New record for ICT as County cling on for a point
All the goals came in a frenetic first half with County equalising just on the break with an own goal from Brad Mckay. Jamie Lindsay opened the scoring out of the blue when he chanced his hand from distance, the ball going well wide of Ridgers but into the bottom corner. Two minutes later George Oakley levelled and Shaun Rooney then put the hosts ahead on the half hour before that unfortunate own goal gave County hope they scarcely deserved. Mark Ridgers pulled off a tremendous Gordon Banks moment denying Billy McKay and it was all square at the break.
After the interval Inverness looked to be the only team capable of winning and a number of close calls went unanswered, Ridgers eventually having to make another noteworthy save before the end, but the hosts had passed on a few opportunities to seal all three points. Two dropped for Inverness, one gained for County.
Caley Jags manager John Robertson was still without captain Carl Tremarco and Riccardo Calder deputised at left back once more. Joe Chalmers came in for Charlie Trafford and George Oakley was fit enough to start with Jordan White dropping to the bench. Aaron Doran started with Daniel Mackay coming on from the bench later.
Former Caley Jags players Billy Mckay, Ross Draper, Iain Vigurs and Don Cowie all started for Ross County who had Marcus Fraser back in the side.
A healthy crowd of over 4000 witnessed an excellent Highland derby played out in good condition, with both sides looking for the advantage at every opportunity.
Where do you start with that game?
From the off it was clear that this was going to be a high octane game. The hosts looking sharp as they took the game to the visitors in the opening exchanges forcing a couple of early corners. Shaun Rooney heading wide from one.
County got to grips with the pace of the game and Mark Ridgers saved from Josh Mullin twelve minutes in but five minutes later they scored out of the blue when Jamie Lindsay gathered the ball around thirty yards out. He had space to move forward before rifling a low shot beyond the outstretched arms of Ridgers into the bottom right hand corner of the net.
Inverness were level two minutes later when George Oakley brilliantly turned a header back into the box from Walsh into the top of the net, the keeper rooted to the spot. That goal was the culmination of a wonderful move after breaking up a County attack on the half way line.
The next goal was equally as good. After a Polworth corner was part cleared, Sean Welsh played a one-two with Joe Chalmers before flicking the ball down the flank to Polworth. He raced into the edge of the box before picking out Rooney who side footed perfectly into the bottom corner for a brilliant goal, Fox once more stuck to his line like a Subbutteo keeper.
We continued to press and a Chalmers free kick just evaded Oakley as we looked for a third. Save of the day next when Billy Mckay looked to have levelled for County. However Mark Ridgers managed to claw his close range header away as the ball looked to have bounce behind him. Truly a Gordon Banks/Pele moment. What a save!
Two minutes before the break and County were level. Vigurs released Billy Mckay who was right on the shoulder of Donaldson. The wee striker turned and sprinted forward before firing a low ball into the box. Unfortunately Brad Mckay thought he could intercept the delivery but only succeeded in turning the ball into the net with Calder ready to clear the harmless cross.
Half Time 2-2
The end to end action continued after the break. There were numerous attempts to score from both sides. Unfortunately the strikers at either end were an inch or two away from completing the task of putting the ball in the net.
We should have scored a third, maybe even a fourth or fifth given the amount of dangerous balls we were hurtling into the box, but every one just evaded the despairing lunges of the forwards.
Liam Polworth will wonder how he missed the best opportunity when we burst forward on the right through Aaron Doran who unselfishly teed up Liam for a tap-in. However, he screwed the ball goalwards and it hit the base of the post with Fox beaten. A glorious chance to win the game.
Doran, McCart and White were unable to stretch far enough to divert balls into the net as we pounded the County lines and at the other end Mark Ridgers had the final say in a superb Highland derby as he saved a Brian Graham header near the end.
Wow, what a game and I suppose a point apiece is near the mark although we probably should have taken all three. I can't fault anyone out there today in what was a tremendous advert for Championship football.
Mark Ridgers save from Mckay was exceptional, a world class save from the big man. Coll Donaldson and Riccardo Calder were immense, Calder firing crosses into the box like nobody's business. Sean Welsh was a powerhouse in midfield and Liam Polworth had his best game in weeks. I could mention them all, no failures. Two superb goals from Oakley and Rooney, not just the finishes, but the build up play as well. The one disappointment was the own goal which in retrospect was unnecessary.
Anyway, to put it into context, that's 23 games unbeaten in the Championship, albeit a run of seven draws, but not many will be complaining after witnessing that game.
Ross County TV are first up with the highlights..........
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The opposition view from Steven Ferguson