SPL Football finally arrives in Inverness
This was the day that SPL football came to Inverness. The seemingly impossible task of upgrading Caledonian Stadium to SPL requirements in just two months was achieved thanks to herculean efforts by Tulloch's army of workmen and their sub-contractors. Despite snow, frost and a hurricane the revamped stadium was officially handed back to the club on 27 January by Tulloch chairman David Sutherland. Two days later a packed house was treated to a fine Caley Thistle victory against Dunfermline at the renamed Tulloch Caledonian Stadium. Highland Council convener Alison Magee officially opened the 'new' stadium then it was on with the show. As Thin Lizzy would say: The boys are back in Town.
The home side immediately took the game to Dunfermline. The first shot on goal came in the third minute when Graham Bayne headed on a Richie Hart free kick and Juanjo shot over. In five minutes Barry Wilson let fly from 40 yards but it sailed wide then a Lee Makel curling shot at the other end was held by Mark Brown.
Not much was on target until 35 minutes when Barry Wilson scored a fantastic goal to give the home side a deserved lead. He headed down the left then cut inside past two defenders and with barely a glance at goal he sent a 25 yard angled shot into the top right corner of the net. Derek Stillie could do little as the ball took a hint of a curl and disappeared behind him.
Dunfermline achieved little for the rest of the half apart from a Makel shot over the bar in 39 minutes.
Half Time: 1-0
The visitors pushed upfield at the start of the second half and Mark Brown saved an angled shot from the lively Greg Ross. A long ball set Juanjo clear at the other end but he was forced wide and Stillie did well to block his shot.
In 50 minutes a Juanjo back-heel set Hart off on a long run towards goal but it ran too far and Stillie came out to collect. Stillie caught a Craig Brewster header two minutes later then, at the other end, Darren Dods blocked a shot from Andy Todd in the box.
Caley Thistle again began to dominate and in 71 minutes Barry Wilson tried to repeat his first half goal, but this time his low angled shot went just past. The pressure came off the home side when they went two ahead in 74 minutes. Russell Duncan passed from the left inside to Brewster and, with no break in his stride, the player/manager hit past Stillie from 12 yards. His second goal for the club assured the destination of the points.
Brewster's former team did not give up and their best effort came in 78 minutes when a 20 yard shot from Makel bounced off the bar. Three minutes later Darren Young slid the ball just wide of the post. Hart and Prunty combined well at the other end in 83 minutes and set up Dods, but his goal-bound shot was blocked.
The final chance came just into added time when Brewster sent the ball to Bajram Fetai beyond the back post and he slid to shoot but it had no power and was cleared.
Full Time: 2-0
The historic match ended 2-0 and Caley Thistle maintained eighth place, and more importantly, now a vital nine points above bottom club Livingston.
It was tremendous to be back home and a fitting goal from Millenium Man Barry Wilson to Christen the Stadium
Inverness CT: 2 (Wilson 35, Brewster 74)
Team: Brown; Tokely, Dods, Munro, Golabek, Wilson (McBain 88), Hart, Duncan,
Juanjo (Fetai 76), Brewster, Bayne (Prunty 82)
Subs not used: Fraser; McCaffrey, Hastings, Black - Booked: None
Team: Stillie; Labonte (Ross 34), Skerla, Tod, Thomson, Nicholson, Makel, Mason, Dempsey,
Christiansen (Darren Young), Hunt (Mehmet 55)
Subs not used: Langfield; Campbell, Dunn, Wilson - Booked: Labonte, Todd
Attendance: 5449 - Referee: Steve Conroy