May 23 2015 07:36 PM | tm4tj in Previews 2014-15
Treble Party Poopers
Cup finaIists Inverness have an invite to the Champions party this Sunday as we take on
treble double winners Celtic at Parkhead. We might not be the most popular of guests having thwarted the Hoops in their bid for the treble.
It's been a fabulous season for Inverness with lots of firsts achieved this season. Qualification for the Europa league, Scottish Cup final, highest points tally in Premier League, Manager of the Year for Yogi and Young Player of the Year for Ryan Christie. There are many more trotted out on CTO, but these are massive, and just reward for everybody concerned with Inverness Caledonian Thistle from the tea lady to the Chairman, the Twitter Account to the Facebook page, the youths who paraded their trophy at the Dundee United game and to all the players who pulled on the shirt this season. I nearly forgot the most important ones, and that's the fans who have followed our team through thick and thin.
Yes, there were plenty of concerned punters when John Hughes took over as Caley Jags boss, but I'll tell you what, he has had worse seasons. Massive credit to Yogi and Russell Latapy for changing the way we played our football and winning over the fans. And it's wonderful to see our manager and our players get the recognition they deserve from their peers and the people who write about our national sport.
On to the task in hand and it's always a troublesome trip to Parkhead on the day the Celts are parading their trophies. The party atmosphere always inspires them to greater things and many a side have been routed on this day. The bonus for us is that while it would be nice to engage them competitively, It is neither here nor there what the result is on the day as we have bigger fish to fry the weekend after.
With that in mind, I would expect Hughes to change his side to remain competitive, but to protect his stars from any damage.
Team news this week is not worth the paper it's not written on. We all know that Richie Foran and Dean Brill are out, but that's the only thing we can guarantee. My best guess is that Yogi will alter the structure of his team to ensure that he can maximise his options next week.
Celtic, well they are out to celebrate and it matters not a jot who they put out against us, cos we are playing next week and you're not.
Apologies to anyone that is looking for some clarification on team selections, but next week is our time.
tm4tj prediction:- I reckon we will get pumped. Am I bothered. No, roll on the Scottish Cup Final.
May 17 2015 03:35 AM | Scotty in Reports 2014-15
Four Seasons In One Day
It might have been four seasons in one day, but what a season it's been for Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Inverness consolidated their third place with an ultimately convincing win over Dundee United who now have a fight on their hands to overtake St Johnstone for fourth position with only one game remaining.
It was a carnival atmosphere at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium with beach balls and sombrero's in abundance as the teams took to the field in bright, blustery and changeable conditions that would end in a wintery downpour, but by the end the fans were not to be disappointed as they waited to applaud their Euro heroes for the seasons efforts.
Yogi gave starts to Aaron Doran, James Vincent, Ryan Christie and Danny Devine who is building valueable game time ahead of the Scottish Cup final in a fortnight.
United were as expected with like him or loathe him big Turk Nadir Ciftci the main threat. There's no denying the lads talented, but he would have better days.
The game was a slow burner with both sides starting tentatively. Inverness seemed happy enough to afford the visitors the majority of early possession but there was no threat to either keeper in the early exchanges.
Despite plenty of effort from both sides the only offerings in the first half hour were a couple of headers from Eddie Ofere and long range shots from Aaron Doran and John Rankin.
That would change with a flurry of action before the break. Graeme Shinnie might have done better after getting clear on the left side, but as he opened his body and shot, he only succeeded in dragging his effort wide of the near post. Warren then picked up a booking just outside the box but shifty Ciftci fired well over the bar from an inviting position.
Doran missed an excellent chance when through on goal and Ciftci did the same at the other end. United began to press for a goal before the break but Ryan Esson continued his superb form to deny the Arabs with outstanding saves from Charlie Telfer and Rankin, who should have done better when clean through after the Caley Jags defence parted like the Aegean Sea, but Esson stood tall and the former Caley Thistle man struck his shot straight at the chest of Esson.
Half Time 0-0
Esson continued to thwart United just after the interval saving brilliantly from Ciftci when the striker looked favourite to score.
A couple of corners later and Fojut directed a low header wide of the upright and Warren did likewise at the other end of the park. Josh Meekings then found himself wide open after a deep cross from Christie but he could not control his shot from wide of the six yard box. He would do better soon after that.
Tansey swung a deep ball to Warren following a corner and he headed it back into the six yard box. After a bit of a stramash with Doran involved, Meekings stabbed the ball into the net with his studs for the opening goal. Cierznaks had fumbled the ball to Meekings who reacted quickest to knock the ball forward, but Muirhead on the line clawed it away with his hand. However the goal was given and a booking duly dished out. Meekings claiming for hand ball on the goal line. How could you Josh.
Telfer came close to an equaliser after a surging burst forward from the halfway line when he unleashed a terrific shot from twenty six yards that narrowly missed the postage stamp corner. Good effort and a warning to Inverness that there was still work to be done.
Watkins desire to get a goal saw him shoot past from a tight angle after out muscling the defender down the left flank. A better option would have been to cut the ball back to Vincent who had made a late run into the box that went unnoticed.
United never learnt from the previous deep corner and Tansey again found Warren lurking there. His knock down was almost smuggled into the net at the near post after another stramash but Meekings was denied this time.
It was not to be Ciftci's day as the Inverness defence left him unattended when United forced their way down the left. When the cross came in Ciftci was given the freedom of the box, and he picked his place to put the ball. Unfortunately for him, that place was a dozen rows behind Esson in the away end.
Nick Ross had an earlier effort saved as he shot tamely goalward, but he would make amends in the eightieth minute. Again it was another stramash, but we don't care. Shinnie's cross went deep, Watkins, Vincent and Doran got involved and when the ball was laid back to Ross, he drilled it low into the centre of the goal.
That was the straw that broke the camels back as the Arab's heads went down.
The voices could now be heard in full swing as the beach balls were getting the better of the stewards who spent the afternoon stabbing as many balls as they could, booooo, but much to the amusement of the North Stand.
Three minutes later and Gary Warren powered in a header from a corner to cap off a convincing and memorable win for Inverness over a team that would normally have given us a hard time of it. Warren took out the keeper and two defenders as he scored and that resulted in Cierzniak being removed for repair.
The game ended as the heavens opened and the temperature plumetted, but it was party time on and off the pitch and what a way to round off your home campaign.
Full Time 3-0
Tremendous win for Inverness ahead of the cup final, but for United they will have to regroup as fourth place is now out of their hands, but it's a must win derby for them next week while we travel to Parkhead to Celtic's Champions party.
Inverness were best served by all who played today. If I had to be ruthless and choose somebody then Ryan Esson was again fantastic with three outstanding saves before we scored. His kicking was also assured and we are in good hands for the final.
The team came out for their encore with Graeme Shinnie winning the fans and players player of the year. What an occasion and send off for Graeme who has been consistently tremendous all season.
Date: 16/05/15 Venue: Caledonian Stadium Attendance: 3508
Referee: Craig Thomson
Inverness CT: 3
Lineup: Esson, Shinnie, Warren, Meekings, Devine, Tansey, Draper, Christie (Ross 66), Doran (Kink 84), Vincent, Ofere (Watkins 59)
Subs (not used): Mackay, Tremarco, Williams, Polworth
Scorers: Meekings (55), Ross (80), Warren (83)
Booked: Warren (36), Devine (77)
Sent Off: none
Dundee Utd: 0
Lineup: Cierzniak (Szromnik 86), Dillon, Dixon, Souttar, Fojut, Ciftci, Rankin, Muirhead, Erskine (Johnson 66), Butcher (Connolly 66), Telfer
Subs (not used): Smith, Spittal, Anier, Cotte
Booked: Dixon (55), Erskine (55)
Sent Off: none
May 15 2015 09:17 PM | tm4tj in Previews 2014-15
Time to Relax
Dundee United are the visitors on Saturday with them still searching for the points that could lead to a European slot should Inverness win the Scottish Cup.
Inverness can now approach this game under less pressure than previous weeks with qualification for Europe already assured and a place in the Cup final achieved.
It's our third game in a row against Dundee teams and the last two were successful with victory over United eleven days ago and Dundee last weekend. Neither of these games were easy but it broke a rotten sequence of results for Inverness in the league and resulted in the club qualifying for Europe after 21 years in existence but almost 250 years of history.
Our last game saw Edward Ofere score his fifth goal in six games and with Ryan Esson in superb form Inverness kept a blank sheet to secure that elusive place in history. Cue jubilation in the ranks and relief all round. What a season for Yogi and the boys and a great season if you are an ICT fan.
Whilst Inverness were beating Dundee, United were drawing with Euro rivals St Johnstone at Perth and that leads us into this weekends games leaving the Tayside rivals trying to claim fourth in the league. United's quest might become more apparent after Friday night when St Johnstone take on Champions Celtic. United have only two wins in their last sixteen games which has co-incided with the departure of their young stars to Celtic. Inverness have won two of this seasons three meetings with the other one drawn.
With Inverness relaxing, Yogi could rest one or two ahead of the Cup final and who could blame him. Falkirk already have that luxury, their season finished a couple of weeks ago, but we had to find that Euro push to secure the points. Our squad is still wafer thin and it has been a tough season. Thankfully injuries have been at a premium and that has helped enormously although suspensions rear their ugly heads at inoppertune moments.
Nigerian striker Edward Ofere has hinted that he would like to further his career at Inverness and his agent will have to negotiate for him to remain in the Highland capital. In the meantime though, he is scoring for fun and is endearing himself to the Caley Jags fans.
Inverness can call on a similar squad to last week at Dens Park although David Raven has reportedly broken through the yellow card threshold and will miss the game. That ommission should see Cup Final centre back Danny Devine continue at the heart of the defence with Josh Meekings continuing at right back. We have midfield options with Ross, Doran and Vincent looking to break into the final squad.
Dundee United's Callum Morris has suffered a recurrence of a knee injury and will miss out. Ryan McGowan, Ryan Dow, Paul Paton and Mario Bilate had already been ruled out for the rest for the season. United should otherwise have an unchanged squad.
tm4tj prediction:- At last a game where it doesn't really matter if we win lose or draw, although it would be nice to send the guys off to Hampden with a win. But hey ho, I'm sure Yogi will be looking for full committment from whoever he chooses to play tomorrow. Dundee United have more cause to battle for everything with the possibility of a European place still up for grabs and I would expect nothing less than a robust challenge on the park. That said, I will be backing Inverness for a minimum of one point and hopefully all three.
May 09 2015 01:56 PM | Scotty in Reports 2014-15
They Think It's All Over.......
......... It Is Now. Inverness secured third place in the league with a hard fought win over a sprightly Dundee at Dens Park. Edward Ofere continued his scoring with an exquisite early first half header from a pin point Greg Tansey cross for the only goal in an entertaining encounter. That's six goals in eleven games for the big striker. (Billy who, I hear you say)
Inverness went into this game in fine fettle after beating Dundee United in midweek and knew that a victory would clinch third place and with it a European adventure. They would not be disappointed but Dundee were in no mood to hand it to them on a plate.
David Raven remained on the bench after returning from suspension and Ryan Christie started. Danny Devine grabbed some more match time as well as Inverness played towards Tannadice in the first half. Paul McGowan and Greg Stewart returned for Dundee and Kyle Letheren replaced the injured Scott Bain in goal.
A bright day with little wind greeted the players and the fans came prepared with passports in their pockets.
After a few minutes of posturing Inverness took the lead. Greg Tansey swung in an inviting cross with Eddie Ofere's name on it and the big Nigerian powered a low header into the bottom right side of the goal for a superb opener.
