Club captain Grant Munro was the hero of the game for Caley Thistle. He scored the club's 1000th competitive goal and generally had a very solid game. Unfortunately however, one was not enough, and the points were shared when Billy Mehmet scored a late goal for the home side.
With other results going Caley Thistle's way, this point was enough to take ICT into the top six.
Love Street, Paisley
1 Mehmet (74)
Team: Smith, Van Zanten, Barron, Potter, Maxwell, Murray, Dorman, McGinn (Hamilton 65), Corcoran, Dargo, Mehmet
Subs: Kean, McCay, Brady, Millen, Miranda, Howard
1 Munro (28)
Team: Fraser, Tokely, Proctor (Imrie 46), Munro, Hastings, Cowie, Black, Duncan, McBain, Niculae, Wyness (Wilson 76)
Subs: Bayne, Vigurs, Rennie, Kerr, Malkowski
Elimination from the Scottish Cup at the first hurdle and inclement weather meant that Caley Thistle had endured a 20 day lay-off before this game at Love Street. It had also meant that the elusive search for the 1000th competitive goal that was so nearly achieved against Gretna on the 5th January had now stretched to 35 days....
A win was not the end result in this game, but goal number 1000 did come and it was perhaps fitting that it fell to an unlikely hero, but one who epitomises Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Manager Craig Brewster made only one change to the side that was defeated by Rangers on 20th January with Dennis Wyness coming back into the side at the expense of Markus Paatelainen. Of note on the subs bench were places for new signing Dougie Imrie and also 16 year old midfielder Connor Rennie who is currently making a name for himself in the U19 team.
In the St Mirren side was Andy Dorman, a recent signing from New England Revolution in North America's Major League Soccer, and also a man who needed no introduction to the Caley Thistle faithful - Craig Dargo. Dargo has struggled with injury since moving to the Buddies and has still to score his first goal for the club. Fortunately for ICT
, come the end of this game, his duck would still be intact despite valiant efforts that saw him called back for offside numerous times during the match.
Dennis Wyness had the first chance for ICT
early in the game when Potter misjudged a long ball but Dennis Wyness, in the box, and with only the keeper to beat spun the ball well wide. Ian Black then had a go, forcing a good save from Smith before Don Cowie tried his luck in 21 minutes with a free kick that the keeper fumbled. In 26 minutes, Dennis Wyness had another chance but again Smith got down to the shot and turned it out for a corner. Goal number 1000 came from the resultant corner. It was whipped in by Don Cowie, Wyness headed it down to Munro
and he took a touch before hammering it into the net for his first of the season, and goal number 1000 for Caley Thistle
. How fitting that the club captain, a player with ICT
since he was a raw youngster, and the first real product of the ICT
youth system scored the landmark goal.
Half Time: 0-1
David Proctor had been struggling with a suspected hamstring injury before half-time and was replaced by Dougie Imrie at the break. This meant a bit of a reshuffle for the Caley Jags with Richard Hastings moving into the centre half role he has been playing for Canada recently, Roy McBain covering the left back position, and Imrie taking his place on the left of midfield. Imrie had a chance in 58 minutes but his weak shot was easily held by Smith. St Mirren however were beginning to come more into the game and goal hero Munro was spending more and more time being defensive hero Munro, marshalling his defence and stopping Maxwell and Dargo from getting clear chances although he did get booked for a challenge on Dargo. If Caley Thistle looked like scoring after piling on the pressure in the first half, St Mirren were looking the more likely in the second and in 74 minutes their hard work paid off with an equaliser.
Former Ross County player Ian Maxwell crossed the ball into the box and it found the head of Craig Dargo. He headed it back across goal and it fell to Jim Hamilton who blasted it goalward. Mike Fraser produced an excellent save to deny Hamilton but the ball broke for Billy Mehmet who blasted it home from 12 yards. Both sides had chances to score the winner, with Barry Wilson coming closest. He fired just over the bar from the edge of the box after a Niculae cross with only four minutes to go. In the end it finished 1-1 and the points were shared.
Full Time: 1-1
Goal number 1000 is out of the way, and the point took Caley Thistle into the top 6 if only temporarily.
Fan Comments: The fan comments for this game come from the "Immortal Howden Ender" in his usual inimitable style, and including his patented "smileyometer".....
