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    Inverness CT 0-3 Hearts - SPL

    Inverness Caledonian Thistle were deserving losers in what has to be one of the worst performances they have ever put together since joining the SPL. The display on the park today was so bad it was verging on the comical and at times it was hard to know whether to laugh or cry. 0-3 going on 0-6 and we had nothing to respond with.

    01/03/08 Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, Inverness
    Team: Fraser, Tokely:yellowcard:, McGuire, Munro, Hastings, Cowie (McAllister 83), Black (Proctor 73), Paatelainen (Wyness 46), Duncan, Imrie, Niculae

    Subs: Vigurs, McBain, Kerr, Malkowski

    HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN 3 Karipidis (22), Elliot (33, 47)
    Team: Banks, Neilson, Karipidis, Berra, Wallace, Jonsson, Palazuelos, Driver (Ivaskevicius 64), Mikoliunas:yellowcard: (Screpis 72), Nade (Beniusis 84:yellowcard:), Elliot

    Subs: Glen, Tall, Zalukas, Ridgers

    Referee Alan Freeland
    Attendance 4489
    With only one win under our belt since Craig Brewster and Marius Niculae picked up Manager and Player of the month awards you could be forgiven for thinking that our demise is some kind of sick conspiracy. ICT seem to be on self-destruct and nobody seems to know what to do other than watch as the clock tics away!!! Recent results against Hibs and Celtic weren’t the best, but at least the team showed some willingness to fight and attempt to battle back in those matches, but against Hearts it was an entirely different kettle of fish.
    We got off to not too bad a start and were the ones applying pressure to Hearts in the first 20 minutes, albeit it phases and without much in the way of an end product. The only shot I can remember going in the direction of the goal was Duncan around the 15 minute mark, but even that sailed harmlessly high over the bar. We weren’t playing brilliant football, but we seemed to be edging it over what looked like an equally mediocre Hearts team….that was until the 22nd minute. Hearts won a corner and Driver delivered a high ball in to the middle of the box which Fraser looked to be coming to collect with ease, but for some reason he stopped and decided to back pedal towards his line giving Karipidis all the time in the world to pick his spot and head the ball in to the back of the net. This was the moment when the wheels really fell off for ICT, our midfield started to sit so deep they had the defence in their back pockets and even when we did manage to avoid tripping over each other and get the ball up the park, we had nobody to keep it there and it came straight back at us. The only time our midfield seemed willing to cross the half way line was when Fraser was taking a goal kick. To rub salt in the wounds, Referee (I use the word in it’s loosest form) Alan Freeland seemed to be making it up as he was going along. Despite Mikoliunas diving about like the Sugar Plum Faerie for most of the game it wasn’t until he tried to break the legs of Hastings that he caught the refs attention…and even then he got a yellow card for what was clearly a dangerous challenge and would have seen any other ref give a red without hesitation. On the few occasions we did push forward we were slow to get back and defend once we gave up possession and that was a regular occurrence during this match. Hearts second goal, and the first for Elliot in 2 years came when ICT were caught napping. We had lost possession on the left and failed to break down a run on the right before the ball was played down the line to Nade. Nade then made it look like he was out for a stroll in the park as he nutmegged Munro, stepped over a fresh air challenge by Duncan and then cut the ball back past McGuire who had left Elliot standing alone in the middle of the box….0-2 Hearts. The best efforts for Caley Thistle came towards the end of the first half when Niculae was unfortunate not to have stuck 2 half efforts away to level the scoring. The first chance came from a cross ball deep in to the box, but it was a little too high for Niculae to get above it to head it done and he nodded it over. The second chance saw Niculae again make a break deep in to the box as Tokely crossed the ball from the right. Niculae stuck out a leg, but the ball took a bounce and even at full stretch he couldn’t get enough on it to put it in to the net. 2 Goals down at half-time, but a glimmer of hope that we could actually create something up front and might be able to come back in to this if we could send out the real Caley Thistle team for the second half. For the first time I can remember in long enough, we actually made a tactically sound substitution at half time.
    Half Time: 0-2
    Paatelainen made way for Wyness to give us 2 strikers up front. It wasn’t long before all hopes of a comeback were dashed though and on 47 minutes Black made the biggest error of the game. He attempted to pass the ball back through a crowd of players to Fraser, but he failed to get enough on the ball and it forced the Caley Jags goalkeeper to come out to the edge of his area to make the challenge. He was first to the ball but failed to clear it and was slow to get back to his line….this gave Elliot time to pick himself up off the ground and float the ball over the sauntering Fraser to make it 0-3 for Hearts. At this stage most of the team seemed to give up, even those who might have been accused of putting in some effort just weren’t bothering and the only people who seemed to be playing with any passion were Niculae and Tokely…we hadn’t exactly been peppering the Hearts goal, but for the bulk of the second half nobody seemed to be interested in having a go, even from distance. Freeland’s catalogue of ridiculous decisions continued to grow when he failed to book Mikolionas for diving, even after gesturing that is what he had done and telling him to get up. He also produced his card from his pocket in another tussle, but seemed to change his mind after much remonstrating from the Hearts players. The most bizarre decision of all came when the nearside linesman made what felt like the first correct decision of the game in awarding ICT a corner, only for Freeland to overrule it and give the goal kick. In all honesty, the poor refereeing had no effect on the outcome, but it’s no wonder other teams don’t want Freeland officiating their matches when you see such a poor and incompetent display as that…it really was a performance of the lowest order. Rory McAllister replaced Don Cowie on 83 minutes and showed that he was at least hungry to prove himself and win a starting place in the team on a more regular basis. A late drive from 25 yards would have had the Hearts Keeper beaten but it inched narrowly over the bar to put an end to what should have been a more comprehensive loss.
    Full Time: 0-3
    “I Believe” is the adopted motto of the ICT fans, and they tried their hardest to lift the team throughout the match, but it becomes difficult when it is obvious to all that the team have lost belief and that the Manager and ICT Board are making decisions which are having a serious negative effect on the performances on the park.

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