A few minutes later and Marley Watkins fired over, but Dundee were starting to pick up the pace and were beginning to find space in the middle of the park. Ryan Esson was called into his first bit of serious action as he plucked a shot out of the air, McGinn's effort straight down his throat, easy for the keeper.
With 25 minutes gone Esson saved well as Dundee started to pin Inverness back, Greg Stewart flashing a shot goalwards from a tight angle. Moments later Ryan Christie almost added a second goal but his low shot from thirty yards brushed off the foot of the post with the keeper beaten.
Danny Devine made an incredibly spectacular overhead clearance from a dipping Stewart header that had Esson beaten. Great stuff from the big defender, fantastic agility, something that Nadia Comaneci would have been proud of.
Dundee were the side looking more likely to score the next goal at this point and Esson stopped a couple of headed attempts from McPake and Tankulic, but on the stroke of half time Christie forced Letheren to save but the advantage remained with Inverness at the break.
Half Time 0-1
Dundee began the second half where they left off and created a couple of early threats from Jim McAlister, one where he shot weekly at Esson from inside the box after breaking through, but Inverness looked to be closing down sharper and forced a seies of corners to no avail.
Just after the hour and James Vincent replaced Watkins as Yogi looked to get a hold on the midfield battle. Danny Devine was carded for what looked to be a nothing challenge, unless the ref had been totting up minor stoppages from the resolute defender and Aaron Dorran replaced midweek hero Danny Williams as Inverness started to assert their dominance once more.
Just when it looked as though the visitors had weathered the storm, up popped Jake McPake in the box. He looked to have scored, but Ryan Esson matched Danny Devine's performance as he threw himself across goal to his left and somehow clawed the ball away for a corner. Unbelievable save from Ryan and an important one at that stage of the game.
The chants from the visiting fans were getting louder as news came through that the Tayside derby had ended all square and it looked unlikely that Dundee would be able to score the goals required to keep the passports in the pocket.
Dundee were now leaving gaps at the back in search of a leveller and Inverness had a couple of chances to exploit that, but we ended up taking the ball for a walk as the clock ticked oh so slowly towards the final countdown for Europe.
The final whistle brought about great scenes of joy in the away end and Yogi and the players responded as they left the park. They returned to take the well earned plaudits and the visiting fans went home fair chuffed right eenuff.
Full Time 0-1
A few contenders for MotM but it would be cruel to single out anyone after this emotionally draining encounter. However, I do have a cruel streak and three players shone brightest for me. Ross Draper was immense in midfield breaking up play on numerous occasions and feeding forward. Danny Devine looked so solid at the back winning almost everything that came his way and his goal line clearance was just phenomenal. But I have to award the MotM to Ryan Esson who was simply superb. That save late in the game will have Gordon Banks turning in his grave.
So, it's congratulations all round from CTO to Yogi and the boys for giving us a wonderful season, and it's not over yet. Subs (not used): Brodie, Clarkson, Colquhoun, Irvine, Ferry
Date: 09/05/15 Venue: Dens Park, Dundee Attendance: 5123
Referee: Don Robertson
Lineup: Letheren, McGinn (Wighton 75), McPake, Konrad, Dyer, McGinn, Thomson (Harkins 81), McGowan, McAlister, Stewart, Tankulic
Booked: Thomson (61)
Sent Off: none
Inverness CT: 1
Lineup: Esson, Shinnie, Meekings, Devine, Warren, Tansey (Tremarco 80), Draper, Williams (Doran 75), Christie, Watkins (Vincent 64), Ofere
Subs (not used): MacKay, Raven, Ross, Kink
Scorers: Ofere (8)
Booked: Williams (38), Devine (72)
Sent Off: none
So, it's congratulations all round from CTO to Yogi and the boys for giving us a wonderful season, and it's not over yet.
Subs (not used): Brodie, Clarkson, Colquhoun, Irvine, Ferry
May 08 2015 07:52 PM | tm4tj in Previews 2014-15
Passports on standby
Inverness travel to the City of Discovery on Saturday to discover if they can seal that elusive European spot prior to the Scottish Cup final. A win over Dundee would confirm Inverness as third in the country and ensure us of playing in the Europa League next season. There are other permutations of course but that is the favoured one.
A deserved win over Dundee United in midweek has seen Inverness open up a seven point gap over challengers United and Tayside neighbours St Johnstone, who meet on Saturday, with only three games remaining. For Inverness, it's a winner takes all situation.
The heavens opened on Tuesday night ahead of our re-arranged game against the Arabs and the pitch condition aided United to an early goal when Danny Devine's passback stuck in a puddle. Ryan Esson could only push the ball forward to around forty yards under challenge and Robbie Muirhead clipped the ball into the unguarded net thereafter. But Inverness went in front before the break and never looked back although a late United flurry produced some arse clenching moments. Eddie Ofere and Danny Williams with a spectacular volley sealed the points as we took a massive step to creating our own bit of history.
Dundee played Celtic on the Friday night and were scalped, or should that be skelped by the champions. 5-0 was the final score as the Dark Blues were routed. Paul Hartley explained that Dundee were "at their worst" after the 0-2 defeat by St Johnstone. I shudder to think what he thought of the demolition at Parkhead.
Unfortunately, Inverness have never really come to terms with playing at Dens Park and historical evidence reveals that we tend to struggle somewhat to get a result there. In saying that, in recent years we have fared much better, winning three of our last four visits to Dens Park. That included a League Cup win last season.
This season our only win over the Dark Blues came at Dens Park, Ryan Christie scoring a late winner in a 2-1 victory. The other two games in the Highlands ended all square. Dundee scraped into the top-six on the last day of open games but they look like ending the season in sixth place. At the moment they sit fifteen points behind Inverness. We did get the monkey off our back with that win over United, our first league win at the tenth time of asking, but an important one at that. Dundee have lost their last four games, twice to St Johnstone and twice to Celtic. One word of warning however. They have scored only three goals less than us. Our defence though is more adept at keeping other teams out it seems and that is why we are third and they are sixth.
Inverness have the same guys out long term but David Raven can return after suspension to give Yogi a selection choice after Devine and Meekings played well in midweek. Meekings took over Raven's right back slot and looked ever so comfortable there. Devine will also need game time ahead of the cup final when Gary Warren will be suspended.
Paul Hartley may have to use Kyle Letheren in goals with Scott Bain struggling with a knee injury. Naughty boy Paul McGowan and Greg Stewart will return to the squad. They missed the thrashing at Parkhead, they'll be glad of that. Kevin McBride will not be in contention for a place in the squad as he has left the club by mutual consent. He should have used a taxi, meh.
tm4tj prediction:- Well, we don't do anything the easy way and I can't see it being any different tomorrow. Dundee will fancy their chances against us and will be stronger than they were against Celtic with McGowan and Stewart returning. Eddie Ofere is endearing himself to the Inverness fans with his ability to score and Danny Williams is packing quite a punch in that left peg of his. If our passing game holds up then we could clinch the Euro slot tomorrow, if not then it will depend on the result in the Tayside derby, or we might need to rely on plan B, C, or D to see it through. I'm optimistic though after breaking our bad run of results and will be looking for a win.
Remember there's more information at the Official Facebok page right here https://www.facebook.com/ICTFC?fref=ts
May 05 2015 06:31 PM | Scotty in Reports 2014-15
Brink of Glory
Inverness stand on the brink of glory after all but confirming their European status with a 2-1 victory over arch rivals Dundee United. A miserable day weatherwise turned into an even wetter night as constant rain dampened the atmosphere and the playing surface became saturated. That would bring about the opening goal after only two minutes as a passback stuck in the water, and when Esson rushed his clearance it fell to Robbie Muirhead some 40 yards out and he saw his opportunity to put the ball into the empty net. Inverness got to grips with the conditions and levelled seven minutes before the break, Edward Ofere knocking home after good work down the left side opened the goal for him. The winner was a spectacular Volley from Danny Williams when a clearance fell to him on the edge of the box and he volleyed a dipping shot over the keeper. Despite a late flurry from United, Inverness held on to move tantalisingly close to clinching third place, a great achievement for Manager of the Year John Hughes and everybody at the club.
Twas a damp night in the Sneck and the atmosphere got even damper when United scored before some folk had taken their oilskins off. Deputising defender Danny Devine stroked a ball back towards Ryan Esson, but it floundered in a small loch outside of Esson's box. Ryan did his best to reach the ball first as he paddled outside his area, but as he cleared a tackle came in from Ciftci and the ball only skidded to Robbie Muirhead nearly forty yards from goal. He did what he had to do and chipped the ball calmly into the unguarded net for an early opener for United. Minor disaster for Inverness who were looking to stay ahead in the race for Europe.
The constant rain made many wonder if the game should have started as water splashed off the park as the players treaded water around the ground.
This spurred United on in the early part and they almost got a second fluke. Muirhead exchanged passes on the right side and he flighted a cross into the box. It curled over Esson but came back off the bar, much to the relief of the home support.
Muirhead was the main threat at this moment and Esson had to react smartly to dive to his right and punch away a free kick as United penned Inverness in their own half for the majority of the first period.
Ross Draper averted a certain second goal when a loose ball outside the box was latched onto by Ciftci. He nutmegged one defender and sprinted towards the six yard box, but Draper was alert to it and mopped up (no pun intended) with a tremendous last ditch sliding tackle to clear the danger.
Inverness were starting to get to grips with the pace of the game and scored a wonderful team goal. Graeme Shinnie picked up in the middle of the park and fed Danny Williams. He turned and laid a brilliant ball into the path of Watkins who found the byeline before laying it on a plate for Edward Ofere to knock home. Super goal and just the boost Inverness were looking for.
Watkins, Vincent and Shinnie were involved a few minutes later as Inverness turned the game on it's head. When Shinnie's right footed cross came into the box it was headed out to around twenty five yards where Danny Williams was standing. One touch on his chest and one bounce on the sodden turf before his sweet left foot volley flew up and over the keeper to put the homesters ahead before the break.
Half Time 2-1
Ofere really should have added a second just after the break when Watkins got in behind the defence. He whistled a ball across the box but Ofere knocked it past the upright as he came in to the six yard box at the back post. Would we regret no taking advantage of our dominant spell?
Williams was chief tormentor by now and did well to keep the ball in play down the left. His cross found Watkins rushing goalwards but the defenders challenge did enough to unsettle him and the ball narrowly missed the far post.
Another bursting run from Williams saw Watkins stroke the ball home but a narrow offside decision robbed him of a third goal. Some great creativity on display but no further goals to show for it as United were put through the wringer, no pun intended again.
With there only being one goal in it, United thought they might sneak a point and but for a couple of rash slashes at the ball they might have taken something from the game. However, they were reduced to swinging balls into the box in the hope that our solid defence would falter . Substitute Henri Anier had a shot blocked by a wall of bodies and then fired the rebound over the bar, and Meekings' luck continued as he sliced a clearance fairly close to his own goal; and breathe. However, we held firm to see out the game, despite this late flurry.
Full Time 2-1
Great result for Inverness after going behind so early on a night suited for ducks. United finished the game strongly after realising they were still in the game but Inverness did just enough to earn the points and edge closer to Euro footie. Danny Williams was darting around like a man possessed and he gets my nod for MotM. Another great performance from Graeme Shinnie as well and he showed his captains credentials when he squared up to the massive United defender Jaroslow Fojut after a bit of afters with Ofere. Nice one Graeme, we will miss you.
So, seven points ahead of our two nearest challengers. It's all to play for next weekend in Tayside as we go to Dens Park and United take on St Johnstone. Bring it on.