Well perhaps I was expecting too much. After a long lay off I was looking forward to three points and the feeling akin to watching a firework display - not a momentous firework display just an average - a few colourful roman candles and some classy rockets - well I got a few sparklers - one rocket from Granty - and a load of damp squibs. Jim Duffy described it as a surprisingly entertaining game - perhaps that was fer the neutrals - but I found it dull, uninspiring and down right frustrating. The first half felt like it was being played at half pace - almost a training game - we seldom looked troubled apart from two defensive errors - Royster and Proc - but despite being the better side we never really pushed forward. Why we didn't up the pace when we went 1-0 up is a mystery - they were there fer the taking. And what "system" were we playing in the first half - was it 4-3-3 or was it 4-3-1-2 0r was it 4-1-2-1-2. I am going to get pelters again but it looked as if we were playing a system around Marius - again. It appeared that Marius and Cowie were interlinking with Marius trying to come deeper and Cowie looking to go forwards. We also seemed hell bent on hoofing the ball to Marius or Wyness - that simply doesn't work. Why didn't we paly the ball on the ground and wide (like we did with Bazza on) and played to Cowie's strengths?!! I also have to say that again there was the aura of "togetherness" missing - they all played as professionals but apart from celebrating Granty's goal "team spirit" was dulled to say the least - and a few verbal spats going on - mostly involving Niculae. To be fair the loss of Proctor appeared to affect our "system" and the Buddies came firing out of the traps and their goal came after 10-15 minutes of constant pressure. We were lucky to come away with a point in the end. And again I would have taken on Bazza earlier, and Bayne as well fer Niculae. Bazza played wide right and we looked for him or Petrie every time - why didn't we do that with Cowie? In the first half we seemed obsessed with the hoof - and not under pressure - or playing it left !! They took on Hamilton and played him up front with Dargo and Mehmet - we could have and should have capitalised on that - but we retreated the line and played into their hands - until Bazza came on - plus our final ball or attempt at goal - apart from the late Bazza volley - were always poor.
***Starometer for today***
FRASER**** Nowt really to do in the first half but earned his wage in the second half - when he was Davy feckin Crockett at the Alamo - I thought he was really unlucky with the goal - have also to say that his distribution was very good.
ROSSCOE ***** My MotM - he usually doesn't play his best at Love Street but he appeared to react very positively to the almost constant baiting from the junkies. He won every header from dead ball situations, he put in a few shuddering fair tackles, he usually tried to play the ball to feet and got forward a lot in the last 20 minutes.
HASTINGS **** Thought he did well both at full back and at centre back - in fact better at centre back. Ok his distribution is usually a hoof but he certainly mixed it with Mehmet and Hamilton.
GRANTY **** What a feckin well deserved and fitting goal. Solid game as ever but the hoofing got on my nerves.
PROCTOR *** Relatively unrattled and dose try to play the ball out of defence properly. May have been his injury but a bad error almost let Dargo in for the equaliser just on half time. Lad hasnt got much luck - every time he looks like earning a run summat happens to him.
COWIE *** What the feck are we doing to him tactically. He appeared to be played as Niculae's "legs" yesterday and that effectively took him out of the game. Why didnt we paly him wide right in Bazza mode from the start ?? And he came into his own when he moved inside and Bazza went right. Cowie is beginning to look more and more like a good striker - his pace would be a big bonus and he can score goals.
DUNCAN *** Quieter than usual but was stuck in front of the defence for most of the game. Some of his passing was woeful again.
BLACK **** 110% again and the one player who appeared to have the flair to create. But most of the time that he got the ball his choice of passes forward were limited.
ROYSTER *** Given a lot of the ball in the first half - did OK but he is not a "winger", a crosser or a flair player - did OK at left back but caught out positionally at times.
NICULAE *** To be fair that was his best game that I have watched but he is still a luxury away from home and was generally ineffective. He worked his socks off when he had to, he won his fair share in the air and some of his first touch lay offs were nice to the eye. His cushioned header for the Bazza volley was class. But sorry - we are still playing around him and his lack of pace and movement are shocking. He got in two shots but a player with more pace would have got them on target - plus why did he need a touch for the perfect 22yard free kick for a left footer. Not much more that I can say as playing him away from home just has to be contractual.
DENZIL ** Bad day at the office but not helped by his front role. IMHO he should have been the one playing deeper.
BAZZA **** That was a substitution just crying to be made and was just too late. He comes on and we start playing with width - why?
IMRIE *** 45 minutes is not enuff to pass real comment. Suffice to say that he looks raw and off the SPL pace but he has a nice touch, looks pacey, determined and strong plus he looks as if he can defend as well - his left foot looks a la Rankin. Needs a run in the team - probably as a replacement for Royster. Our new Ultras were promising "singers" and two of my protégés even managed to get chucked out due to OTT stewarding.