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Found 77 results

  1. Fir Park six-pointer. It's getting close to last chance saloon for Inverness as they try to stave off relegation. A visit to fellow strugglers Motherwell is our last game before the League split, a split that will determine our fate over the final five games of this dismal season. It's probably fitting that the bottom two clubs at this moment are Inverness and Motherwell, the clubs with the worst defensive record in the League. Inverness' only away win all season came at Motherwell back in October. It kind of came out of the blue although it was nonetheless very welcome at the time. Second half goals from Carl Tremarco, Lonsana Doumbouya, and Liam Polworth catapulted rookie boss Richie Foran's side into the top-six. Here we go we all thought. Alas, a devastating one win in the twenty-one League games since then has plummeted Foran's flops to the brink of relegation, four points adrift of second bottom Motherwell. It's been a season to forget for Caley Jags fans with a total of four wins to date, the worst statistic in British senior football. Speculation grew in the media this week that Foran was about to get the bullet, but the club quickly dispelled any truth in the hype surrounding this, although many fans fear it's a couple of months too late in the making. The board won't like this either, but many pundits are looking to them as guilty parties in this sorry mess. Foran's appointment being the main topic and appearing to be the cheap option. Club legend Barry Wilson talking on BBC Sport is pointing his finger at the board. "The buck stops with the board. They made the appointment, they took the gamble and, at the minute, it's certainly not looking as if it's worked. "Richie needed his own man in there as an assistant, he wasn't granted that, so there had to be a partnership between Brian and Richie - and I don't think that's there. That doesn't help." We are not relegated yet though and should we defeat Motherwell, then more opportunities will surely come along after the split, but the statistics don't back that up with only four wins in thirty-two games, why should the last five be any different. We showed nothing against St Johnstone to suggest that we are up for a battle and if anything, most of the players look resigned to Championship football already. We plumbed new depths against St Johnstone going down without much fight 3-0 at home with two players sent off. Larnell Cole during the second half and Gary Warren after the final whistle. Nothing went right for us and heads went down too early, the Cole sending of just brought forward the capitulation. The Steelmen lost 1-0 to surprise top-six qualifiers Partick Thistle who have had a great season by their recent standards. That defeat was Well's seventh in the last ten games with only one win and two draws. Well parted company with Mark McGhee at the end of February after a run of two wins in thirteen games. Seems not too bad considering some managers have had worse records. However the straw that broke the donkey's back was a 5-1 thrashing from Dundee. A month later they appointed Stephen Robinson as the man to get them out of trouble. His first game saw the bounce help them to a win over Killie, but that has been followed by no wins in their last five games and we have edged one point closer to them by virtue of an extra draw. Inverness will be missing the suspended duo of Larnell Cole and Gary Warren. Josh Meekings, Iain Vigurs and Aaron Doran are long term absentees. David Raven missed last weekend with a groin strain and is a doubt as is fellow defender Jamie McCart. One massive blow to our hopes is that Billy Mckay is struggling to make this one. Jake Mulraney featured for the development squad in midweek and he will benefit from some game time. Kev McNaughton played last weekend against St Johnstone, but maybe found the pace too much given his lengthy spell out and the role he was offered, but his quality showed through. Motherwell have Keith Lasley suspended for this game. Stephen McManus is recovering from a groin operation and is not expected back yet. Richard Tait has also been under the knife and is out having missed the last seven games. Louis Moult is a doubt for this game. tm4tj prediction:- I despair watching the Caley Jags at the moment. The lack of passion is evident, the lack of quality is evident, the lack of ambition is evident, the lack of creation is evident. On this evidence, we are heading one way unless the manager and players can find something that's been missing all season. I don't hold out much hope for a win, maybe a draw, but it's who wants it the most. Home win looks likeliest. Other games in the relegation watch this weekend:- Dundee v Hamilton. Dundee have lost their last 6 games on the bounce. Accies have 2 wins & 2 draws in last 6. Killie v Hearts. Killie are on the verge of safety, a win over Hearts would make them unlikely candidates.
  2. High scoring Dons next for Inverness. It's our toughest remaining fixture of a difficult season on Tuesday night as we face our player poachers, Aberdeen. With Greg Tansey jumping ship in the summer, he will join up with half a dozen former Caley Jags players now plying their trade at Pittodrie. We did ourselves no favours in our last outing, drawing with Kilmarnock at home when we really need to be winning these games to get ourselves off the foot of the table. It's one step forward and two back just now as Hamilton benefited from a St Johnstone boxing match to win all three points once Saints were reduced to nine men. Billy Mckay leveled the game with Killie after Kris Boyd had scored from the spot. Plenty of huff and puff, but we failed to blow the house down and it looks like it's going to be a tense finale to the season. The sheep are on fire right now and they pulverised Dundee by putting seven goals past them without reply. Andrew Considine scored a hat-trick in that game as they absolutely put the Dark Blues to the sword with some marvelous interplay as they cut them open time and time again. The Dons are on target to finish the best of the rest. They have only one defeat in their last eight games, (Hamilton) and they have won the other seven. In stark contrast, Inverness have only one win in their last eight (Rangers). The others are five draws and one defeat. The difference in fortunes are reflected in the relevant positions of the teams, Aberdeen on 61 points and Inverness on 25 points. We drew with the Dons back in September at Pittodrie, but when they came North in November we were easily beaten 3-1. A repeat of the Pittodrie draw would be welcome and most fans would bite the Aberdeen hand off right now if offered that outcome on Tuesday night. Our last win at Pittodrie was five games ago in January 2014. Since then it has been two defeats and the last two ended all square. Greg Tansey will be under scrutiny as his soon to be employers will be unimpressed should he score a winning goal against them. I wonder if it might be in everyone's best interest if he should sit this one out. However, we still pay his wages at the moment. Josh Meekings, Aaron Doran and Iain Vigurs are all out. Ryan Esson was on the bench against Killie and he will be on it again at Pittodrie. Carl Tremarco and Lewis Horner could make the squad. It was great to have the classy Kev McNaughton back on Saturday and he will be an asset in the defence should Tremarco not be risked. Aberdeen will be without the suspended Jayden Stockley. But with their depth of talent, mostly ex-Inverness players with more to follow, then I doubt he will be missed. Mark Reynolds is also out. Derek McInnes should have an otherwise unchanged squad from the one that battered Dundee. Other midweek fixtures to keep an eye on are:- Ross County v Dundee (Tues) Kilmarnock v Rangers (Wed) Motherwell v Hamilton (Wed)
  3. Return of the six-pointer It's another crucial match as we begin to run out of games to save our season. Kilmarnock are the visitors on Saturday after the inconvenience of International weekend. In actual fact, they are all crucial now, and after the last outings turnaround in results with County and Killie salvaging draws, then we need to start making the most of home advantage. That means having a go Richie rather than waiting for something to happen. It did last time out, unfortunately at the wrong end. How steep is this learning curve, it's almost vertical now. We lost a vital two points against County that would have dragged them right down into the thick of the relegation tussle. Greg Tansey had given us the lead just after the break but a late goal from Alex Schalk evened up matters. When the dust had settled after another frenetic derby it was a point apiece and no one could grumble if I'm being honest. In saying that, both sides had chances to win the game, but as has been the case for most of the season, we failed to take advantage when on top and our defensive record speaks for itself, abysmal. This result keeps us in the relegation turmoil whilst County still harbour hopes of a top-six slot. (Who are they kidding) Killie salvaged a point thanks to an incredible blunder by Partick's keeper when he failed to stop a trundling effort. The ball seemed to slap off him and squirm it's way into the net. Unbelievable Geoff! Chris Erskine looked to have given Partick all three points but Conor Sammon squeezed the ball home from distance thanks to an horrific cock-up by Tomas Cerny, straight out of the Fon Williams book of blunderful saves. Killie have been a bit Jekyll and Hyde this season, but have surprised many by their league position, sitting eight points above Inverness and only two behind Partick in sixth place. Look away now Tomas................. You have to go back eleven games since Killie last beat Inverness in the Highlands. It was seven years ago in December 2010 when they won 1-3. Craig Bryson, Liam Kelly and Jamie Hamill did the damage Hamill scoring from a rebound after his penalty had been saved by Ryan Esson. A certain Mr Richie Foran scored the Inverness goal that day. Since then, it has been five home wins and five draws. That statistic would appear to make Inverness the favourites on paper, but in reality, Killie have been better equipped this season and their league position is healthier than ours at the moment. They are however the second lowest scoring side in the division with only twenty-eight goals, five fewer than us. Their defence is eight better off than ours. That all adds up to a goal difference of minus seventeen compared to minus twenty for Inverness, which means every goal scored will count double in the goal difference stakes. Iain Vigurs crocked himself in the Highland derby and will possibly miss the rest of the season with ankle ligament damage. Carl Tremarco also took a knock in the derby and will miss another couple of weeks. Ryan Esson, Josh Meekings, Aaron Doran and Lewis Horner are out long term. Jake Mulraney missed the last game but hopes to have recovered sufficiently to be included in the squad for this one. Jamie McCart played for Scotland u21 in midweek and along with Louis Laing could keep his place in defence, although Gary Warren's experience could be vital. David Raven could be used at left back again and Kevin McNaughton is fit enough to be included after his lengthy time out. Brad Mckay will also be pushing for a start and Liam Polworth needs to stand up and be counted now that Vigurs is missing. Killie's interim manager Lee McCulloch will be without the suspended Luke Hendrie. Steven Smith is struggling for fitness although could be available, but Greg Kiltie is not ready for action yet. And finally, the worlds worst kept secret has become public knowledge. It has been announced that Greg Tansey will be leaving in the summer to join the rest of his former colleagues at Pittodrie. Well blow me down. It's a bit untimely given our predicament, but I'm sure Greg will not want a relegation on his CV and will be trying his utmost to get us away from the bottom. tm4tj prediction:- As I said above, Killies season should be seen as a success thus far. They have some flair players capable of hurting the opposition. Greg Kiltie and Rory McKenzie to name a couple and Conor Sammon is always a danger with his pace and eye for goal. He has scored three goals since his return to Killie in seven appearances. We need to be more aggressive at home, but not to the detriment of our fragile defence. We have a scorer in Billy Mckay, but he needs some service. If we can get bodies forward to help him out then I see no reason that we can't take all three points, but given that we don't do nil-nil in this fixture then it could be a scoring draw which will not do us any favours. Killie still have hopes of top-six, we hope to be playing in the top league next season. With Killie playing Rangers, Celtic and Hearts after they come North, they might feel that this is the one they should be winning and will go for the jugular. It could get messy, but let's get behind the guys and give them every encouragement we can. Other games around us that we will be keeping an eye on. Dundee 0 - 7 Aberdeen (Friday) Oooooft, that's a hammering. Looking forward to Tuesday night now! Hamilton v St Johnstone Partick v Ross County Rangers v Motherwell
  4. So, who does own the Highlands? Ross County make the short trek over the bridge to face Inverness in a crucial showdown as both clubs fight for their Premiership survival in what has become a relegation derby with another one to come before the end of the season. Tough times for both Highland clubs. And they don't come much tougher than this. A local derby at the wrong end of the table with points needed by both clubs. The Highlands were predominantly ours, but this has been a substandard transitional season for Inverness, with County faring marginally better. This could change on Saturday. Is it a must win game? Possibly not, but it's certainly a must not lose game. Inverness took a small step forward last weekend with a scarcely deserved but crucial point at Firhill, Gary Warren scoring with the last touch of the game. It was a vital one though as his header from a deep Billy King cross found the bottom corner to cancel out Kris Doolan's opener for Partick. Foran suffered badly from a lack of available players for this one with Ross Draper and Carl Tremarco suspended and the pacey Jake Mulraney injured and Aaron Doran out for the rest of the season. It showed in his team selection so a point at Partick is not to be scoffed at given our deficiencies. County at one point this season looked good for a top-six place, but their form of late has been that of a relegation threatened side. Their good work at Tynecastle was undone as Killie came North and went home with all three points. A late Kris Boyd counter was the difference between the sides after Conor Sammon and Liam Boyce had scored earlier in the game. That turnaround and our late point at Partick means that there are only four points between the sides now. Both clubs have picked up just seven points over their last ten games, County with two wins and a draw. One of those wins was a 3-2 victory in the last derby with Liam Boyce bagging a brace and Martin Woods notching the other. We toiled that day but goals from Carl Tremarco and Alex Fisher gave us some hope although it was a case of too little too late. County also won the first derby 3-2 with Boyce claiming a hat-trick that day. Scott Boden and Ross Draper scored for Inverness in another game where we fell short of the mark. Strangely enough, we have scored two more goals than County, once more it's the defence that has been letting us down with County conceding five less than us. In truth, there's little between the sides, yet County manager Jim McIntyre is still searching for a route into the top-six. That has long been closed for Inverness as Richie Foran realised avoiding relegation is the priority. Sadly, if neither club find a bit of form going into the final games of the season, then relegation is a distinct possibility for both clubs. Thankfully, Hamilton and Motherwell are still in the mix for that unwanted position. Even a play-off game presumably against either Dundee United or Falkirk would not guarantee safety, so the battle is well and truly on to get to tenth place and avoid the dreaded drop and all the unwanted baggage that goes with it. Richie Foran will be without Josh Meekings, Ryan Esson, Aaron Doran and Lewis Horner. Kevin McNaughton came through a development game in midweek unscathed and took it in his stride. However, a frantic derby may be a bit of a risk given the circumstances. Jake Mulraney missed out last week and we could do with his electifying pace out wide. Hopefully he has recovered fully from his injury. Youngster Jamie McCart on loan from Celtic has been called into the Scotland u21 squad after some promising displays for Inverness, so congratulations to him. Jim McIntyre will be hoping to have Scott Fox back in goal for this one. Chris Burke, Tony Dingwall and Ian McShane are all out for the rest of the season. Jay McEvely will miss this weekend and Andrew Davies, Scott Fox and Martin Woods will be given every opportunity to make the derby. Alex Shalk has a broken bone in his hand but is expected to be included in the squad. So, problems for County on the injury front as well. It will be interesting to see if either boss has placed his cards on the table or will there be any surprises included in the starting line-ups. tm4tj prediction:- County are on a poor run just now and we have shown some battling qualities over the last few games that was missing earlier in the season. Injuries are still causing havoc with our team selections with Meekings and Doran out for the season and Esson struggling. It's great to have Billy Mckay back with us, but if we don't play to his strengths, then he would be as well sitting in the stand. He was isolated at Partick last week but with home advantage I expect us to get bodies forward to give him some assistance. County have won the two previous derby's, but the tide is turning at a crucial stage of the season. Liam Boyce scored his first goal of 2017 last week and if we can keep him quiet, then I will be looking for three points to bring County right down into the relegation mire. Only ten games left to save our season, and on derby day, other games of interest to County and Inverness: Hamilton visit Rangers, Motherwell host St Johnstone and Killie and Partick play each other. Fingers crossed, results favour the Highlands. Richie Foran & Henri Anier look forward to the derby............