Date: 05/05/15 Venue: Caledonian Stadium Attendance: 2426
Referee: Calum Murray
Inverness CT: 2
Lineup: Esson, Meekings, Warren, Devine, Shinnie, Draper, Tansey, Watkins (Doran 90), Vincent (Ross 87), Williams (Christie 81), Ofere
Subs (not used): Mackay, Tremarco, Polworth, Kink
Scorers: Ofere (38), Williams (43)
Booked: Ofere (63)
Sent Off: none
Dundee Utd: 1
Lineup: Cierzniak, McGowan (Dillon 52), Fojut, Morris, Dixon, Telfer (Anier 71), Rankin, Souttar, Spittal (Erskine 59), Ciftci, Muirhead
Subs (not used): Szromnik, Butcher, Connolly, Smith
Scorers: Muirhead (2)
Booked: Dixon (58), Fojut (63)
Sent Off: none
May 04 2015 08:55 PM | tm4tj in Previews 2014-15
It's getting rather tight now in the race for third place as St Johnstone and Dundee United close in on Inverness who are doing their best to let someone else take the European place for finishing third in the league.
The games are coming thick and fast now and only three days after drawing at Perth, Inverness have another must not lose game to contend with as Dundee United come North. The Arabs looked to be out of the race but as Inverness falter in the home straight, United and St Johnstone lurk just four points behind us with only three games remaining after this postponed game gets played.
Things are getting critical for Inverness now as there appears to be no end to the dismal run without a win. In fact it is getting very difficult to see where we can pick up points before the end of the season. Could it be that Yogi is putting all his eggs in one basket and looking to invade Europe on the back of a Scottish Cup win? That's a dangerous game to play, and given our tremendous start to the campaign, the last couple of months have been disappointing to say the least.
Four games left. Two home games against United and away to Dundee before completing the season at Parkhead. Celtic will be in no mood to let us spoil their championship parade and Dens Park is historically a tough venue for us. That leaves the two games against United as the ones where we will have the best opportunity to clinch third place, although I'm sure Dundee United will believe they can overtake us. Next Saturday could prove to be the day when things swing our way if we can overcome Dundee. That same day there will be a crucial Tayside derby in Perth as St Johnstone take on Dundee United.
It can be done, but we don't do anything the easy way. Where's the fun in that.
There was some good news for Inverness fans as John Hughes picked up the PFA Manager of the Year award on Sunday night. Yogi was not everybody's favourite when he took the reins after Terry Butcher left, but he has transformed our style of play and has had an amazing season, guiding Inverness into our first ever Scottish Cup final and hopefully our highest ever league finish, although that has still to be finalised. Rumour has it that Celtic will be writing a letter to the SFA to ask for some clarification over the decision to award Yogi the title.
Inverness have Ross Draper back after suspension, but David Raven sits this one out after his sending off at Perth. That should open up the back line for Danny Devine to step in, or the possibility of Carl Tremarco coming back with Shinnie swapping flanks. Richie Foran and Dean Brill are long term casualties.
United will be without the injured trio Paul Paton, Ryan Dow and Mario Bilate. Like Foran and Brill, these three will miss the rest of the season.
tm4tj prediction. Well, we can't buy a win just now and with United sensing our fear of finishing third it might be prudent to ensure we don't lose rather than try to win it and fail. Could be that Yogi is resting one or two ahead of the cup final, but I'm sure the local fans would like to see us confirm third place sooner rather than later. I will not be too downhearted with a draw considering what's at stake. A defeat will be a disaster and let United and St Johnstone right back into the mix. Score draw for me to keep United at bay.
May 02 2015 02:14 PM | Scotty in Reports 2014-15
Inverness had to settle for a point as St Johnstone came from behind to share the points in a tousy game at McDiarmid Park. Aaron Doran side-footed the visitors ahead with an excellent finish off the bar from fifteen yards. Perth levelled the game near the end when Brian Graham rose above Josh Meekings to head home Tam Scobbie's cross. Inverness finished the game with ten men as cup hero David Raven was sent packing by card happy referee Andrew Dallas after picking up his second yellow card, one of nine waved around.
Ten league games since we last won is the disappointing statistic that is threatening to undo our season as we stumble towards the finale. John Hughes rested Ryan Christie and Aaron Doran got a rare start. James Vincent also played from the kick off with Ross Draper missing out due to serving his second match ban as Inverness tried to end their drastic league slump and clinch the third Euro slot ahead of St Johnstone and Dundee United.
It was a low key event with little for the fans to get excited about in the freezing conditions. Danny Swanson almost broke the deadlock in the eighth minute when he curled a brilliant shot from outside the box that beat Ryan Esson but crashed back off the bar and James Vincent and Danny Williams hit decent thirty yard efforts that warmed Mannus' palms. Michael O'Halloran burst free in the box but was unable to work the keeper.
Raven picked up his first booking on the stroke of half time after being scythed down by two Perth players. After remonstrating with them referee Dallas intervened and harshly booked Raven, something he would regret later in the game.
Half Time 0-0
St Johnstone should have scored at the start of the second half but O'Halloran scooped a shot over from five yards after the ball would not leave the Inverness box.
They paid for that eight minutes later when a Raven cross rolled out to the edge of the box and Doran met it first time to side foot the ball home off the underside of the bar.
Josh Meeking burst forward past four or five tackles and when the ball eventually reached Doran, he could only direct his long range effort over the bar this time.
Yogi tried to hold what we had and introduced Danny Devine at the expense of Aaron Doran but the move back-fired as St Johnstone snatched the equaliser with nine minutes left. Great work down the left side saw Scobbie curl an inviting cross onto the head of Brian Graham and he flashed a powerful header into the net with Meekings unable to put any pressure on him.
Raven went for the proverbial early bath three minutes later after a rash challenge on the halfway line which saw him collect his second yellow and ultimately red, but Inverness saw out the game to earn their point.
Full Time 1-1
A draw was probably the right result, but it's still frustratingly disappointing to miss another opportunity to seal the third spot and with United beating Aberdeen it is getting a bit congested at the top end of the table below Champios Celtic and runners up Aberdeen.
Date: 02.05.2015 Venue: McDiarmid Park, Perth Attendance: 2986
Referee: Andrew Dallas
St Johnstone: 1
Lineup: Mannus, Mackay, Anderson, Scobbie, Miller, Swanson, Davidson (Graham 75), Millar, O'Halloran, Wotherspoon, MacLean (McFadden 72)
Subs (not used): Banks, Lappin, Wright, Caddis, Kane
Scorers: Graham (82)
Booked: MacLean (36), Davidson (61), Anderson (77), Wotherspoon (88), Swanson (91)
Sent Off: none
Inverness CT: 1
Lineup: Esson, Raven, Warren, Meekings, Shinnie, Doran (Devine 75), Vincent, Tansey, Williams, Ofere, Watkins
Subs (not used): Mackay, Ross, Tremarco, Polworth, Christie, Kink
Scorers: Doran (55)
Booked: Vincent (26), Raven (45), Ofere (52)
Sent Off: Raven (84)
Apr 29 2015 06:31 PM | tm4tj in Previews 2014-15
The Race for Third
Thoughts of the Scottish Cup final will be on the back burner this weekend as Inverness travel to Perth to take on fast finishers St Johnstone who have clawed their way into the race for third place after overtaking Dundee United last weekend.
The Perth side are once more making a late run for the finishing line and are now within four points of stuttering Inverness, having beaten the Dark Blues in last weeks Tayside derby.
It is now nine games since Inverness last won a league game, the worst stat in the Premiership. That win was against Championship bound St Mirren. We have only won four points out of a possible twenty-four over the last eight games. St Johnstone have taken fourteen points over the same period which has included four wins, the pick of the bunch being that 1-0 win at Parkhead.
It's not the first time we have allowed St Johnstone back into the frame right at the end of the season. They pipped us at the post two years ago as we went down in Dingwall on the last day of the season and the Perth men made a strong run on the blind side, winning at Motherwell to grab the last available Euro slot.
Last week, Inverness played well enough but without the clinical finishing, it was always going to be a difficult task to take all three points from a miserly resolute Aberdeen. In the end we paid for some poor attempts at scoring, especially Watkins and Ross and suffered at set pieces. Lady luck deserted us and a Raven own goal got Aberdeen back in the game after a supine Edward Ofere scooped home the opener. McGinn knocked in the second following a corner but we lacked the cutting edge to get back on level terms. Not for the want of trying, and we can't fault the guys, especially after the previous weeks exertions.
St Johnstone leap frogged Dundee United after beating their neighbours Dundee 2-0 at Dens Park. Second half goals from Swanson and Wotherspoon were enough to edge them past ten man Dundee, their second win over them in a fortnight.
John Hughes has been nominated for Manager of the Year after guiding Inverness to their first ever Scottish Cup final and heading for our highest league finish, all that after persevering with the possession play that got us off to a flier at the start of the season. Tough competition for Yogi though with Championship winners gaffer Robbie Neilson also in the frame, alongside Derek MacInnes and Ronny Deila. All worthy winners in their own right. Good luck with that.
After his cup heroics, David Raven has given Inverness fans more reason to cheer by extending his contract for a further year, that's adding to Greg Tansey who had already signed on for another two years.
Ins and outs for this week
Inverness will be without Richie Foran and Dean Brill for the rest of the season and Ross Draper misses out as he serves the second of his two match suspension
St Johnstone can call upon the services of Steven Anderson and Simon Lappin as both are now free of suspension. Brian Easton could miss out after his injury against Dundee.
tm4tj prediction:- We do, of course, have that minor distraction of the Cup Final to think about, but securing our highest finish in the top flight should be enough motivation to drive us onwards. However, we have been here before and blown it. Difficult to put the Cup game completely out of the mind and that could be enough for St Johnstone to narrow the gap to one point, but I will be looking for at least one point from this game.
Remember, the official ICT Facebook site has more video and audio right here https://www.facebook.com/ICTFC?fref=ts
Apr 25 2015 01:52 PM | Scotty in Reports 2014-15
Heroes to Zero's
Cup heroes Inverness were once more upstaged by Aberdeen, despite taking the lead. Last weeks heroes turned to zero's with David Raven being credited with an own goal and Marley Watkins missing a sitter, but he was not alone as profligacy allowed Aberdeen to stay in the game before they eventually stole the points.......... again. Edward Ofere did it lying down as he despatched a rebound into the net but second half goals from Raven and Niall McGinn sealed the points for the Dons who are on an impressive run at the moment. They have been difficult to break down and are not in the habit of losing many goals. Today they rode their luck at times aided by poor finishing and this result confirms Aberdeen as second best with Inverness needing to pull their socks up if they want to remain in third.
This report comes to you courtesy of RIG
Massively disappointing result. Felt like a bit of a smash and grab by Aberdeen to be honest who looked poor for much of the match until we shot ourselves in the foot by conceding two shoddy goals again from set plays (something that needs to be sorted out). After they went ahead Aberdeen comfortably saw out the rest of the match. It may be clichéd by the sign of a good side is when they are playing poorly but still winning and that appears to be true for Aberdeen today.
We started brightly enough. Some of our passing play in and around the Aberdeen area was fantastic. Clever and intricate one touch passing which carved open the Dons defence on a few occasions. Watkins and Ross both found themselves one on one with the keeper only a few yards out but each time they were denied by superb stops by Brown in the Aberdeen goal. Watkins had another good chance before half time when he scurried in behind the Aberdeen defence but blazed his effort well over.
Whilst the Aberdeen defence wasn't looking too clever, the Dons attack, whilst quiet on the whole, still looked threatening on occasions. A clever lobbed ball by Hayes found Rooney in some space but, under pressure, he dragged his shot wide. Rooney then headed past the post from an Aberdeen corner as he ghosted in unmarked and fortunately ICT escaped on that occasion.
