Published: 16/12/2017 16:11 - Updated: 16/12/2017 17:10

Halkirk survive late Nairn comeback to reach semi final

 

Ian Mackay scored the opener in Halkirk's 5-2 win. Photo James Gunn
Ian Mackay scored the opener in Halkirk's 5-2 win. Photo James Gunn

 

North Caledonian Cup

Halkirk United 5 Nairn County U20's 2

Scorers - Halkirk: I Mackay (37) Gunn (39, 62) Falconer (88) M Mackay (90) Nairn: Macleod (71 pen) Young (79)

HALKIRK United survived a late scare after holding off a spirited fightback from Nairn County's youngsters to book their place in the semi final of the North Caledonian Cup.

The game was switched from frozen Morrison Park to the artificial surface at Naver where the visitors dominated the majority of the first half.

But Nairn were denied by goalkeeper Sean Milligan who pulled off a number of great saves to keep Halkirk level.

Against the run of play Halkirk scored twice in the space of two minutes to go into half time with a comfortable lead.

Ian Mackay broke the deadlock after 37 minutes where he latched on to a long ball from Ryan Forbes on the left wing before striking a powerful shot from the outside of his right foot from 18 yards which beat goalkeeper Fraser Wilkie.

Two minutes later Marc Gunn doubled the Anglers advantage when he was the first person to  find James Macintosh's cross into the six yard box to hammer into the back of the net.

Nairn County could have pulled one back before half time when they were awarded a penalty when Milligan was guilty of bringing down Sean McWilliams.

But the goalkeeper redeemed himself when he guessed correctly to block McWilliams penalty finding the bottom right hand corner.

Gunn looked to have ended the game as a contest when he put them 3-0 up just after the hour mark when he won the ball off Alan Davis 30 yards from goal.

He surged towards goal and thundered the ball into the bottom left hand corner.

However Nairn fought back and after Ryan MacBean hit the left hand post he was denied a shot at the rebound when he was fouled by Stewart Atkins who conceded a penalty.

Matthew Macleod made no mistake from 12 yards to make it 3-1 which gave Nairn a new lease of life and reduced the deficit to one with 10 minutes left.

Sam Campbell launched a perfectly weighted cross from the left wing which found Ciaran Young unchallenged in the box to score from close range to set up a tense finish.

But Halkirk ensured their place in the semi final when a route one punt from the goalkeeper was not dealt with by the Nairn defence and Andy Falconer pounced at the edge of the box to fire past substitute goalkeeper Aidan Stewart.

Halkirk rounded the game off in style as Murray Mackay made it five with a neat passage of one-two's with player manager Gordon Macdonald before finding the bottom right hand corner with a powerful shot from just inside the box.

Halkirk will now meet either Bunillidh or St Duthus in the semi final.

All other North Caledonian Cup games and North Caledonian League matches were postponed due to frozen pitches.

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