A goal-less draw against second placed Hearts keeps Caley Thistle in 6th place but Aberdeen and Motherwell are still in the three-way battle for the top 6 spot. Club Historian, Ian Broadfoot reports from this match at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium
|Saturday 11th March 2006
|Tulloch Caledonian Stadium
|INVERNESS CALEDONIAN THISTLE
Team: Brown, Tokely, Dods, Munro, Hastings, Hart, Black, Duncan, Morgan, Bayne, Dargo
Subs – Golabek, McCaffrey, McBain, Keogh, Fox, Jackson & Fraser
Team: Gordon, Neilson, Fyssas, Webster, Hartley, Hackett (McAllister 66; Goncalves 85), Cesnauskis, Berra, Bednar, Elliot, Aguiar
Subs – Johnson, Mikoliunas, Pospisil, Petras & Banks
|Man of the Match
|Richie Hart (ICT)
A fine performance by Caley Thistle and they could easily have taken all three points. Hearts were always on the back foot and Mark Brown had a quiet afternoon. Richie Hart starred for the home side and brought out two tremendous saves from Craig Gordon late in the first half. Both sides were missing key players for a variety of reasons. The Dennis Wyness loan agreement with Hearts specified that he should not play against his parent club so the Dargo/Wyness strike partnership was severed. David Proctor was injured and Alan Morgan started. With Rory McAllister suspended, and the absence of Wyness, Caley Thistle were short on front players. Graham Bayne started with Craig Dargo and new signing Ben Jackson took a seat on the bench. Hearts were without Rudi Skacel, Stephen Pressley, Edgaras Jankauskas and Julien Brellier – but with a squad the size of a small nation this was not a major problem.
It was a bitterly cold afternoon and Caley Thistle played into the wind in the first half.
The excitement started in the first minute when Dargo chased a high ball from Hart and Gordon came well out of his area to clear – it reached Russell Duncan but Gordon got back just in time to take his on-target lob. A minute later a Paul Hartley corner was headed goalwards by Takis Fyssas and Mark Brown pushed it away. A second corner to Hearts created some confusion but the whistle went for a free kick to the home side and the danger was over. Two Alan Morgan shots were blocked in the seventh minute then Hearts danger man Roman Bednar closed in on Brown and he pushed his angled shot for a corner. A fine Grant Munro curling cross/shot from the left whistled past Gordon’s post in 25 minutes. Gordon saved a 25 yard low shot from Richie Hart on the half hour mark after good set up play by Morgan and Dargo. Gordon earned his appearance money in 36 and 37 minutes when he denied Hart twice. The first came when Morgan set Hart on course for goal through the centre – he drew Gordon from his line but the keeper saved his rising shot from point blank range. Hart tried again when a neat Dargo pass gave him a sight of goal from wide right – his shot was heading for the far top corner but the keeper reached it.
Half Time: 0-0
With the wind behind them Caley Thistle spent the second half camped in the Hearts half. A long range free kick from Hart in 49 minutes proved awkward for Gordon as it carried in the wind but he caught it at the second attempt. In 55 minutes an Ian Black through ball for Bayne was taken by Gordon at the striker’s feet. Gordon held a header from Bayne in 77 minutes then a very good move ended with Bayne heading just over. Hearts were dealt a blow with five minutes left when substitute Jamie McAllister was stretchered off and had to be replaced. When play resumed the home side continued to press for a deserved winner. Gordon held a 25 yard low shot from Morgan then in added time Gordon came out of his box to clear a Duncan lob. There was still time for Gordon to hold a bouncing shot from Hart and for a Morgan 20 yard drive to be blocked after excellent set up play by Black.
Full Time: 0-0
Hearts breathed a sigh of relief as the whistle went and it ended goalless. The point gained, and Livingston’s defeat, guaranteed SPL football in Inverness next season. Sixth place was retained and Aberdeen’s defeat moves them back to eighth. Motherwell moved up to seventh, a point behind ICT.