Half Time 0-0
ICT took the lead shortly after the break when Watkins was able to send a cross in from the left flank which Ofere headed towards goal. Scott Brown failed to hold onto the ball and fumbled it to Ofere who, whilst lying on the ground, hooked his foot round the ball to fire it into the net to give Inverness the lead.
The equaliser for Aberdeen was an exceptionally poor goal to concede from an ICT point of view. A McGinn free kick on the Inverness right side was whipped across goal and it seemed to evade everyone in the box before ending up in the back of the net. No idea if it came off Raven (confirmed) as some are reporting regardless it was still a very disappointing goal to give away. Worse was to follow five minutes later when Aberdeen took the lead. Esson had initially saved well from a Rooney effort but the ball fell to McGinn who netted the winner from a few yards out. I might be wrong but I think McGinn actually took the initial corner and he followed the ball in with no ICT player picking him up. Again, very poor defensively from ICT on a set piece.
After that Aberdeen easily controlled the rest of the game and looked comfortable for the remainder.
Full Time 1-2
Definitely not their finest performance but it says something that they can play poorly and still emerge with the three points in a 2nd v 3rd battle. ICT showed some great attacking play at times but poor finishing let us down badly today along with our well known problems defending set plays. The subs by Hughes were odd. I thought Ross and Christie were playing well when they came off but perhaps they were struggling after last weekends exploits.
Definitely feels like a point or three thrown away as we now move on to eight league games without a win a run of form that drastically needs to be reversed if we want to finish third this season. The Scottish Cup run is fantastic but we can't lose focus on what we are trying to achieve in the league.
There were two big(-ish) penalty shouts for handball in this game. The first was when an ICT player slid across goal to block a shot and, with his arm trailing along the surface behind him as he slid, blocked the shot / pass. Logan then looked like he may have moved his arm to control a bouncing ball in the box. Neither was given and the referee was, coincidentally after last weekends shenanigans, Crawford Allan.
Cheers RIG, great report as always.
Date: 25/04/15 Venue: Caledonian Stadium Attendance: 4530
Referee: Crawford Allan
Inverness CT: 1
Lineup: Esson, Raven (Kink 86), Shinnie, Warren, Meekings, Williams, Tansey, Ross (Vincent 71), Christie (Doran 71), Watkins, Ofere
Subs (not used): Mackay, Devine, Tremarco, Polworth
Scorers: Ofere (48)
Sent Off: none
Lineup: Brown, Logan, Considine, Taylor, Reynolds, McLean (Smith 46), Flood, McGinn (Daniels 90), Hayes, Jack, Rooney (Goodwillie 78)
Subs (not used): Langfield, Pawlett, Low, Shankland
Scorers: Raven (og.69), McGinn (74)
Booked: Considine (51)
Sent Off: none
Apr 24 2015 07:24 PM | tm4tj in Previews 2014-15
Joshtice hash been sherved
Well, that was the week that was. And what a week it turned out to be. Inverness reached their first Scottish Cup Final, but the shine was taken off that when Celtic wrote to the SFA looking for help. The compliance officer tried a new trick and cited Josh Meekings, offering a one match ban. You couldn't make this up as the spineless suits that run our game took Josh back to Hampden to face the music, despite most of the world including Neil Lennon, Ronnie Deila and FIFA backing Justice for Josh. Even Sean Connery backed him, and said after the victory for common sense, Joshtice hash been sherved. Yes, Josh Meekings is free to play in the Scottish Cup Final against Falkirk. I wonder if we can get Gary Warren off.
Saturday has Aberdeen visiting the Highland capital as the top-six games kick off. It looks a foregone conclusion that the Dons will secure second place before the end of the season. In fact, they could even do it this weekend, such is the gap between Aberdeen and Inverness, although the gap between the quality on the park is not so obvious.
The Dons are on a great sequence in the league. The last team to beat the Dons in a premiership game outside of Celtic was Hamilton Academicals back in the middle of October. Aberdeen are six games unbeaten since losing 4-0 to Celtic on the 4th of March. They have beaten Inverness in all three games this season, although they have all been keenly contested, only one goal separating the sides on each occasion.
Our own form has suffered in the League as we put our efforts into securing a cup final spot. With that achieved, we can look ahead to maintaining our push for third place. No wins in our last seven games is not the best form heading into the final games of the season, but as we showed at Hampden, we can be a match for anyone when we put our mind to it. The previous week we also played Celtic and drew with them on League duty. A fete Aberdeen have been unable to do having lost all three games to the champions, whilst we have taken four points off them so far and ousted them from the cup.
Dean Brill and Richie Foran are out injured and Ross Draper is suspended for breaching the yellow card threshold. He also misses the next league game as well.
Barry Robson is suspended for the Dons. He had a hard neck appealing against his red card after he elbowed/assaulted Dundee United's Charlie Telfer. Russell Anderson is fit again but will be a bit rusty after his long lay off.
tm4tj prediction:- If we can't be buoyed by last weeks performance then we might as well give up. It was a fantastic effort last week and I would expect that to give everybody at the club a massive lift along with the news that Meekings will be available to play in the final. Aberdeen have the greatest depth of squad outside of Celtic and that is the only difference between the teams. Edward Ofere proved he can be a handful for defenders as he led the line well and held the ball up to allow others into play. Marley Watkins is coming back to form and Ryan Christie is the hottest prospect in the land. Aberdeen fans will be smiling to themselves when they see the quality that Graeme Shinnie will bring to their squad. What an engine that boy has. Of course we need to keep old boys Adam Rooney and Jonny Hayes quiet and Shay Logan is adept at surging forward. All in all, I expect another close encounter, but this time I will be looking for nothing less that at least one point, albeit we are good enough to take all three.
Apr 19 2015 11:02 AM | Scotty in Reports 2014-15
The Day Football Died
It was third time lucky for Inverness as they reached their first Scottish Cup final after beating treble chasing Celtic in extra time at Hampden Park. Sadly other events since then have overtaken the wonderful achievements of Yogi and his men.
The game was not without controversy. Five goals, penalties, or not penalties, a crucial sending off and a tremendous display by the men from the North was just enough to tip the scales in favour of Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
At the end of the day, one song was lingering in the head: It's all about the Ness, no treble!
Great weather greeted the fans at Hampden and Inverness were as expected. Ryan Esson replaced the injured Dean Brill. Danny Williams was back in the starting X1 and big Edward Ofere would be the target man.
Celtic were without the suspended Anthony Stokes, and Gary Mackay-Stevens and Stuart Armstrong were cup-tied. They did though field a potent attacking threat with Leigh Griffiths and Kris Commons starting with John Guidetti on the bench.
From the kick off, Inverness got quickly into their stride and took the game to their more illustrious opponents, moving the ball around with precision and pace. Celtic found it difficult to get a hold of the ball in the first ten minutes as Inverness kept possession without any real threat.
That changed though just after ten minutes into the game when Celtic broke forward. Nir Bitton latched onto a loose ball 25 yards out and his sweetly timed tackle/shot smacked off the woodwork with Esson beaten. A bolt from the blue, and a lucky escape for Inverness who had dominated the proceeding thus far.
Celtic had woken up and Inverness were pushed onto the back foot as the Glasgow club surged forward. Ryan Esson saved well, diving full length to his left to push away a fierce Griffiths shot from thirty yards.
Gary Warren was booked for pulling back James Forrest as he cut across the face of the box, a card that will see him miss a major final once more. From the resultant free kick, Virgil van Dijk lashed an unstoppable shot high past Esson from 22 yards and in off the top of the post. A spectacular opening goal, but there would be better to come.
Ofere missed the best chance of the game after a Greg Tansey corner. Similar to his goal against Celtic in the league, the ball broke to him some eight yards out but he could not wrap his foot round it properly and this time his shot bounced down and then up over the bar. A warning to Celtic that we were still in the game.
Esson stood up well as Celtic countered through the middle and Johansen stung his palms with a fierce shot that was beaten away, another important save from the stand in keeper.
Greg Tansey was mugged on the halfway line as Celtic stormed forward again looking to add a second before the break. Forrest sprinted forward and fed Johansen on the left side of the box. His shot was deflected away from goal by Esson. The ball fell nicely for Griffiths who headed strongly goalwards, but the ball seemed to come of the hand of Josh Meekings who was no more than four feet from the head of Griffiths. Amazingly, the only people that never saw this were the officials who waved play on. I'm not as convinced as Celtic that this was intentional. I'm sure they will write a letter of complaint though.
That was about the last action of a frenetic first half and Inverness were still within one goal of the treble chasers.
Half Time 0-1
No changes at the break and Inverness started the second period with confidence once more, and Ofere was too high with a corner. At the other end Forrest went wide with a shot that Esson watched carefully.
Ten minutes after the break and Inverness drew level. No doubt about the penalty and sending off for Craig Gordon. Watkins raced through on goal outmuscling Welsh international Adam Mathews. As the ball got touched back towards Gordon, Watkins got there first but the big keeper went right through him and red card it was. Tansey remained the coolest man on the park as Lukasz Zaluska put on the gloves. He took his time and waited for the keeper to make his move before directing the ball in the opposite direction and into the vacant net. Game on!
James Forrest was the man sacrificed as Celtic made the change at the sending off, a blessing for Inverness and in particular David Raven who had been getting a tough time of it from the Celtic wide player. Could this mean that Raven might get further forward now? More on that later in the report.
The ninety minutes produced no more goals and the game moved into extra time. 1-1 after 90 mins
The game was now stretched and it ebbed and flowed, Inverness sharing the bulk of the possession. Johansen tried to catch Esson off his line, but he back pedalled and tipped the forty yard flighted shot over the bar. Inverness surged to the other end and Ryan Christie danced his way into the box and it took a fantastic save from the substitute keeper to deny Christie a goal after his thumping 16 yard shot was clawed away.
Inverness were now enjoying their best spell of the game and when they worked the ball down the left, the ever willing Graeme Shinnie curled a ball into the box. Watkins brought the ball down and it broke kindly for Ofere, who steadied himself before firing a low ball to the keepers left with sufficient power to find the back of the net.
Celtic were stung by this and when they got a free kick thirty yards out it didn't look like it would be a major problem. Guidetti struck it well and the ball whistled goalwards. It landed in front of Esson and he misjudged the bounce as it spun over his despairing arms and into the net. He won't want to see that one again, such a shame after a commanding performance up to that point.
The second period of extra time showed that the referee's were once again flawed. Zaluskas barged into the back of Ofere and completely flattened him. I hope the compliance officer was watching. The ball was cushioned down for Nick Ross, but he half volleyed over with the goal gaping.
With five minutes of extra time left, Inverness scored the decisive third goal to end Celtic's treble hopes. And what a goal it was too. Nick Ross battled to retrieve the ball outside the Celtic box. Aided by Marley Watkins, Ross got the ball back and threaded a great ball into the box where Shinnie left two defenders standing before rifling the ball across the goalmouth. David Raven made a great run to get on the end of it and still had plenty to do. He did it like a seasoned striker though, guiding the ball firmly into the net for what proved to be the winner before running round the back to celebrate with Shinnie who came round the other side.
We played out the remaining minutes fairly comfortably and deservedly won the game, but committed the cardinal sin of denying Celtic Football club the chance to win the treble.
He might be going to Aberdeen, but Graeme Shinnie was captain marvel. He was everywhere and the driving force behind what was a fantastic team effort. He was my MotM and it is pretty unanimous on CTO that he gets the nod. There were no failures in this performance, everyone played their part. Watkins looked revitalised and Warren and Meekings ensured that we restricted Celtic to taking long pot shots. David Raven only scores important goals. His last one for us was in a derby win at Dingwall, this one surpassed that. Ryan Esson was outstanding, despite the blip for the second goal. Edward Ofere led the line well and his hold up play was excellent. Ryan Christie came into the game more after half time and was inspirational. This kid is going places. Can't fault anyone after that display to be honest.
