the points were wrapped up by the visitors just after the hour mark. Fraser got the better of the Buckie defence before firing at goal, and after Main saved his effort it fell to Kevin Duguid who tucked it away.