Defeat leaves Inverness looking over their shoulder.
At least we managed to get a kick about after the frustrating list of postponements recently. Unfortunately it ended in another defeat that effectively ends our season with James Craigen scoring an early goal.
Midweek at East End Park was not the preferred choice of many, but we went down looking to get our slim play-off hopes back on track. Dunfermline were in the same boat as their season has gone pear shaped as well. They were without a win in their last seven games, since they beat Dumbarton 1-0 on the 6th of January. Nevertheless, 2249 folk turned up to watch this one.
Inverness were without influential central defender Coll Donaldson and fragile front man Nathan Austin, both out with hamstring injuries. Brad Mckay was also out..........until Riccardo Calder pulled up. That gave 16 year old Cameron Harper his first start and put Brad onto the bench. Collin Seedorf started at right back and Carl Tremarco partnered Gary Warren in central defence. George Oakley was the front runner with Connor Bell on the bench.
The Pars were without top player Jo Cardle but Kallum Higginbotham started. Former Caley Jags man and cup final hero James Vincent was on from the start, but Nat Wedderburn found himself on the bench. Vincent has been on loan from Dundee since the end of January.
The game kicked off in total confusion over the Inverness team lines with Cameron Harper starting. Harper's only involvement prior to this game was as an unused sub in the 3-1 defeat at Falkirk in January. Alas, his debut lasted only five minutes as he was substituted with Brad Mckay coming on, but the farce was just beginning as James Craigen fired home a free kick one minute later to open the scoring.
Inverness were on the back foot as Dunfermline surged forward and Declan McManus was blocked as the Pars looked to increase their advantage. However Inverness started to creep back into the game and Lee Ashcroft had to look lively on a couple of occasions to repel the visitors.
Half an hour gone and the contest had become untidy with petty fouls interrupting the flow of the game and that was the process right up until the interval with nothing of note to report. This game has an end of season feel about it. If it continues like this our season will be over.
Half Time 1-0
Polworth started the ball rolling for the second forty-five, and the fans were be looking for a bit more life on the park. After a chanceless first half Doran brought Pars keeper Robinson into action as he gathered the Caley Jags' players shot in the 47th minute.
Mark Ridgers denied James Craigen his second goal with an excellent save down low as the game livened up, the keeper pushing the ball out for a corner. Meanwhile, the visiting fans were amusing themselves by cheering for Ryan Esson as he warmed up behind the goal.
Jake Mulraney had been woken by something and he ventured deep into the home area but the ball eventually going out. However, there has been more activity in the first ten minutes of the second half than there was in the whole of the first.
Robbo had seen enough of Mulraney and Doran and they were replaced by Connor Bell and Zak Elbouzedi with twenty minutes left but it was Nicky Clark that almost scored for the hosts with his cross which was missed by Ridgers but hooked clear by Tremarco. A couple of minutes later Clark fed McManus and he hit the post.
Polworth had a shot blocked as Inverness looked to get an unlikely equaliser and Zak Elbouzedi had no takers for his cross into the box as Robbo raged while Clancy ticked him off. Iain Vigurs headed straight at Robinson as we tried to make amends for a dismal first half.
Inverness had Ridgers to thank for a couple of tremendous saves from Martin and Higginbotham and Brian Rice had his chips as he was sent to the stand by Clancy.
Full Time 1-0
Looks like our season has ended in tatters with defeat at East End Park. We petered out and Dunfermline were well worth the three points and should have won by a greater margin. Our lack of funds is showing in the lack of quality and threadbare squad and it's the IrnBru cup or bust.
Dumbarton are now only six points behind Inverness and we should now concentrate on avoiding relegation instead of looking for promotion which was always beyond us after last seasons disaster.
RIG had this to say after another disappointing display.
A truly shambolic performance from ICT that should really be leaving fans very worried at the prospect of a second successive relegation. With Dumbarton playing Brechin again on Saturday there's a real chance they will be just 3 points behind us. Forget about possible Highland Derbies next season and focus on staying in this league.
Even though the score line makes it look like a close game I'd say we were as bad as when we were thumped 5-1 there earlier in the season. At the back we floated between competent and clueless. Most of the time we coped easily with the Pars attacks. Other times we flapped at crosses and passed the ball out of defence straight to the home side. Polworth and Vigurs certainly tried but mainly succeeded in giving the ball away. Chalmers was anonymous, Mulraney kept running the ball out of play instead of crossing it and Oakley spent most of the game falling over after wrestling with his opponent. We were an utter shambles. Aimless punts up the park and truly woeful attacking play in the final third.
There were very few plus points. Ridgers made some good saves and it was great to see Tremarco and Bell back in the side. But apart from that it was a night to forget for ICT.
Here's Allan Johnston talking after his sides first win in eight games.