  5. Six-Pointers from here on in! It's all six pointers from here on in as we travel to Firhill to take on Partick Thistle in the Premiership looking for more points to add to the rather unexpected but nonetheless welcome four we gleaned from Hearts and the Rangers recently. Despite those fantastic results, other clubs have not been so keen to help us out and we still find ourselves at the foot of the table, two points behind Hamilton. We suffered a setback in our last outing even before we kicked off against Celtic. Hamilton never read the script properly and defeated Aberdeen on the Friday night to leapfrog us in the table. With County getting a bonus win at Tynecastle on the Saturday and Killie losing to Motherwell on Sunday, Inverness were the big losers going down 0-4 to a rampant Celtic. After a battling first 45, we were the architects of our own downfall, gifting goals like they were going out of fashion. But enough of the doom and gloom. The good news is that we don't have to play Celtic again and our fate is in our own hands over the next eleven games, the most important in our history. There were plenty of positives against Celtic despite the crushing scoreline although they were undone by some calamitous errors that verged on comedy. We were never going to win this game, but after gifting a second and third goal our task was well beyond us and we had to take our punishment as a result. Partick have been one of the success stories of this season and we go down to Firhill with a less than impressive record there in recent years. Only four wins in our seventeen visits, one of which was a Scottish Cup game in 2015, that was a good year if I recall correctly. Others were a First Division game in 2010, our first visit in 1998 and one at the tail end of last season when the campaign was done and dusted (1-4). That was our best ever result against the Harry Wragg's Partick have been a bit of a bogey team for us although overall the stats will show that victories are fairly even. Historically, home advantage seems to prevail and at Firhill we have six defeats, four wins and seven draws. Our last encounter was at Inverness where the sides played out an unspectacular 0-0 draw. The first game at Partick ended in defeat for Inverness by 2-0, Foran's first game in charge. Goals by Chris Erskine and David Amoo gave Partick an untroubled victory. We all knew this early in the season that scoring goals would not be our strong point as we struggled to create anything. What we did not foresee was that our normally reliable defence would be even worse; and here we are today, bottom of the league on merit. Partick's last game saw them limp out of the Scottish Cup in a rather tame affair at the hands of Aberdeen, but in the League they have made their way under the radar into the top-six, ten points above Inverness. Goals for are similar, but once again it's our defensive record that is the main issue. Richie Foran spoke to the BBC after his first game in charge at Firhill back in August. I wonder what he thinks of his comments now? And who is Scott Boden? "It's only early. You don't become a bad team overnight. We're going to stay positive. "I thought we had poor imagination in the final third. With the quality that we have up there I expect a little bit more but we didn't get enough help around Scott Boden. "(It's a) disappointing result but I can't be too hard on the lads. They've been magnificent since I've come in. "I think we're in for a good season. We've got the quality. We just need to work on a few bits and pieces." Alan Archibald has doubts over Danny Devine and Christie Elliott after the pair sustained knocks during last weekend's defeat by Aberdeen. On-loan Crawley winger Jason Banton (groin) could be involved but long-term absentees Sean Welsh (foot), Ryan Scully (shoulder), Stuart Bannigan and Gary Fraser (both knee) remain out. Richie Foran hopes to have Jake Mulraney back after he missed the Celtic game. He will be needed as Aaron Doran is reported to be out for the season after undergoing surgery on his knee. The operation was not on the same knee that has been a problem over the last two seasons. Carl Tremarco will be out, either through injury or suspension and Ross Draper is suspended for one match, he will be a big miss. Josh Meekings and Lewis Horner are long term casualties but Kev McNaughton is making good progress and was on the bench for the Celtic game. Ryan Esson has returned to training and Horner is ready to begin legwork. Other crucial fixtures over this coming weekend that will have a bearing on our destiny. Hearts v Hamilton, Aberdeen v Motherwell and County v Killie tm4tj prediction:- Eleven games left to save our season. Celtic apart, we have shown some willingness to try and stay in this League with credible draws against Dundee and Hearts and an excellent win over Rangers. Unfortunately other results have meant that we are back on the bottom and we will remain there unless we show a real desire to fight for everything. In Billy Mckay we have one man who can almost work miracles, but he needs help and Jake Mulraney if fit could be his provider, with King on the opposite flank. Our creaking back four have been shuffled more than a deck of cards at a Las Vegas casino, through injury, suspension and parent club ruling. We need our best players on the park and they need to be performing at the top level. Owain Fon Williams has been sloppy lately, but he can perform much better as he has done on occasion, let's hope his confidence is not shattered after that Celtic debacle as we have no suitable cover for him with Esson not fully fit. Partick hold the Indian Sign over us, but I'm hopeful of at least a draw if not a rare win at Firhill. Beware the scalded cat!
  6. Take this one on the chin and move on. Tough task ahead for Inverness as the runaway league leaders come calling on Wednesday night no doubt looking to avenge the draw in the Highlands earlier in the season, the only points Celtic have dropped so far. Since then, it's been 21 straight wins in the Premiership. It was a good weekend for Inverness as they clambered off the bottom of the table after beating Rangers 2-1 on Friday night. That coupled with Hamilton's loss at Parkhead on the Saturday saw us jump above the Accies in the race to avoid relegation. It was a throwback to the good olde days as Inverness beat Rangers with goals from Greg Tansey and Billy Mckay. Hard work and togetherness saw us get over the line with a little help from Billy Mckay who scored a wonder goal with an overhead kick in the last minute of normal time. You couldn't have scripted it better. We could even afford the luxury of a missed penalty, something Richie Foran needs to address as that's the third one in as many weeks that we have passed on. Note for Richie, make sure the guys know who will take the spot kick before they go on the park. Otherwise, great performance all round and a welcome three points. Celtic did us a favour on Saturday by beating Accies 2-0. Not the cricket score we were hoping for but no points for the Accies who take over at the bottom with Celtic cruising to the title and probably the treble. Moussa Dembele scored a brace, and that's nine goals in his last four games and twenty-six for the season overall. Sad news coming from Parkhead that Celtic legend Billy McNeill has been diagnosed as having dementia. The pinnacle of McNeill's career was in lifting the European Cup as captain of Celtic in 1967. They were the first British club to do so. This is the biggest battle of his life now and we wish him and his family well for the struggle ahead. A couple of weeks ago Celtic trounced us 6-0 in the Scottish Cup. We have gone back to basics since then and an excellent draw at Tynecastle followed by the win over Rangers has given everyone a lift, none moreso than manager Richie Foran. He had been taking plenty of flack recently as our worst run ever saw us go fourteen league games without a win. Now that monkey is off the back we can get back to business and look to make progress although this is the toughest gig on the fixture list. There's little point in bigging up everyone prior to this game as nothing is expected from us, and rightly so, but recent performances have shown that we have the desire to compete. We may have to wait until this fixture is out of the way before we continue our revival and it's more about how the teams around us perform whilst we take on Celtic, so we will be keeping a close eye on Accies v Aberdeen, Hearts v County and Killie v Motherwell, who look to be in trouble at the moment, shipping goals like nobody's business. Foran took the bull by the horns in our last outing and kept the previously suspended trio of Gary Warren, Brad Mckay and Iain Vigurs on the bench. His gamble worked well as he put his trust in the team that put the effort in at Tynecastle. We might see a similar pattern against Celtic although Carl Tremarco and Jake Mulraney came off through injury against Rangers and will be doubts for this one. Kev McNaughton is recovering well and has started training again so things are looking up with only Josh Meekings and Lewis Horner still considered longer term casualties with Kev maybe only a couple of weeks away from a return. The latest on Tremarco and Mulraney is that they hope to be fit enough for Celtic game, along with Henri Anier and Billy Mckay who has a slight strain. Aaron Doran has a knee injury and looks like missing out. Loanee Jamie McCart is unable to play against his parent club. Brendan Rodgers has a vast array of international talent to choose from and his injury list does not have the same impact on his side as ours does. That said, he will without the services of Tom Rogic. A plus for Inverness is that James Forrest is a doubt for Wednesday night. He destroyed us in the cup game and it will be a bonus for us if he misses out. Croatian defender Jozo Simunovic might not be fit either although Rodgers will not need to risk anyone given his strength in depth. tm4tj prediction:- As I said above, this is the toughest fixture we are likely to have left this season. It's a no brainer that Celtic will be massive favourites for this one and anything we can get from this game will be a bonus, and that includes damage limitation to our goal difference. We have taken four points from our last two games where many thought we might gain nothing, so this is one we might have to take on the chin. Nothing is impossible, but this is the nearest to that. We showed great character against Rangers and we will need plenty more of that against Celtic. I can't see past a sound beating, but a draw would be a marvellous achievement. Dembele and Scott Sinclair need to be kept quiet and that's not easy. With Leigh Griffiths and Patrick Roberts waiting in the wings for their chance, it doesn't rain but it pours. Fingers crossed it is then. Richie Foran looks ahead to the Celtic game with a renewed vigour after the result against Rangers..........
