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Summer of discontent. Morton are the visitors this weekend as our summer of discontent continues with tales of woe clouding the atmosphere at the Caledonian Stadium where the stench of relegation is getting right up everyone's nose. New chairman Willie Finlayson is set to leave his position less than three months after taking the hot seat over. Graham Rae pictured on the left will be the new Chairman. The club are in such a shambles at the moment that the board felt they needed to send out a statement to the fans to try and quell any unrest amongst the support. There's a lot of content in the message, so I'll just post a link to the Official site. Board Statement However, there is plenty for the fans to feel uneasy about. Here's a few of the Premier League gaffs since relegation. The signing of a manager who apparently never actually applied for the job. The season ticket fiasco that has since been addressed. The media and technology side of things are now a laughing stock given the release of Duncan Shearer by text (allegedly), the Twitter account showing links to naughty sites and the general lack of information coming forth from the official website. We failed to progress in a relatively comfortable group in the Betfred League Cup. We have signed some utter useless jobbing players, some of them masquerading as footballers. The final straw this week saw stalwart midfielder Ross Draper move over the Bridge to our local rivals to join former legendary Caley Jags striker Billy Mckay at Dingwall. Talk about rubbing our noses in it. All this after the club that has gone from Bucharest to Brechin in less than 2 years get an absolute mauling at East End Park with Dunfermline thrashing us 5-1, and we got off lightly at that. ICT Chris summed it up neatly on the forum: "The only way it could be worse is if Finlayson invited a few Japanese trawler boats to dock outside the stadium and slaughter some of the dolphins". It's going to be a long season if we continue in this vein of form, and given that the quality of our defence appears to be the worst in the history of the club, the midfield is lacking confidence and leadership and the strikeforce is non-existent, then I believe we might be making the play-offs at the wrong end of the table. There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon, but it's a long shot. Talk of an injection of cash coming soon might enable us to strengthen the squad. I'll not be holding my breath on that one, but here's hoping the new chairman will uphold the boards statement. To the game in hand, Morton come North on the back of a 4-1Championship thrashing of their local rivals St Mirren. This result hinged on a sending off and a pair of penalties for Morton, (Michael Tidser scoring both), with Jack Baird of St Mirren seeing red. That result gives them four points after an opening day goalless draw at Dumbarton. The big derby win came out of the blue after results in the group stages of the League Cup saw Morton win two, lose one and draw one. Like us, they did not make the next stage of the competition. Since beating St Mirren, they have gone out of the Challenge Cup going down 2-0 at home to Livingston. That's a result that did not please manager Jim Duffy who said “We made a couple of changes, but nothing overly dramatic; all the boys have been in and around the first team, so it’s not as if we threw in all young boys. “There wasn’t a department that played well, taking Derek Gaston out of it. The defence was poor, the midfield looked dead on their feet, and up front there was no spark. “I feel like the fans in a sense – frustrated. I’m angry, and I think if the players are honest with themselves, they’ll know they totally underperformed tonight.” We have hit rock bottom after losing both of our opening fixtures in the Championship. The defeat against United was narrow but not the end of the world. However, the defeat at Dunfermline was crushing and seemed like the end of the world. We are shipping goals at an alarming rate and creating very little. The defence is a shambles from the keeper out. The midfield has a Ross Draper & Greg Tansey size hole in it, and that shows up the vulnerability of the players left to fill that void. Up front we seem to have strikers that are not really strikers. Willing runners maybe, but not the type of poacher we have been used to. John Robertson hopes to turn this around given time. I hope he is right. We have a decent head to head against Morton with nine wins from twelve games, and there were some thumping victories amongst those games. Unfortunately that was in a previous life and it will be a foolish person that believes we can pick up where we left off. The last meeting was a Scottish Cup tie in November 2013. We won convincingly 4-0 with Nick Ross scoring just before half time. Billy Mckay scored a couple after the break and Aaron Doran completed the scoring with a penalty at the end. The best result in the Highlands for Morton was a 1-1 draw way back in September 1999. Martin Glancy opened the scoring for Inverness but after going down to ten men, Paddy Connolly equalised to earn a point for Morton in this first division game. Inverness could be without influential captain Gary Warren who has missed the last few games through injury. Carl Tremarco and Aaron Doran are out for the next few months, and Zak Elbouzedi has not featured since his pre-season injury. We have/are signing Canadian international Charlie Trafford, a midfielder and had former Dundee United defender Coll Donaldson on trial in a midweek game at Nairn. Both are believed to have agreed to sign on. Morton have just given experienced manager Jim Duffy a two year contract extension. He seems to be doing all the right things at Cappielow and Chairman Douglas Rae is delighted with the way Duffy has tackled his job. This was the starting eleven against St Mirren. Gaston; Doyle, O'Ware, Lamie, Russell; Forbes, Tidser, Murdoch, Thomson; Quitongo, McHugh. Gary Harkins was on the bench and he has more talent than our entire squad. tm4tj prediction:- We have not found our feet in the Championship and could be in for more trouble before we see any improvement on and off the park. Jai Quitongo is a bundle of tricks that will cause defenders problems with his pace. The signings of Elsdon and Chalmers has flopped badly with no Gary Warren to keep them right. We need to tighten up at the back and get stuck in across the midfield or it could be another barren day for our strikers. With a bit of fortune, we could get a point, otherwise it will be another harsh lesson in the Championship.
