Third it is
After all the speculation as to where we would finish in the league, a 1-0 victory over Dunfermline coupled with Ayr drawing with Alloa ensured we would finish third in the table. That means that the first play-off game will be on Tuesday night at Somerset Park with the return leg at the Caledonian Stadium the following Saturday. Ticket prices have been set at £12 for this game.
We achieved this by virtue of a 1-0 defeat of the Pars in a low key game, but one that had an extra £75K bonus for finishing third tagged on to it. Nathan Austin tapped in the winner after a couple of bloopers saw him pick up the loose ball to score easily. Stuart Morrison's chest high pass back was not cleared successfully by keeper Cammy Gill and Austin was left with the simple task of rolling the ball into the net. Simples.
John Robertson was without the injured Carl Tremarco and Sean Welsh. Mark Ridgers returned between the sticks after his finger dislocation at Hampden and Jamie McCart, Aaron Doran and Liam Polworth were all benched to give them a break. Darren McCauley and Nathan Austin had rare starts and Kevin McHattie deputised for Tremarco.
Jordan White headed wide in the opening minutes and Nathan Austin shot past as we looked to open the scoring. It was however a bit like an end of season game. Wait a minute, that's exactly what it was.
Tom Walsh and Austin had further attempts to score and at the other end Mark Ridgers was called into action to deny Bruce Anderson with a comfortable save, the shot lacking any real conviction.
Joe Chalmers fired a free kick narrowly over, the ball rippling the roof of the net as it dipped just over the bar and one minute later Inverness broke the deadlock.
Stuart Morrison was in no danger when he tried to pass back to keeper Cammy Gill. Unfortunately for Cammy, the ball arrived around head height. He tried to chest it down before hoofing it clear but it bounced off him and Austin reacted well to nick the ball and roll it into the empty net. Calamitous defending but a welcome goal for Austin and the home fans.
James Craigen had an effort saved by Ridgers as the Pars tried to respond but we saw out the half to go in at the interval ahead.
One worrying moment just on the half time whistle when Caley Thistle Online player of the year Coll Donaldson stretched low to thigh the ball back to Ridgers and looked as though he might have tweaked his thigh muscle slightly.
Half Time 1-0
Our fears were confirmed after the break when Jamie McCart replaced Coll, hopefully just a precaution and CTO PotY Donaldson was subbed for Jamie McCart the CTO joint Young Player of the Year (with Tom Walsh).
The visitors looked lively at the restart and Kallum Higginbotham's effort was well saved by Ridgers in the top half of the goal. To be honest, it was an uncomfortable second half display by the hosts who were not over exerting themselves, and with Dunfermline unable to take advantage it descended into the proverbial end of season fare.
One bright spot was Tom Walsh thumping a shot off the post, the keeper doing well to push the ball onto the wood. We did just enough to hold onto the three points and the result from somerset Park confirmed our third position.
Not the most exciting of games, but one with plenty of connotations, and they have been all sorted out now, so Ayr it is on Tuesday night and the prospect of a high energy game back at the Caledonian Stadium next Saturday, and for just £12. Bargain, see you all there.
Lots of accolades dished out after the final whistle with Aaron Doran being awarded the Official player of the year by the fans and Tom Walsh the Young Player of the Year. ?
Final game, Cammy Gill, look away now.....................
Scott Kellacher talking after the game.......
OFFICIAL REPORT can be found HERE at ICTFC.
Early casualties even before the games kicked off yesterday. Morton parted company with Jonatan Johansson two hours before kick off. A strange one at Palmerston as Queen of the South removed Gary Naysmith at their end of season do, and they still have the play-off's to contend with. WTF!
Congratulations are also due to Alloa. Not only did they enable us to climb to third, they have avoided relegation and all done on a shoestring budget.
Spare a thought for the Bairns. Scottish cup final in 2015, Scottish third tier 2019/2020 ?