  7. 1000 not out. It's a landmark day as Inverness Caledonian Thistle play their 1000th competitive game. Opponents for this will be the newest side in Scotland, The Rangers. The Caley Jags have come a long way since they entered the big boys leagues in 1994 and their first league game, a 5-2 win over Arbroath at Telford Street. Alan Hercher scored a twenty minute hat-trick for Caledonian Thistle that day and set the tone for Inverness as they would make their way through the Leagues to the present day. Their competitive debut was a 2-0 win over East Stirlingshire in the Coca Cola cup, Wilson Robertson scoring the first ever goal. There is an excellent programme available to commemorate this occasion. 1000th Game We had an unwelcome visitor to these shores this week. Doris day has been and gone and hopefully the weather will relent a bit as Inverness welcome the Rangers to the Highland capital. Scotland shivered in the wake of storm Doris as high winds and snow caused chaos across the land. The Highlands missed the worst of the storms but travel throughout Scotland was disrupted, so take care. Richie Foran saw his beleaguered side battle hard for a well earned draw at Tynecastle last weekend. Carl Tremarco had given the Highlanders the lead with a spanking header before Arnaud Djoum bundled home in the second half. Under fire keeper Owain Fon Williams did his confidence no harm as he held firm and saved a penalty as Hearts pushed for a winner. An unexpected point given our lack of resources through injuries and suspension. The Ibrox side lost their last game going down 2-1 at Dundee. The Dark Blues were two up before Joe Garner scored with a swerving long range effort but it was not enough to deny Dundee a deserved win. Inverness are entrenched at the foot of the table some 24 points behind the Glasgow side. Our goal difference is 12 goals worse off. They have scored 33 goals, 4 more than Inverness. It's in defence where the vast difference can be found as we have shipped 46 goals, 18 more than the Rangers. The Ibrox side have won both fixtures already this season, winning 1-0 in the Highlands thanks to a stunning volley from Kenny Miller and 1-0 in Glasgow, although Inverness were unfortunate not to take something from this game as Brad Mckay put the ball into his own net. Inverness can call on the services of Gary Warren, Brad Mckay and Iain Vigurs, all free from suspension. Aaron Doran is continuing to build his strength after a virus floored him for a couple of weeks and could feature. Josh Meekings, Lewis Horner and Kev McNaughton will all miss out. Louis Laing deputised well last week in defence and could continue with youngster Jamie McCart possibly dropping to the bench to accommodate the return of Warren. The Rangers will have Lee Wallace and Josh Windass back. Clint Hill will not make it after being injured against Dundee. tm4tj Prediction:- An encouraging draw at Tynecastle will give Richie Foran some belief that his side can steer themselves away from the relegation slot. This is the second of three really tough games with Celtic up next and points are at a premium. Nobody thought we stood much chance at Tynecastle given our injury and suspension crisis, but a back to basics work ethic saw us take a point and that is what will be required on Friday night against the Rangers. The elements could be a great leveler as well and it could be that we will take something from this game as managerless Rangers seem to have taken a confidence dent in recent weeks. Clean sheets are a thing of the past at Inverness so I'll go for a scoring draw.
  8. Tough Times Ahead. Our season has been a shambles and it looks like getting worse over the next three fixtures, Hearts, Rangers and Celtic. A raft of players are missing this one through injury, suspension and loan arrangements. With little likelihood of picking up points in these games and time starting to run out, it looks like we are heading one way. We were swatted aside last weekend in the cup by a rampant Celtic side who look to be a good bet for the treble. One-nil or ten-nil, it matters not a jot, the end result is the same, we are not in the next round of the cup. Maybe that's a good thing as we can concentrate solely on one thing now, avoiding relegation. Richie Foran is not adjusting to life in the office as well as we would have liked and the club are sliding into oblivion at an alarming rate. Many managers have lost their jobs for less; fourteen league games without a win is a statistic that has seen managers on the dole, but with Foran on a four year contract there seems to be little chance that he will be shown the door any time soon. The rookie manager appointment has backfired big time on the Caley Jags board and the team look resigned to the fact that they are bottom of the table with little prospect of getting away from the relegation zone in the near future. Our last visit to Tynecastle was a 5-1 thrashing where we were simply overrun as Hearts scored at will. We fared better in a topsy turvey game at Inverness, blowing a two goal lead before eventually earning a point in a 3-3 draw. The Edinburgh side are the second top scorers in the league with 45 goals. That's as many as we have conceded and 17 more than we have scored. Hearts have perked up in the last few games after a slow start in the capital for new boss Ian Cathro. Since losing to Aberdeen and Celtic, they have thrashed Motherwell and Rangers, scoring seven goals for the loss of only one. However, they were held to a goalless draw in the Scottish Cup by local rivals Hibernian last weekend on their tattie field style pitch where fluent football looked difficult. Our results are as poor as they have ever been. Fourteen league games without a win leaves us languishing at the foot of the table. Despite an encouraging fightback against Dundee (2-2), we were cuffed 6-0 at Parkhead in the cup. The previous game was a bigger disappointment, going down 3-0 at Hamilton without a fight. Confidence looks to be at an all time low and games are fast running out before the split. In fact there are only fourteen games left to save our season. If they are anything like the previous fourteen, then it's Championship football for us. Hearts will be without Callum Paterson who is out for the season with knee ligament damage and John Souttar who has ruptured his Achilles tendon. Prince Bauben is also out and former Caley Jag Don Cowie looks like he will sit this one out as well with a rib injury. Inverness have been dealt a blow with player absentees like they are going out of fashion. Gary Warren, Brad Mckay and Iain Vigurs are suspended. Warren for too many players getting the better of him and having to resort to fouling, similar for Mckay, and Vigurs for too many niggly, petty and unnecessary fouls when he can't be arsed getting back to help. Billy King will be missed as a supplier through parent club ruling for loanees and the usual crop of injuries are still wreaking havoc. Kev McNaughton, Lewis Horner and Josh Meekings are out long term. Aaron Doran could return; he has had more comebacks than Lazarus now. To alleviate these problems, Richie Foran has managed to secure former Motherwell defender 23 year old Louis Laing until the end of the season and he is eligible to play on Saturday against the Jambo's. tm4tj prediction:- The next three games are difficult and this one will be particularly harrowing given our list of unavailable players. It's hard to see anything other than a convincing win for Hearts considering we have had only two clean sheets all season. Owain Fon Williams looks like a man short on confidence, having a mare every other week and back up keeper Ryan Esson was unavailable last week through injury. Iain Vigurs is a passenger just now and our back four is in tatters. Midfield is bereft of any pace and drive and up front we couldn't punch a hole in a wet paper bag. Nuff said, another heavy defeat on the cards. Anything less will be a miracle. Not sure if it's Louis Lang or Lois Lane, but I reckon it's superman we need.
  9. Mission Impossible? Seventeen years on and the result that shocked Scottish Football still sends a shiver down the spine of Caley Thistle fans. Supercaleygoballistic...... you know how it goes, gets an airing every time these two clubs meet, especially in the Scottish Cup. At the time nobody thought it was possible. Inverness were being dismissed with contempt borne through ignorance. How could a mid-table first division side knock the mighty Celtic out of the Scottish Cup on their own patch. Well, they did, and they did it in style. Celtic were no longer invincible and Inverness wrote themselves into the history books. The damage was far reaching at Parkhead and heads would roll in the aftermath of that game. Feb 8th 2000 is etched on the minds of Inverness Caledonian Thistle fans, just as the Lisbon Lions are for the Celtic faithful. Is it possible for the current crop of Caley Jags players to emulate their predecessors and cause what would be a major upset, considering Celtic's dominance in the domestic game this season and given the transformation made by manager Brendan Rodgers? The simple answer has to be NO and there are a number of reasons for that. Not least the current form of Celtic, sweeping all before them and 27 points clear in the Premiership. The present squad have overtaken the run by the famous Lisbon Lions. The Celtic squad is littered with International players. Brendan Rodgers has moulded his own style into the Celtic team and has brought some excellent quality to the team like Moussa Dembele and Scott Sinclair. They have scored a phenomenal 65 goals in 24 league games whilst conceding only 16. That's 2.7 goals scored per game and a meagre 0.666 against per game. Is that a sign of the devil? But it's not what Celtic have to offer that concerns me. It's what Inverness don't have to offer that is the greater worry. We are bottom of the Premiership on merit alone. We fail to keep clean sheets on a regular basis, only 2 from 24 games. We are scoring goals at a rate of 1.16 per game. We have no current International players on our books, other than a couple of squad reserves in Owain Fon Williams and Billy Mckay and crocked Kevin McNaughton. Our manager is a newcomer to the job, unlike his counterpart who has a proven track record at the highest level. We no longer have the element of surprise on our side. Playing each other three or four times a season has scuppered that. Man for man, our current team could not lace the boots of our Feb 8th 2000 squad. We no longer possess players that play for the jersey, willing to lay it all on the line for ninety minutes and go through the pain barrier just to pull on the famous Inverness Caledonian Thistle strip. All over the park we could replace present players with golden oldies. Jimmy Calder was somewhat unorthodox as a keeper, but he could keep the ball out of the net and saved around 50% of penalties he faced. Ross Tokely was maybe not the most gifted, but was a difficult man to get beyond and solid in the air and worked well going forward. Stuart Golabeck: Toughest tackling full back I have ever seen. Scared of nothing and had enough pace to cover for big Bobby. Richard Hastings, a young fit Canadian International with plenty of energy. Bobby Mann was an absolute colossus. Calmness personified in the face of adversity and on his day the best centre back in the country. Mike Teasdale, always there when you needed him and skillful for a big lad. Mark McCulloch, no nonsense tough tackling midfielder who never shirked a challenge. Barry Wilson, how we could do with him now, a tremendous pacey winger with skill in abundance and a goal threat. Paul Sheerin was able to keep a cool head and fitted the Caley Jags ethics. Charlie Christie was one of the most talented players to come from the Highland League, twinkle toed and dedicated to the cause. Dennis Wyness, legend and goal scorer extraordinaire. Kevin Byers, Martin Glancy and Martin Bavidge all did their bit as well. Every one of them would not look out of place in today's side and most would be certain of a start every week. Let's not forget Pele. His philosophy was score more than the opposition. It worked well most of the time and entertainment value was top drawer. Back to the present day though and we have got to rise to the challenge, albeit a daunting one. Current form shows that Celtic are bullet proof and we are favourites for the drop. The Bhoys brushed aside St Johnstone in their last game thanks to a dubious penalty going their way and ran out big winners, scoring five after coming from 2-1 behind, Moussa Dembele scoring a hat-trick after coming on around the hour mark and bagging a hat-trick in 24 minutes. However, this is cup football and we are forever optimistic. We have to believe that the impossible is possible. Richie Foran never shirked a challenge as a player and this is one challenge he will relish. Let's not forget that we have dumped favourites Celtic out of the Scottish Cup on three occasions now, so maybe it's not such a big deal any more. Thought it might be worth mentioning that Celtic have only dropped one point this season. Now who could that have been against? Tom Rogic will miss another few months of action after an ankle operation ruled him out for the forseeable future. Stuart Armstrong and Leigh Griffiths look set to sit this game out as they near fitness but won't be risked. Why should they be when Dembele and Sinclair are on the books along with a squad of full international players. Josh Meekings will be missing for at least another couple of months. That's a blow as we have struggled defensively from the start of the season. Kevin McNaughton and Lewis Horner are other long term casualties. David Raven played the ninety minutes against Dundee as did Jamie McCart, but he will be unavailable to face his parent club in the cup. Brad Mckay could step in and Ross Draper has been known to drop deep to play in the back line when we have no other options available. Billy Mckay has had two games to get to know the current incumbents and that will benefit him greatly. Billy King came back against Dundee and showed up well. tm4tj prediction:- If I'm being realistic then we should have no chance whatsoever and this could be a rout. But as I said, it's cup football and away from the pressure of gaining league points. It's a difficult place to go and get any sort of result but that's what we have to do. We were not given a scooby in 2000 and it's the same now. Here's hoping we can get stuck in and emulate the class of Feb 8th 2000. However, I'm not holding my breath on that as wins at Parkhead are as scarce as an Iceberg Lettuce. Celtic to be in the hat for the next round leaving Inverness to concentrate on avoiding relegation. Nostalgia is making a comeback. Here's the respective sides that played that famous game 17 years ago. Celtic 1 (Burchill) Jonathan Gould, Tom Boyd, Olivier Tebily, Stephane Mahe, Vidar Riseth, Colin Healy, Regi Blinker, Lubomir Moravcik, Eyal Berkovic, Mark Viduka and Mark Burchill. Ian Wright replaced Viduka at half-time after the Aussie took the huff. It mattered not a jot. Key players such as Henrik Larsson and Paul Lambert were unavailable through injury. Shame! Inverness CT 3 (Wilson, Mann, how dare they say that Moravcik scored it, Sheerin pen) Jim Calder, Mike Teasdale, Stuart Golabeck, Bobby Mann, Mark McCulloch, Richard Hastings, Paul Sheerin, Ross Tokely, Barry Wilson, Charlie Christie and Dennis Wyness. Kevin Byers, Martin Glancy and Martin Bavidge all made late appearances in the game. Key players such as....................erm, they were all on the park beating Celtic.
