0 - 4
0 - 4
HL Cup (1st Round)
Jordan Macrea (14)
Dylan Makenzie (22)
Andrew Hardwick (45) Own Goal
Jordan Macrae (78)
Gordon C McNab
Steven Anderson for Andrew Hardwick (59)
Marc MacGregor for Gordon C McNab (59)
Brandon Sinclair for Craig Gunn (78)
Max Ewan for Dylan Mackenzie (75)
Danny Highet for Jordan Macrae (88)
Michael Steven (19)
Sam Mackay (42)
Jack Halliday (63)
Ben Dempster (Referee)
Academy went into this Breedon Highland League Cup tie on the back of two wins on the spin after drawing with Nairn just before Christmas. But the feel-good factor in the Scorries camp was well and truly punctured by the visitors who progressed with a good deal to spare in Saturday’s preliminary round match.
Nairn may have lost out on the possession stakes but they packed a punch with their pacy counter-attacks while their backline afforded their hosts precious few openings.
After surviving a couple of early scares, Jordan MacRae – one of the Highland League’s hottest young properties – fired Nairn in front and while Dylan MacKenzie’s second was not terminal to Academy hopes, Andy Hardwick’s headed own goal in the last action of the first half was.
Tom McKenna’s men showed more urgency after the break but continued to struggle to breach a well-marshalled back-line. MacRae’s late second wrapped up the victory as well as clinching his man-of-the-match award.
For the second home game in a row, the match was marred by a high-velocity, swirling wind, which contributed to a high quota of passes and crosses going astray.
Academy can wonder whether the match may have played out differently had they managed to make the most of a couple of early chances.
On four minutes Danny Mackay could not get enough purchase on a downward header that Dylan Maclean was slow to get down to. The keeper was much sharper in preventing Gordon McNab converting Craig Gunn’s cutback.
On 12 minutes, some home fans rose to acclaim the opener only to realise that Sam Mackay’s near-post connection from McNab’s set-up had found the outside of the side net.
A minute later, Academy survived a penalty shout when Danny Mackay grappled with Jack Maclean.
The visitors took the lead after a swift counter in which Kenny Mackenzie set Jack Mclean free down the inside left channel. The latter’s shot was parried by Sean McCarthy but the ball fell perfectly for MacRae to side-foot home.
A minute later, the home defence was caught out again with MacKenzie racing through but seeing his tame effort comfortably gathered by McCarthy.
The hectic action continued with Gunn being denied by keeper Maclean before County doubled their lead. Ryan Macdonald’s slide-rule pass allowed MacKenzie to get the run on Hardwick and home in on goal before guiding the ball wide of McCarthy to lodge just inside the far post.
MacRae and MacKenzie continued to pose problems and on 27 minutes the latter was inches away from converting the former’s inch-perfect cross.
The match then fell into something of a stalemate be-fore Nairn grabbed their third just before the interval. MacRae again featured as he rose to meet Adam Porritt’s outswinging cross from wide on the left. MacRae was beaten in the air by Hardwick but the centre half ’s mistimed header flew high over McCarthy to go in off the far post.
Academy started the second half with a vigour and purpose that was previously absent, with the introduction of frontmen Steven Anderson and Mark Macgregor giving more teeth to their attack.
Dylan Maclean was called on to deal with a Gary Manson 30-yard blast while a Macgregor shot picked up a deflection off a defender that saw it spiral a foot past the left upright. Macgregor on 68 minute teed up Sam Mackay just outside the box but it whizzed just wide.
Nairn added to their lead when Porritt worked his way along the right byeline with his layback helped on by Kenny McKenzie into the path of the unmarked MacRae who tapped in from close range.
MacRae was denied his hat-trick when his stinging long-ranger veered just over.
In the final minute, the hosts went desperately close to a consolation when Macgregor’s looping header from Richard Macadie’s cross came back off the underside of the bar and keeper Maclean blocked Anderson’s follow-up.
Match report written by Caithness Courier - Wed, Jan 31, 2018.
|Sean McCarthy (GK)||24||18||-||123||-|
|Gordon C McNab||29||15||4||15||4|
|Brandon Sinclair (sub)||18||7||-||14||-|
|Marc MacGregor (sub)||23||17||5||89||24|
|Steven Anderson (sub)||25||21||5||135||58|