Do-Do-Do-Do...Dennis Wyness scored twice as Caley Thistle made it three victories in seven days.
Ru-Ru-Ru-Ru...Russel Duncan takes man of the match for his box to box performance and chipping in with a fantastic goal of his own.
Ummm...Ba-Ba-Ba-Ba Ba-Ba Black Sheep...He may have been a bit of a Black Sheep last season but his new found temperament is paying off dividends as he now spends more time on the park than he does off it and is contributing to the score sheet.
Some fantastic individual performances today, but not at the expense of the team who played total football for the bulk of the 90 minutes and walked away deserved 4-2 winners.
|29/09/07||Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, Inverness|
|INVERNESS CT||4 Wyness (7, 54), Duncan (18), Black (32)|
Team: Fraser, Tokely, McGuire, Munro, McBain, Wilson (Morgan 87), Black (Hastings 75), Duncan, Cowie, Niculae (Bayne 87), Wyness
Subs: D McDonald, Vigurs, Kerr, Malkowski
|FALKIRK||2 Milne (28) , Arfield (47)|
Team: Krul, Holden, Scobbie (Allison 72), Barr, Milne, Arfield, Cregg, Latapy (Wallner 72), Moutinho (Barrett 72), Finnigan, Higdon
Subs: Aafjes, Riera, Craig, Olejnik
What a week it’s been, and the Caley Jags couldn’t have topped it off any better than they did in today’s match against Falkirk at Tulloch Caledonian Stadium.
We’d barely taken to our seats when Don Cowie got in the first shot of the game – a powerful volley which he just couldn’t hold low enough and it went over the bar. Yet again ICT were setting out their stall early and letting the opposition know that they were in for a game and we didn’t have to wait long for the opener. Marius Niculae looked like he was going to get his name on the score sheet first but his shot was deflected, only for it to fall to Dennis Wyness who stuck it away for his 3rd goal in as many games. Caley Thistle were linking some great moves together and providing some entertaining football but I felt they were sitting off Falkirk a little too much and this allowed for a couple of longer ranges efforts which could have, and probably should have troubled Fraser more than they did. Russel Duncan is a player who seems to come in for a little more criticism than most and a few of the fans would have been starting to warm the humble pie around 15 minutes in when Duncan’s strike from the edge of the area left Krul only able to tip it around the post. Duncan wasn’t to be denied with his next shot though, despite the best efforts of the Falkirk defence. He hit a rocket from about 30 yards out which would have been trouble enough for Krul even without the deflection which saw it rise and then dip quickly into the back of the net. ICT were spraying balls into the Falkirk area like there was no tomorrow and everyone seemed to be trying to get in on the action. Ian Black was having a great game alongside Duncan and neither seemed afraid to get forward and have a go, but as I said above, we were affording Falkirk too much space when they were on the attack. I thought Latapy was playing a bit deeper than normal, but with his intelligent play and ability to find himself that extra yard before placing some very nice passes to the front line, he always looked dangerous. Mikey Fraser looked confident between the sticks today and he dealt with crossed balls, and corners well and even though Falkirk had a few shots on target none of them seemed to trouble him too much. Falkirk were next to score though and despite being caught wrong footed Fraser did well to get a hand on the ball and almost succeeded in pushing it wide. Kenny Milne was awarded the goal, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the replay shows it to have come of an ICT boot in an attempt to clear the cross. Ian Black was to restore the 2 goal lead only 5 minutes later and it was a goal that you would have to see to truly appreciate. Niculae headed the ball in towards goal as Black made his run, it looked like an awkward ball and I thought Black had missed it but he cleverly got the outside of his boot to it to send it in to the corner of the net and beyond reach of the outstretched Krul. Even at 3-1 I never felt totally comfortable as I still thought we were sitting off Falkirk a little too much and I would have liked to have seen us put a man on Latapy who time and again managed to get the ball beyond our midfield and defence and had it not been for the fact that the Falkirk front line were struggling to threaten our goal with anything serious then we could have been more troubled. Caley Thistle were creating plenty of their own chances and at the Half Time mark the game could just has easily been 3-3, 5-1, 5-3 or any such thing. It really was reminiscent of the days under Steve Paterson when the philosophy seemed to be if they are going to score then we’ll just have to make sure we score more.
Half Time: Inverness CT 3 v 1 Falkirk – but a feeling that either team was capable of scoring a few more.