  10. Heading for last chance saloon The games keep rolling in and this weekend it's the turn of Dundee to take on the challenge of the six-pointer as they visit the Caledonian Stadium for a 3:00pm kick off, with Billy Mckay sure to pull in an extra few bums on seats to see if he can rescue our season. Midweek at Hamilton was a disaster for us as we turned in an abysmal display and deservedly got turned over by Accies who looked to have the better appetite for a relegation dogfight. Richie Foran drew audible gasps from the Caley Jags fans by re-signing (on loan) our favourite son, the almost prolific Billy Mckay until the end of the season. However, Accies had their own agenda and went about their business in the right manner. We showed Billy how far we have come from the successful team he left two years ago. Sadly that direction is downwards and with little leadership on and off the park, it's difficult to see where and when that will change. So, 3-0 it was to Accies and the most disappointing aspects from our point of view was the lack of quality, leadership and desire on display. We played with no recognised wide players, instead deploying them on the bench and choosing to thump long high balls up to a vertically challenged striker. Can someone tell Richie that isn't working too well. Dundee had a night off in midweek and now have a game in hand, as have Killie and Motherwell from the bottom half of the league. Their last game saw them go down 3-0 at Pittodrie. They were also dabbling in the transfer window and took on Henrik Ojamaa the Estonian ex-Motherwell striker and they also hired former Ross County midfielder Marc Klok. Dundee have lost as many games as Inverness (12), but have won twice as many (6). They sit two places above Inverness in tenth place having accumulated five more points than us. They ended a barren spell against Inverness with a 2-1 victory at Dens Park in November. Since that game, they have lost four and won two with one drawn, gaining seven points. We have failed to win any, losing five and drawing three from eight games. We are on our worst ever league run, no wins from twelve games since we defeated Motherwell in October. The stats don't lie I'm afraid and that's why we prop up the league table. Many fans are beginning to question the judgement of the board in appointing a rookie manager with no credentials whatsoever and giving him a four year contract. Practically everybody was delighted that Richie Foran followed John Hughes and were willing him to succeed. However, it's a results driven business and we are languishing precariously close to the dreaded relegation slot with only three wins from 23 league games. That in itself is a shocking statistic that will only lead to one thing. A lot of fans were coming out of the woodwork after the Hamilton debacle to vent their displeasure at the demise of our club and many are looking for a change of leadership. As results show, we are bottom on merit and the game at Accies was the last straw for many. Maybe in the harsh light of day, we have all had time to reflect on this. We have been talking about six-pointers for a few weeks now and we have failed in every one of them. However, there is still not a huge gap between us in bottom to Motherwell in sixth (seven points). I doubt anyone wants Foran to fail, but unless we start to win some games, there appears little doubt as to where we will be playing our football next season. It shouldn't come as a massive surprise to anyone although it's taken a long time for some to get their heads out of the sand and see the reality of our position. If it's any consolation, the Dundee fans feel the same about their side! Josh Meekings, Kevin McNaughton, and Lewis Horner are all out long term. Aaron Doran hopes to have shaken off this virus that has been going through our dressing room and forced him to miss the midweek game and Billy King is also a doubt. It looks as though a calf injury will keep David Raven out. Jamie McCart could make his debut in defence following his signing from Celtic. Dundee will have Kevin Holt back after injury and Darren O'Dea will return after suspension. Henrik Ojamaa could make his Dundee debut along with Marc Klok. tm4tj prediction:- It pains me to say, but with no confidence, no leadership, no defence, no tactical nous and not enough quality in the squad, I can see Dundee getting their second win over us this season. What can we do to stop this happening. Well, we need to get rid of the players who are not pulling their weight and put players on the park who will display some fight for the jersey. How about some wide players to give Billy Mckay some half decent service that he will thrive on, not rugby style punts that fall on the heads of the towering defenders. If fit, get Mulraney, King and Doran on the park and dump Vigurs, Tansey and Warren onto the bench. Fon Williams needs a break, his goal keeping has been sloppy of late bar the odd game or two. I hope Esson is fit enough to play. Our pedantic midfield needs a massive kick up the arse, let's hope we don't capitulate as easy as has been happening most of this season. Draw at best, but defeat is on the cards. Go on, prove me wrong, I'll be delighted. Don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger
  11. Derby Day to end the Year If ever Inverness needed an away derby win it's tomorrow. Sitting bottom of the pile as we approach 2017, you could say it's not been the best season so far for the Caley Jags, or Richie Foran the rookie manager given the job of keeping this club in the position it has earned over the years. The Highland derby takes on a rather sinister desperation tag with neither club able to establish a clear gap to safety, although defeat in Dingwall will be more damaging for Inverness than it would be for County at this stage of the campaign. County have been flirting with the top-six for a few weeks now, but only one win in their last six and defeats in their last two have seen them move down a couple of notches to eighth, albeit only four points above bottom placed Inverness who are without a win in nine games now. We are in a poor run of results recently, three points from a possible twenty-seven is relegation form and the bookies are starting to lean towards us as Championship contenders. In saying that, some of our performances have merited more. We played Rangers off the park at Ibrox a couple of weeks ago and lost 1-0, mainly due to our inability to capitalise on the opportunities created. We were a touch unfortunate to lose at home against Motherwell. Dominating for long spells, we hit the woodwork twice and had a decent penalty claim turned down whilst Motherwell scored a freak wind assisted goal and a breakaway to steal the points. Unfortunately that has been a consistent theme throughout our season so far which has gained us only three wins from twenty league games. County are in no position to scoff, they have only four wins, but that's enough to keep them above us at the moment. County's last two games ended in defeat at the hands of Hamilton and Celtic. Those defeats came off the back of an excellent 2-1 win over Aberdeen. Our stats are worse, six defeats in eight games and only two draws. However, despite all that, we have scored more goals than County but we have also conceded more, and that makes County's goal difference one worse than our at minus fourteen. County did win the first fixture this season by the odd goal in five at the Caledonain Stadium. Nine yellow cards and five goals, ye cannae whack a local derby. A Liam Boyce hat-trick did the damage with Inverness doing the usual too little too late routine replying through Scott Boden (who???) and Ross Draper. With the bulk of last season's squad still playing for Inverness, the focus is turning to Richie Foran as the fans begin to question his suitability for the job. It was an appointment met with enthusiasm by most, and trepidation by a few. Brian Rice was kept on as his number two and we all hoped that would help to keep a bit of continuity. However, the stats don't lie and we find ourselves in the midst of our longest winless run for ten years. One clean sheet is not ideal either, and a stat that is doing the rounds is that this is the lowest points total that we have accrued after twenty games in any season in our entire history. These observations and statistics tell me something is wrong and not a lot has been done about it so far, either before, during or after games. The last time we were in this predicament we left it too late to avoid the drop, don't let it happen again, for it won't be so easy to bounce back again. We started against Motherwell with the same narrow selection we used successfully at Ibrox. We normally apply a bit of width at home but kept Doran, Mulraney and King on the bench whilst deploying Polworth in a wider role than he is best suited to, with Vigurs similarly on the left of midfield. I'm no Alex Ferguson, but surely we need to employ wide players if we are using a target man as our main striker. Here's hoping we get our tactics better at Dingwall and get the result we need. Richie Foran is still waiting to hear back from Fulham regarding an extension to Larnell Cole's contract. It would appear that the young loan player would like to remain here for now, but Fulham have not replied yet, so clarification required there. Foran also wants to hear no more talk of luck: "There's no more mention of luck from me. You make your own luck. We're bottom because we deserve to be. You need to be ruthless and clinical, which we haven't been." Ross County look set to be without Chris Burke (virus) and Michael Gardyne, both struggling for fitness and Ian McShane is still out. Kenny van der Weg will be back in contention for a start after suspension. Young midfielder Reghan Tumilty got an airing at Parkhead and did very well using his pace to good effect. Inverness CT have no fresh worries, but long term outs are Kev McNaughton, David Raven and Lewis Horner. Goalkeeping issues are still prevalent but Owain Fon Williams will play through the pain with Esson still struggling with his groin. Alex Fisher came on as a sub against Motherwell and is maybe due a start alongside Lonsana Doumbouya who is finding the lone striker role difficult with nobody around to help him. Greg Tansey has openly stated his desire to leave at the end of the season, but he has also stated that will not affect how he handles himself while playing for ICT. tm4tj prediction:- It does all sound pretty drastic at the moment, but it only takes two or three good results and then we will be able to see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. The downside of that is another couple of defeats will point us in the wrong direction. However, the winter break is looming, as is the transfer window so it could all change quickly. On top of that we have an excellent record at Dingwall in recent years. We have won the last five fixtures at the Global Energy Stadium and I'm backing us to do it again, maybe without a clean sheet, but it's points that matter just now. Happy New Year to you all.
