Wick Academy travelled to Nairn on the back of a confidence boosting win against Inverness Clach only to come unstuck at Nairn.
The match was marred by some unbelievable decisions by the ref in charge of the match, which saw Caithness SFA listed Referee Willie Sinclair relinquish his duties as a stand in assistant midway through the first half.
Nairn started the match in determined fashion and scored under strange circumstances with a minute on the clock, the ball was lofted into the Wick box, Sinclair challenged a Nairn forward with both players missing the ball, which allowed the ball to run out for a bye kick. However as the Nairn players retreated and the Wick players were getting what they thought was their ball the referee astonished both teams when he awarded Nairn a penalty kick much to the annoyance of the Wick players and management team of Davie Dunn and Colin Cormack and even more so the Nairn players.
Quite rightly so Nairn defender Hpone wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth and placed the ball on the penalty spot before dispatching the ball beyond Wick Keeper Lee Sutherland into the bottom righthand corner of the net.
Nairn 1 v 0 Wick
Immediately after the restart Nairn went two in front under controversial circumstances when a mix up between the wick midfield gave possession away to Nairn, the ball was quickly dispatched over the Wick defence for Haines to run onto, however the raised flag of standside assistant Willie Sinclair for offside was waved away by the referee to allow Haines who was 4yds off-side to run through on goal to fire low inside Sutherland's righthand post.
Nairn 2 v 0 Wick
Four minutes later the game was turning into a nightmare for the Wick team, when they went three behind, with the referee once again having a hand in proceedings when he once again ignored Willie Sinclair's raised flag for Haines this time being 3yds offside allowing Haines to run through to rifle the ball beyond Sutherland from 12yds much to the annoyance of the referee's assistant Willie Sinclair and the Wick team.
Nairn 3 v 0 Wick
The Wick players gathered themselves after that shock start and pulled a goal back in 25mins when Christopher Taylor broke out of defence evading the tackles of the Nairn players on the way before unleashing a 35yd screamer high beyond McInnes in the Nairn goal.
Nairn 3 v 1 Wick.
A minute later Nairn went further in front, once again in controversial circumstances, when Nairn's attacking play caused panic in the Wick defence, as Wick's Richardson attempted clear the ball from danger he was impeeded by a Nairn attacker, however the referee waved away the strong claims from the Wick players for a foul on their player to allow MacIntosh a clear few of goal which he wasn't about to give up and fired the ball goalwards from 16yds which Sutherland got a hand too but couldn't prevent the ball from entering the net.
Nairn 4 v 1 Wick
This was the last straw for Caithness Referee Willie Sinclair who was clearly upset by the referee's decisions and decided to relinguish his assistant duties in protest and walked from the park to watch the rest of the match from the stands.
Back came Wick and they pulled another goal back when Martin Sinclair gathered the ball 18yds out on the left before cutting across the Nairn box before redirecting a right foot shot back across McInnes and inside the keepers righthand post.
Nairn 4 v 2 Wick
Wick could sense they had an opportunity to get back into the game further and went on the attack again, whenintense pressure forced Nairn into conceding a free-kick 20yds from goal, Kevin Swanson stepped up to fire a tremendous right foot shot towards McInnes's righthand corner of the net only for McInnes to react brillantly to save the ball from under his crossbar.
Nairn took further confidence from the goalkeepers heroics to stretch their lead even further 3mins from the end of the half when Nairn's MacIntosh was allowed a free header 6yds out before directing the ball beyond the despairing arms of Sutherland.
Nairn 5 v 2 Wick
Nairn kept pressing for the remaining minutes of the half before the referee blew for the end of the first half proceedings.
Half-time: Nairn 5 v 2 Wick
Any hopes of Wick getting back into the game were killed off 3mins after the restart when once again poor defending from the Wick defence at a corner allowed Scott Hendry to rise unchallenged to head past Sutherland from 8yds
Nairn 6 v 2 Wick
Wick kept plugging away and scored their third goal in 55mins when Gary Weir drove at the Nairn defence before unleashing a 30yd drive which broke of a Nairn defender to Scott Mackay Steven who drilled the ball low beyond McInnes from 12yds.
Nairn 6 v 3 Wick
Poor defending by Wick again proved to be their undoing in 80mins, when Christopher Taylor tried to play his way out of defence and into trouble when he was dispossessed by MacIntosh 18yds out, the young midfielder looked up before firing the ball low inside Sutherland's righthand post.
Nairn 7 v 3 Wick
And things went from bad to worse for Wick when Nairn increased their lead in 84mins, sloppy defending by the Wick players from a corner from the right allowed McWilliam to rise unchallenged to bullet a free header from 12yds over Sutherland and into the net.
Nairn 8 v 3 Wick
Both teams played out the remaining minutes which was a bad day at the office for both the Wick players and the referee.
Full-time: Nairn 8 v 3 Wick
At the end of the day sloppy defending and bad referee decisions cost Wick dearly, however the Wick players need to learn that they must play to the referee's whistle.
As for the referee, I'm reliably informed that his handling of the match is to be reported to the appropriate authority.
Manager Davie Dunn will be hoping that his youngsters will bounce back from this reverse when they entertain Nairn in their next league fixture at the Harmsworth Park.
(Refer to Youth Fixtures)
Nairn; McInnes, Hpone, Park, G.MacLeod, Hendry, Haines, P.MacLeod, MacIntosh, MacDonald, Robertson, McWilliam.
Subs: McKenna, Liddell, Morcanti, Murray, Clarke.
Wick; Sutherland, Richardson, S. Sinclair, Taylor, Green(G.Devita 85), Steven, Bain, Weir, M.Sinclair(Falconer 45), Swanson(J. MacLeod 75).
Subs not used: C.McKiddie.