Rugby Park Test.
Off to Ayrshire this weekend as we get back to league duties with a visit to Rugby Park to face an upbeat Kilmarnock who will provide a stern test for our top six side.
Killie got a massive boost last weekend as they ousted St Johnstone from the Scottish Cup at Perth, having drawn 2-2 the previous week against Hearts.
While Killie were marching on, we stumbled around Forthbank in a dirge of a game and left needing a replay to sort out our tie with Stirling Albion. It was the lack of creation that left most fans despondent, and we are thankful that we managed to avoid the big banana skin that Hamilton Accies stood on. That said, we are now six games unbeaten, although a much improved performance will be required if we are to take anything from Rugby Park.
Since we last met on the 12th of December, we have remained unbeaten, winning two of our five games and drawing the others including the cup game at Forthbank. Kilmarnock have not fared as well, and their only other win apart from the cup tie was at Hamilton where they scored the only goal. They lost to Aberdeen and Ross County in that sequence as well as the draw against Hearts.
Killie's last home win was in mid October when they beat none other than Inverness CT. We were rather sluggish that day and failed to take early chances and paid the full price as goals from Greg Kiltie and Josh Magennis won the game rather comfortably in the end. That should be enough of a warning for Yogi as he looks to keep his side above the relegation tussle.
Inverness will be looking for new signing Alex Fisher to get up to speed and add some much needed backing for striker Miles Storey. Kilmarnock's defence could be just the tonic our new strike pairing will be looking for as they boast the most goals conceded in the league (41). Their strikers are not much better bagging just 24, giving them a goal difference of minus 17 compared to minus 1 for the Caley Jags.
Kilmarnock will be minus three suspended players with the burly Josh Magennis, Steven Smith and Kevin McHattie all missing one game for accumulative bookings. Mark O'Hara, Scott Robinson and Chris Johnston are all sidelined, but Lee McCulloch will make himself available for selection.
Inverness will also have to re-shuffle their back line with Josh Meekings still out injured and Danny Devine suspended for one game. Also out are Aaron Doran and Dean Brill. Richie Foran could make the bench but is unlikely to feature. With Alex Fisher now on the books, Spanish striker Dani Lopez has returned to Spain after failing to establish himself high enough up the pecking order.
tm4tj Prediction:- We are a stronger unit than the one which lost back in October, despite being able to call on Ryan Christie for that one. With players back to full fitness we are better prepared and should be looking to take something from this game. However our negative approach at Stirling has riled some fans and maybe we need a bit more time before we can get back to some semblance of free flowing football. The tightness of the league dictates how we set our stall out, but sometimes you have to give it a go. The onus will be on Killie as the home team, I hope we don't offer them the same time on the ball that we donated to Stirling Albion, as that could be our downfall. We might have to settle for a point, but it will be better than none at all, so I expect Yogi to take the cautious approach. Go on, surprise me!
Scoring draw, with us losing a goal deep into injury time. 2-2.