Remember, you can access audio's with some of the Caley Jags players after the Hampden Park game right here https://www.facebook.com/ICTFC?fref=ts on the Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC facebook page.
Scenes of joy at full time would remain with those fans for a couple of days at least before Celtic would write their letter of complaint and the SFA would buckle at the knees by pandering to the needs of the majority. It's now official, the SFA are the laughing stock of football and should hang their heads in shame, brought about by the incompetence of their own officials.
Josh Meekings has incredibly been cited by the compliance officer who feels the need to punish him because Celtic can't take defeat without dragging everyone else through the mud. They have short memories and if this goes through, then football, as we know it has just ended. Instead of Inverness enjoying the greatest moment in their history, controversy has overtaken the scenes of joy and instead of celebrating a wonderful performance, it might be better known as the day football died. RIP football, 19/04/2015.
Date: 19/04/15 Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Attendance: 28643
Referee: Steven McLean
Inverness CT: 3
Lineup: Esson, Raven, Shinnie, Meekings, Warren, Draper, Tansey, Watkins, Williams (Ross 73), Christie, Ofere
Subs (not used): Mackay, Vincent, Doran, Tremarco, Polworth, Kink
Scorers: Tansey (pen.58), Ofere (96), Raven (117)
Booked: Warren (17), Williams (66), Ross (102), Watkins (105)
Sent Off: none
Lineup: Gordon, Matthews, Izaguirre, Van Dijk, Denayer, Biton, Brown, Commons (Tonev 90), Johansen, Forrest (Zaluska 56), Griffiths (Guidetti 98)
Subs (not used): Ambrose, Scepovic, McGregor, Tierney
Scorers: Van Dijk (17), Giudettit (103)
Booked: Brown (20), Tonev (97)
Sent Off: Gordon (55)
Apr 17 2015 06:15 PM | tm4tj in Previews 2014-15
Third time lucky
Could it be third time lucky for Inverness as we head towards our third Scottish Cup semi-final against hot favourites Celtic, a club that has reached that stage of the competition fifty-four times and won the cup on 36 occasions. Our last two semi's ended in defeat to Dundee and Dunfermline (after a replay at Pittodrie).
The competition has opened up this season and one Championship side will be in the final as Falkirk play Hibs in the other tie.
Inverness' progress to the semi has been steady if unspectacular. We entered the competition at the 4th Round and drew 1-1 away to St Mirren. In the replay we trounced them 4-0 at home. Celtic hammerd Hearts 0-4 at Tynecastle to book their place in the next round. Another away tie in Glasgow saw us beat bogey side Partick Thistle 1-2 whilst Celtic disposed of Dundee in the City of Discovery by 0-2. In the quarter finals, we struggled past the Rangers conquerors Raith Rovers when a late Danny Devine header put us through, the first attempt to play the game ended in misery when the heavens opened and caused a late postponement to the scheduled tie on the Saturday. Celtic were paired with Dundee United and that sparked a series of ugly clashes between the sides with red cards galore coming over the next couple of weeks. A 1-1 draw at Tannadice was followed by a 4-0 drubbing at Parkhead, and all this amidst playing two league encounters. The sides were sick of the sight of each other but it was Celtic that prevailed in these games.
And that brings us up to date as we got the short straw when the balls came out of the hat, Inverness V Celtic and Falkirk V Hibernian.
Last weekend we served notice to Celtic that they will have a fight on their hands to reach their 55th final. Not a dirty game but referee Craig Thomson saw fit to dish out seven yellow cards as the sides drew 1-1 in the Highlands. Inverness have now gone four games without a win since beating Raith Rovers a month ago. Not counting that cup game, it would be eight games without a win, not great statistic leading up to this game for Inverness it has to be said. Celtic's stats are somewhat better. Only St Johnstone and Inter Milan have beaten the Hoops in their last 21 games, where 15 of those ended in wins for Celtic. Wow, imagine Inter Milan being mentioned in the same sentence as St Johnstone; the mind boggles!
However, it's not statistics that win football matches, it's what happens on the park. Remember February 8th 2000?
Have a look on the official Caley Thistle Facebook page and you can listen to some audio interviews from the players in the run up to the semi-final. https://www.facebook.com/ICTFC?fref=ts
Celtic warmed up for the cup game by thrashing Kilmarnock 4-1 on Wednesday night. Killie had taken the lead against the run of play but Celtic stormed back and a Leigh Griffiths hat-trick was the highlight. He may be a player of great ridicule, but his scoring prowess is very impressive. Leigh also scored Celtic's goal in the recent draw at Inverness and it would be advisable to keep a tight rein on him. The Hoops came through this game unscathed, although they had the luxury of resting a couple of players with Gary Mackay-Stevens and Stuart Armstrong playing. They are inelligible for the cup game as they were cup-tied with Dundee United.
Another hat-trick that's possible to achieve this Sunday would be the third time we have knocked Celtic out of the cup. It's certainly difficult, but it's not impossible. Our near neighbours and good friends did it a few seasons back when they went to Hampden and beat Celtic 2-0 to reach their first ever Scottish Cup final, a milestone that we hope will be attained on Sunday.
Dean Brill will be pulling a sickie after that horrific knee injury that will see him out for months. He was due to have a knee operation in London on Thursday and all Inverness fans will wish him a speedy recovery. Maybe Richie Foran will be back before him, but I'm no holding my breath on that. Other than that it's a full squad for Yogi with Ryan Esson taking over once more at No 1. Young Cammy Mackay will be the reserve keeper and that will be a tremendous occasion for him.
Celtic have Charlie Mulgrew nearing fitness but will be without the duo of cup-tied Arabs, Thurso's Gary Mackay-Steven and Invernesian Stuart Armstrong. Anthony Stokes is suspended after his red card in one of the United battles. Mikael Lustig is also out. It's immaterial really as Celtic have the luxury of calling on some quality players throughout their multi million pound squad.
tm4tj prediction:- Oh dear, I was hoping you would not ask. I'm glad I got it wrong last weekend as Inverness dug deep and kept Celtic quiet for most of the match although the Glasgow giants probably held the upper hand. A good fighting spirit amongst the Highland squad saw them go toe to toe with Celtic in a fairly scrappy match, mainly attributed to the blustery conditions and the bobbly pitch. I would like to think Hampden will be in better nick and that would suit us as we could get back to our possession game which would unsettle Celtic. It's a big ask though and with Leigh Griffiths scoring for fun it wont be easy. Kris Commons is another striker on fire just now, let's hope he burns out before Sunday. I wonder if Yogi will set out his stall looking to contain and hit on the break. That could go
ti pear shaped if the hoops score early, although we did get back on level terms pretty rapidly last week. However, it's not often Celtic falter two games in a row. Edward Ofere will be a big player for us on Sunday, but he will need some assistance. Marley has pace to burn and if he is switched on, he will be a threat to Celtic. Ryan Esson will be in goal after Dean's injury but I have no worries over that. It's a big game for our younger stars like Ryan Christie. I hope the game will not pass him by as he has so much to offer, and Aaron Doran could be a match winner if he gets on the park.
My heart says Inverness, my head says Celtic, but I will go with my heart, although it might take extra time and penalties to do it.
I caught up with a club legend today and this is what Bobby Mann had to say when I asked him if he enjoyed beating Celtic in the Scottish Cup.
"Haha which time.
When I signed for ICT they were definitely on the up and the club was going places. There was a very good mix of players, some youth with potential and a few experienced players. I really enjoyed myself at the club and met and still keep in touch with many of the squad I played with over the years all good lads and a real family club.
Obviously people will always remember the first cup win versus Celtic. Steve encouraged us to play attacking football and as you know over the years there was plenty of goals in our games. He was no different that night wanting us to attack.
Even at half time when leading 2-1 he was at us to get at them as there was more goals in it for us. Probably as a one off game that was the highlight, but overall my favourite was winning the 1st division title. John and Donald came in after Steve left and they just made us more street wise, more difficult to beat".
When asked for his thoughts about the game Bobby said "Got to hope it goes well. The team are more experienced at that level now compared to us all them years ago".
I'm not nostalgic................... but
I couldn't resist it!
Apr 11 2015 11:24 AM | Scotty in Reports 2014-15
Inverness gave starts to Danny Williams and Edward Ofere as they looked to halt their alarming dip in form. Dean Brill also started but he has unfortunately dislocated his knee cap in a nasty injury early in the game.
Celtic opened the scoring after only three minutes. A long ball from Brown saw Griffiths get there ahead of Gary Warren, and as Warren never got close enough, Griffiths fired across Brill from the edge of the box and in off the base of the post.
Inverness had looked lively though and an equaliser soon came along. A cross from the left reached Raven. His shot back into the mix eventually found Christie and his close range shot was cleared on the line by Denayer but Ofere knocked home the rebound.
Dean Brill was stretchered from the park after less than 15 minutes when Gary Mackay-Steven collided with him as he cleared a pass back. The extra touch from Brill invited the challenge and unfortunately Brill came off worst. It looked as though he has twisted his knee again. Tough on Brill on his first game back after injury and the cup semi-final looks to be gone. Ryan Esson took over between the sticks.
Josh Meekings earned a booking with a late tackle on Johansen, Josh carded after play was eventually halted. Edward Ofere was harshly booked as Scott Brown had the ball nicked off him as the game went into a midfield battle with Celtic holding the upper hand without threatening substitute Ryan Esson too much.
With half an hour gone, play had deteriorated to a scrappy level, but Graeme Shinnie broke well on the left, however his cross found no takers. Shinnie involved again with another burst down the wing but the Celtic defence cleared for a throw in.
Ross Draper joined the list of yellow cards for taking down GMS unnecessarily with another defender about to take the ball away. From the resultant free kick Esson made a fantastic tip over save from a close range header by Ambrose.
Ryan Christie almost guided a ball through on the break but a defender blocked it as the game opened up again. It was the visitors who were now having the better of the possession, but openings were hard to come by.
Watkins took the next booking as Isaguirre sprinted towards the edge of the box. Tansey took Brown out in the next attack and half a dozen Celtic players lined up to take it, however Griffiths won the battle but he floated his free kick high over to bring the first fifty minutes to an end.
Half Time 1-1
Stuart Armstrong became the sixth player carded for catching Christie as he skipped past him on the halfway line as the second period began.
Great pressure from Inverness resulted in a Tansey cross being cleared for a corner with Watkins lurking and from the corner too many players got in the way as Meeking mistimed his header.
It was a better start to the half from Inverness as they kept Celtic on the back foot for spells, but Esson made another spectacular save from a Denayer header, replicating his tip over in the first half.
Great back tracking by Watkins denied Izaguirre as Celtic began to press the game and biggest cheer of the day came when Scott Brown was yellow carded trying to win a penalty after 66 minutes. Moments later Celtic did get a free kick in a dangerous position but van Dijk smacked it off the wall for a corner. Another followed in quick succession, but Meekings ushered the ball out comfortably.
Esson had a Brill moment but got away with it after a bobbly pass back saw him take an extra touch but the clearance was charged down for a goal kick.
Inverness were by now defending too deep and there was no outlet for them whenever the ball was cleared from defence, Ofere cutting a lone dash up front.
A throw out from Esson saw Shinnie release Williams on the left but he was blocked at the expense of a corner. From that, David Raven blasted the loose ball just over Gordon's bar.
Celtic's scorer Leigh Griffiths was replaced by John Guidetti for the last fifteen minutes. John Hughes was keeping everyone guessing when he might make a change as the game entered the final ten minutes.
