Caley Jags beat Ayr and the weather.
Wet and windy was the order of the day as Inverness beat Ayr United with a goal in each half. After half an hour, Daniel Mackay finished off a swift break forward after getting on the end of some neat one touch football. Ten minutes after the break Shane Sutherland did well to control, turn, and fire the ball into the net after Todorov drove the ball goalwards. Both keepers pulled off some excellent saves but Inverness were deserved winners to lift them up above Ayr in the league.
Andre Wright missed out for Ayr having picked up a groin strain with Michael Moffat starting up front. Former Caley Jags Tom Walsh and Joe Chalmers were both in the starting XI. Inverness shook their squad a bit after failing to hit the target against Queen of the South in midweek. Miles Storey, James Keatings, Brad Mckay and Sean Welsh found themselves on the bench. There were starts for Roddy MacGregor, David Carson, and Nikolay Todorov with Robbie Deas and Danny Devine back in the heart of the defence.
A wet and windy afternoon greeted the players at Somerset Park. At least it's football of sorts I hear you say.
A wind assisted Ayr came flying out of the blocks and forced a couple of corners in the first minutes and had Mark Ridgers grasping the ball before Ayr players got on the end of it at one point.
It took the visitors fully five minutes before we got our foot on the ball. Dan Mackay did put the ball in the net with a lovely bending finish but the whistle had already gone.
An early clearance from Ayr keeper Sinisalo bounced menacingly over Ridgers' bar, the keeper watching it anxiously.
Ayr were buzzing around the Inverness defensive zone but neither side were able to test the keepers yet.
First test for Sinisalo came after a tidy break forward on the right side. Carson drilled a low ball into the box and a turn and shot from Sutherland saw the keeper save comfortably.
Ayr also had the ball in the net when Tom Walsh crossed into the box, but Miller climbed all over the defence to head home. Foul given though.
Another turn and shot at the other end, this time from Todorov, another comfortable save for the keeper. Had either of these efforts been struck better we might have troubled the keeper, but both efforts were smothered when striking making it easy for the young keeper.
After half an hour the visitors opened the scoring with a swift break and excellent low finish from Daniel Mackay. Danny Devine started it with a ball forward and three or four passes later Danny finished superbly with assists from Toddy and Sutherland.
Five minutes before the break McCowan had a snapshot saved at his near post by Ridgers. Two minutes later he produced a brilliant save from the same player as his header bounced down to the keepers left, Ridgers diving full length to turn the ball round the post. Joe Chalmers fired a wind assisted effort from distance that had Ridgers scampering across his line but it flew just wide minutes before the break.
Half Time: 0-1
Mackay latched onto the ball some distance out at the start of the second half but shot high over the bar, in fact almost over the stand.
The Caley Jags doubled their lead ten minutes into the second forty-five when Shane Sutherland shot home from inside the box after controlling a Todorov drive for goal before turning and drilling behind the keeper.
Soon after, Todorov found the angle too tight when through on the keeper who made an important block and moments later Ayr did well to scramble an Allardice free kick from the edge of the box away to safety.
A free kick to Ayr was charged down when Chalmers tried for goal from the touch sideways as Ayr struggled to make progress and as the weather worsened Miles Storey replaced Nikolay Todorov. Almost immediately Sinisalo pulled off a tremendous save to deny Robbie Deas who had the goal at his mercy after a pinpoint cross from Cameron Harper.
Ridgers did have an important block to make as a powerful shot from close range was pushed away for a corner, Walsh with the strike. Up the other end a Storey surge forward ended with Carson firing over the bar.
Ayr were running out of ideas and the pitch was starting to look the worse for wear as we entered the final ten minutes, but Inverness were resolute in defence and restricted Ayr to fleeting glimpses of goal whilst always looking dangerous on the break.
