Caley Thistle recorded another victory over Gretna today. Today's 3-0 victory takes the season tally to 10 goals scored against the borders side with none against.
Another double from Marius Niculae, and a penalty from John Rankin all in the first half meant that Caley Thistle were on easy street but despite numerous chances in the second half, the Caley Jags still fell one goal short of scoring competitive goal number 1000 but its the three points that matter. Here's hoping that goal 1000 may come at Easter Road next week
|05/01/08||Tulloch Caledonian Stadium|
|INVERNESS CT||3 Niculae (34, 41), Rankin (39pen)|
Team: Fraser, Tokely, Proctor, Munro, Hastings (McBain 75), Cowie (Paateleainen 66), Black, Duncan, Rankin, Wyness, Niculae (Bayne 77)
Subs: Gillespie, Vigurs, Duff, Malkowski
Team: Caig, Barr, Collin, Innes, Horwood, Makinwa (McGill 88), Jenkins (Osman 51), Yantorno, Murray, Skelton, Deuchar
Subs: Grady, Deverdics, McLaren, Canning, Fleming
Gretna had endured a horrendous journey up the A9. Opting to come up a day early, but were thwarted at Perth for 6 hours because of bad weather and didn't arrive until very late Friday night. Saturday was to be no better for them as Caley Thistle once again triumphed at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium with a 3-0 victory and made it 10 goals scored and none conceded against the visitors this season.
This win was Caley Thistle's fifth home victory in a row at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium and seventh in the last 9 games, a record that has seen the club climb up the table from the relegation spot to currently lie seventh and only 4 points off third placed Motherwell. Going into this game Caley Thistle had scored 996 competitive goals but try as they might, they could only take the tally to 999 after this game and will have to wait for that 1000th goal.
The home side, often slow to start was quick off the blocks in this game. Gretna has had a habit of completely capitulating if hit hard and early and this appeared to be Craig Brewster's gameplan.
The first real chance fell to Ian Black in only 4 minutes when he forced a save out of Tony Caig after some neat build up play from Ross Tokely and Don Cowie. Dennis Wyness was next with a chance when a volleyed effort went close in 13 minutes but was again saved by Caig. David Proctor then had a header saved by the keeper and Ian Black had one blocked by Skelton and with 23 minutes on the clock, Caley Thistle had another three efforts on goal courtesy of a John Rankin corner. First Ross Tokely saw his headed effort blocked on the line, then the keeper blocked Grant Munro's attempt and finally Proctor had a shot diverted off the bar and out for a corner which came to nothing.
Goals were coming, and even the neutrals could tell that only one team was going to score them. The first came in 34 minutes and it was from Marius Niculae with a major assist from Russell Duncan. Duncan surged forward from his own half deep into Gretna's and then laid the ball off to Niculae who looked up and then drilled a perfect shot low into the corner from 25 yards to make it 1-0.
Five minutes later, it was Niculae again harassing the Gretna defence and this time he was needlessly pulled down by Chris Innes as a dangerous Tokely ball curled into the box. The ref had no hesitation in awarding a spot kick. John Rankin stepped up to take it and made no mistake. 2-0.
At 2-0 Gretna did have a decent effort from Craig Barr but Mike Fraser held it easily enough.
Back to the other end then and another goal from Niculae in 41 minutes. Marius doesn't seem to score single goals and today was to be no different. A Cowie corner was headed to far side of penalty area, Tokely headed back to edge of box and Niculae hit a downward volley into the net off the keepers left hand post
Half Time: 3-0
If the first half was exciting and enjoyable from an ICT point of view, the second was a bit more mundane. Caley Thistle were on the hunt for competitive goal number 1000 but despite numerous chances, they couldn't get it. Gretna on the other hand, although they tried, put very little pressure on the Caley Thistle defence and when they did ICT usually went back up the park and had a go themselves.
Niculae was the first to have a go just after half-time before Skelton tried his luck for Gretna. Just after that, Russell Duncan hit a tremendous twenty five yard shot to Caig's top left corner but he pulled off a fantastic save to tip the ball for a corner. Wyness then went close with a header that went just inches wide and then Rankin curled a shot just past Caig's post.
Caley Thistle then came within a whisker of goal 1000 through substitute Markus Paatelainen. A Rankin cross found Markus in the box and he headed powerfully at the keeper but Caig managed to tip it over for a corner. From the resultant corner, Markus again went close but Caley Thistle just couldn't get that fourth goal.
Gretna had a chance at a consolation goal in 77 minutes but Mike Fraser managed to push away Fabian Yantorno's shot. At the other end four minutes later Proctor hit the post and Paatelainen hit the rebound over the bar and that was about it.
Full Time: 3-0
A fine victory, a clean sheet and 999 competitive goals. Its Hibs at Easter Road in the cup this week so a hard game but with confidence running high and Hibs lying below ICT in the SPL table, a win is definitely possible.