They Think It's All Over.......
......... It Is Now. Inverness secured third place in the league with a hard fought win over a sprightly Dundee at DenPark. Edward Ofere continued his scoring with an exquisite early first half header from a pin point Greg Tansey cross for the only goal in an entertaining encounter. That's six goals in eleven games for the big striker. (Billy who, I hear you say)
Inverness went into this game in fine fettle after beating Dundee United in midweek and knew that a victory would clinch third place and with it a European adventure. They would not be disappointed but Dundee were in no mood to hand it to them on a plate.
David Raven remained on the bench after returning from suspension and Ryan Christie started. Danny Devine grabbed some more match time as well as Inverness played towards Tannadice in the first half. Paul McGowan and Greg Stewart returned for Dundee and Kyle Letheren replaced the injured Scott Bain in goal.
A bright day with little wind greeted the players and the fans came prepared with passports in their pockets.
After a few minutes of posturing Inverness took the lead. Greg Tansey swung in an inviting cross with Eddie Ofere's name on it and the big Nigerian powered a low header into the bottom right side of the goal for a superb opener.
A few minutes later and Marley Watkins fired over, but Dundee were starting to pick up the pace and were beginning to find space in the middle of the park. Ryan Esson was called into his first bit of serious action as he plucked a shot out of the air, McGinn's effort straight down his throat, easy for the keeper.
With 25 minutes gone Esson saved well as Dundee started to pin Inverness back, Greg Stewart flashing a shot goalwards from a tight angle. Moments later Ryan Christie almost added a second goal but his low shot from thirty yards brushed off the foot of the post with the keeper beaten.
Danny Devine made an incredibly spectacular overhead clearance from a dipping Stewart header that had Esson beaten. Great stuff from the big defender, fantastic agility, something that Nadia Comaneci would have been proud of.
Dundee were the side looking more likely to score the next goal at this point and Esson stopped a couple of headed attempts from McPake and Tankulic, but on the stroke of half time Christie forced Letheren to save but the advantage remained with Inverness at the break.
Half Time 0-1
Dundee began the second half where they left off and created a couple of early threats from Jim McAlister, one where he shot weekly at Esson from inside the box after breaking through, but Inverness looked to be closing down sharper and forced a seies of corners to no avail.
Just after the hour and James Vincent replaced Watkins as Yogi looked to get a hold on the midfield battle. Danny Devine was carded for what looked to be a nothing challenge, unless the ref had been totting up minor stoppages from the resolute defender and Aaron Dorran replaced midweek hero Danny Williams as Inverness started to assert their dominance once more.
Just when it looked as though the visitors had weathered the storm, up popped Jake McPake in the box. He looked to have scored, but Ryan Esson matched Danny Devine's performance as he threw himself across goal to his left and somehow clawed the ball away for a corner. Unbelievable save from Ryan and an important one at that stage of the game.
The chants from the visiting fans were getting louder as news came through that the Tayside derby had ended all square and it looked unlikely that Dundee would be able to score the goals required to keep the passports in the pocket.
Dundee were now leaving gaps at the back in search of a leveller and Inverness had a couple of chances to exploit that, but we ended up taking the ball for a walk as the clock ticked oh so slowly towards the final countdown for Europe.
The final whistle brought about great scenes of joy in the away end and Yogi and the players responded as they left the park. They returned to take the well earned plaudits and the visiting fans went home fair chuffed right eenuff.
Full Time 0-1
A few contenders for MotM but it would be cruel to single out anyone after this emotionally draining encounter. However, I do have a cruel streak and three players shone brightest for me. Ross Draper was immense in midfield breaking up play on numerous occasions and feeding forward. Danny Devine looked so solid at the back winning almost everything that came his way and his goal line clearance was just phenomenal. But I have to award the MotM to Ryan Esson who was simply superb. That save late in the game will have Gordon Banks turning in his grave.
So, it's congratulations all round from CTO to Yogi and the boys for giving us a wonderful season, and it's not over yet.
Subs (not used): Brodie, Clarkson, Colquhoun, Irvine, Ferry
Booked: Thomson (61)
Sent Off: none
Inverness CT: 1
Lineup: Esson, Shinnie, Meekings, Devine, Warren, Tansey (Tremarco 80), Draper, Williams (Doran 75), Christie, Watkins (Vincent 64), Ofere
Subs (not used): MacKay, Raven, Ross, Kink
Scorers: Ofere (8)
Booked: Williams (38), Devine (72)
Sent Off: none