Five in a row
Inverness recorded their fifth clean sheet in a row to beat Dunfermline 1-0 thanks to a Connor Bell tap in in the 23rd minute after some tidy play down the right flank involving Raven, Baird, Polworth and Mulraney.
No surprises in the starting eleven for Inverness as the impressive Coll Donaldson and Brad Mckay continued at the heart of the defence with Joe Chalmers further forward. Gary Warren and Charlie Trafford were on the bench. Goal shy striker John Baird led the line with on fire Jake Mulraney wide right on a bitter and blustery afternoon.
Dunfermline started with Fraser Aird keeping Joe Cardle on the bench, but still had plenty of fire power in Kallum Higginbotham, Nicky Clark and Callum Smith all on from the start.
Inverness started brightest with the visitors looking content to bide their time.
Iain Vigurs tested keeper Sean Murdoch after just four minutes with a rasping shot that seemed to move on it's way to the target, the goalie pulling off a tremendous diving save to deny Vigurs.
Fraser Aird replied for the Pars but he shot over as they came out of their shell to check out the other end of the park, and John Baird had a similar attempt in front of the South Stand. Vigurs saw a close range header blocked close to the line as we held the upper hand and it only looked to be a matter of time before we scored the opener. Baird missed the target again but soon after we got our just reward.
From a throw in on the right midway through the half, some tidy interplay set Mulraney sprinting along the line before drilling a low cross into the box. An outstretched defending leg only succeeded in teeing up the effervescent Connor Bell who accepted the gift and tapped home.
Liam Polworth brought out another fine save from Murdoch as we searched for a second goal, but it was at the other end that an unlikely goal almost came along. An error deep in Inverness territory by Brad McKay let Callum Smith run in on goal from the inside right position. Fortunately for McKay, he scuffed his shot badly and it dribbled well wide of Ridgers' right hand post. It was equal to the effort David Raven tried moments earlier, which looked more like a pass back than a shot from a promising position, meh!
Pars had a couple booked in the first half due to there clumsy efforts to stop us overrunning them.
Half Time 1-0
Mark Ridgers had to deal with a swirling cross that floated close to his crossbar, Ridgers acrobatically tipping the ball behind for a corner as the ball got caught in the gusty wind.
Dunfermline were racking up the bookings by now as the game turned towsy, the visitors resorting to some rough house tactics. The home side had enough of this and retaliated with a couple of bookings of their own. Undaunted, Higginbotham won the fifth booking for Pars shortly after. There followed a spate of substitutions for Dunfermline, playing all their cards within a few minutes.
Nicky Clark and Liam Polworth exchanged shots over the bar as we returned to some footballing action and John Baird spurned a couple of great opportunities to seal the points, Murdoch blocking the first volley well. His second misdemeanour brought a stiff rebuke from Polworth who was less than happy at Baird's reluctance to shoot for goal.
Polworth should have scored from close range after a scrambulation in the box. A bit of composure would have won the day but he chose to smash the ball home. However, his shot smacked off the bar.
A late flurry from Dunfermline saw some jitters run through the stands, but we dealt with it comfortably and the visitors were unable to fashion out any decent attempts throughout the full 96 minutes of play.
Full Time 1-0
A gritty display from Inverness and we should have won at a canter had we taken the number of chances that came our way. The Pars started off a bit cagey and pressed higher after the break, but we remained untroubled and should have added to our tally. Comfortable win in the end despite their presence around our box late in the game which could have seen them picked off on the break had our final ball been better. We could also have benefited from some better refereeing decisions and on another day might have been awarded a couple of penalties.
A few contenders for MotM. Coll Donaldson was once more pretty solid at the back, one or two loose moments apart. Mark Ridgers looks more confident by the game and another clean sheet will add to that. Iain Vigurs was totally dominant in midfield, spraying the ball at will. Liam Polworth and Jake Mulraney beavered away, Liam unfortunate not to score and Jake skinning defenders with his searing pace and trickery. However, my choice this week goes to a giant amongst men. Well, maybe not, but Connor Bell gets the nod for his Duracell Bunny impression and goal. His work rate was second to none, in attack and defence. What a find he has been.
That result lifted us into seventh place in the league. The next target will be Morton who sit four points above us.
Off to Livingston next week, another tough game against an in form team.
Goal highlights and Robbo interview from Caley Jags TV