Boss Neil Cooper suggested Inverurie Locos haven’t given up on the Highland League title after his high-flying side despatched Nairn County at Harlaw Park.
In a comfortable afternoon for the Railwaymen, they scored their 31st goal in six matches and, save for 10 minutes after half-time, were unthreatened by the Wee County.
The final scoreline was 4-1, with two goals from Andy Hunter, and one apiece from Neil Gauld and Stuart Duff, on a day where close to 1,000 spectators packed the ground for a community day.
Cooper said: “Nothing’s straightforward in football. You’re never guaranteed a win, you’re only guaranteed to start with 11 each.
“We knew it would be a hard game against Nairn, because it was a hard game up there.
“You can see fitness-wise, they’re a nice, strong team as well, and there wasn’t much between us at the start of the game.”
In a first-half where Locos keeper Andy Reid didn’t make a save, the Inverurie men took a 12th minute lead through Duff, who slotted past Ryan MacLeod after a one-two with Gauld.
After 27 minutes it was 2-0, the referee awarding a penalty after Joe McCabe’s point-blank cross hit Callum MacLean’s arm.
Gauld sent MacLeod right and the ball into the left bottom corner.
Four minutes later it was three, Hunter curling a 20-yard free-kick into the top left corner.
A win looked academic, but 10 minutes after the restart, Max Ewen was allowed to ghost in at the back post to score past Reid.
Cooper said: “We were saying at half-time: ‘Look, you’ve still got to make sure we go out and start the second half well.’
“But we were a bit sloppy with the goal we gave away and you’re thinking if they get the next one and it’s 3-2, it’s game back on again.
“We had some really good moves, and some good goalkeeping and defending denied us that goal earlier.
“The fourth goal was great when it came – Neil Gauld with a great reverse pass and Andy Hunter does what he does best, beats defenders, draws the goalie and goes past him as well.”
Hunter’s goal to make it 4-1 and seal the victory was as good as Cooper described it and means veteran Gauld and Hunter have now scored more than 50 goals between them this term.
Locos look dangerous every time they attack at the moment and could have scored several more, with Jordan Leyden, another stand-out, denied by good goalkeeping more than once.
Cooper said: “Jordan was great again today. He’s very educated in terms of passing through teams and beating players. His delivery is very good as well.
“I’ve got a lot of boys who can score goals and give ammunition as well.
“And the boys at the back defended really well, but got a bit sloppy for their goal.”
Locos are now second in the Highland League table, three points behind Cove Rangers, who have four games in hand. And Cooper hinted – with a twinkle in his eye – he’s daring to dream about finishing better than runners-up.
He said: “I said to the guys there – Fraserburgh play Cove tomorrow, so you never know what could happen there.
“If the result goes our way there and we can take care of the game again (Rothes visit Harlaw on Wednesday), obviously things get a bit closer at the top.
“We’ll keep winning our games and hopefully other things go our way.”