Falkirk started the second half the stronger team and were rewarded for being the quicker off the mark with a goal only a minute after the restart. The ball seemed to rattle uncomfortably around the box, ICT working to clear it as Falkirk struggled to find the connection to put it in the net. When the ball did finally break from the area it dropped right in front of Scot Arfield who didn’t need to think twice before hitting it on the volley from about 20 yards out, a well taken ball sent through a crowded box and beyond the reach of Fraser….3-2 Ross Tokely nearly regained the 2 goal lead within a minute when his header from a Barry Wilson free-kick was saved by Krul and Black was unlucky to go narrowly wide from about 25 yards out. Dennis Wyness had been on form the whole match and as someone commented “He thinks he’s back playing in Div 1” – a comment aimed more at the predatory instinct we witnessed from him in those days as opposed to his standard of play which was undoubtedly top drawer. The drag, shuffle and scoop were all being used to full effect, we could see them coming and so could the Falkirk defence, but they were powerless to counter it. No more so than on 54 minutes when some fancy footwork and a little flick allowed him to sail through the Falkirk defence before placing the ball past the oncoming Krul at a tight angle into the far corner….4-2, a 2 goal lead and 35 minutes left on the clock…the ICT of latter years would have been looking to shut up shop and just play the game to an end, but that was not to be the case. This looked like a team who had a point to prove and for much of the remainder of the game they did just that. For much of the first half and the start of the second it looked like Falkirk could come back at us but we didn’t give them enough of the ball to allow that in the final half hour. Even when they were on the ball the failed to do anything with it and Fraser was on form and picking cross balls out of the air as if this was nothing more than match practice. Barry Wilson was unlucky not to have added his name to the score sheet on a couple of occasions and at times you had to wonder what Niculae had to do to get the ball in the back of the net. Any doubts anyone may have had about the value of his contribution should have been laid firmly to rest after today. He may not have found the net but he set up some great chances for others and on any other day would have bagged a couple for himself. Caley Thistle also pulled off one of the nicest set pieces I have ever seen them do. Faced with a free kick about 30 yards out 3 of them stood over the ball. I thought we were going to see a repeat of an earlier set piece which saw the ball tapped sideways for Niculae who shot just wide but they sold me the dummy and Falkirk were momentarily stunned as well. I can’t remember who did what exactly but it went something like….Cowie runs up and steps over the ball but continues to the edge of the 18 yard box, Wilson looks like he’s going to blast it or tap it off for Niculae but leaves it and Niculae plays the ball to the waiting Cowie who, by this time, had found himself plenty of space on the edge of the area and was unfortunate not to have one of the other players who were running in get on the end of his cross. Hope they show this one in the highlights as it really was very cleverly done. Falkirk went for a triple substitution on 72 minutes – Scobbie, Latapy and Moutinho being replaced by Allison, Wallner and Barret. Latapy had been the only one really threatening ICT and I was glad to see him being replaced. The replacements offered no real threat for the remaining 20 minutes and I think Falkirk may have had only 1 shot on goal between making the subs and the end. This could also have been in part due to our own substitution of Black for Hastings shortly afterwards when it looked like the decision had been made to strangle whatever play we’d allowed Falkirk to have for the bulk of the game. You’d have been forgiven for thinking that the match today was being played without a referee as he was, for the most part, anonymous and let play flow. However, he did make one baffling decision towards the end when Cregg fouled Rossco just inside our own half. Rossco had managed to stay on his feet and had clear space in front of him but instead of allowing the advantage the referee whistled for play to stop and killed the momentum. Niculae, Wilson and Duncan all had half decent, if long range, shots at goal and Niculae even looked like he was through one on one with the keeper but was adjudged to be offside and was very unfortunate to have to watch his header come off the bar shortly before being replaced by Bayne. He and Wilson left the field to a standing ovation (Morgan replaced Wilson). Wyness seemed to get shot shy towards the end and should maybe have been a little more selfish on a couple of occasions but I think we can forgive him that. I think it would be unjust of me to suggest that ICT shut up shop for the final 5 minutes, but they certainly weren’t going to allow Falkirk to have much of the ball. Falkirk scrambled time and time again, but it was to no avail as ICT quite simply proceeded to run rings round them, none more so than Don Cowie who seemed to have the ball glued to his feet at times as he ran up and down the touch line. A stronger team might have punished us for giving them so much space today, but Falkirk weren’t the stronger team and ICT were pretty much in control for the bulk of the 90 minutes.
The whole team played well and I don’t think I could fault a single man. Special mentions for Russell Duncan…He was like a man possessed today and despite Black having had one of the best games I’ve seen this season I think Duncan may have just outshone him by the narrowest of margins. Black deserves special mention as well, he apparently wasn’t feeling too well when he took to the field, but it didn’t show, in fact I hope he doesn’t feel too well when he takes to the pitch again next week...lol. And finally Marius Niculae…he gave it everything today, set up some nice chances for others, tracked back well when needed and it was cruel not to see him get on the score sheet. He’s gone a long way towards proving that he provides just as much value in his contributions to others goals as he will when he finally catches a break and starts slotting them away himself in the SPL.