Title defence begins
Inverness start the defence of their trophy in the 4th round of the Scottish Cup on Saturday against Stirling Albion at Forthbank Stadium with a 15:00 kick off.
We have played there before in the cup, and in January 2007 ran out big winners with a 6-1 scoreline. Craig Dargo grabbed a couple and Dennis Wyness, Roy McBain, Barry Wilson and Alan Morgan completed the Inverness scoring. David O'Brien got the Bino's goal, but it was the Highlanders that cruised into the next round. 1521 attended that game, I wonder how the crowds will fare for this one? We put Dundee United out in the fourth round thanks to a Russell Duncan screamer but we fell foul to two late goals by Celtic in the quarter final. We had led through a Graham Bayne goal after 18 minutes, but were caught out as Celtic equalised through Steven Pressley in the 89th minute. We had our thoughts on a replay but Kenny Miller stunned the Inverness fans by scoring in the 91st minute to send us crashing out of the competition. Just goes to show that losing late goals is nothing new for us. Celtic went on to lift the trophy that year.
The clubs have met six times, mostly in our early days in the Second Division. Inverness have won four, Stirling one and the other game was a 2-2 draw in Inverness. We have scored 12 goals at Stirling in three games, conceding only twice. The tie Stirling Albion won was a Challenge Cup game at Forthbank in 96/97 when they won 3-1.
Back to the future though and Stirling Albion have made their way to this game by beating East Fife 1-0 after a goalless draw nine days earlier. In the third round, the Bino's trounced lowland league side Cumbernauld Colts 6-0. Steven Doris and Craig Beattie both scored braces and Kyle Lander and Sean Dickson completed the scoring.
With most of Scotland suffering from serious flooding and snow issues plenty of folk will be keeping an eye on the weather forecast prior to this game. Stirling Albion have tried their best to re-assure everyone that the weather and pitch should be OK, but as we know, that can change swiftly.
Ross McMillan is out for Stirling Albion with a hamstring problem and he should be the only absentee.
The Cup holders will be without Carl Tremarco who was sent off after stumbling over the ball in last seasons final before bringing down the Falkirk player in attempting to rectify his error. Josh Meekings has missed recent games and Jordan Roberts has not been tried out although he has been on the bench. Otherwise, Inverness will be on familiar lines as recent weeks, although Tobi Sho-Silva has left the building.
tm4tj Prediction:- Stirling Albion come into this game off the back of a surprise 3-2 defeat to struggling East Stirling who are propping up League Two and they were also beaten 3-1 by East Fife in the previous game. Stirling sit just outside the play off position in fifth place. Inverness are on a high after an excellent derby win over Ross County and are unbeaten in five now having entered the top-six. No disrespect to The Bino's who are having a solid season, but if we can't get ourselves into the draw for the fifth round then there's something wrong. Miles Storey is looking to get back on a scoring run, and who would bet against him notching our 1500th competitive goal. Now that he is staying at Inverness for the rest of the season, watch him go!
I doubt this will be as easy as some would have us believe, but we should be strong enough to progress. Away win for me and Inverness' ball to be in Gary Anderson's hand soon.
Inverness have added six foot three Englishman Alex Fisher to their squad and the 25 year old is apparently eligible to be included in todays team if seleced. Fisher is an out of contract striker signed after leaving Torquay United by mutual consent. He had scored 7 goals in 22 appearances for the Gulls. His arrival could open the ICT exit door for another out of favour striker at Inverness in the shape of Dani Lopez.
Partick Thistle are the first side through to the next round of the cup after they knocked out St Mirren 2-1 last night.
From Bino's website
Admission: Adults £15, Seniors & Students £10, U16s £5. Cash at the turnstiles.
Fans: Albion supporters should use turnstiles 1, 2 3, & 4 in the West Stand.
Turnstiles 7, 8, 9 & 10 will be open in the East Stand for ICT fans.
Replay date: If the game ends in a draw, the replay will take place at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium on Tuesday January 19.