  12. Basement battle continues. Inverness welcome Motherwell on Wednesday night as the frantic festive football continues with another game where points are getting more crucial as the season goes on. 4 4 40. That's not a new football formation or our goals against column, not even our win-draw-defeat column, but it has been causing a bit of a kerfuffle.A pricing initiative to get more bums on seats has not gone down well at Well. Apparently the season of goodwill did not extend as far as away fans and they are not amused. For home fans, it means that four people can get in for £40, that's £10 a head. Great offer for us, but maybe seen as a bit harsh on the far travelled visitors, many who would have been carrying gifts as they travelled to our stable at this time of year. Merry Xmas.. Our last game ended in defeat at Ibrox on Xmas Eve, but not for the want of trying. we outplayed Rangers but Foderingham put in a great shift to deny the Inverness forwards, saving the day on three or four occasions, and when a gift came along, Liam Polworth picked his spot from eighteen yards. Unfortunately that spot was just the wrong side of the post. To rub salt into the wounds, we even scored the goal for Rangers, Brad Mckay being the unfortunate recipient of a Martyn Waghorn ball into the box, the ball cannoning off his shins and into the net. Even worse, it was his sore shins. Motherwell's last outing also ended in defeat at the hands of the Dons. Former Inverness players Graeme Shinnie and Adam Rooney scored in the first half, as did Scott McDonald for the Steelmen, but Niall McGinn settled it with a late third. So, 3-1 defeat it was, the same score we managed against the Dons just over a month ago. Motherwell were the last side Inverness beat. Mind you, there has only been three, the others being Dundee and St Johnstone. Our win at Motherwell was as surprising as it was welcome. A three goal blitz in the second half saw us cruise home with the three points thanks to goals from Carl Tremarco, Lonsana Doumbouya and Liam Polworth. That result put us into the top-six and we were looking to kick on from there; we are still waiting and we have now reached the bottom of the pile. We are now eight games without a win, Motherwell have no wins in their last five. We have the usual crop of walking wounded with Kev McNaughton and David Raven out longer term and Lewis Horner added to that for at least a couple of months. Alex Fisher and Scott Boden got an airing at Ibrox. The keeper crisis is ongoing but both were prepared to play despite lingering niggles. Motherwell's Carl McHugh could be fit enough to be included in the squad but captain Keith Lasley has a shoulder injury that could rule him out. Joe Chalmers, Kieran Kennedy, Jacob Blyth and Ross MacLean are all set to miss out. tm4tj prediction:- It's been a tough couple of months and a disappointing run of results without a win, but there were very encouraging signs against Rangers that our outfield play deserves better. We will be more positive at home and play with at least one wide player, possibly utilising the pace and trickery of Mulraney to provide the ammunition our strikers need. A win would be a fabulous result but a draw seems to be the likeliest outcome. Greg Tansey looks like he will be away at the end of the season, choosing not to renew his contract. We need that kind of player in our side, but we need one that is fully focused on giving his all for Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Old Caley Girl made sure we had our Preview organised and sent this one in as well, two for the price of one, enjoy....... Things are not getting any better in ICT land with festive results not doing us any favours and we found ourselves bottom of the league before taking to the pitch on Saturday at Ibrox. Despite reports of an excellent performance we still did not win and the need for us to start winning is becoming desperate. No wins in 8 is relegation form and the only saving grace is that the league is so close and means a couple of wins can propel you up the table. Motherwell are the visitors tonight and it goes without saying that it is a game we must not allow ourselves to lose. The ugliest win imaginable would be acceptable. Motherwell themselves will be desperate to win this one having not won themselves in 5 games and having only won on the road once this season. Keith Lasley is major doubt with a shoulder injury and Chalmers, Kennedy, Blyth and MacLean are definitely out. Carl McHugh may feature, for the visitors, having been out with concussion since August. There is a bit of chat on the Motherwell forums about giving Dean Brill his chance. Could we see the return of “Deano” at the TCS albeit in the wrong colours. As to ourselves, Richie Foran is looking for a bit of consistency from the players. A lack of goals is a worrying feature as is our failure to keep more than one clean sheet this season. Raven, McNaughton and Horner are definitely out with Ryan Esson apparently a major doubt. There is also a lot of press speculation about potential moves in the January transfer window especially regarding Tansey and Meekings. The players need to keep thoughts of moves out of their heads tonight and dig in to obtain us the result that we so badly need. OCG Prediction – Hoping we can keep the 3 points in the Highlands and obtain a 3rd home win of the season but I predict a score draw with 1-1 the most likely.
  13. Ho Ho Ho It's Xmas Eve and we have to get on our sleigh and head to the home of the bad Santa's at Ibrox to deliver our Xmas presents. Wrapped up nicely ready for delivery are no clean sheets, loads of injuries, gift goals and Richie Foran's beard, bless him. And to make matters worse, Barbara is on her way and we kick off at 12:30, yes, you read that right, 12:30 (in the afternoon). It's a daunting task at any time of the year, but the powers that be think it's no problem to go to Govan on Christmas Eve for a wee kick about with the bears. Maybe someone should send them a calendar and a map for New Year so they can get the fixture list sorted. Anyway, the bears den it is and we just have to get on with it. The Rangers have done as well as could be expected after their meteoric rise through the divisions, lurking in the top quarter of the Premiership. With Aberdeen fluffing their lines at Dingwall and Hearts stuttering under new boss Ian Cathro, the Gers find themselves a distant second behind Champions elect Celtic and look like being the best bet for the second spot and the Euro place that goes along with it. It's all happening below them though as seven or eight teams vie for the right to enter the Championship. Unfortunately, one of the front runners at the moment are Inverness Caledonian Thistle. However, this can all change at the drop of a Santa hat, noticeable last weekend as County displaced Kilmarnock in the top-six for now, being the only winners from the bottom half. Last time out the Rangers held on to beat Hamilton Accies at the Superseal Stadium thanks to a brace from Martyn Waghorn. Dougie Imrie made their keekie winkers twitch with a late strike but it was the Blues that took all three points to tuck in behind Celtic. Our last game saw us score late again to earn a point at Rugby Park. Souleymane Coulibaly scored a contentious stunner only for Gary Warren to level matters to get us what looked like a distant point at times during the game. Credit to us for keeping the energy levels high despite suffering more injury blows with Lonsana Doumbouya, Brad Mckay and Lewis Horner all being replaced because of injury. The Ibrox club are on a great run of results in their last nine games since losing to Celtic. Their only defeat was 2-0 at Tynecastle, but they rectified that a couple of games later by beating the Jambos at Ibrox by the same score. Three wins on the trot and five games without defeat at Ibrox sends out a grim message to Inverness that this is not going to be an enjoyable festive frolic. We have scored only two goals less than the Rangers but it's in defence where the difference is obvious as we have conceded almost twice as many as them (34 to 18). Our last result at Ibrox was a 3-0 League Cup win in October 2012. Goals from Andy Shinnie and Gary Warren were added to by a Graeme Shinnie penalty. The first encounter this season was won by a stunning Kenny Miller volley as Inverness offered their visitors the freedom of the park. Our generosity knows no bounds. It looks as though we withdraw our attacking intent when we go on the road and remove Mulraney, Doran, and King looking to fill the midfield with more bodies instead. Problem with this is that we can't buy a clean sheet either and once we start chasing the game it's difficult to see where the goals are going to come from. Our one paced midfield has to work harder and will need to get up to speed quickly at Ibrox or they will be overrun. Injuries are rearing their ugly head once more with three players limping out of Rugby Park. Lewis Horner took a more than robust challenge and will be out for a couple of months with knee damage. Brad Mckay suffered a bleeding nose on top of his sore shins courtesy of Graeme Shinnie against Aberdeen and Lonsana Doumbouya was singled out for some rough treatment. It was good to have Liam Polworth back though, and sooner than expected as well, so that's a bonus. Keeper crisis is ongoing with both still suffering in silence. Kev McNaughton will be out for months and David Raven till at least the end of January. Scott Boden and Alex Fisher are ready for action. Mark Warburton can look forward to this one with less pessimism. The Joey Barton revolution looks like it's over. Apparently he likes a bet and he is set to join Burnley again. Jordan Rossiter and Nico Krancjar will miss out but Matt Crooks, and Josh Windas should be available for selection. tm4tj prediction:- I'm expecting the worst to be honest and fully expect us to be propping up the league by the time 2017 comes along. We are dangerous when the chips are down but if our heads go down as well we could be on a steep learning curve here. We have taken points from Ibrox before but will need to be at our best and cut out the slackness. I'll happily take a point now although I fear that is more a wish than a prediction. Interesting times ahead and we could do with more attacking intent, drive in midfield and a no nonsense defender. The Xmas wish list will be sent to Santa, I hope he has the presents that Richie requires, although we will maybe have to wait until the January sales to get our bargains. I'm not sure it will be a Whyte Christmas at Ibrox, but it could be a white Christmas in the Highlands. Rock Star Rod, AKA Naelifts has this Xmas message for everyone................ And finally, Richie looks ahead to the challenge at the bears den.................. Merry Christmas
  14. Killie Challenge for Caley Jags It's the long haul this Saturday as we head for Rugby Park to take on sixth place Kilmarnock, a mere three points ahead of us in eleventh spot. With seven teams vying for the last top-six space and relegation at the same time, it's anyone's guess as to who is the favourites for these positions. Often a fruitful day out in previous years, but we have faltered in the last two fixtures at Rugby Park going down on both occasions. The first encounter of this season was in the Highlands and it ended with the points shared, but it took a very late goal from Lonsana Doumbouya to cancel out an early Coulibaly penalty. We had won the previous one at Inverness at the end of last season quite comfortably and many expected an easier ride than we got from a revamped Kilmarnock side, but they are proving to be a match for all in the top-six relegation battle. I know it's a bit early in the season to be calling it a relegation battle, but that's the nature of the beast. If you are not going for Europe, then it's a downhill struggle below that. Killie have clambered to sixth slot but like the rest are showing signs of fluctuating fortunes. A 2-0 win over Dundee was followed by a 5-1 thrashing at Pittodrie before steadying the ship last week with a goalless draw at Motherwell. We ended a run of four straight defeats by drawing at home to Hamilton in what turned out to be a surprisingly entertaining game. Still hit by injury and suspension, we managed to get a team on the park and despite going behind, we came back strongly to get a deserved draw. Either side will feel they could have nicked this one but a draw keeps the status quo. Larnell Cole was our star performer against the Accies and topped it off with a fine goal, his first for the club. Clean sheets are a problem for us this season with only one so far. A changing defence through injury and suspension is not helping and the midfield need to work harder to help out the defence when needed. Inverness will be able to call on the services of Gary Warren, back after his one match ban for his unnecessary sending off against St Johnstone. David Raven, will be offered a six month contract extension, but he is out injured for another couple of months. Liam Polworth has made great progress and has resumed full training, however this might be a game too early for the young midfielder, but a late fitness test will let us know if he is ready. Our keeper crisis is still ongoing although it looks as though Fon Williams will play through his back injury whilst Ryan Esson is still suffering with a groin injury. Better news up front is that Scott Boden looks to have shaken off his ankle knock and will be included in the squad. Other strike option Alex Fisher could also be included. Killie have two central defenders missing for this clash. Miles Addison is out for a couple of months after having foot surgery. Jonathan Burn is also out and that means that Scott Boyd and Will Boyle are Lee Clark's only recognised centre backs available. Others missing are Kris Boyd, Greg Kiltie and full back Dapo Kayode. tm4tj prediction:- Given that we were rubbish on the road at Dundee and Perth, I'm not filled with confidence going in to this one. On the other hand, Warren should take his place at the heart of the defence and Brad Mckay can revert to right back. Hopefully Owain Fon Williams will have less back spasms to deal with and a clean sheet will do his confidence no harm. Midfield is an area we are struggling. Ross Draper has been a constant, but Iain Vigurs leaves a lot to be desired, mainly due to his work rate although he was noticeably more active against Accies last week. Larnell Cole deserves another chance after his last performance which might mean attacking wide players Mulraney, King or Doran will be vying for the right to supply Lonsana Doumbouya with the ammunition he needs. Killie will rightly feel they have enough to be able to take all three points and we have to be wary of that. Coulibaly has proven to be a handful having scored ten times this campaign.They showed fleet of foot on the break when they came North and we will do well to match their pace going forward. Any team going on a two or three game winning streak will pull away from the rest. It's hard to see if that will be us, but a point would be a decent result. Richie looks ahead to the plastic pitch encounter and talks about our keeper crisis. and Dave the Rave has his say on where he is at just now................