Inverness Cardled by Joe 90 Old Caley Girl made the wrong decision this week against her better judgement and went along to East End Park. Here she shares her views on the utter shambles that Inverness Caledonian Thistle have become. Saturday saw the first Caleyaway of the season. It was a late decision to attend by the Old Caley Girl family. Oh how I regret that decision! At 3pm as I ran into the ground it started to rain. I should have realised then that was an omen for what was to come. I’m writing this on Monday and still feel angry about what was witnessed. It’s been a summer of discontent for ICTFC. This culminated last week in the sale of Ross Draper to our neighbours over the bridge. If anyone was still in denial how far this club has fallen lately then surely they cannot be anymore. However, back to the match. This was the first league visit to Dunfermline since February 2012. Caley Thistle last lost here in December 1999 and we have won 10 times there since that date. There were two changes following the home defeat to Dundee United last week with the aforementioned Draper away and Raven dropping to the bench. They were replaced by Jake Mulraney and Colin Seedorf. Dunfermline were fresh from a 6-0 defeat at Ibrox in midweek. They were without the suspended McManus and injured Nicky Clark. This left Hopkirk and 17 year old Smith leading the line. Within 90 seconds of the start we were 1-0 down! I had not even reached my seat and watched from the top of the steps as a Matthew Elsdon free kick on the halfway line was pumped to far right where Joe Cardle gathered and fed the ball forward. Smith headed the ball on and when Mark Ridgers came to meet it 20 yards out the ball broke left leaving Smith to slot the ball in the net. This brought an immediate response from the Caleyjags with several squandered chances including a Baird shot that was fisted away by Murdoch. However, disaster then struck again at 14 minutes with Higginbotham sending the ball in from the right to Ashcroft at the right post who glanced a header into the net at the far post. At 2-0 down we probably had our best period in the whole game. At 18 minutes Talbot fouled Mulraney 25 yards out and Vigurs hit the ball home into the far left of the net, one of those that bounced all the way into the net deceiving everyone. There then followed several chances to equalise with chances falling to Oakley, Vigurs, Polworth and Baird but this intense pressure did not end in goals sadly. In fact worse was to come with Cardle netting shortly before the interval, curling home a beauty. Half time 3-1 The second half was more of the same but with Dunfermline always in the driving seat. Zschusschen and Cooper were introduced in the 71st minute with Raven replacing Vigurs in the 81st. The latter did not look happy at being substituted and seemed a bizarre move given he was clearly our best performer on the day by quite some distance. Things were to go from bad to worse with Hopkirk making it 4-1. Joe Cardle became a real life Joe 90 as he scored in the ninetieth minute to make it five. The disappointing thing is that it was no more than the Pars deserved. Steven MacLean dished out 5 yellow cards. 4 of them to ICT players Oakley, Elsdon, Mckay and Polworth. Full time 5-1 OCG MOTM Not many contenders so it has to be the stand out stand in Captain Iain Vigurs. Joe Cardle was the genuine article though as he sliced through our defence time and time again whilst helping himself to a couple of goals. This was a totally embarrassing shambolic performance. We have a lot of raw young signings in the team and most looked totally out of their depth. The lack of goals, even two games in, is a real concern. I thought Hamilton away earlier in the year was a low point but this definitely rivals it. Any thoughts of instant promotion need to be filed away on this showing. The sooner Warren and Tremarco are fit the better and I personally would like to see a change of heart from Robbo regarding Owain Fon Williams and Raven. Whether that happens remains to be seen. See for yourself. If you are thick skinned, here's extended lowlights from Pars TV. Date: 12/08/17 Venue: East End Park, Dunfermline Attendance: 4391 Referee: Steven McLean Dunfermline: 5 Lineup: Murdoch, Williamson, Morris, Ashcroft, Talbot (Martin 70), Higginbotham, Shiels, Wedderburn (Splaine 81), Cardle, Hopkirk (Lochead 74), Smith Subs (not used): Gill, Mvoto, Paton, Aird, Scorers: Smith (2), Ashcroft (14), Cardle (41, 90), Hopkirk (67) Booked: Morris (21) Sent Off: none Inverness CT: 1 Lineup: Ridgers, Seedorf, Elsdon, Mckay, Chalmers, Vigurs (Raven 81), Polworth, Mulraney (Cooper 71), Calder, Baird, Oakley (Zschusschen 71) Subs (not used): Esson, Bell, MacDonald Scorers: Vigurs (18) Booked: Oakley (6), Elsdon (23), Polworth (57), Mckay (76) Sent Off: none a
