Card Happy Craig ruins the day.
Inverness went down to a Craig Thomson decision to award a penalty after Paul McMullan burrowed his way into the box and through a blockade of legs and bodies. He made the referee make the decision and he pointed rather hastily to the spot. McMullan took the kick himself and scored with ease as Mark Ridgers went the opposite way from the ball.
A large away contingent made for a healthy crowd for the opening game of the season as Inverness took to the park minus the injured captain Gary Warren, Ross Draper handed the armband. Quality defender Collin Seedorf missed out through injury. John Baird and George Oakley were the pairing trusted to get the goals.
Dundee United were without the suspended Scott McDonald and Mathew Smith which meant that Paul McMullan continued to spearhead their attack.
It was with much trepidation that many Caley Jags fans ventured forth after last seasons relegation and changes to personnel, the Betfred Cup games offering little reassurance to the home fans. However, they turned up to see how we would fare against hot tips Dundee United.
Early exchanges showed that we were willing to take the game to United and we carved out a few opportunities to create chances, but there were no takers for the trickery of Ricardo Calder or the class and prompting of Iain Vigurs.
We went behind on thirteen minutes when McMullan lunged into the legs blocking his route to goal and Thomson did not hesitate to offer the penalty to United. A bit harsh on the defenders who were already on the ground but McMullan made the most of it and converted thereafter.
Calder was causing havoc down our left flank, skinning the defenders with ease, but the final ball evading all but the keeper and his defenders in the visitors box. Plenty of long diagonal balls finding Calder, alas, he was unable to make the most of them.
Mark Ridgers did pull off one brilliant save early on when United threatened inside the box, the keeper able to parry the ball to safety when a goal looked the likeliest outcome.
For all our territorial superiority, we never managed to create the clear chances that United were able to, and Ross Draper took it upon himself to burst into the box along the byeline. Unfortunately his grounding looked a bit suspect, and when Tam Scobbie squared up to Draper, the pair found themselves in the refs wee black book.
We reached the break just one goal down, but not too dispirited given our bright opening to the game.
Half Time 0-1
The lack of a goal threat was worrying and that theme continued after the interval with us having the possession, but United having the better chances. They should have wrapped up the points late in the game after a bit of slackness at the back. The game seemed to pause, or go into slow motion and it ended with Sam Stanton curling a shot over the vacant net, the defence not covering themselves in glory at that point.
We put plenty of effort into this one, but nobody was willing to take the bull by the horns as the game became littered with shameful play acting and general thuggery, mostly on the part of the visitors who killed the flow of the game any way they deemed necessary. However they seemed to have a decent alibi in Craig Thomson who allowed them to get away with most of the attempts to disrupt the beautiful game. He did however almost wear out his yellow card, nine bookings in total
Full Time 0-1
Despite this loss, we can take heart from the overall performance against the Champions elect. It took a disputed penalty to win the game. The biggest disappointment from Robbo's point of view will be the lack of clear opportunities we created. Lewis in goal never really had to break sweat other than the amount of crosses or corners he had to gather out of the air untroubled.
Ricardo Calder looked a big threat wide on the left. He was literally dealt a huge blow that went unpunished from the shoddy Craig Thomson, having to leave the game after ten minutes of the second half. Iain Vigurs looked to be a class above anyone else and was my MotM, especially in the first half and he did break sweat with one track back and crucial intervention. Mark Ridgers pulled off one tremendous save, although some of the pass backs put him under pressure and the clearances were a bit iffy. The defence were missing Warren and Seedorf and that's an area Robbo will be keeping a close eye on. Another area worth watching is up front. Where are the goals going to come from?
So, not too disheartened, but still a familiar feel about the defeat. We all knew it would take a bit of time for everyone to find their feet, so patience will be a virtue this season.
Off to Dunfermline next week in matchday two.