  15. Winning Ugly Will Do Due to results last week, we find ourselves looking up the table at the rest of the teams in the league and the visit of Hamilton takes on a bit more significance given the respective position of both teams. It doesn't have to be pretty, it's points that matter. We have hit rock bottom after defeat at Perth and from here on, the only way is up. It's still early days, but given our indifferent form and injury problems then it's difficult to see an instant solution to the mini crisis that we find ourselves in. Of course, we are not helping our cause by having key players suspended at a time when injuries are wreaking havoc with our continuity. Greg Tansey, Lewis Horner and now Gary Warren have all fallen foul of the beaks in the last few weeks and that was on top of injuries robbing us of Liam Polworth in midfield and with defenders David Raven and Brad Mckay out it has left us struggling to fill the vacancies. Last time out we went down after an insipid display in Perth. It ended 3-0 to St Johnstone and we can have no complaints after Gary Warren was stupidly sent packing. Luxury midfielder Iain Vigurs has been taking some flak for his lackadaisical approach and inability to track back after giving away possession. This has been well documented in recent topics on the forum and it's something that needs addressed. The lack of protection for our overworked defence is one reason we are conceding more goals than ever. As for the Accies, they once more let a lead slip after Alex D'Acol opened the scoring 15 minutes in. As is their trademark this season, they turned three points into one when Partick equalised through Welsh on the hour. We think our season is bad with only three wins to date, Well Accies can top that with just two wins. The reason they are above us is nine draws. They have the ability to turn defeats into draws, whereas we manage to turn draws into defeats. In saying that, there is only one point between the clubs. The league is so congested we could jump from 12th to 6th depending on other results provided we can beat Accies. On the other hand, defeat would be a bit of a mini disaster. The first meeting between the clubs this season ended in stalemate but it took a very late Liam Polworth strike to snatch a point after D'Acol scored in the eighteenth minute. That ended a six game winning sequence at New Douglas Park for us and it was the second time in a week that Accies had thrown away a winning advantage. Times have changed though and since Richie Foran won the manager of the month award in September, the curse has struck and we find ourselves floundering at the bottom, unable to stick together a run of results to steer clear of problems. It's the same for all the clubs in the lower part of the league though as only the top five are making any headway with Celtic the clear winners at this stage. They did everybody else a favour last night by beating Partick Thistle. A chink of light at the end of the injury tunnel as news that Liam Polworth is making better than expected progress on his injured ankle and could return within the month or sooner. Even better news is that Brad Mckay could return against Accies to ease our defensive problems and on top of that Lewis Horner is free from suspension, albeit he is just a stop gap defender at the moment, but this will be seen as an opportunity to further his case for inclusion every week with David Raven out for at least another month. Gary Warren is suspended and that's a blow as our defence has been creaking all season. Up front Alex Fisher and Scott Boden are both out and that leaves big Lonsana Doumbouya on his lonesome again. Accies have midfielder Gramos Kurtaj out for around a month with an ankle knock. Also out are long term absentees Remi Mathews (GK), Jesus Garcia and Craig Watson. tm4tj prediction:- Oh dear, if ever we needed a morale boosting win, it has to be today against one of the other seven sides in fear of relegation. Below St Johnstone, nobody is safe and any side that can get a winning run going will feel an awful lot better. We are terrible at the back this season with an unsettled formation due to injuries and suspension. Our midfield is depleted and work shy and up front it's the same old same old with a lone striker and underachieving wide players I don't see much changing to be honest as we struggle to get players on the park. Accies have always given youth a chance and in Ali Crawford they have a match winner worth watching closely. We have never found it easy to get the better of Hamilton in the Highlands and I don't see it being any different today. As we find it embarrassingly difficult to keep a clean sheet, I'm going for a score draw as Accies dig in. Nothing new there.
  16. Time to have a go. Relatively short trek on Saturday as we head to Perth to face St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park for a 3:00pm kick off. It's been a sad week for football with the Associação Chapecoense de Futebol disaster, where only five of eighty-one passengers are reported to have survived the plane crash that has all but wiped out an entire football club. I'm sure all supporters throughout the world will take a moment to pause for thought and pay tribute to those that perished. Our heartfelt sympathy and condolences go out to all involved. Life is too short. Celebrating their greatest achievement one week, wiped out the next. Life can be so cruel. RIP. The wheat seems to be getting separated from the chaff in the Premiership as the cream of the crop are rising to the top, opening up a gap to the rest suffering with blight, with St Johnstone having a foot in both camps. Unfortunately we seem to be firmly entrenched with the chaff just one point from the bottom of the table. However, It is very tight at the foot with a mere two points between Partick in 12th and Motherwell in 6th, with St Johnstone trying to bridge the gap a further four points ahead. Last time out St Johnstone were beaten 4-2 by our neighbours in Perth. The Saint's were two down at the break and fell further behind before form player Danny Swanson reduced the deficit. Steven Maclean pulled another back but Liam Boyce put the game to bed with a late winner to leave TommyWright bemoaning their poor defending of cross balls. That's no wins in their last four games now as St Johnstone head towards the chaff. Inverness ended their Indian sign hoodoo over Dundee by going down 2-1 at Dens Park. Despite dominating possession, clear chances were hard to come by and we paid the penalty for once more being wasteful in the final third. Signed on again Carl Tremarco scored our counter with around ten minutes to go but we fell short despite Richie Foran claiming we were at our best. The visiting fans would dispute that as we ended our dominance in this fixture and are now five games without a win. Iain Vigurs left the field injured and Lewis Horner saw red in stoppage time and that summed up our day. You have to go back two years for the last Inverness win at Perth and with only one win in our last ten visits, the omens are not great. We did win the first fixture between the clubs this season, but it took a last gasp poke from Josh Meekings to win the game. Ross Draper opened the scoring on the hour but Richard Foster thundered home a venemous shot with ten minutes to go to draw Saints level. Justice was served in injury time when Meekings scored and the points deservedly stayed in the North on this occasion. This was our first win of the season after a dismal start to the campaign. We have not really kicked on though with only three league wins so far, hence our lowly position. Good news for Inverness fans is that Carl Tremarco has extended his stay at the club. He has a one year deal with an option for another. That virtually makes it a two year deal as Carl loves life in the Highlands and he has made the left back slot his own since the departure of Graeme Shinnie. He is also getting a name for himself as a bit of a goal scorer with a target of ten for the season, he is half way there. Tremarco's signature comes hot on the heels of Alex Fisher who signed on until the end of the season. Murray Davidson should be back in the squad after suffering from an ankle injury. Zander Clark and Joe Shaughnessy could be fit for selection but Chris Millar, Keith Watson and Ally Gilchrist will not be fit enough for inclusion. Lewis Horner is suspended for this one and Liam Polworth, Kevin McNaughton, Scott Boden and Alex Fisher are all out. Brad Mckay is another who will be absent after missing out last week with a Shinnie injury. Raven has suffered a further injury after returning from concussion, but could yet make the starting XI. Iain Vigurs took a knock last week but should be fit. tm4tj prediction:- these are historically insipid affairs with low scoring the order of the day. Both clubs are on poor runs just now and nothing tells me that this will be any different. Inverness are struggling for fit players and will rely heavily on providing service for lone striker Lonsana Doumbouya. St Johnstone have a quality player in Danny Swanson and he could be the difference between the sides. I can't see an away win given our injury problems, but a draw would be most welcome. It's going to be a long hard season.
  17. Time to get back on track Off to the city of discovery on Saturday to see if we can rediscover that winning feeling. It's four games since we had something to cheer about when we beat Motherwell at Fir Park and results have seen us slip perilously close to the bottom end of the table. Dundee put a stop to a horrific run of six straight defeats, including a 3-1 win for us, by beating Hamilton and Motherwell before a narrow defeat at Ibrox last time out. Those defeats saw them slump to the foot of the table and they were in danger of becoming detached from the rest, but the two wins have them now just two points worse off than us. We also share the same goal difference at minus seven. Dundee are the lowest scorers in the league on just twelve goals compared to our twenty but we have the leakiest defence having conceded twenty-seven times to Dundee's nineteen. What does all that mean I hear you say. Well, it means that we are eighth and Dundee are twelfth but only two points apart. Defeat at Dens Park will see Dundee leapfrog us in the table, it's that tight. In our favour, Dundee have failed to beat Inverness in the last sixteen League meetings between the clubs, although many of these games have been very close. Since winning at Motherwell, we have only picked up one point, an entertaining 3-3 draw at home to Hearts. That was followed by defeat at Celtic and a disheartening home loss against Aberdeen. The only highlight for us has been the goals coming from Lonsana Doumbouya who has recently been called into the Guinea national side. Alex Fisher has penned a new deal to keep him here until the end of the season and Carl Tremarco is close to extending his stay in the Highlands. Dundee have ex Caley Jags players Nick Ross, James Vincent and Danny Williams to call on as they search for a more settled side. However, the one to watch is young striker Craig Wighton who has quickly struck up a good understanding with recent signing Marcus Haber. Striker Yordi Teijsse is out along with midfielders Mark O'Hara and Nicky Low. Nick Ross and Michael Duffy are both doubts for this game. We will have Greg Tansey back after his suspension saw him miss the Dons game. Liam Polworth will be out for a few weeks after being injured against Celtic and David Raven is out after suffering concussion in an accidental clash with Jake Mulraney. Brad Mckay took a sore one in a crunching tackle against Aberdeen and is a doubt, as is Alex Fisher tm4tj prediction:- Dundee are on the up and we are sliding a bit. The incentive is there for the Dee to get themselves off the basement and that could be enough for Dundee to shade this one. Our normally reliable defence is the worst in the league but our scoring is better than most. We have only kept one clean sheet this season in the league and that is a concern, but Dundee are a tad shot shy and that could lead to stalemate. I'll settle for a scoring draw. Richie Foran and Alex Fisher talk ahead of the game at Dens Park.
