Derby Draw Disappoints Inverness
The Highland derby ended in a disappointing draw as County came from behind to snatch a point with a late Alex Schalk strike. Greg Tansey's deflected strike just after the break gave Inverness an unexpected lead given the poor first forty-five, but they failed to capitalise on some early second half pressure, Billy Mckay hitting the crossbar as he tried to turn a cross home. County were menacing on the counter and Craig Curran missed a sitter when he headed wide when he should have hit the target. Overall, a draw was just about right although either side could have sneaked all three points.
Inverness were dealt a blow before kick-off with the news that pacey winger Jake Mulraney was not fit. The converse for Ross County, with big stopper Andrew Davies given the go ahead to play. Richie Foran seemed to go for a formation that was designed not to concede rather than go for glory. Iain Vigurs started with Ross Draper and Carl Tremarco back after suspension. County had Aaron McCarey between the sticks.
The game kicked off on a heavy pitch after Friday's constant rain and it was a cagey opening. Vigurs was looking more involved than he has been of late and he curled a ball that skiffed the top of the bar with the keeper beaten. Good effort with his right foot from twenty yards but he was injured soon after and replaced before the break by Liam Polworth.
County were looking the more likely as our lack of width allowed them access to the wide areas and they flashed a couple of dangerous low crosses into the box that just eluded the strikers when a touch would have given them the lead.
We were devoid of attacking intent in the first half and getting to the break all square was a bonus.
Half Time 0-0
However, we exploded out of the blocks after the interval and Greg Tansey smacked a shot low towards the keepers left after indecision in the visitors ranks. The ball took a wicked deflection off County defender Andrew Davies and wrong footed Aaron McCarey in goal to find the opposite corner.
We took the game by the scruff of the neck and minutes later Tansey brought out a good save from McCarey from a free kick wide on the Inverness left, the keeper tipping the ball over the bar. Ross Draper drifted a header back towards goal but it went narrowly over the bar from a deep cross as we tried to extend our lead. Carl Tremarco might feel he should have done better as well when presented with an opportunity to score. Costly misses as it turned out.
County broke forward and Curran missed a golden opportunity to level matters. A deep cross found him at the back post all on his own but he contrived to miss the target from just six yards.
It was Inverness that were still turning the screw though and Tansey hit a thunderous shot from twenty-five yards that McCarey did well to parry. A foot either side and he would have had no chance of touching it. From the resultant clearance, Inverness burst forward again Henri Anier setting up Billy Mckay but under pressure his close range strike cannoned off the bar, the rebound just evading Carl Tremarco's head before being cleared by a grateful County defence.
Fon Williams was eventually called into serious action in the 81'st minute as he tipped over a Milan Lalkovic shot from distance. The warning was not heeded and when we failed to deal properly with a County attack, from the resultant throw in Alex Schalk latched onto the ball in the box, turned and fired high behind Fon Williams to make this feel like a defeat.
Still time for substitute Dean Ebbe to try his luck from the edge of the box but his shot leaked to the left of goal and that was about it, game over and a better point for County than it was for Inverness.
Full Time 1-1
So, the Highlands belong to Ross County for this season, but there will be one more derby to come and neither club are clear of the threat of relegation yet. It could be a season defining game for either club,
What did we learn from that game? County are no better than us, but our poor start to the campaign and two derby losses see us in this predicament and not them. Richie Foran didn't cover himself in glory with his team selection and strategy. No width, no pace, no clean sheet and not killing the game off when we were on top all cost us dear. Why did he not bring on the substitutes earlier? We were crying out for fresh legs to further stretch the overworked visitors defence ten minutes before they equalised. Everyone could see that, County shuffled theirs effectively; we paid the price.
Not a great crowd for the most crucial Highland derby ever, but those that were there gave the side plenty of encouragement.
Overall, a draw was the most deserving of results. It's not the result we had hoped for but it's not a disaster. We climbed above Accies on goal difference and gained a point on Motherwell. Next game is at home to Kilmarnock and we really need to start turning draws into victories.
PerfICT posted his Inverness player ratings on CTO. Can't argue with these really and like most, picked out Greg Tansey as MotM.
Fon Williams: 6. Apart from a tip over the bar in the second half, I can't remember him having a save to make.
Raven: 8. Had Gardyne in his pocket for most of the game. Excellent.
Warren: 6. Not so exposed for pace in the 5 at the back formation, but was skinned by Gardyne a couple of times.
McCart: 7. Really starting to show his potential. One absolute crunching tackle in the first half was a joy watch.
Laing: 7. Solid all game.
Tremarco: 8. Another excellent game from our player of the season. Unlucky not to score in 2nd half.
Tansey: 9. Without doubt his best game of the season. Deserved his goal.
Draper: 8. Always plays well against County and didn't disappoint.
Vigurs: 7. Easily his best performance of the season. Excellent right foot shot that clipped the bar early on and good distribution.
Anier: 6. Better from him, but first touch let him down quite often.
Mckay: 7. Worked his socks off with fairly poor service. Really unlucky with the shot off the bar that would have killed the game.
Polworth: 6. Certainly not his best game, but picked out Tansey for the goal. Also wound Gardyne up, which always deserves credit!
Foran: 5. Clearly does not like playing with width up front. Did he miss a trick by not playing Cole and King, or was the formation right to nullify County's attack? Personally, I prefer the 4-2-3-1 formation, with pace out wide, but the players almost made the 3 centre halves formation work. His half time talk certainly did the trick.
Referee: 6. Did well to keep his cards in his pocket for most of the game. A couple of penalty appeals for County...think he got those right too.
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