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    Inverness CT 3-1 Kilmarnock - SPL

    There's usually goals when ICT and Killie meet and today was no exception.

    After an insipid performance a few days ago at the Falkirk Stadium, the Caley Jags were a lot more classy today. A Marius Niculae double and a Don Cowie goal earned Caley Thistle a deserved victory in the final fixture of 2007.

    Kilmarnock got a late consolation with a soft penalty award that Colin Nish put beyond Michael Fraser.

    29/12/07 Tulloch Caledonian Stadium
    INVERNESS CT 3 Niculae (42,76), Cowie (52)

    Team: Fraser, Tokely, McGuire (Proctor 88), Munro, Hastings, Cowie, Black, Duncan, Rankin, Bayne (Wyness 83), Niculae

    Subs: McAllister, Vigurs, Wilson, Duff, Malkowski

    KILMARNOCK 1 Nish (86pen)

    Team: Combe, Hamill, Ford, O'Leary, Hay, Fernandez (Johnston 79), Fowler, Bryson (Koudou 72), Taouil, Nish, Wales

    Subs: Flannigan, Locke, Noble, Clancy, Harpur

    Referee Craig MacKay
    Attendance 4169
    The Caley Thistle lads bounced back from a lack-lustre performance and narrow 1-0 against Falkirk on Boxing day to put together a convincing performance against Kilmarnock at home and secure all 3 points.
    The opening goal nearly fell to on loan defender Phil McGuire when the ball came to him inside the area.  The fact that he found himself with his back to the goal didn’t seem to deter him and had it not been for the sharp reflexes of Alan Combe in the visitor’s goal then we would have been looking at one of the most impressive goals ever scored at Tulloch Caledonian Stadium. Inverness CT were on the ascendancy and Kilmarnock were doing little to threaten Mike Fraser and the Inverness goal.  Bayne was next to have a go for ICT, but his header went narrowly wide. Kilmarnock never really came in to the game until the 25th minute when Fraser found himself well positioned to stick a boot on an effort from Fernandez who managed to penetrate the ICT defence for the first time in the match. Nish, who has a habit of scoring against us, was next to be denied when Michael Fraser had to dive full stretch to prevent a low ball from finding the back of the net. Marius Niculae has been starting to find his range in recent games and on 38 minutes he tested Alan Combe’s resolve when he hit a solid 25 yard volley towards the bottom right corner, which the keeper did well to push wide. Had it not been for Combe then ICT could easily have found themselves a couple of goals up at this stage, but we were keeping the pressure on and the effort was rewarded just before half-time when John Rankin placed a powerful shot at Combe who could only block it and watch as it fell to Niculae who slotted it away with relative ease.
    Half Time – Inverness CT 1 – 0 Kilmarnock
    It wouldn’t be your typical Caley Jags v Killie match if it finished with just one goal, and true to form another one was soon on its way after the break.  Richard Hastings had been pushing forward and he played the ball into the path of Cowie who pulled off a sublime piece of finishing making it 2-0 to the home team on 52 minutes. Hastings was next to find himself in position and should have done more to reward himself for his efforts after his initial shot was blocked by Combe but fell to him again only a few yards out….thrashing at the ball he could only mange (somehow) to send it over the bar when it would have been easier to score. Kilmarnock were doing nothing which even looked like coming close to threatening Michael Fraser in the second half with the ball rarely finding it’s way into the Caley Thistle third of the park.
    With all the excitement being at the other end it was only going to be a matter of time before Inverness added another with Niculae feeling confident and taking every opportunity to pressure the on-form Alan Combe.  He had another 25 yard effort go narrowly wide and somehow managed to fight his way through a crowded Kilmarnock defence before seeing another shot blocked, but he wasn’t to wait to much longer before he found himself on the scorecard for the second time. Combe had done well to block a shot from Graeme Bayne only to see the ball land at the feet of Don Cowie.  As we all know Cowie is more than capable of finding the net, but Niculae obviously thought he was better placed as he cheekily pinched the ball from his under his nose and blasted it towards goal.  Combe, again, managed to get a hand to it, but the pace this time was too much for him to have any real chance of keeping it from bursting the net in 76 minutes.
    It was pretty much the same story for the next 10 minutes with Caley Thistle being the ones applying all the pressure, but 4 minutes from time a moments slackness on the part of Phil McGuire gifted Kilmarnock a penalty kick after he handled it in the box. Colin Nish, desperate to keep up his scoring record against us no doubt, stepped up and slotted the ball home to finish off the scoring for the day.
    Full Time: 3 – 1

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