Card Happy Craig ruins the day. Inverness went down to a Craig Thomson decision to award a penalty after Paul McMullan burrowed his way into the box and through a blockade of legs and bodies. He made the referee make the decision and he pointed rather hastily to the spot. McMullan took the kick himself and scored with ease as Mark Ridgers went the opposite way from the ball. A large away contingent made for a healthy crowd for the opening game of the season as Inverness took to the park minus the injured captain Gary Warren, Ross Draper handed the armband. Quality defender Collin Seedorf missed out through injury. John Baird and George Oakley were the pairing trusted to get the goals. Dundee United were without the suspended Scott McDonald and Mathew Smith which meant that Paul McMullan continued to spearhead their attack. It was with much trepidation that many Caley Jags fans ventured forth after last seasons relegation and changes to personnel, the Betfred Cup games offering little reassurance to the home fans. However, they turned up to see how we would fare against hot tips Dundee United. Early exchanges showed that we were willing to take the game to United and we carved out a few opportunities to create chances, but there were no takers for the trickery of Ricardo Calder or the class and prompting of Iain Vigurs. We went behind on thirteen minutes when McMullan lunged into the legs blocking his route to goal and Thomson did not hesitate to offer the penalty to United. A bit harsh on the defenders who were already on the ground but McMullan made the most of it and converted thereafter. Calder was causing havoc down our left flank, skinning the defenders with ease, but the final ball evading all but the keeper and his defenders in the visitors box. Plenty of long diagonal balls finding Calder, alas, he was unable to make the most of them. Mark Ridgers did pull off one brilliant save early on when United threatened inside the box, the keeper able to parry the ball to safety when a goal looked the likeliest outcome. For all our territorial superiority, we never managed to create the clear chances that United were able to, and Ross Draper took it upon himself to burst into the box along the byeline. Unfortunately his grounding looked a bit suspect, and when Tam Scobbie squared up to Draper, the pair found themselves in the refs wee black book. We reached the break just one goal down, but not too dispirited given our bright opening to the game. Half Time 0-1 The lack of a goal threat was worrying and that theme continued after the interval with us having the possession, but United having the better chances. They should have wrapped up the points late in the game after a bit of slackness at the back. The game seemed to pause, or go into slow motion and it ended with Sam Stanton curling a shot over the vacant net, the defence not covering themselves in glory at that point. We put plenty of effort into this one, but nobody was willing to take the bull by the horns as the game became littered with shameful play acting and general thuggery, mostly on the part of the visitors who killed the flow of the game any way they deemed necessary. However they seemed to have a decent alibi in Craig Thomson who allowed them to get away with most of the attempts to disrupt the beautiful game. He did however almost wear out his yellow card, nine bookings in total Full Time 0-1 Despite this loss, we can take heart from the overall performance against the Champions elect. It took a disputed penalty to win the game. The biggest disappointment from Robbo's point of view will be the lack of clear opportunities we created. Lewis in goal never really had to break sweat other than the amount of crosses or corners he had to gather out of the air untroubled. Ricardo Calder looked a big threat wide on the left. He was literally dealt a huge blow that went unpunished from the shoddy Craig Thomson, having to leave the game after ten minutes of the second half. Iain Vigurs looked to be a class above anyone else and was my MotM, especially in the first half and he did break sweat with one track back and crucial intervention. Mark Ridgers pulled off one tremendous save, although some of the pass backs put him under pressure and the clearances were a bit iffy. The defence were missing Warren and Seedorf and that's an area Robbo will be keeping a close eye on. Another area worth watching is up front. Where are the goals going to come from? So, not too disheartened, but still a familiar feel about the defeat. We all knew it would take a bit of time for everyone to find their feet, so patience will be a virtue this season. Off to Dunfermline next week in matchday two. Date: 05/08/17 Venue: Caledonian Stadium Attendance: 3415 Referee: Craig Thomson Inverness CT: 0 Lineup: Ridgers; Raven, Elsdon, Mckay, Chalmers, Polworth, Draper, Vigurs, Calder (Mulraney, 58), Baird (Bell, 74), Oakley (Zschusschen, 85) Subs (not used): Esson, Cooper, MacDonald Scorers: none Booked: Draper (43), Raven (63), Vigurs (76), Mckay (89), Elsdon (92) Sent Off: none Dundee Utd: 1 Lineup: Lewis; Toshney, Scobbie, Edjenguele, Robson, Allardice (Keatings, 67), Briels, Stanton, Fraser (Flood, 87), King, McMullan Subs (not used): Mehmet, Murdoch, Donaldson, Chalmers, Thomas Scorers: McMullan (pen.13) Booked: Scobbie (44), Stanton (74), McMullan (80), Briels (86) Sent Off: none a