  18. A visit from our second string Aberdeen are the visitors on Saturday as domestic football returns after the international break. It's a distraction from the domestic scene that we could do without, although sometimes it enables one or two to recover from injuries. Unfortunately, not in our case with Polly and Raven sidelined and Tansey falling foul of the beaks. Sounds more like an aviary than a dressing room. I'm sure the Dons will be showcasing a handful of our ex-players as they come to the Caledonian Stadium looking for their first win over us at the fifth time of asking. So hello Jonny, Graeme, Adam, Miles and Greg. It will be a frosty reception for them in more ways than one as the temperatures dropped overnight leaving the surrounding area with a crisp white coating. I hope the cental heating is on. Some good news for Caley Jags fans this week as Alex Fisher and Carl Tremarco are reported to be pretty close to signing on for more duty in the Highlands. Our last outing saw us go down 3-0 at Parkhead. We kept it close until half time but with the sending off at the second goal we were always going to be under the cosh and I suppose we got off lightly by keeping it to 3-0. Aberdeen's last game was a hard earned 2-1 win at Partick Thistle. Anthony O'Connor and Jayden Stockley scored the goals that gave them all three points. That shows them sitting in second place in the league on twenty-one points, seven ahead of Inverness. James Maddison is one to watch for the Dons. The youngster on loan from Norwich City has been in sparkling form and can take a decent free kick as he showed with that winner against the Rangers. Miles Storey has been a noticeable omission from Aberdeen line-ups since leaving us. Interesting suggestions that a swap for Greg Tansey might be on the cards is certainly exciting Caley Jags fans. I think we can live with that. We have a loan player of our own who is looking to get more game time after a series of setbacks since coming North. Larnell Cole, on loan from Fulham has struggled with injuries since joining but the absence of Polworth and Tansey could offer him the chance of a start against the Dons. Lonsana Doumbouya made his international debut for Guinea during the break. Unfortunately they lost out 2-1 to the Democratic Republic of Congo after leading. Great confidence for Doumbouya though and some recognition for his recent goal run prior to the Celtic game. If we can provide some service for the big striker, he may get back on the goal trail, and he makes a decent target for Jake Mulraney, Billy King and Aaron Doran to hit. Inverness will be without the suspended Greg Tansey after his early bath at Parkhead. Liam Polworth also fell foul in that game after an unpunished tackle by Leigh Griffiths saw the promising Inverness youngster end up with a leg/ankle plaster. He will be out for at least two months. David Raven will miss out with a head knock and Kevin McNaughton is out long term. Aberdeen have pretty much a clean bill of health with defender Ash Taylor looking for a start and Scott Wright ready for action. tm4tj prediction:- It's been a turbulent world over the last couple of weeks. What, with Donald Trump winning in America and Ed Balls still in Strictly despite doing a Gangnam style Salsa. It just goes to show that anything is possible. Prior to the Celtic game I was looking forward to this clash, but the edge has been taken off our squad with suspension and injury. That could open the door for Aberdeen to exploit. On the other hand, it will also create change in our engine room, an area we have been sadly deficient over recent weeks. It may make for more creativity if players are deployed in their best positions, like Iain Vigurs pulling the strings in central midfield and Ross Draper dictating in the holding roll. I'm not sure I can see any better than a point from this one as we regroup, although Aberdeen have not beaten us in four games now. A plus for us is that the Dons might be keeping one eye on next weeks League Cup final
  19. Bhoys Zone Tough task this weekend as Foran takes his side down to the Bhoys Zone, Parkhead, to face domestically dominant Celtic, still the only side to take a point off Brendan Rodgers' side. I'm sure that's a statistic not lost on the Celtic manager, and he will be out to make sure they don't slip up this time. Last midweek game was away to Motherwell and we surprised many by coming away with our first clean sheet and a 3-0 win. Goals from Carl Tremarco, Lonsana Doumbouya and Liam Polworth made the difference as we strolled through the second half. We followed up our tremendous result at Fir Park with a 3-3 thriller against Hearts in the Highlands. We suffered a few setbacks before and during the game, but we still managed to get a point. Cammy Mackay replaced Welsh international Owain Fon Williams prior to kick off. Ten minutes into the game and Carl Tremarco was next to leave the park feeling his hamstring. His replacement was not too shabby though, and David Raven finished a brilliant team move to add to the drama. Great to see Lonsana Doumbouya continue his scoring run with his third goal in as many games, he seems to be growing into the role and his efforts have not gone unnoticed. He has been called into the Guinea national squad. Another plus was Aaron Doran scoring his first goal since returning from serious injury. All things considered, a decent point against a side that spanked us 5-1 a few weeks ago. Celtic came North a week and a half ago and burst Ross County 4-0. That score flattered them somewhat with County unfortunate not to score and as the game wore on Celtic bagged three late goals to give them a win they scarcely merited. They went to Pittodrie at the weekend and came away with a narrow 1-0 victory to keep them firmly on track to retain the Premiership title, thanks to a superb Tom Rogic improvised strike. The goals are still coming from Dembele and Sinclair, both subs against County, and as they showed in Dingwall, not a bad pair to have sitting around waiting for a game. Patrick Roberts and Stuart Armstrong started at the Global Energy Stadium and they notched the first two goals. With players of that standard uncertain of a start, it's a daunting task for the rest of the league. It's not a game many Caley Jags fans relish with expectation not high given Celtic's monetary dominance in the Scottish game and restricted viewing arrangements for visiting fans. Celtic fans bemoan the difference when they play the likes of Barcelona in European games. Welcome to our world! It's heartbreaking watching the likes of Ryan Christie warming the bench at Celtic when he could have had his pick of any other club in Scotland and regular football to boot. In fact, he sometimes can't even get on the bench. What a waste of fine Scottish talent. Mind you, I don't suppose his wallet is complaining£££ As usual, I would expect Richie Foran to set his stall out to give little away and hit on the break. That's standard practice for most clubs at Parkhead, but it's a dangerous game to play when Celtic are in the mood and can and has led to some doings in Glasgow. It's all very well saying why give them too much respect, but in all honesty there's little other option. It will be a stern test for not only the team, but of Foran's ability to absorb the pressure and hype surrounding a game at Parkhead. Celtic had the minor irritation of a Champions League game to contend with on Tuesday night in Germany. The played Borussia Mönchengladbach in the return leg after losing the first encounter 0-2 in Glasgow. That could mean that Brendan Rodgers might tinker with his squad for our visit although the size and wealth of talent available to him should be sufficient to take care of domestic games. Maybe Ryan will get a rare run out against his old buddies. That game ended with Celtic gaining a credible 1-1 draw in Germany with Moussa Dembele stroking home a penalty with the confidence and calmness of a veteran. One or two concerns for Richie Foran coming in to this game. Carl Tremarco looks as though he will miss out as the club investigate his hamstring injury. Better news for Larnell Cole and Alex Fisher who are both back in contention although Fisher is touch and go and, it might be a game too early for match saver Fisher who scored that late equaliser last time the sides met. Aaron Doran looks like missing this game out, but Billy King is eligible once more. Things are looking up in the goal keeping stakes with Owain Fon Williams set to return having missed last weeks game with back spasms during the warm-up. Ryan Esson has returned to full training as well, and Cammy Mackay will have learnt from his enforced appearance against Hearts. Bad news for Scotland and Celtic supporters is that Kieran Tierney will be out for a couple of months with ankle ligament damage picked up in training. Nineteen year old Tierney has been in sensational form for Celtic and will be a big miss. I suppose they will just have to use some international reserve, in this case, Honduran Emilio Izaguirre. Leigh Griffiths and Jozo Suminovic will return but Kolo Toure is out. tm4tj prediction:- I suppose as it's on the 5th November, we should be expecting some fireworks from Celtic. It's a tough game this one, probably the most difficult on the calendar, but usually the easiest to predict. It depends who Brendan believes will be sufficient to dismiss us whilst his team leave the rest behind. We have shown some tremendous resilience this season after a slow start and Celtic will need to be aware of this, however, they should have enough strength in depth to be able to win the points. In Liam Polworth, we have a lad that can set off a few rockets of his own and he has already scored a couple of bangers. We can always hope. Let the fireworks begin.
  20. Time for revenge The visitors this Saturday are a team we have a wee score to settle with. We were trounced at Tynecastle earlier in the season and it would be nice to reverse that and possibly get our goal difference back to level par. It has taken us since then to get back into the top-six as our goal difference took a pounding that day. Justice would be done if we can get a win, and even better by two goals, that would see us retain our top-six status for now. Old Caley Girl has been busy checking out the stats for this fixture and she has given us this excellent Preview. After a morale boosting bumper 3-0 away win on Wednesday, Hearts are next to visit the TCS on Saturday. My favourite awayday is Tynecastle but our August visit was thoroughly miserable. In fact, fellow CTO scribe, IHE described our performance that day as “toothless”. Richie Foran stated post match that he could see what our team issues were and knew how to solve them and to be fair we have done fairly well since, although some of the points gained have not been pretty to watch. Wednesday was also our first clean sheet this season and the reports from those there seem to suggest that our defence is returning to its reliable self with Brad Mckay looking like a very astute signing and the Courier describing Carl Tremarco as arguably the best full back in the league at present. With our A team of Warren and Meekings in the centre hopefully a few more clean sheets are on the cards. I would be very surprised if Foran changes the favoured four tomorrow. There has been lots of debate on the site re the recently preferred midfield and forward picks. Iain Vigurs seems like marmite at the moment with some praising his unsung work in the team with others not impressed by his form of late. Tansey and Draper are also said by some to not be reaching the performance level displayed in the past. There is also no doubt that Liam Polworth is a sublime striker of the ball as shown with his goals this season so far. The local press are reporting that Alex Fisher is to be offered a new deal next week which is welcome news in my humble opinion. Doumbouya appears to be becoming a fans favourite and is starting to show promise with his goal scoring tally so far. Aarron Doran was a welcome starter on Wednesday with King shining when he came on a sub. My guess is that we will line up the same as Wednesday but Foran has options and it is especially pleasing to see a bench line up this season offering change if needed. Hearts have been riding high in the table this season but have stuttered at times including midweek at Killie. There is no doubt they will be dangerous and eager to get back to winning ways to continue to challenge in the European place race. CaleyJags will be keen to remain in the hard earned top-six place we occupy at present. Fans were also delighted to see us go above our near neighbours on points for the first time in a long time. Brad Mckay has had an Xray on his finger for a suspected fracture and the gaffer awaits the outcome of that. Alex Fisher has a minor niggle and will miss out again as will Larnell Cole. Ryan Esson and Kevin McNaughton are out longer term. The visitors have only one absentee and that is winger Sam Nicholson who has had knee surgery. Billy King will have to sit this one out; parent club ruling for the Hearts loanee. OCG prediction – Hard one but going to go with a hard fought home win.
  21. Let's see the real Mr Vigurs After Saturday's disappointing performance, it's off to Motherwell on Wednesday night for a 19:45 kick off with both clubs vying to claim a top-six spot, one we hold on goal difference at the moment from Killie and County and one point ahead of Motherwell. Last time out we struggled to create much against a rejuvenated Kilmarnock and had to come from behind once more to snatch a late draw. Frustration was the order of the day as we were left chasing the game after Brad Mckay gave away a needless penalty with a clumsy barge on Coulibaly who scored from the spot thereafter. As we struggled to make some headway, Killie looked the likeliest to double their advantage, but as is the theme of late, we struck four minutes from the end when Lonsana Doumbouya forced home an equaliser from close range. It had been such a poor day at the office, even Ross Draper was substituted, raising eyebrows as to why the likes of Iain Vigurs had escaped the managers notice, conspicuous by his absence. He was not alone though and we really need to show a vast improvement if we want to take some points North. Motherwell faced a much sterner examination going down 2-0 at Celtic Park. With Mark McGhee setting out his stall intent on keeping Celtic out, they made life difficult for them at times but with Celtic's fire power they were always going to search for goals and so it proved with Sinclair and Dembele scoring. I doubt McGhee will be so cautious against us given our lack of creation in the final third and our midfield content to let the opposition control the pace of the game. We had four fixtures last season against the Well. Inverness won two games at Fir Park, one of these in the Cup. Motherwell won both games in the Highlands. Iain Vigurs scored a spectacular volley at Fir Park last season. Inverness had gone three goals ahead before Well staged a late recovery, but we held on to take the three points. Would be nice if he could wake from his slumber and help the team out once more. The cup game was won by another stunning goal, but Jordan Roberts is no longer on the books at the Caledonian Stadium. Ross Draper was subbed against Killie, not because of injury, but for tactical reasons. He has expressed his frustration at not being able to stay on the pitch to help the team out, but is fully committed to the overall cause. Larnell Cole was a doubt before Saturday and will still miss out with an Achilles injury. Ryan Esson is also out. Stevie Hammell is doubtful for the hosts with a hamstring injury but Carl McHugh is out. Mark McGhee is in a similar position to Richie Foran, still trying to work out his best XI with Louis Moult the most likely to score the goals, but Lionel Ainsworth appears to be out of favour so that's good news for us. tm4tj Prediction:- I'm not overly confident after our last six encounters have seen us gain one win and four draws with a solitary defeat to the Rangers. Motherwell fare slightly worse, one win, two defeats and three draws. It is however still very tight in the middle of the league and a win will catapult either side into the top-six, although we are already there (just). Well we were until Accies beat the Dons last night. Doh! I can't see where our goals are going to come from as Richie juggles his strikers around looking for the most productive solution. When Ross Draper is your top scorer, you know you have a striking problem. We will do well to get a point, but 1-1 seems to be a common score of late, and seeing as we can't keep a clean sheet either, that looks like the best bet. Richie & Josh speak to the Press ahead of tonight's game...................
