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    Inverness CT -V- Stranraer - S/C - Preview

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    Scottish Cup Replay

    Stranraer make the long trip this time to meet Inverness in their Scottish Cup replay, the first game ending 2-2 at Stair Park last Saturday.

    The Blues have climbed to third in the table after drawing 1-1 with Arbroath on Saturday and have only two defeats in their last twenty one games, losing twice to Dunfermline. They have the second best defensive record in League One conceding 30 times and have a +10 goal difference.

    It's been a good season so far for the team from Dumfries and Galloway. A 1-1 draw at Ibrox showing that they have the resilience to make it difficult for teams to get the better of them and they did not look out of place in the first game at Stranraer where Inverness had to come from behind to earn a replay, Billy McKay scoring the vital leveller for the SPFL side. Incidentally, their last four games have all ended in draws, and should this one go down the same route, then it will take penalties to separate the sides.

    Inverness have lost their way somewhat and John Hughes' record has, to say the least, been mediocre since he took over. It was always going to be difficult to maintain the early season momentum, but only five wins in fifteen games since taking charge is not the form of teams challenging for top positions in the league. One of those wins was in the last round of the Cup when we disposed of Morton. Maybe the break from the rigours of League duty will take some of the pressure off, but defeat is unthinkable and would make Yogi's job even tougher.

    Our forwards have been a bit wayward recently and even Billy McKay is finding it more difficult to score regularly, a sign that teams are marking him more closely and not allowing the wee man time or space to do the damage. But Billy is more than just a poacher and his hold up play has been a joy to behold at times, his strength defying his size.

    Richie Foran had another twenty minutes against Hearts and will only get stronger, which will give Yogi another selection headache as our midfield gets better and better. James Vincent looked good against Hearts and he was the man sacrificed to give Foran some game time and with Tansey looking the part it might be some time before we see Williams or Ross starting. However, it will be horses for courses over the coming weeks and maybe this game will be an opportunity for some of our eager squad players to show their talents. In saying that, we also need to ensure we get the job done, and I'm sure Yogi will not be taking this game lightly, and rightly so as Stranraer matched us exceptionally well in the first game.

    Stranraer, like Inverness, warmed up for this game with a disappointing home draw. Grant Gallagher scored with a long range drive to salvage a point against bottom club Arbroath, whilst our goal shy players were returning a blank against a resolute Hearts. Not the best preparation by either side, but plenty for Inverness to think about ahead of this 5th round Cup replay which kicks off at 19:45. Adults £10.00, Concessions £5.00


    John Hughes is quoted as saying:-

     "With the League Cup final coming up, everyone will want a slot for that game.

    "They have that incentive there to make sure they are in that starting XI.

    "If that is the case and I have boys saying, 'you can't drop me, you can't leave me out', then we will be winning games right up to the cup final.

    "It'd be great if we could go out and coast past Stranraer, but I've never known football to be like that.


    His counterpart Stephen Aitken said:- "We want to win through to face Dundee United in the next round.

    "But there is no pressure on us to do anything other than play to our potential.

    "Inverness are in a cup final already and in fifth place in the top flight, but we will look to keep the game tight and hopefully spring a surprise."


    Latest Team News

    Inverness have a concern over Gary Warren who opened up an old war wound at the weekend and John Hughes might be looking to freshen up things to keep the squad on their toes. It would be prudent to give Danny Devine some game time before we meet Aberdeen in the League Cup Final with Warren unavailable for that game.

    Stranraer will be without midfielder Stephen Stirling as he is cup-tied. He played for Morton in the defeat by Caley Thistle in the 4th round. Chris Aitken's ankle injury will keep him out, while a hip problem means Marc Corcoran misses out.

    Dundee United await the victor in the quarter finals, and should that be Inverness, then it will be the only all SPFL tie of the round.

    Quarter Final draw

    Aberdeen v Dumbarton
    Raith Rovers v St Johnstone
    Rangers v Albion Rovers
    ICT/Stranraer v Dundee United

    Gary Warren's replacement gets some training done ahead of the League Cup Final.....

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