Commons' determination saw him eventually get a volley away but it was too high. Inverness went up the other end and Watkins got the better of Denayer. When the ball arrived at Tansey, he swivelled and liffted a shot just over the bar.
Celtic were trying to draw the home side out of their defensive shell but the hosts were having none of it. Aaron Doran and James Vincent entered the fray as Christie and Williams exited the battle.
Commons did some fancy footwork but his thirty-yard drive flew well over the bar. The few chances that Inverness had to make any headway were quickly thwarted by poor passing from the back and it was mainly Celtic advancing as the game entered time added on. Every free kick was now crucial as two minutes of stoppage time was added, Inverness content to hack the ball anywhere and Esson crouched to gather an Armstrong effort comfortably.
Last chance for Inverness as Doran fed Shinnie on the corner of the box but he was easily eased off the ball. One last chance for Celtic but a woeful cross went behind and that was it.
Full Time 1-1
One win in nine now for Inverness, but a gritty performance will be forgiven by the fans and sent out a semi-final warning to the Hoops that we will be turning up next week, whatever the weather, whoever the opposition.
Not for the first time this season Graeme Shinnie put in a MotM performance willing to drive forward on the left and still able to get back and defend when required. Great engine Graeme has and we will miss him next season. Esson did well when he came on for the unfortunate Brill and Watkins put in a busy shift tracking back to hold up the eager Celtic forwards. Ofere did well for an hour until he wilted. Good to have Doran on the bench to spice things up over the vital last few minutes when teams like Celtic surge forward. We were under the cosh for long periods, but stood firm and could have scored more, but it was a hard earned point.
Date: 11/04/15 Venue: Caledonian Stadium Attendance: 6059
Referee: Craig Thomson
Inverness CT: 1
Lineup: Brill (Esson 20), Raven, Shinnie, Warren, Meekings, Ofere, Draper, Watkins, Tansey, Williams (Vincent 84), Christie (Doran 84)
Subs (not used): Ross, Devine, Tremarco, Kink
Scorers: Ofere (4)
Booked: Meekings (21), Ofere (28), Draper (39), Watkins (45+1)
Sent Off: none
Lineup: Gordon; Ambrose (Matthews 62), Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Mackay-Steven (Commons 62), Johansen, Armstrong; Griffiths (Guidetti 78)
Subs (not used): Zaluska, Stokes, McGregor, Tierney
Scorers: Griffiths (3)
Booked: van Dijk (31), Armstrong (47), Brown (67)
Sent Off: none
Apr 10 2015 10:06 AM | tm4tj in Previews 2014-15
The Bhoy's are back in town
The games are coming thick and fast now and hot on the heels of our midweek trip to Pittodrie comes the visit of treble chasing Celtic to the Highlands in the prequel to next Sunday's Scottish Cup semi-final.
Both sides played in midweek with Inverness losing once more, this time to Aberdeen at Pittodrie. That's only one win in eight games for Inverness and no signs as to where our next points are coming from. Only Hamilton, Dundee United and St Mirren can boast worse runs than us. Celtic kept on track for the treble by beating Partick Thistle 2-0 and are well on their way to retaining the title.
The enormity of the season appears to have caught up with Inverness as we can't buy a win just now. The only team we have beaten in our last eight games has been Championship bound St Mirren who have suddenly become the Premiership whipping boys. That's just seven points from a possible twenty-four and a measely nine goals scored, just over one per game. Playing without a recognised striker does not help the cause, but such is the plight of those that can't afford to buy their way out of trouble.
Celtic come North on the back of five straight wins without conceding, and the League Cup already in the trophy cabinet at Parkhead. The league table says it all really. 63 goals scored and only 14 against from 30 games has the Bhoys in a league of their own. They can be beaten though and St Johnstone did just that six weeks ago, but it took a stunning goal from Danny Swanson to do that.
The two previous games this season show a win apiece, but we are now in reverse gear while Celtic are at full throttle. Eoghann O'Connell helped us out with an own goal back in August and a John Guidetti strike reversed the scoreline at the beginning of November. August seems like a long time ago now, and it would take a brave man to bet against Celtic slipping up, and given our recent form then it could be a tough week to be an Inverness fan.
Ronny Deila has been singing the praises of the Caley Jags boss this season. However, as the games keep coming, our sparkling start to the campaign has been overtaken by some rather tentative football. Given our resources, it's hardly surprising, and without the option of a Billy Mckay, the wheels seem to have come off. How is the bench at Wigan by the way?
Carl Tremarco missed the Pittodrie trip with an arm injury and Richie Foran is still being rebuilt. Dean Brill has been on the bench recently and many would like to see him start, however Esson is not the real problem here. Maybe Yogi is keeping his attacking options for the cup game; I wish!
Ronny Deila has a wealth of talent to choose from, therefore any missing players will not impact on his side unfortunately. Scott Brown could return after suspension and Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong are available for league duty, but will miss next weeks cup game. Charlie Mulgrew and Mikael Lustig remain sidelined.
tm4tj prediction:- It pains me to say it, but I can't see past a convincing win for the visitors. Like them or not, but they are head and shoulders above the rest of the division and get stronger as the season progresses when all around them stumble towards the summer break. Our lack of goals is getting frustrating and given the way Hughes sets the team out I can't see that changing this season now. It may seem to be a tad pessimistic, but I am only going by recent results and they are not showing us in a good light. A goal for us would be a bonus, but can we stop the green machine in full flow? I'm not holding my breath on this one.
Apr 08 2015 06:38 PM | Scotty in Reports 2014-15
A not unexpected result at Pittodrie considering our fortunes over the previous eight league games. We lacked any ambition and it was only a matter of time before Aberdeen got their noses in front knowing that it would be highly unlikely we would be able to respond. Ash Taylor did the damage just after the break and that was sufficient to all but guarantee Aberdeen second place with the faltering Inverness and Dundee United grimly clinging on to hopes of third.
Date: 08.04.2015 Venue: Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen Attendance: 11319
Referee: Calum Murray
Lineup: Brown, Logan, Considine, Taylor, Reynolds, Flood, Rooney, McGinn, Hayes, Robson, Pawlett (McLean 69)
Subs (not used): Langfield, Daniels, Low, Smith, Goodwillie, Shankland
Scorers: Taylor (47)
Booked: Robson (44), Logan (87)
Sent Off: none
Inverness CT: 0
Lineup: Esson, Raven (Devine 82), Shinnie, Warren, Meekings, Draper, Tansey (Christie 76), Williams, Doran, Ross (Ofere 66), Watkins
Subs (not used): Brill, Horner, Polworth, Kink
Sent Off: none
Apr 07 2015 08:02 PM | tm4tj in Previews 2014-15
Dons looking to cement second place
The best of the rest battle it out at Pittodrie on Wednesday night as the race to finalise Euro places hots up before the top-six kicks in.
Inverness travel to Aberdeen eight points behind the Dons as both sides stutter their way towards the top-six games clear of fourth placed Dundee United. A home win would surely cement Aberdeens position in second place and defeat for Inverness would put the cat amongst the pigeons for the third Euro slot.
Neither side were able to steal a march at the weekend with Aberdeen being held by our bogey boys Partick Thistle and Dundee coming North to take a point off us in a dour affair. It was 0-0 at Pittodrie with Derek McInnes relieved that Partick had not taken all three points given the opportunities they had. Inverness had to settle for a point with Dundee and Graeme Shinnie earned that point showing great tenacity to drive home the ball. The draw was the right result however, after David Clarkson had opened the scoring barely two minutes earlier, but it was clear to see Dundee's game plan was to keep us out with less emphasis on using their own ability to create something. It worked and 1-1 was the result.
The sides have met twice already this season and Aberdeen have won both games. The first game in September saw Inverness level twice before Jonny Hayes scored what proved to be the winner in an even contest. The other scorers were Rooney and Logan for the Dons with Meekings and Watkins countering for Inverness. The return fixture in the Highlands was another tight tussle and Peter Pawlett scored the only goal. Despite being under the cosh for the rest of the game, Aberdeen held on for all three points. Inverness should have taken something from this game and had the better opportunities, but they paid the price for their inability to stick the ball in the net.
Inverness have struggled to create recently since the departure of Billy Mckay. Marley the stop gap striker although scoring initially, has not filled that void. It's not his fault, but he is not the natural finisher we would have liked. He is a better provider and it's possible that big Edward Ofere will get a start at Pittodrie as he looked more threatening when he came off the bench against the Dark Blues. Nick Ross and Aaron Doran also showed up well and could start again. That would be tough on the likes of Danny Williams who has been one of our more consistent performers in recent weeks.
Aberdeen are the new buyers in the Premier division snapping up players to bolster their squad when almost every other club are just breeding grounds. Adding Kenny Maclean and Andrew Driver to their squad will not do them any harm, and with the likes of Hayes, Rooney and soon to be Shinnie at Pittodrie then they are assembling a useful squad which looks like maintaining their high profile over the next couple of years.
The Scottish weather takes it's toll on the pitches at this time of the season and going from soft surfaces to hard and bobbly ones in the space of a few weeks is not conducive to fluent passing moves, something we were able to implement earlier in the season. It is however the same for everybody, but it's a great leveller and we are being caught up in the kick and rush style more suited to council parks and pub leagues.
John Hughes has a full squad to tinker with. Richie 'forever injured` Foran being the exception. I think he was born injured to be honest. It's possible that they are replacing him bit by bit and like the six million dollar man, maybe we can rebuild. We have the technology. Aye, if only he could run at 60mph...........
Derek McInnes has a long term ansentee as well in the shape of Russell Anderson. Coincidentally, both are the current captains of their respective clubs. But apart from that he too has no other doubts, not even a suspension to interfere with his team selection.
An audio interview with Yogi can be listened to on the official Inverness Caledonian Thistle facebook page right here
tm4tj prediction is predictable this week and I can see both sides stuttering to a no scoring draw at best. The last few weeks have brought out the worst of the season and points have gone abegging. There is plenty at stake, I hope someone tells the players because some of them look as though their season has ended already. Here's hoping we can end this winless sequence, but it looks like it could be another long night.
Apr 04 2015 01:31 PM | Scotty in Reports 2014-15
Dundee came, they saw and almost conquered, but a quick reply by Man of the Match Graeme Shinnie ensured that the clubs shared the points. Dundee seemed intent on not losing and Inverness had little clue how to win all three points. In the end the draw was the right result given the ineptitude of both sides. David Clarkson scored in the Dark Blues first serious attempt before Shinnie scored moments later. Edie Ofere almost added the winner, but the ball squirmed agonisingly wide of the post, but that was about it.
Inverness blew another chance to close the gap on Aberdeen as they were held to a draw by mid-table Dundee in a rather scrappy affair where Paul Hartley will be better pleased than John Hughes.
A bright afternoon for the game saw Inverness attack the South end of the stadium from the start, and Dundee showed their intent by defending deep from the off, not looking interested in getting bodies forward.
Whilst Inverness had the bulk of the play in the opening half, few clear cut chances were created. What we did best in the first forty-five was have a go from distance. Greg Tansey fired a free kick through a gap in the wall but Scott Bain gathered easily. Tansey then danced across the Dundee defence some 25 yards out but his shot was once again too close to the keeper and he clutched the ball comfortably again. Aaron Doran made him work harder with a rasping thirty yard shot but again it was not far enough away from the alert Bain who punched the ball clear as Inverness held the upper hand.
Dundee were rarely seen in the first half and Esson could easily have sat on the bench with Brill, such was their lack of adventure.
Half Time 0-0
The second half began in stop start fashion as free kicks were being dished out like nobody's business. However, ten minutes in Dundee went over the half way line. Despite being in unfamiliar territory, they carved out a chance and when the move between Mark Stewart and Paul McGowan broke off Josh Meekings, David Clarkson tucked the free ball beyond Esson to give the visitors an undeserved lead.
