I have to say I am somewhat rusty at all of this !!! I dont think I have done a match preview or report for several years ! TM4TJ continues to do a stellar job motivating the volunteer reporters to create our previews, match reports and other content so when he ups sticks and heads offline for a month its a bit of a culture shock to find yourself in at the deep end again. But here goes ...
Coming into this match we dont have our problems to seek ! No wins in 10 games since October 26th and only one win in the last 14 games. November and December saw us grab just two points against Hamilton and Kilmarnock and we rounded out the year with three straight losses to Rangers, Motherwell, and then the mob from over the bridge on Hogmanay. Here's hoping 2017 brings something better.
Elgin on the other hand are faring a bit better. They sit 3rd in Scottish League2 after 20 games and former Caley Thistle youngster Shane Sutherland tops the league scoring charts with 15 for the season so far. They have played 3 games already in 2017 with a 2-2 draw against Forfar and 3 goal outings in the 3-0 win over Montrose and 3-2 game versus Annan.
The only meeting between the sides - other than friendlies over the years - was a 4th round Scottish Cup tie at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium back in January 2011. Despite controlling things from start to finish, Caley Thistle made very heavy weather of most scoring attempts with the goals not coming until injury time in the second half when Dani Sanchez (92) and Adam Rooney (94) netted for the home side. Only Ryan Esson remains as part of the current ICT playing squad from that day although Richie Foran is now manager and Shane Sutherland who came on in the second half for Eric Odhiambo is of course now playing for the Elgin side ! There's a few survivors from the Elgin side from that day too, such as Jamie Duff and Brian Cameron.
Since the Hogmanay defeat, Richie Foran has made 2 new signings and also extended the contracts of David Raven and Larnell Cole (loan). Henri Anier is only 26 - but for some reason I thought he was older when reading his career bio - and has previously featured for Motherwell, Dundee Utd and Hibs in the Scottish league as well as clubs in Estonia, Norway, Germany and most recently Kalmar in Sweden. He has 34 caps for Estonia. At the other end of the spectrum, Dean Ebbe has signed from Bluebell United, an amateur club in the Leinster Senior League in Ireland. Personally I see parallels with Dougie Imrie here who had impressed in the juniors at Lanark and worked his way to ICT via Clyde. Imrie was pretty decent for us and still plys his trade in the premiership with Hamilton so it can be done, lets just hope Richie picked a good 'un.
Richie was quoted this week as saying Dean is ready to play but Henri may not be risked as his last game was in October. I think we may see Ebbe on from the start with Anier replacing him in the second half. With the winter break for the premiership, there is little team news available as yet, but it is expected that Raven, Horner and MacNaughton are all still out. We will update this list as and when more info is available.
Travelling to the game ? Additional train services will be in operation for this match. The outbound train will depart from Inverness at 13:35, arriving in Elgin at 14:20. The return train will depart Elgin at 17:27, arriving back in Inverness at 18:14. No alcohol will be permitted on these trains or on the 18:57 Elgin - Inverness service. In the event of a draw, postponement or abandonment of the original fixture the match will be replayed/take place on the evening of Tuesday 24th January.