Here we go The start of a new campaign will take one of the big favourites for promotion North, as Dundee United visit the Caledonian Stadium on matchday one of the Championship. We couldn't have asked for a much more difficult opening game for Robbo's new look Caley Jags. With around ten new faces, it's quite difficult to keep tabs on what's going on at the stadium as secrecy is the preferred mode at the moment. Even the twitter account dried up last week as fans were left in the dark during the Forfar Athletic game. Aye, that's relegation for you. If any fans were left in doubt about how tough this season will be, look no further than our performances in the Betfred League Cup, where we failed to progress from our seemingly comfortable group A. The massive changes throughout the club have repercussions everywhere, and on the park it's no different. New Players, new manager and a new challenge in extremely challenging times makes for a season where it might take a long time before we reap the benefits. Sadly, we still seem to be plagued by last years nemesis. Injuries are already affecting Robbo's squad with some key players struggling to get on the park, Tremarco and Doran out until Santa comes down your chimney. Gary Warren and Zak Elbouzedi crocked before the first game, and niggling injuries keeping another three or four out of contention. The Arabs are fresh from a frenetic Dundee derby where they matched their Dark Blue rivals in the league cup, and the draw has thrown them together again in the next round where they will get another crack at a proven Premiership side. These games will set United up for the challenge ahead, something that we appear to be unprepared for at the present. United have strengthened their squad over the summer. The loss of Simon Murray to Hibernian was tempered by the signing of proven goal scorer Scott McDonald from Motherwell. Billy King preferred Tangerine to our own red'n'blue stripes and James Keatings and Sam Stanton arrived from Hibs. Tam Scobbie and Paul McMullan will bolster the squad and keeper Harry Lewis came in from Southampton on loan. Less familiar names are Patrick N'Koyi, forward (Maastricht); Jordie Briels, midfielder (Fortuna Sittard); Deniz Mehmet, goalkeeper (Port Vale). The latest higher profile addition is former Aberdeen player Fraser Fyvie. Out went Blair Spittal, midfielder (Partick Thistle); Luis Zwick, goalkeeper (Hansa Rostock); Sean Dillon, defender (Montrose); Aaron Murrell, forward (Berwick Rangers); Paul Dixon, defender; Charlie Telfer, midfielder; Frank van der Struijk, defender; Wato Kuate, midfielder; Jordan Garden, forward. Loan ended: Tony Andreu, midfielder (Norwich City); Thomas Mikkelsen, forward (Odense); Alex Nicholls, midfielder (Barnet); Brett Long, goalkeeper (Motherwell). Team news from the Caledonian Stadium is that Gary Warren joins Carl Tremarco and Aaron Doran on the longer list with wide player Zak Elbouzedi out as well. Collin Seedorf is expected to return with David Raven on standby should he be needed. Jake Mulraney will be a key player this season and should be fit for the opener. New signing Connor Bell is ready to go as well Scott McDonald will not feature for the Arabs as he is suspended, as is Matty Smith, but Billy King is poised to play against his former team mates but ex-Jambo James Keatings is struggling with injury. Paul McMullan could find himself as the main striker once more. We start the season in sixth place, albeit alphabetically. We will do well to get above that this term. It's going to be a long hard season methinks, with a play off place the aim. Visitors United will be one of the hot favourites for promotion, and it's difficult to see past them being in pole position at the end of the season. tm4tj prediction:- This game against the Championship favourites comes a bit too early for us with our preparations hindered by injuries already. United limbered up for this with a Dundee derby and they looked sharp and ready for the season ahead. We'll do well to take a point, but the likelihood of an opening day defeat looms large. Fingers crossed for a point. Robbo was talking to the Inverness Courier ahead of this clash and he had this to say.................. “United are flying, have topped their group and got a win over their rivals. It was a fantastic spectacle at Dens Park, so they’ll be in fine fettle and bring a good crowd up the road. “It’ll let us know where everybody is right from the start. You get straight into it against a title contender and hopefully we’re in the position after the match celebrating three points. “People talk about relegation – it has financial repercussions but we’re dealing with it. We have a budget and we work to it. We’ve brought younger more athletic players in to bolster the players we’ve got at the moment. “Dundee United and Falkirk are most people’s favourites and we respect that. But we want to show we’ll be right up there challenging because there’s a very good United squad coming up this weekend.”