This stirred the home side into a bit of a frenzy and two minutes later they were level. The ball was worked down the right flank with a long ball from Tansey. Watkins held it up and played a one-two with Nick Ross. His telling cross found Shinnie coming into the box at the back edge of the box. Graeme's tenacity saw him get the break of the ball under the defensive challenge and he slammed a left foot shot low into the far corner for a deserved equaliser.
In fairness to Dundee, after realising that they could cross the halfway line the game became more open and possession levelled out, but the goal threats still came from the home side, although they were not as frequent as the home fans would have liked.
The best chance went the way of substitute Edward Ofere after Watkins had nodded a long ball into his path. He stuck a leg out to divert the ball as the keeper came out but it bounced just the wrong side of the post. The right side if you were a Dundee fan and the spin took the ball just wide. Meh!
Doran had an opportunity on the left but he chose to blast the ball into the side netting when a cut back would have been more productive and that was the end of the incidents.
Full Time 1-1
In truth it was another disappointing game and performance on a tired pitch. It's just that time of year I'm afraid when our wafer thin squad fails to grind out results. On a bright not, the rest of the contenders are struggling to cope as well, but it's getting very difficult to see where our next win is going to come from. Nick Ross and Aaron Doran did their prospects no harm as did Eddie Ofere who almost nicked the winner. MotM though was captain supreme, Graeme Shinnie who showed great determination to score his goal and led the team forward at every opportunity. The lack of a proven striker was sadly evident though as we found it difficult to create clean space in a packed penalty box time and time again. We miss Billy making those runs across the defence to create the openings.
It's a tough couple of weeks coming up for us, with Aberdeen away and a double header against Celtic, one in the league and one in the cup and a game against the Arabs to come as well.
Date: 04/04/15 Venue: Caledonian Stadium Attendance: 3362
Referee: Willie Collum
Inverness CT: 1
Lineup: Esson, Raven, Warren, Meekings, Shinnie, Doran, Draper, Tansey, Ross (Kink 84), Christie (Ofere 71), Watkins
Referee: Willie Collum
Inverness CT: 1
Lineup: Esson, Raven, Warren, Meekings, Shinnie, Doran, Draper, Tansey, Ross (Kink 84), Christie (Ofere 71), Watkins
Subs (not used): Brill, Vincent, Devine, Williams, Polworth
Scorers: Shinnie (55)
Booked: Draper (57), Raven (66)
Sent Off: none
Booked: Draper (57), Raven (66)
Sent Off: none
Lineup: Bain, McGinn, McPake (Davidson 61), Konrad, Dyer, Thomson, McGinn, McGowan, Ferry (McAlister 71), Clarkson (Harris 81), Stewart
Subs (not used): Letheren, Gadzhalov, Wighton, Heffernan
Scorers: Clarkson (53)
Booked: McGowan (54), Dyer (79)
Sent Off: none
Booked: McGowan (54), Dyer (79)
Sent Off: none
Apr 03 2015 07:49 PM | tm4tj in Previews 2014-15
A visit from the dark side
Inverness play host to Dundee on Saturday after a timely International break which was badly needed. We have been running on empty and the break has given us the opportunity to recharge the batteries and get some zest back into our play.
Last time out we succumbed once more to Partick Thistle after a late goal from Steven Lawless earned Partick all three points, with Inverness barely troubling their opponents. That's the third defeat of the season to the Firhill side who seem to have sussed us out big time.
The dark blues last game was an encouraging draw with second placed Aberdeen which leaves them on the verge of a top-six place. Steven McGinn levelled after Adam Rooney had given the Dons an early advantage.
Dundee's last visit to the Caledonian Stadium was an early season game played out on a midweek. Neither side managed a goal in that game, but we were victorious in the City of Discovery at the start of December. Inverness came from behind to win 2-1 after Greg Stewart had given Dundee a first half lead. Goals from Billy Mckay and Ryan Christie took the points North, but there was little between the sides.
Willie Collum is the man in the middle for this game and that in itself should provide plenty of talking points.
There's little between the sides in terms of scoring goals, but the Inverness defence has been stronger than Dundee's and that is the difference between 3rd in the league and 7th. Unfortunately we have run out of ideas of late and other teams are pushing on. Our policy of little change in pre-season has paid dividends though with our early season form getting us off to a flier, it's getting more difficult to maintain that poise as the teams below us gather round for the kill.
Who's in and who's out?
Inverness should have no main worries. Dean Brill has been back in the squad and could be ready to start. Richie Foran remains absent.
Dundee have Gary Irvine, glorious Gary Harkins and Luka Tankulic out, but Greg Stewart and Jim McAlister will be in the squad.
We don't do anything easy and our form of late has taken a nose dive. No wins in four for us while Dundee have won two of their last four. I'm not brimming with confidence over our lack of adventure and with goals at a premium for us then we will do well to take anything from the game. Maybe a share of the spoils would be about right given our mediocrity at the moment.
Mar 21 2015 03:16 PM | Scotty in Reports 2014-15
Partick Thistle completed the hat-trick of league wins over Inverness this season. They now get to keep us after a late strike by Steven Lawless sealed the points in a dreadful encounter at Firhill. Inverness seldom threatened as the poor surface ensured that slick passing would not be on the agenda. The only good news for Inverness was that Dean Brill was deemed fit enough to make the bench.
John Hughes fooled everybody by going with three at the back in a side that incorporated Danny Devine and Gary Warren, but Marley Watkins cut a lone figure at the front.
Ryan Christie had our only attempt of note in the first half as he flung himself at a cross from the left curled in by Greg Tansey, but his header was easily smothered by Scott Fox in the Partick goal. Ryan Esson did likewise at the other end as he turned a shot round the post for a corner.
Other than that, the pitch was the real winner as both sides failed to create much.
Half Time 0-0
Partick were the livelier side after the break and Esson tipped a Stevenson rocket over the bar after Christie had been harshly adjudged to have committed a foul.
The hard bumpy surface was ruining the game as a spectacle and chances were at a premium, especially for the visitors.
The winner came about when substitute Lyle Taylor held off a defender as a hopeful ball came into the box. It came back off him and fell nicely for Lawless who drilled a low ball beyond Esson from eighteen yards.
Full Time 1-0
A drab game with little to enthuse over that looked like it was heading for a no scoring draw which would have suited the fare on display, but a crisp strike by Lawless was enough to win the points as Inverness lacked any penetration whatsoever. Confidence looks to be at a season low with only one win in the last six league games. It looks like it's going to be a long finale to the season at this rate.
Date: 21.03.2015 Venue: Firhill Stadium, Glasgow Attendance: 2603
Referee: Steven McLean
Partick Th: 1
Lineup: Fox, O'Donnell, Booth, Balatoni, Craigen, Bannigan, Doolan (Taylor 65), Stevenson, Lawless (Richards-Everton 90), Frans, Osman
Subs (not used): Gallacher, Fraser, Wilson, McDaid, Keenan
Scorers: Lawless (84)
Booked: Taylor (90)
Sent Off: none
Inverness CT: 0
Lineup: Esson, Raven (Ofere 86), Shinnie, Warren, Meekings, Draper, Devine, Watkins, Tansey, Williams (Doran 68), Christie (Kink 64)
Subs (not used): Brill, Vincent, Ross, Tremarco
Sent Off: none
Mar 21 2015 11:27 AM | tm4tj in Previews 2014-15
Can Inverness eclipse Partick
We had a solar eclipse this week, but can third place Inverness cast a shadow over Partick, a club we have struggled to get the better of in recent games, although we did eventually send them out of the cup, but not before a nervy last twenty minutes.
Inverness had last weekend off as our intended victims staged another battle with Celtic. These battles are taking it's toll as players are being sent off as if red cards are going out of fashion. That's good news for both clubs rivals as their squads are being punished for lack of discipline on the field, well, unless you are Scott Brown or Nadir Ciftci.
Whilst we were idle, Jekyll & Hyde club Partick Thistle ran out convincing victors over St Johnstone by 3-0. First half goals from Kris Doolan and Conrad Balatoni had Partick cruising and they completed the scoring in the second period with a long range shot from Stuart Brannigan that sealed the points.
We need only remind ourselves of the earlier league clashes this season where Partick trounced Inverness twice, scoring seven goals in the process and conceding only one. Their in your face style and high pressing game accompanied by poor defensive decisions saw us fall apart all too easily, but the cup win showed we can do it if we apply ourselves properly, and that coupled with some injury and suspension worries for Partick should give us some optimism for todays game.
Inverness have given debut's to both recent signings and both will add new dimensions to our forward play. Ofere's height an obvious advantage and as shown in his cameo against Raith, Tarmo Kink has quick feet and once he reaches full fitness will be an exciting player to watch.
Both the newbies will feature in the squad and Garry Warren returns after his suspension, the one where Ciftci taunted him into retaliation and Gary walked. But he will be back which is tough on Danny Devine who has not done much wrong and scored the winning goal against Raith in the cup. Dean Brill has been out of action for over a month since wretching his knee at Kilmarnock and is nearing fitness, but with Esson a reliable replacement, there's no need to rush Deano back.. Richie Foran, well, surprise surprise is still out and one wonders if we will ever see him back.
Alan Archibald has a major doubt over Lyle Taylor who picked up a knock in training. Kallum Higgenbotham is suspended and Dan Seabourne, Sean Welsh and Christie Elliot are all reported to be out.
tm4tj Prediction:- The Jekyll & Hyde nature of Partick's season has seen them become the unpredictables. They have had some wonderful result, we should know better than most, but have also suffered some abject and unexplained performances and that's why they sit just above the relegation group in ninth place, but slightly adrift of the safety zone. On paper we look good for three points, but the game is not played on paper and we need to concentrate for the full ninety minutes if we want to keep our Euro hopes going strong into the last quarter of the season. It's usually around now that the word Euro brings on a decline in our play, almost as if someone has applied the brakes. With United faltering, we can only throw this advantage away all by ourselves. I am, however in optimistic mode considering Partick's woes and will be looking for a narrow win.
A point won't be too shabby, but all three would be nice.
Mar 10 2015 06:17 PM | Scotty in Reports 2014-15
Cup run continues
Inverness did just enough as they eased into the semi-finals after beating a resolute Raith Rovers 1-0 thanks to a headed goal just after the hour by Danny Devine from a Greg Tansey corner. The performance was secondary and the aim of the game was to get into the next round. That was achieved without too much hassle, although Inverness tried their best to throw Rovers a lifeline with a couple of loose passes along the defensive line. Man of the Match Danny Williams came closest in a drab first half with a scorching shot that cracked off the bar, and Graeme Shinnie could not convert when through on goal, but that apart, not too much to get excited about. The pace was upped in the second half and Raith were mostly on the back foot, but Inverness struggled to create clear cut chances. The goal came from a deep corner and Devine rose high at the back post to get good power on his header which entered the net via the post for the only goal of the game.
Full Time 1-0
Dancing in the streets of Inverness
After the horrendous storms of the last few days, few people were expecting a flat calm for this re-scheduled quarter final tie, but that's exactly what we got, thankfully. The Wind had disappeared and the pitch had dried out sufficiently to allow the game to go ahead.
Considering the timing of the game and the original postponement, a sizeable away support bolstered an otherwise apathetic home crowd for the tie which saw Inverness kick off and immediately hold the upper hand, taking the game to their Championship opponents. Greg Tansey had the first stab at goal as he curled a ball high and wide as it broke to him some 25 yards out.
Inverness' corner count was rising as the half continued, without either side threatening too much although Edward Ofere was unlucky to have a goalward header barged down as we penned Raith into their own quarter.
