All to play for at Gayfield
Arbroath were up for this one shutting Inverness down high up the pitch in a poor first half. Logan Chalmers was nearest to breaking the deadlock when he hit the bar with a rasping shot from close to thirty yards. Inverness upped the pace after the break but it was too little too late. Sleeves will need to be rolled up on Friday from the start if we are to get through. The whole of the first half passed Inverness by as Arbroath were in our faces. That needs to change on Friday and it might work in our favour if Arbroath decide to have a go which will give us more space to exploit.
The Premiership Play-Off 1st leg paired Inverness with second place finishers Arbroath, everyone's favourite wee team. Could Inverness upset the apple cart and take a lead down to Gayfield for the return leg on Friday? All would be revealed at a breezy Caledonian Stadium. Tom Walsh and Roddy MacGregor were missing for Billy Dodds as he went with the same team that started against Partick Thistle with Wallace Duffy added to the bench along with just six others. Dick Campbell unsurprisingly made eight changes from his last game against Morton and managed a full bench of nine.
Arbroath set the ball rolling in between the showers on a blustery evening and as the visitors pushed forward in the fifth minute, Mark Ridgers produced a vital tip away from a deep cross with Nicky Low about to head into the net. It was a typically cagey start from the hosts.
Kirk Broadfoot gave away the ball and when Arbroath transferred it into the box a half chance presented itself but the ball was knocked high over. The Smokies were in our face and we were struggling to make any headway with fifteen minutes gone. Any football that was being played was coming from the visitors.
Twenty minutes gone and the Caley Jags had not started yet in a scrappy affair. Maybe they thought it was a 7:45 kick off.
A long free kick into the box almost found Ricky Little on the lunge but it just evaded him and out for a goal kick.
On a rare jaunt forward, Austin Samuels almost set up Billy Mckay, but his awkward flick went out for a goal kick. Moments later Logan Chalmers struck the bar with a superb near thirty yard shot.
A booking for Broadfoot gave Arbroath a free kick twenty five yards out, but Ridgers was equal to Low's strike as he made a decent but routine save, and at the other end Logan Chalmers drilled a left footer just wide from outside the box as the interval loomed.
That half took forever to get going, but opportunities did manifest themselves just before the break, but there's no scoring so far.
HALF TIME: 0-0
Just after the start of the second half a well timed sliding tackle by Devine stopped Arbroath bursting into the box to thwart a run forward.
A swift break upfield started with David Carson bursting forward at pace and ended with Chalmers winning a corner from his blocked shot. It was a brighter start to the second period from the hosts.
A super run forward by Robbie Deas on the other wing offered Chalmers another opportunity but the final ball wasn't ideal and Chalmers eventual shot missed the target. Arbroath responded and Hamilton drilled a low ball into the box which was put behind for a corner. The action raged to the other end and Derek Gaston denied Samuels with a tremendous save. That would be the closest to a goal all night and moments later Aaron Doran volleyed just over.
Chris Hamilton smuggled the ball away from under the feet of Samuels in the box and from the corner Broadfoot headed over when he should have hit the target. A Michael McKenna snapshot saw Ridgers parry to safety and the defence cleared.
Chalmers volleyed over after a clearance fell to him on the edge of the box, just after Dick and Dodds had a wee spat on the touchline
An untidy spell ensued with play broken by fouls and substitutions.
The chances stopped coming for both sides as time slipped away and a late free kick was wasted and that was it. Not a great night for Inverness to be honest, but still all to play for at Gayfield.
Best performers were in defence with maybe Sean Welsh the only midfielder to put his foot on the ball.
More match reaction to follow...
Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager Billy Dodds: "I'm happy we're in there pitching because it's going to be so tight on Friday. There's going to be nerves and tension because both teams have left themselves in a decent position."I didn't think we played our best but we had the best chances. We hit the bar first half but we weren't doing the things we're good at. Second-half was a bit better; thought we created the better chances but we just couldn't take one."
Arbroath manager Dick Campbell: "If you'd asked me before the game if I'd be happy with that, I would be. The game is still alive and that's all I wanted to happen. The strongest survives on Friday."We will have a go and have our trumpets out. What does it mean to us? You'll see on Friday. They're part-time players. Two games this week, two games next week. It definitely sways towards the full-time clubs. Even if they lose, they'll still be immortal in my eyes."
Dick, you forgot to add that you never played for ten days before this game whilst we played twice against Partick Thistle
Why do they call him Clean Sheet Ridgers........
Because there's no Mark