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No goals at Pasta place. In John Robertson's 100th game in charge, Inverness made it six clean sheets in a row as they played out a 0-0 draw against Livingston at the Tony Macaroni Stadium. It was no surprise that John Robertson made no changes to the starting XI from the one that beat Dunfermline Athletic last week. That meant that John Baird was deemed fit enough to continue up front. Gary Warren remained on the bench with Coll Donaldson in his place once more and Alex Cooper returned to the squad after injury. David Hopkin made three changes to the starting line-up that beat Brechin City last week. Onto the bench went Nikolay Todorov, Rafa De-Vita and Jack McMillan. In came Jackson Longridge, Keaghan Jacobs and Danny Mullen. 1262 paid to witness this encounter with 267 in the away end making themselves heard. Livi came flying out of the blocks and had two attempts in the first couple of minutes, Josh Mullin testing Mark Ridgers and Craig Halkett heading over from a corner. Connor Bell had the ball in the net after six minutes from a John Baird cross, but the linesman flagged him for offside. Coll Donaldson was booked after twenty minutes as Livi looked to threaten and at the other end Jake Mulraney was close to connecting with a Joe Chalmers cross. Five minutes later and Mulraney was fed through on goal by Liam Polworth but Neil Alexander denied the pacey wide player saving low to his left. Ten minutes before the break Longridge went close after he found some space in the box from a Danny Mullen lay off. Mulraney turned on the after burners but Alexander foiled him as he lost control having done the difficult bit. Danny Mullen was yellow carded five minutes before the interval and Carl Tremarco followed him into the book a couple of minutes later after a late tackle. However, we made it to the interval without conceding and still had eleven players on the park. Inverness possibly shaded the first half with Mulraney looking dangerous. Half Time 0-0 As in the first half, Livi looked intent on breaching our defence and pressed hard without actually creating anything. Brad Mckay is next to have his name taken as the home side threatened to break forward. Around the hour mark, George Oakley replaced Baird who was reportedly struggling to make this one. Tremarco almost latched on to a Mulraney cross as the visitors made some progress. Livi subbed Penrice for Cadden. Shortly after, Tremarco was replaced by Riccardo Calder. Polworth tried his luck from outside the box but his shot ran out of steam and Alexander saved comfortably and at the opposite end Ridgers dealt easily with a cracker from Jacobs with twenty minutes left. Longridge upended Mulraney and was booked for his troubles. Jake dragged a shot wide moments later. Hopkin made his final changes and Danny Mullen and Josh Mullin went off, Nikolay Todorov and Dylan Mackin came on. Chalmers won a corner with ten minutes left but it came to nothing as Polworth fired well over. Moments later Polly fed Bell in on goal but Alexander came out on top once more, managing to get a toe on the ball to divert it from goal. Todorov and Cadden shot over as Livi tried to nick a winner but we made it six clean sheets in a row to take a hard earned point back up the A9. Full Time 0-0 Immortal Howden Ender will have the full version of the days events for us in due course......... and here it is. RETURN TO THE TOEKNEE MACARONI - NO GOALS BUT PLENTY OF POSITIVES First game I have been to since Dumbarton and it was like watching a brand new team – a much improved and organised outfit – and I was advised that this was below the standards set at Tannadice and against Dumbfarmlife. Well dropped the missus off at the Travelodge, a swift pint in the Hungry Horse at the top of the Hill and down to the petite Stadium Bar and a few swift voddie and cokes with Top Six. And then we were all paraded into the Main Stand. It was packed and we must have had close to 50% of the attendance – and we certainly made ourselves heard. A 0-0 always conjures up the idea of boredom and a lack of entertainment. Apart from the first 2-3 minutes - when Livi flew out of the blocks and had fashioned two chances – I felt that we were always in control, if anyone deserved to win it was us but most of the play was confined to the middle sections of the pitch. On show were two very well drilled defences but two teams clearly lacking in the necessary firepower to clinch all three points. In many ways we cancelled each other out as Livi’s style and system was almost identical to ours. We had two good chances to steal three points in both halves. Mulraney had the first half chance after a great through ball from (?) Vigurs, he outpaced the defence but brought out a good save from the veteran Alexander. IMHO Connor Bell had the better chance and really should have tucked it away. And what a through ball from Polworth. So we looked very solid and confident at the back. We won the midfield battle but I felt that we were lacking up front and the two “wee man attack” against the likes of Livi will not work. But we are getting better and better – fitter and fitter – and all of a sudden a play-off place is very much back on the cards. Only negative was our discipline (again) and picking up three cheap yellow cards – Mckay, Donaldson and Tremarco. And we picked up praise from both coaches. Inverness manager John Robertson: "That's six clean sheets and something the players should be immensely proud of because they're working their socks off. We had to match a really honest, intense, direct Livingston team and we managed to create a few opportunities. Livingston manager David Hopkin: "Inverness have really picked up defensively and Neil Alexander's pulled off a couple of great saves to keep us in it as well. Before the game I'd have taken a point. We were playing against an experienced and well-drilled side. SMILEYMOMETER RIDGERS Nowt to do with fitness, all to do with