With quarter of an hour gone, Watkins might have done better or have been less greedy as he shot across the face of the goal when a pass would have been more productive.
There followed a series of corners and goal attempts by Inverness which should have resulted in the opening goal. Ofere, Williams, Shinnie and the pick of the misses from Raven as he tried to poke a ball towards the goal. Unfortunately, he stabbed it as high as the stand.
Ofere was causing problems in the box with his height and he brought a save out of McGurn, then flashed a header just wide as a goal looked imminent. Shinnie then missed the best chance so far after bursting into the box on his wrong foot, the keeper able to block his attempt as he bore down on goal. Williams is coming into his own these days and he unleashed a ferocious shot that smacked the crossbar from long range but that was about the best of the action and Raith held out for their 0-0 at the break.
Half Time 0-0
Inverness appeared after the break and straight away there seemed to be more urgency about their play as they attacked the North end. Watkins missed a sitter as he stuck out a foot at a ball in the six yard box, but he lifted it over the bar when it looked easier to score and a minute later he had a header saved under the bar as Raith were pegged back. Draper also had a header saved and the corners were totting up.
Rovers replied with a couple of corners of their own but the home defence looked comfortable dealing with them.
In the 63rd minute, the home pressure paid off. Tansey whipped a corner to the far post and Devine rose high above his marker to power his header in off the post with McGurn stranded. No more than Inverness deserved really but tough on the Rovers who had denied the Premiership side for over an hour.
A second goal would certainly kill the tie off, but Raith dug deep and tried to get back into the game, although the home defence were in no mood to let the lead slip.
In truth, Inverness were always a step ahead of their Championship rivals and Raith never did enough to warrant a replay, and after a flurry of subs the game became more fragmented. One of the subs brought some merriment to the North Stand as Tarmo Kink came on for the last fifteen minutes of play. He showed some quick feet and looks like he will do well for us.
Watkins, Tansey, and Christie all squandered further half chances and at the other end Ryan Esson had to pluck a last minute header from Conroy away from danger, but Inverness it was that went forward to a Hampden semi with either Dundee United or Celtic.
Full Time 1-0
Raith did well in the previous round, but found out that Inverness were a tougher nut to crack and offered little creativity although their defensive qualities were difficult for Inverness to break down. Danny Williams has come good recently and he was a good choice for MotM, and he was ably supported by Danny Devine, Graeme Shinnie and Marley Watkins who got his second wind after the break and worked harder in the last half hour. Ryan Christie will have better days and David Raven got us into bother a couple of times when some poor link play gifted the opportunity for Raith to counter attack. However Meekings and Devine coped with that and at the end of the day we deserved our win and 1-0 flattered Raith somewhat. We haven't seen any official figures for the tie yet, but Raith looked as though they had around 300-350 and the North and Main Stands looked to be half full, so maybe around 2,500 to 3,000 in attendance, but I never counted them and I doubt the accountants did either.
Date: 10/03/15 Venue: Caledonian Stadium Attendance: ????
Referee: Crawford Allan
Inverness CT: 1
Lineup: Esson, Raven, Shinnie, Meekings, Devine, Draper, Tansey, Williams (Kink 79), Watkins, Christie (Ross 90), Ofere (Doran 79)
Referee: Crawford Allan
Inverness CT: 1
Lineup: Esson, Raven, Shinnie, Meekings, Devine, Draper, Tansey, Williams (Kink 79), Watkins, Christie (Ross 90), Ofere (Doran 79)
Subs (not used): Mackay, Vincent, Tremarco, Polworth
Raith Rovers: 0
Scorers: Devine (63)
Sent Off: none
Sent Off: none
Raith Rovers: 0
Lineup: McGurn, Thomson, Watson, Fox (Conroy 88), Anderson (Vaughan 76), Stewart, Callachan, McKay, McKeown, Nade, Barr
Subs (not used): Cuthbert, Hill, Moon, Scott, Matthews
Sent Off: none
Sent Off: none
Mar 06 2015 08:31 PM | tm4tj in Previews 2014-15
They'll be dancing in the streets of ...........
Another of those lifelong quotes could be trotted out this weekend as Inverness face the banana skin that is Raith Rovers in the Quarter Final of the Scottish Cup. But which streets will they be dancing in after this cup tie.
It's not that long ago that headlines like SupercaleygoballisticCelticareatrocious were all the rage, February 8th 2000 in fact, a date etched on all Caley Thistle fans minds. However, back in the day, Raith Rovers carved their own little niche in Scottish Football. The infamous dancing in the streets quote is often known as a Colemanballs, but was actually quoted by the then editor of Match of the Day, Samuel James Leitch who implied that Raith was a town in Scotland where Rovers plied their trade after they had won another match. Another gaff from the BBC, no surprise there. Or did Scottish born Samuel have a twinkle in his eye when he said those immortal words.
Raith play at Starks Park Kirkaldy and can boast a larger capacity stadium than Inverness, 8473 all seated. They have played in the Uefa Cup, courtesy of winning the Scottish League Cup when they beat Celtic on penalties in 1994. Their Uefa journey ended the following season when Bayern Munich won 4-1 on aggregate, but they achieved a creditable defeat in Germany, going down 2-1 having taken the lead against the German giants. Danny Lennon had scored the Raith goal in that game at the Olympiastadion in Munich in front of 27,000 fans, but goals from Jurgen Klinsmann and Marcus Babbel saved the German clubs blushes. Great effort though by the Kirkaldy club. In the previous round, none other than our very own Barry Wilson had scored one of the goals that saw them beat Akranes 3-1. Danny Lennon got a brace in that game as well. In 1951 Raith reached the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup only to lose 3-2 to Celtic. That game was played at Hampden in front of 84,640 fans. Aye, nostalgia, it's not what it used to be.
Back to the future almost and the last time Rovers were here it took an injury time overhead kick by Richie Foran to give Inverness the win by 4-3 in a bit of an epic encounter. Raith had taken an early lead through Iain Williamson, but goals from Richie Foran, Adam Rooney and Eric Odhiambo put Inverness in easy street. However, a blast from the past, as Gregory Tade did his prospects no harm and scored Raith's second before Jamie Mole equalised. It took until the 94th minute before Foran's dramatic winner brought about scenes of joy. We would go on and win the title that season and Raith finished 7th.
In the previous round Inverness knocked out our bogey side Partick Thistle at Firhill. Marley Watkins and Greg Tansey had Inverness all but into the next round, but Partick rallied and a Lyle Taylor strike made it a nervy last quarter for Inverness, but we held on to progress to the draw for the quarter finals. Raith got to darts world champion Gary Anderson's draw by beating the Rangers 2-1 at Ibrox. Ryan Conroy had curled in a beauty of a free kick but Haris Vuckic levelled. However, Raith have gone from Tade to Nade and Christian scored a scrambled effort to put Raith into the hat. Gary Anderson did the rest and the first names out of the hat were Inverness and Raith Rovers. So that's us right up to date now, and Saturday will see the clubs slug it out for a semi-final slot.
Inverness have signed Tarmo Kink to add to Edward Ofere's signature. Ofere scored on his debut last week in the loss at Motherwell and Kink was added to the squad this week. He has previously played for amongst others, Spartak Moscow and Middlesborough. The Estonian forward has signed until the end of the season.
Latest team news
Inverness have some squad problems after last weeks battle at Tannadice. Garry Warren is suspended and Dean Brill has not played for a month now. Foran is forever injured but Aaron Doran and James Vincent are ready for action. Marley Watkins is free to play in the cup game and Edward Ofere and Tarmo Kink could find themselves on the park.
Raith Rovers striker Calum Elliot is out after surgery, but Christian Nade is back after suspension. Loan Ranger Barrie McKay is back in contention for a start. Former Inverness super sub Liam Fox will be in the Rovers squad. Another familiar face will be that of ex-County midfielder Martin Scott who will be looking to get one over his olde rivals.
For what it's worth is that Inverness will get into the semi's, but as the Rangers found out, this Raith side are no pushovers and we can expect another stern test as Raith look to get to the semi-finals. Christian Nade is built from the same mold as Josh Magennis and he shoved us around like rag dolls. Never mind, Willie Collum is here to save us, or should that be God save us all. Inverness through after a last minute overhead kick from David Raven
Edward and Tarmo chatted after signing on the dotted line........
With the original game being called off due to inclement weather, this tie will now be played this Tuesday night. That means that we now know our fate should we get past Raith Rovers. The draw could have been kinder, but the winners have been paired with either Celtic or Dundee United who scrapped out a 1-1 draw in a game that saw Celtic finish the game with ten men, whilst United ended up with nine. The other semi is more clear cut and it is an all Championship tie with Hibernian playing Falkirk.
Feb 28 2015 06:21 PM | tm4tj in Reports 2014-15
A not unexpected reverse at Motherwell, a side buoyed by the return of prodigal son Scott McDonald and Stephen Pearson, saw Well win their first game in nine. Inverness were down to the bare bones and fielded new signing Edward Ofere, but it was Motherwell that took the game to Inverness who turned in a shocker of a first half. Louis Laing headed the opener only for Ofere to score on his debut after 76 mins. With Inverness looking the most likely to go on and win the game, substitute Lionel Ainsworth scored with the aid of a deflection off Ross Draper after a corner and secured the points for struggling Motherwell.
Inverness have disappointed in the last few games where it was feasible that we could have all but seen off Dundee United, whilst Motherwell will be happy to get their relegation battle off and running.
Full report to follow..........................
Feb 27 2015 08:38 PM | tm4tj in Previews 2014-15
Old heads back for Well
Motherwell are the victims this weekend as Inverness take their unbeaten 2015 to Fir Park in a top end versus bottom clash.
Inverness will be making the journey without the red carded Garry Warren and threshold breaker Marley Watkins as a result of their fiery midweek encounter with the aggressive Arabs, who managed to convince the referee that Inverness are a bunch of hammer throwers. Shifty Ciftci used all his continental flair to sneakily and blatantly shove and smash Inverness players behind the refs back in an attempt to even up the numerical advantage. However, the camera never lies and he has been hauled over the coals by the SFA for his nasty tricks. Unfortunately Warren reacted and his card sticks at the moment.
As mentioned, Inverness are unbeaten in their last ten games and are pushing for a top three finish. Motherwell, on the other hand are in free fall. It's nine games since The Steelmen won a game, beating Partick 1-0 at the end of December. Since then they have picked up only one point in a home draw with St Johnstone, and that form has seen them hit the bottom of the league with County and St Mirren all level on points, but Well's goal difference worse than both.
Motherwell are having a torrid time of it injury wise and have moved to strengthen their squad in the battle to avoid relegation. Former players Scott McDonald and Stuart Pearson have been drafted in to help the cause and they have been fantastic servants of the club in the past. McDonald has scored 45 goals for Motherwell and will be a threat to our makeshift back line and his experience will be invaluable as Well look to get off the bottom.
Inverness have signed Nigerian striker Edward Ofere until the end of the season. His most prominent role was at Malmo where he played 85 times, scoring 24 goals over a five year period. Not certain whether clearance has arrived yet or not.
Pulling a sickie for Motherwell are Steven Hammell, Iain Vigurs, Zaine Francis-Angol, Paul Lawson, Jack Leitch and Bob McHugh.
Inverness are a bit threadbare just now and the two suspensions will hit us hard. Foran has been out forever and Dean Brill is still suffering from his knee injury. Aaron Doran and James Vincent are badly needed back in the squad and have returned to training and Danny Devine will be drafted back into the squad in the absence of Gary Warren.
tm4tj prediction:- With Motherwell strengthening big time, this could be a tricky game to negotiate and with us understrength we will do well to come away with a point.