Inverness CT -V- Raith Rovers - Preview
First home game of the year has third placed and fellow title contenders Raith Rovers coming North to face second place Inverness at the Caledonian Stadium on Saturday. The game is scheduled to kick off at 3:00pm, but given the recent weather and covid restrictions, don't hold your breath. This game has a restricted crowd of 500 Willy Wonka golden tickets allocated. Fear not if you failed to get a hold of a ticket as ICTV will be streaming the game at a mere £15.
Full fixture list scheduled for Saturday 8th January, all 3:00pm.
Ayr Utd v Arbroath
Accies v Partick
Caley Jags v Raith Rovers
Queens v Killie
Morton v Dunfermline
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The stats are stacked heavily against Rovers who we seem to hold the Indian sign over. All of their wins came in the early years, their last triumph over ninety minutes was a 2-1 win at the Caledonian Stadium back in October 2000. Ian Broadfoot had this report on the game: Injury-hit Caley Thistle lost this game because of a poor first half display. Despite this they nearly took the lead in 13 minutes when a David Bagan shot was blocked by Greig McCulloch and spun over the bar. Raith scored first in 16 minutes when Jim Calder failed to hold a Shaun Dennis cross and Jay Stein hit home the loose ball from six yards. In 21 minutes a poor headed clearance by Stuart McCaffrey was picked up by Andrew Clark and he set up Ivan Mballa and the Frenchman slammed the ball into the net from 12 yards. ICT had a penalty claim turned down in 38 minutes when Charlie Christie was brought down by Paul Browne. After the break the home side improved but Guido Van de Kamp denied them on several occasions. Paul Sheerin pulled one back in 79 minutes when he netted from close range after a good cut back by Roy McBain. Four minutes later Sheerin watched in frustration as Van de Kamp saved his low shot. As time ran out he came close twice more but Raith held on to win.
This seasons encounters show that a superb Roddy MacGregor strike was the difference between the sides back in August. MacGregor Stunner: Inverness maintained their winning start to the league campaign, but it took a stunning half volley from substitute Roddy MacGregor to settle the points. It had been a relatively even game with the hosts having slightly the better of it throughout. Jamie MacDonald had pulled off three or four decent saves before Roddy struck from 25 yards, the ball flashing into the net past an outstretched keeper after some neat interplay outside the box involving Sutherland and Duku. Six points from two games, we could not have asked for a better start to the Championship.
The return fixture at Starks Park ended all square. And the wait goes on: Plenty of endeavour in the first half at Starks Park but little quality in the final third resulted in a game void of goalmouth action over the first forty-five minutes for both sides. Biggest talking point was the sending off just before the break of Ross Mathews for what looked like a rash studs up challenge. Contentious maybe, but straight red dished out. After the break more space saw more chances created but it was Raith that broke forward and scored through Aidan Connolly. Inverness struggled to get back on level terms but eventually did ten minutes from the end when Sean Welsh drilled home from the edge of the box and that ended the scoring. Raith's quest for a win over Inverness goes into a 22nd year. Killie were the only winners in the Championship and closed the gap to three points but Inverness remain top.
There was also a Challenge Cup game at the end of November where both sides made numerous changes. That went to a penalty shoot-out which Raith won 5-4 after a goalless ninety minutes.
Last time out
Inverness drew at Gayfield in a game dominated by the wind which made the pitch virtually unplayable. Prior to that we have not played since the shambles of the 2-1 home loss to Hamilton Accies on the 18th December.
Raith drew 0-0 with Dunfermline on 2nd January as we were being blown around Gayfield. Raith have not won in their last three games with their form taking a dip recently.
So, fairly uninspiring stuff from both sides ahead of this clash at the top.
Latest Team News
Billy Dodds has been without Sean Welsh since he was injured in the Scottish Cup tie versus Morton on the 7th December. We will hopefully have more players available after covid struck and isolations hit the club. Aaron Doran has been added to the injury list and will be out for a couple of weeks. One man who will be seen no more is Michael Gardyne who has left the building by mutual consent following some alleged misconduct which had an upsetting effect on the morale in the dressing room. He has appropriately joined the 'Table Endies' at Links Park. Also leaving the club but on better terms, Anthony McDonald's contract has expired and after only five appearances this season he has also left the building and has signed on at Edinburgh City.
Raith Rovers have signed Hibs forward Jamie Gullan on a two and a half year deal. The 'Hammer' has been on loan at Starks Park three times previously making fifty appearances and already has 14 Rovers goals to his name. McGlynn has moved early in the market and midfielder Ben Williamson comes in on loan from Rangers and Sam Stanton from Dundalk. Christophe Berra should return to action for Raith, but Lewis Vaughan and Brad Spencer are out long term.
Here's Billy - Where's Wally?