Rovers still waiting after 22 years
Title challengers clashed at the Caledonian Stadium for the second time this season and it was only Killie that benefitted after a score draw in the Highlands. A spectacular strike from Ethan Ross put Raith in front as the hosts struggled to create anything. Mark Ridgers had to be alert to deny Ross Mathews a second goal to keep it at one before the interval. We upped the pace after the interval, but chances were still at a premium early on. However, our pressure paid off when Reece McAlear lashed a low shot behind the outstretched Jamie Macdonald from near thirty yards to level the game, and despite efforts from both sides it remained 1-1 at full time.
Inverness were without Aaron Doran although Sean Welsh made the bench. Anthony McDonald and Michael Gardyne were already out the door, one of them with the well wishes from ICTFC.
Raith had long term absentees in Lewis Vaughan and Brad Spencer but Christophe Berra returned after suspension and recent additions Ben Williamson, Sam Stanton and Jamie Gullan were all in the squad.
It was an excellent afternoon for a game of football, a flat calm after the horrendous conditions of last week. Game on!
It was a cagey opening quarter to the game as both sides probed for an opening. Sam Stanton and Ben Williamson were looking sharp for the visitors who looked to carry more direct threat when they went forward whilst the hosts flattered to deceive as they strolled around the park as if it was a Sunday League kick about. The best Inverness could muster was a blocked Billy Mckay shot from a very tight angle where there was virtually no hope of finding the net. In contrast the visitors movement and pace was a joy to behold, then I remembered they were the opposition.
The goal was a prime example of the different approach the teams had to attacking football. Mark Ridgers quickly threw the ball out to Tom Walsh who ran thirty yards with the ball before being halted on the edge of the box, seemingly exhausted by his effort. Jamie MacDonald gathered the ball and sent it up the park to Ross who shrugged off a challenge, drove forward and powered a shot into the top corner. I rest my case.
After twenty minutes of anti-football, the game exploded into life with a stunning strike from Ethan Ross. He gathered the ball just inside the Inverness half and easily turned his marker. He drove into space twenty yards further forward before unleashing an unstoppable shot high into Ridgers' right side from around thirty-yards. What a goal that was, and you could only applaud the strike, although questions should be asked about the space afforded to Ross.
Billy Mckay looked to have levelled matters but his strike from six yards was ruled to be offside after he latched onto the ball when it was lobbed back into the box.
Ten minutes before the break Mathew Ross forced Ridgers to dive low to his left to keep out a speculative twenty-five yard effort that was creeping in at the near post, the keeper turning the ball round the post for a corner.
After his stunning goal, Ross must have been hugely disappointed to drag a shot wide from fifteen yards seven minutes before the break.
Half Time 0-1
Dodds had seen enough and changed things around at the interval, hooking the ineffective David Carson and right back Wallace Duffy for Reece McAlear and Manny Duku.
Despite the changes, Raith were still on top although there appeared to be more urgency about our play and Frankie Musonda headed over before Ethan Varion shot wide.
Duku was looking to be a handful for the Raith defenders with his awkward style and he had a pop at goal from the edge of the box but it lacked the power to beat MacDonald and he held it comfortably. However, the tide was slowly turning and a weak Mckay header went wide before McAlear volleyed over the bar from inside the box.
Reghan Tumilty missed a great opportunity to put some distance between the sides after a run down the right, but his cross come shot missed the target and his strikers and the chance was wasted.
Musonda saw Ridgers save and at the other end Mckay headed weakly again. nonetheless the raids on the visitors goal were becoming more intensified.
Half time substitute Reece McAlear squared the game with another superb finish from a similar position that Mathews tried from before the interval. The on loan midfielder fired a vicious low shot that skidded before bouncing across MacDonald into the bottom corner. Another superb goal from Reece, his second for the club.
There was still time for the keepers to deny Aaron Arnott and Billy Mckay before time ran out and the points were shared as the game ended in frantic mode.
Overall a draw was just about right. After an infuriatingly frustrating first half we got to grips with the pace of the game and two tremendous strikes maintained the status quo at the head of the table with Arbroath going down to Ayr united and Accies drawing with Partick. Killie tightened it all up after beating Queen of the South 2-0 in Dumfries. Best for Inverness were goal hero McAlear with Mark Ridgers making crucial saves to help us earn the point.
From BBC Sport
Inverness CT head coach Billy Dodds: "We didn't have our best day in the first half. The subs that came on did really well, not just because Reece scored. They just had an impact and that's what I needed. "I thought we deserved a draw in the end but I would have loved three points. We worked hard, created a few chances and could have stolen it."
Raith Rovers manager, John McGlynn: "We are a bit gutted for the players who put so much effort into the game. We attacked really well, much better than we have been doing recently. Great goal by Ethan Ross and I've got to say their strike was a great goal as well. "It's never an easy place to come. We've not got a great record here. Although we are disappointed we take the point - we take the positives and dust ourselves down for next week."
Dodds talking after the game...
Full Highlights from ICTV