  22. Time to kick on We welcome Kilmarnock to the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium this Saturday for a 3:00pm kick off with both clubs sitting on nine points, so it's an opportunity for one of these clubs to climb into the top-six with a win as there is only one other match on Saturday, Partick at home to Ross County. The clubs had contrasting fortunes last time out. We lost our five game unbeaten run, going down 1-0 to the Rangers, courtesy of a stunning strike from Kenny Miller. Kilmarnock steadied the ship after a run of six games without a win by beating St Johnstone 1-0 in Perth, an excellent result given the mediocre results of the previous six games. They did however manage a 1-1 draw against the Rangers during that spell, but were also hammered by Celtic and Aberdeen. It's a topsy turvy league with every team capable of performing well on the day making it difficult to predict any outcome. But, It's time to kick on now, and try to create the gap that will ensure safety for another season. Our opponents made sweeping changes in the close season. Lee Clark removed eight defenders from his inherited squad in a bid to resolve his defensive frailties, and Lee McCulloch retired from playing. In came defenders Dapo Kayode (Dinamo Bucharesti), Jamie Cobain (Newcastle United), Joshua Webb (Aston Villa), Jonathan Burn (Middlesborough), Luke Hendrie (Burnley), William Boyle (Huddersfield) and Scott Boyd from our neighbours Ross County. Midfield has also been revamped with Callum McFadzean (Sheffield United), Martin Smith (Sunderland), Jordan Jones (Middlesborough), George Green (Burnley), Charlee Adams (Birmingham City). Forwards coming in are Flo Bojaj (Huddersfield), Nathan Tyson (Doncaster Rovers) and the young man who has made the biggest impact Souleymane Coulibaly, an Ivory coast u17 international. The most notable players making way for these guys are Irish international Josh Magennis (Charlton Athletic), Tope Obadeyi (Dundee United), journeyman Kallum Higginbotham, Craig Slater (Colchester United) and Mark O'Hara (Dundee). Conrad Balatoni, Lee Ashcroft, Kevin McHattie and Jamie Hamill have all dropped down to the Scottish Championship. Add to that a bit of boardroom unrest and it's an unsettling time to be a Killie fan. Michael Johnston appears to be the reason that Russel Smith has stepped down as one of the directors at Rugby Park. So, big changes at Rugby Park, but manager Lee Clark has kept a strong backbone to his squad, starting at the back with keeper Jamie MacDonald and up front he can still call on the experience of Kris Boyd. Killie were expected to be one of the sides that would have their hands full trying to avoid relegation, along with us. Those predictions looked ominous when we lost our first three games. Killie won one of their first three followed by three draws and two defeats before winning at Perth. It's early days but both clubs need to find a level of consistency to be able to climb the table. That has proved difficult with teams still finding their feet and positive results hard to come by. Richie Foran thought we played well last week and could have taken more from the game. "We just lacked that wee bit of quality in front of goal. I think it's our best performance over the last six games. I knew we'd get chances. Bringing Jake Mulraney and Aaron Doran on can turn a game for you and I thought they might have nicked us a goal". To be honest, we were second best in a first half dominated by Rangers after Lonsana Doumbouya missed a great opportunity as early as the third minute. It did however take a goal of the month strike from Kenny Miller to separate the sides as we fought back in the second period and fell just short as we failed to capitalise on the three or four half chances that came our way. We have played better, but we have also played much worse. We gave Rangers too much freedom in the first half which saw us chasing shadows. I doubt we will offer Kilmarnock the same respect and sit off them in the same manner. It could be time for the luxury that is Iain Vigurs to feel the bench as he has been posted missing for long spells during games, occasionally surfacing to show a touch of class, but just as likely to display a cynical side to his game that we can do without. Liam Polworth would benefit from this by moving more central where we get the best out of him. Jake Mulraney and Aaron Doran made their cases clear for a start as they livened the game up last week after their introduction. Billy King was rather subdued last week and maybe a rest will be good for him. He will be missing for the Hearts game next week anyway, so Foran will need to shape his side without him. We missed Josh Meekings last week due to a hamstring injury. David Raven stepped back into his right back role with Brad Mckay moving inside. It's the midfield where the problems start with Tansey supposedly pulling the strings. We do drift out of games and seldom seem to dominate the middle area which is odd considering the physical presence we have in there with Ross Draper being prominent every week. It's the use of Polly that is open to criticism and the inclusion of Vigurs that raises most eyebrows. The next quandary is who is our best striker. None are prolific and both Fisher and Doumbouya had glaring misses last week whilst Scott Boden appears to be out of favour. Lot's of choices for Richie the Rookie, rather him than me. By the way, Kevin McNaughton has had his protective boot removed and has discarded his crutches, so some positive news for Kev in his long road back to fitness. Larnell Cole is doubtful with an injury. Killie will be without Johnny Burn who has a broken nose, but Kris Boyd and Steven Smith should return to the squad. However, midfielders Greg Kiltie and Callum McFadzean are out injured. tm4tj Prediction:- Both sides looking to climb up the table and both capable of producing the goods on the day. Historically we have been getting the better of Killie in the Highlands, one defeat in fifteen, and we should be able to have a go at them easier than we did against the Rangers. Souleymane Coulibaly is an exceptional talent and he has scored some spectacular goals already since his arrival. He is definitely one to watch and we will need to keep our focus at the back if we want to keep him out. We might just sneak this one, but a draw is not beyond the bounds of possibility. I find it difficult to see anything better for Killie. Former Inverness manager and Hearts legend John Robertson, 52, has been rushed to hospital yesterday (Thursday) after falling down a flight of stairs at Tynecastle. It is understood that Robbo has been treated for broken ribs and is recovering in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. All the best for a speedy recovery Robbo.
  23. If you know your History Friday night Footie returns to the Highlands with a bang as new club The Rangers visit the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium for the first time in their short history, the game kicking off at 19:45. They have made a meteoric rise to fame since their inception, climbing through the leagues in four years and getting to the final of the Scottish Cup. It's a touch of Gretna revisited. Unfortunately for them, like Gretna they also failed to win the cup at the hands of an Edinburgh club. They do look pretty slick though, having tailored their needs for each division as they made their way into the Premiership and they now have a squad capable of challenging most with Mark Warburton leading the way. Richie Foran has been named Manager of the Month for September after turning the fortunes of his slow starters around. However, we all know the repercussions of the curse of the Manager of the Month. Sounds like an adventure from Scooby Doo. Yikes! Come to think of it, have you ever seen Richie Foran and Shaggy in the same room? Me neither. Immortal Howden Ender has given us this fabulous whirlwind history lesson to rival Charlie Bannerman's Against All Odds This could be entitled the Inaugural meeting of the “Young Firm” of Scottish football. Both teams having painful and traumatic experiences in the not too distant past. Both teams are lamenting and many still grieving for the teams that they did support, whose existence was sadly terminated. Caley were even called “The Rangers of the North”. Caledonian Thistle F.C. was formed in August 1994 by the merger of Caledonian and Inverness Thistle who had been members of the Highland Football League since 1885.The league restructured in 1994 to four divisions of ten teams each. The merged clubs were elected in to the Scottish Third Division. The club's name was amended to Inverness Caledonian Thistle F.C. in 1996 at the request of Inverness District Council. Many still refer to the team as Caley or Thistle. They rose through the divisions at some speed, given their finances and many teams trying to halt their rise, especially when initially promoted to the SPL. The original Rangers came into existence in 1872, 13 years before the Inverness giants. The Rangers Football Club PLC entered liquidation on 31 October 2012. Sevco Scotland Ltd later changed its name to The Rangers Football Club Ltd. The new team, The Rangers FC started off life, akin to ICT, in the Scottish Third Division in the 2012-2013 season, a mere 18 years after Inverness. Due to their superior finances they climbed the leagues far quicker than ICT and made it this season. So Inverness Caledonian Thistle and The Rangers FC take to the park to on Friday 14th October 2016 in the first ever league meeting between the two clubs. Sadly I suspect that there may be as many old Caley and Thistle diehards (and their families) in the Rangers End as there are in the Main Stand and The North Stand. The two previous outcomes of meetings between the new clubs have been Scottish League Cup affairs. Inverness hammering Rangers 3-0 at Ibrox in October 2012 and Rangers scraping a fortunate 1-0 win in September 2014. In their history Inverness have only met the old Rangers team in League encounters and, at home, it does not make good reading with Rangers winning 8 and Inverness 1 and two drawn. The only ICT win was in December 2006 (Live on Setanta Sports !!) and the match was an all ticket SELL OUT. Nacho Novo scored for Rangers from the penalty spot (Craig Thompson was at it even then) before Darren Dods equalised. And many will recall the winner screamed in by John Rankin in the last minute. And we all had a fleeting look at the wondrous SEBO. We have a better record at Ibrox, winning three and drawing four of the thirteen encounters. My own personal lasting memory has to be the injury time penalty winner by Iain Black in March 2009. And Zjebi-Zadi was MotM and David Proctor won the penalty, drawing a foul from Davie Weir who was sent off. And Rangers were frightened by the pace of Dougie Imrie and Eric Odhiambo. It was fair rocking in “Brechins” that night. Going back to the Howden End days memories fade back to 18 February 1984 when the mighty old club known as Rangers visited Telford Street Park on Scottish Cup duty. A crowd of 5,500 packed in to watch Rangers win 6-0. Somebody called McCoist scored a brace that day and somebody called Billy Urquhart played against his old team. He should have stayed in Wigan !! I fail to recall any great Inverness Thistle v Rangers encounters although that was probably reserved for Brora Rangers. And finally on the trip down memory lane – we simply can’t leave out the initial Scottish Cup meeting with the old Rangers. A quarter final moved to the “neutral” ground of Tannadice Park in Dundee, on the 9th of March 1996. A crowd of 11,296 was in attendance (an estimated 5,000 from Sneck) when Rangers were the “visitors”. Rangers won 3-0, with Brian Thomson scoring an own goal and a certain Paul Gascoigne hitting a double. I can only suggest that you read the account made by Pele Paterson in his book “Confessions of a Highland Hero” - “We were Third Division and they were Champions”. That was one feckin hoore of a weekend. Hopefully the thought of the forthcoming Betfred Cup tie with Celtic will be a distraction and the Joey Barton debacle lingers on and on. Rumours are rife that Joey has put a pony on Inverness winning 2-1. That is certainly worth a wee gamble although it is unclear whether he is purely doing this out of churlish malice. Rangers have had what only can be described as an inconsistent start to the season and are clearly struggling to identify a starting eleven. The Central Belt Bluenoses however appear confident that Rangers have a clearer starting XI and expect to line up in a 4-3-3 formation. Wes Foderingham should keep his place in goals ahead of veteran Matt Gilks. James Tavernier and Lee Wallace will start in the two full-back positions. Rob Kiernan missed the last few games with an injury but looks likely to start. Kiernan and Wilson appear to have claimed the first-choice centre-back pairing (unfortunately) despite the arrival of experienced but aging duo of Clint Hill and Philippe Senderos. Andy Halliday should start in defensive midfield with Joey Barton missing (or running scared of Ross Draper). Jason Holt provides a lot of energy in the middle of the park and should keep his place whilst Niko Kranjcar impressed against the Plastic Whistle. Kenny Miller is likely to start up front as the target man with Martyn Waghorn operating as the wide forward from the right. Barrie McKay, to me the big danger, will keep his place on the left. If that is the Rangers line up then we need to go wide and offensive. Both Wallace and Tavernier are prone to leave their defensive duties and will leave space up front. Personally I would go with Fisher up front, if he has shaken off his knock, rather than Doumbuoya. Keep Draper “in the hole” behind him Tansey and Polworth to hold central midfield. I have not been impressed by Tansey this season but this is a “shop window” and I expect him to put in a MotM performance. Two wide players are a must and it looks like it will be Mulraney and King to start with. The back five pick themselves. McKay and Tremarco will be tested by McKay (need to check with CaleyD about the spelling). We certainly went backwards at Hamilton but escaped with a point, leaving us on a 5 game unbeaten run. That has led to Richie Foran being awarded the coveted Manager of the Month Award. Let’s hope that his lucky shamrock can ward off the curse that the award has placed on previous ICT Managers. And a 2-0 win would take us into the Top Six and ahead of Rangers on goal difference. But three points and a scabby one goal win will suffice. Shaggy Richie looks ahead to the game........
  24. Head to Heads Played 18 - 9 ICT wins and 3 draws in all comps. 7 ICT wins in league. Of 7 league games played at Hamilton ICT have won 6 and Hamilton 1 In 8 games played at TCS Hamilton have won 4 and 3 have been drawn