Match Report - By Steven Mew
City’s long unbeaten home league record continued yesterday afternoon with a comfortable victory over Nairn County at the Carnegie Fuels Stadium at Glebe Park.
A goal in each half from talisman Grady McGrath was enough to see off the Wee County, however in a similar fashion to last week it was a game in which City could have sewn up long before the end following a host of missed chances.
Following a disappointing defeat in midweek to Hibernian B, Manager Andy Kirk made no fewer than 5 changes as Lenny Wilson, Ewan Murray, Fraser MacLeod and Ewan Loudon all came into the side whilst Lewis Martin made his return from injury. Skipper Euan Spark missed out, with Kevin McHattie taking the armband in his absence.
City dominated the opening exchanges both in terms of possession and chances. McHattie and MacLeod both had shots wide of the post whilst McGrath very nearly found the far corner of the net following a blistering counter attack.
Just after the quarter hour mark, MacLeod made a run down the right hand side of the box before picking out McGrath in the area, but his strike on the turn was well blocked by the Nairn defence.
City continued to lay siege on the visitors goal with MacLeod having a shot deflected wide by the experienced Ross Tokely, before the same player headed over from the resulting corner.
Despite the home sides’ dominance, Nairn could and should have opened the scoring on the half hour. A low cross from the right hand side found Ben Kelly just a few yards out but he somehow skewed wide when it looked easier to score.
That came as a warning to City who went on to open the scoring ten minutes before the break. MacLeod threaded a fine ball down the right flank for Scott who laid the ball on a plate for GRADY MCGRATH - the frontman had the easy task of tapping home from a couple of yards out.
It was a thoroughly deserved goal and Andy Kirks’ side continued in their search for another before the end of the half. Scott fired over the bar from 20 yards on his left foot and shortly after he provided an excellent cross for McGrath who headed over.
In first half stoppage time, both McGrath and Ferguson stung the hands of MacLean in the visitors goal.
City continued to have the upper hand at the start of the second period with Patrick testing MacLean from 20 yards whilst a surging run from Loudon also saw him denied by the Nairn stopper.
On 54 minutes, a cutback from McGrath was almost turned into his own net by Tokely and shortly after, Loudon took advantage of a slip on the byline but instead of playing the ball into the box, he opted to smash a shot which flashed across the face of goal. A minute later, Loudon came close again when he headed just inches wide of the post from Murray’s fine delivery.
Following a Nairn free kick which Tokely struck against the wall, City broke forward in numbers with Loudon playing the ball inside for Patrick who teed up McGrath on the edge of the box but his powerful strike was well blocked.
City were wondering what they had to do to score as another great opportunity came their way after 66 minutes. Loudon broke clear of the Nairn defence and although he was denied by a last-ditch tackle, the ball fell kindly for McGrath who cracked the underside of the crossbar and his effort from the rebound was gathered by MacLean.
Despite some nervy moments midway through the half, it was City that continued to threaten with Scott heading onto the roof of the net whilst Martin headed wide from Loudon’s corner.
At 1-0 there was always the risk of Nairn grabbing an equaliser against the run of play but there was a collective sigh of relief as GRADY MCGRATH sealed the win with a second goal five minutes from time. Ferguson found McGrath in the box with a searching pass and the City striker used defender Ross Tokely as a guide to curl a fine effort into the far corner to double the advantage.
The home side were still hungry for more and substitute Stuart Heenan was unlucky to see his strike palmed away by MacLean and as the game approached 90 minutes, McGrath nearly had his hat-trick as his low strike fizzed just wide of the far post.
Overall it was a thoroughly deserved win for City who will be left ruing the fact that it wasn’t more – however the victory and clean sheet made it a satisfying afternoon nonetheless. Next up is a trip to face Formartine United in the first round of the Highland League cup next Saturday.
Other Results - Breedon Highland League
Formartine United 1 Buckie Thistle 1
Forres Mechanics 2 Keith 1
Fraserburgh 3 Deveronvale 2
Inverurie Locos 2 Huntly 3
Lossiemouth 1 Brora Rangers 1
Rothes 3 Wick Academy 0
Strathspey Thistle 0 Banks O' Dee 6
Turriff United 4 Clachnacuddin 1