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Balloan U18 v Nairn County U18

12.30pm 19 November 2023

Scottish Highland League, Under 18 North
Balloan U18 7 Nairn County U18 0 (att 31)

This was the first time I'd seen a game in one of the Highland League's youth team divisions. It's not a fixture I'd make a special journey for, but having stayed overnight in Inverness it was a good opportunity to tick off another ground.

There are two adjacent artificial pitches at Inverness Royal Academy. Neither is home to senior football on a regular basis, although they're often used by North Caledonian League Inverness Athletic when their grass pitch is unplayable.

Another attraction was that home side, Balloan, don't currently have an open-age adult team. Their under 18s, who compete as Balloan Thistle, are in effect the nearest thing the club has to a first team.

Maybe they will take a plunge into a senior league, as their under 18s are currently dominating this level of football. This was their eleventh win from 11 games, and was achieved with all the ease the score suggests.

It took 12 minutes before they went in front, and almost immediately they scored a second. Nairn's youngsters responded well, but a third goal just before half time killed the contest. Four second half goals completed a resounding win.

The action was on 'pitch two' at Inverness Royal Academy. Neither pitch has any designated spectator area, but there were no restrictions on standing inside the high perimeter fence.