Back to League business this weekend as Inverness make the journey to Somerset Park to take on Championship play-off contenders, Ayr United. The game kicks off at 3:00pm on Saturday at the same venue where Ross County were dumped out of the Scottish Cup last week. There's only four points separating the sides at the moment and this should be another tight affair.
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It's been a rewarding fixture for us in recent seasons, including last season when we beat Ayr in the away leg of the play-off and both league fixtures at Somerset Park. We have already beaten Ayr away this season back in October when goals from James Vincent and Shaun Rooney were enough to earn the points. The second meeting this campaign was another 2-0 win in the Highlands, Jordan White and Miles Storey the scorers.
Last time out we were on Cup duty and recorded a hard fought 2-3 win over Alloa Athletic at Recreation Park. We were pegged back twice after Aaron Doran opened the scoring. Jordan White put us ahead again only for Kevin O'Hara to get his second of the game. Charlie Trafford scored the vital winner with only a handful of minutes remaining. Ayr pulled off a minor upset by knocking our neighbours out of the Cup thanks to a powerful headed goal from seasoned professional Steven Bell.
Form since we last met in the league
Last time we met was back on the 7th of December, and after winning 2-0 in the Highlands we were five points ahead of Ayr. Since then we have won two (Pars & Dundee) and lost two (Partick & Arbroath), plus a win over Alloa in the Scottish Cup. Our game against Queen of the South fell foul of the weather. In December, Ayr had a midweek draw with Arbroath then beat Alloa before losing to Dundee United and Queen of the South. They started January with an away win at Dunfermline, a postponed fixture at Dens Park and beat Ross County in the Scottish Cup. So form is fairly even at the moment at that is mirrored in the League table with Ayr just one place and four points behind Inverness now.
Fixtures this weekend
Dunfermline v Dundee (Friday)
Ayr United v Inverness
Arbroath v Partick Thistle
Dundee Utd v Morton
Queen of Sth v Alloa
Robbo said ahead of the game: “We’ve got to go down there and do what we’ve done at Dens Park and Alloa, that’s go down there and be very busy and very proactive with the ball and when we lose it make sure we’re nice and solid. The key to our success all season is our solidity at the back.” Whilst that is very true Robbo, you would wonder why the club can not hold on to the heart of the defence until the end of a possible promotion campaign. Is there enough ambition left at the Caledonian Stadium?
It was great to see Tom Walsh back on the park last week after hamstring problems and a further bonus to have Sean Welsh on the bench as he recovers from a second broken foot. These guys have been out for a while now and it will be like having two new signings when they are both back up to speed. Unfortunately the loss of Coll Donaldson is a blow and the impending departure of Jamie McCart adds to our misery. McCart is still here for now unless St Johnstone dig deep into their pockets. It remains to be seen if McCart will be asked to play for the club he wants away from. However, we have to go with what we have and Lewis Toshney will come into defence with Brad Mckay and Kevin McHattie also looking to claim a place. There will be plenty room for them all should Shaun Rooney turn his back on us as well.
Mark Kerr has strengthened his squad by signing Grant Gillespie from Hamilton Accies. Jordan Houston has also joined from Rangers. Kerr will be without Craig Moore, Andy Geggan and Andy Murdoch, but Grant Gillespie will be added to the squad. Speaking on Ayr United's official site Kerr said : ”We don’t need reminding that we don’t have the greatest recent record against Inverness, it is just another game and another opportunity to pick up points and continue this wee run we are on. We know what Inverness are all about. They are extremely well organised, everyone knows their jobs and they play good football at times as well. It’s a challenge that we are looking forward to and we’ve been working had on a plan all week to get the best out of the players tomorrow afternoon. The last couple of games have proved that we are able to mix it up now and win games a different way.”
Oops, sorry for the reminder Mark.
We have some good news and some bad news for you this week
First the good news. The club have reached their original investment target of £500K and have issued a statement to that effect. In fact they have exceeded expectations and you can read about it HERE
The bad news is the break up of our defence with Coll Donaldson already away and Jamie McCart following him out the door in the summer if not sooner. As expected, after sitting on the bench at Alloa, Jamie McCart is next to go. He will be on his way to Perth in the summer unless we can sell him now for a few pennies. Sometimes life's a bitch! The final blow would be the departure of the much sought after Shaun Rooney who has been in tremendous form for the Caley Jags lately. Sadly Tommy Wright wants to tie up both players before the weekend. With the run in for a play-off place at stake, this is indeed not what the fans want to hear.
Scottish Cup Draw
Coll Donaldson is now confined to history after he left the building to join Ross County before last weeks Scottish Cup ties. However, unlike his former Inverness team mates, he won't be in the next round of the cup as Ayr sent them homewards, tae think again. Inverness will host Livingston in the next round, the weekend of February the 8th. Now then, that date rings a bell!