confidence and a much improved back four. RAVEN May not have many more opportunities so I will give him the MotM Award. More like the old Rave, kept going and overlapping for 90 minutes. MCKAY Not pretty but dogged and efficient. DONALDSON Mighty close in my MotM choice. Can't believe the difference in him in comparison with Dumbarton. TREMARCO Probably a real influence on the improvement defensively but I suspect he will be missing in action for another few weeks. MULRANEY Appears to have been given some “play for the shirt” medication but also played wide right and offensive which is undoubtedly where he is at his best. POLWORTH Another 110% display. If only we had a Brewster or Dargo to feed to. VIGURS Showed the usual class touches but I suspect that he was singled out for the “don’t let him play” attention by Livi. CHALMERS I really (always) liked him in midfield. A real battler and a great foil for Vigurs, Polworth and Mulraney. BAIRD Needs a goal. Plus he is the target man and I don’t think that he is comfortable with that. Better player running off the front man. BELL Well I would simply pick him in front of Baird – as the runner – at the present time. Great run on to a greater pass which led to him missing the 1:1 opportunity of the game. CALDER Looked a bit dodgy and not the ideal cover for Tremarco at full back/wing back OAKLEY WTF – what an action packed half hour put in. Probably boosted by the fan chants and evidently clapping enthusiastically at the final whistle. ROBBO Continues to improve. Will be interesting who he plays at left back and surely Oakley has booked a start as the Number 9. Here's the action from the Tony Macaroni......... Robbo was a bit disappointed not to take all three points, but he was very happy with the Caley Jags Away fans. Date: 04/11/2017 Venue: Tony Macaroni Stadium Attendance: 1262 Referee: Gavin Duncan Livingston: 0 Lineup: Alexander; Longridge, Byrne, Halkett, Gallagher, Lithgow, Mullin (Mackin, 77) Pittman, Penrice (Cadden, 65), Jacobs, Mullen (Todorov, 77). Subs (not used): Maley, Knox, Carrick, Todorov. Booked: Mullen, Longridge. Scorers: none Booked: D Mullen (40), Longridge (74) Sent Off: none Inverness CT: 0 Lineup: Ridgers; Raven, Mckay, Donaldson, Tremarco (Calder, 69), Chalmers, Polworth, Vigurs, Mulraney, Bell, Baird (Oakley, 60). Subs (not used): Esson, Warren, Cooper, Trafford, Mackay. Booked: Donaldson, Tremarco, Mckay. Scorers: none Booked: Donaldson (21), Tremarco (44), B Mckay (56) Sent Off: none a
Tony Macaroni challenge We head down to Livingston on Saturday to face the upstarts of the season so far. David Hopkin has taken his promoted side to second in the Championship after eleven games. They have already beaten Inverness in the Highlands, but might find us a tougher nut to crack this time round as we look to make it six clean sheets in a row. Last time out we defeated Dunfermline at the Caledonian Stadium thanks to a goal from Connor Bell. That was on the back of an excellent away win at Tannadice the week before. It's six games since we conceded a goal, approaching 500 minutes of football. That's not bad for a side that began the season by gifting comedy goals every week. We have certainly tightened up at the back and credit has to go to Coll Donaldson who has come in and taken his chance to establish himself as the number one centre back. With the two returning full backs, David Raven and Carl Tremarco, and Brad Mckay alongside him, we are a different proposition and it's no coincidence that results have improved of late. Let's not forget the part keeper Mark Ridgers has played in this. Coming back in for the injured Fon Williams, Mark has kept three clean sheets in a row and I'm certain that having a more solid and settled back line makes his life easier. Confidence breeds more confidence. Livi went second thanks to a 3-2 win over Brechin City. Jack McMillan, Craig Halkett and Dylan Mackin did the damage. Halkett was also a scorer when Livi visited the Highlands in September and came away with a 1-3 win. They have scored twenty goals, seven more than us but their defence is only one goal better off, despite our poor start to the campaign. The Lions have won their last three home games, beating Brechin, Dundee United and Dumbarton. One lowlight was the 3-1 defeat at East End Park. Zak Elbouzedi played for an hour on Sunday in the 2-0 youth cup win over University of Stirling. Good to see Zak getting some match time after his injury troubles since coming North. Aaron Doran is building towards a return but some more fitness levels needed. Owain Fon Williams, Collin Seedorf and Felitciano Zschusschen remain out. Alex Cooper missed out last week. John Baird is a doubt. David Hopkin's last game was against Brechin and this was his preferred line-up: Alexander, Gallagher, Halkett, Lithgow, Mullen, Pittman, Byrne, Penrice, McMillan (Mackin 45), Todorov (Jacobs 64), De Vita (Knox 73). Mullen and Mackin scored for the U20's in midweek and will be looking for a start here. tm4tj prediction:- All these clean sheets are breeding confidence and it's starting to spread through the stands. The performance at Tannadice was commanding, the win over Dunfermline was harder work but thoroughly deserved and with Iain Vigurs pulling the strings in midfield we are able to create more for our eager front pairing of Connor Bell and John Baird. Jake Mulraney has two assists in the last two games, both put away by Bell, so a promising partnership is being nurtured by Robbo. Livi showed in the game at Inverness that they are well set up for the rigours of the Championsip. They work hard for each other and defend in depth when required. Not too easy to break down this will be a test for Mulraney and Bell. Given our recent upturn in fortune, a draw would be a decent result, a win would be a bonus, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. No score draw or narrow win either way is where the smart money will be. Confused.com. More detail on the Official site