Inverness travel to Falkirk on Saturday to take on Paul Hartley's Bairns with the game kicking off at 3:00pm at the Falkirk Stadium.
As if this game wasn't going to be difficult enough, Falkirk have been given a lift by the signing of their new manager who replaced Peter Houston who was removed a couple of weeks ago. Since then, with Alex Smith guiding them, they have defeated Morton at Greenock and have jumped above us in the league. Last Saturday they had a tremendous 2-0 win over high flying Dunfermline in the Challenge Cup. That result along with our defeat of Peterhead sees us play Falkirk in the next round of the Challenge Cup, having already played them in the league cup. Minimum of six games against the Bairns this season, surely we'll manage to improve on our previous result so far.
The League Cup encounter went the way of Falkirk earlier this season. A 2-0 defeat at home sounds like a bad one, but we were the architect of our own downfall in this game. Both goals came from slackness in our own defence and were preventable. McKee and Austin were the benefactors of our generosity. We have tightened up a bit at the back but let's not imagine that we are the finished article yet. Owain Fon Williams was restored to the sticks, but that ain't going to happen against Falkirk this time. The Welsh stopper is out for around six weeks with a torn muscle picked up in training.
Our last game saw us beat Peterhead 3-0 in the Challenge cup. For long spells we failed to dominate but enter Daniel MacKay. The sixteen year old was a late sub and scored the final goal to finish off the game. He became our youngest ever player and scorer @ 16 years and 171 days. Well done Daniel, I'm sure there will be more to come in the future. Liam Polworth and Riccardo Calder were the other scorers.
Daniels big day was slightly overshadowed by the unsavoury incident in the dugout as Polworth and Scott Kellacher angrily reacted to each others presence. The issue has reportedly been dealt with in house and we can only hope that Liam Polworth will be eligible to play after his internal punishment. We need all hands to the pumps, and Liam can add something to midfield if given the right treatment and role. Time to put this behind us and start climbing the league.
Robbo's credentials are being brought to task by some fans. Understandable after our poor start to the season. This game will show which end of the table we will be plying our trade. Many feel that has already been decided. I would rather the fans got behind the club at this point, as we need everyone to pull in the same direction.
John Robertson faces uncertainty after a series of freak injuries. Along with Owain Fon Williams, Charlie Trafford and Gary Warren are both out with thumb injuries. Aaron Doran, Zak Elbouzedi Collin Seedorf and big Susan are still out longer term, but there is some progress although it's too early to expect any of them back in the next couple of months. Coll Donaldson will continue at the heart of the defence after a solid showing against Peterhead. Mark Ridgers will no doubt be the No 1, let's hope his confidence has been rediscovered.
Paul Hartley's first game in total control could see little change to the recent winning ways of the Bairns after a poor start to their season. However, Hartley will want to add his own style to the improving Bairns and he might make a change or two, but there is little need for that given our shot shy strikeforce. He can call on the services of proven strikers like Lee Miller, Rory Loy, Sammy Hyppolite, the list goes on. Joe McKee packs a tremendous shot and will be a danger at set pieces. Last time out Alex Smith sent Falkirk out like this:- Mitchell (Thomson 70), Muirhead, Grant, Balatoni, McGhee, McKee, Taiwo, Kerr, Harris, Hippolyte (Craigen 75), O’Hara (Austin 87). I would expect Robbie Thomson to start in goals for this one.
tm4tj prediction:- I fear we may be under the cosh at Falkirk as our injury woes return big style. Along with our lack of creation, defensive frailties, striking issues and infighting, this will be an uphill task. Falkirk have finally got their season going, but we look to be a long way short of that. If our makeshift defence can cope, we might keep the score respectable, failing that we could end up on the wrong side of a cricket score. Home win I'm afraid.
More detail can be found on the Official Website in the ICTFC v Falkirk preview.