Time ran away from the hosts as they searched for a way through the visitors defence, but Danny Devine was calm under pressure and most Ayr raids floundered on the big defender back from injury. A deserving away win for Inverness after a frustrating few weeks and nobody was better than David Carson who was my MotM.
Highlights from Ayr TV
Here's a more detailed report from RIG
An excellent result against potentially very difficult opposition in far from ideal weather conditions.
As is usually the case in Ayr the home side started very brightly. We often find ourselves under the cosh early doors at Somerset and today was no different with the windy conditions not helping. Ayr settled quickly and were soon stroking the ball around well looking to hit Walsh and McCowan on their respective flanks. The former, well known to ICT fans of course, was the main focus as he frequently cut inside Duffy on the left flank and looked to hang balls up to the back post for team mates to attack. Whilst Walsh was looking threatening on the Ayr left, on the other side the in form McCowan was being marshalled well by Harper with the Ayr player barely in the game until a tactical switch by Kerr later in the first half saw him move into the middle.
Bizarrely the first chance of the game fell to the Ayr keeper Sinisalo when he launched a goal kick forward which caught the wind and almost had Ridgers scrambling to keep it out of harms way. Not too long after this Cammy Smith broke through the ICT defence and cut the ball back for team mate Moffat but the ICT defence was able to clear the danger.
Most of our attacks were starting from long balls forward with Toddy displaying some deft control to take in these high balls and link with team mates to relieve the pressure on the Caley Thistle rear-guard. Carson, breaking forward, fired a low pass to the feet of Sutherland just inside inside the penalty area and he rolled his marker and shot straight at the United keeper.
Ayr were next to threaten when Walsh, again cutting back onto his right foot, swung a high cross to the back post from the left where Michael Miller met it and found the net but it was correctly ruled out for a push on Harper.
Todorov then had a chance with a similar effort to that of Sutherland a few minutes before as he also rolled his marker in the box but he too sent his effort down the keepers throat. Not long after this we opened the scoring with a crisp counter attack. Devine sent a controlled ball to the feet of Todorov who collected the ball and played it across to Sutherland on the Ayr right side. He then laid the ball off to the onrushing MacKay who strode onto it confidently and dispatched his shot beyond the despairing Sinisalo to open the scoring.
Ayr responded with a tactical switch moving Walsh to the right, Smith to the left and let McCowan roam in the middle behind Moffat and it almost paid off when McCowan found himself just inside the penalty area in acres of space but he wasn't able to make the best of the opportunity and ICT were able to clear the danger. McCowan then almost scored again when his header from a Walsh cross was beaten round the post at close range by Ridgers.
This was to be the last we would see of McCowan in the game as he was completely negated by Allardice and Carson in the second half and whilst Walsh continued to offer a threat on the Ayr right Smith drifted from the game on the opposite flank and this change really curtailed Ayr as a fluent attacking force.
Only a few minutes into the second half and we grabbed a vital second goal. Todorov saw his effort blocked by his own team mate Sutherland and it was Caithness Cristiano who was first to the ball to fire it into the net with Ayr players claiming for offside. And it was almost three when Todorov bundled his way into the box and with MacKay unmarked in the centre chose to go it alone but saw his shot suppressed by a late challenge.
Allardice was next to threaten for Inverness when he sent a free kick low under the Ayr wall as it jumped and it was partially saved by Sinisalo and United cleared at the second attempt. Again, the next best chance fell the way of ICT when Robbie Deas met a free kick from only a few yards out but his header was right at the Ayr keeper.
Ayr almost got a goal back when Walsh, still causing problems for Harper on the ICT left, flashed a ball across goal which MacKenzie latched onto but he sent his low effort wide of the goal with Ridgers stranded. Walsh then had an effort at goal himself when he collected the ball at the back post and leathered an effort towards goal which Ridgers saved with his knee with Devine also lunging in to block.
In the end though we hung on for a big three points after an excellent performance that probably should have seen us concede a goal but also should really have been much more comfortable given the chances that were passed up.
Big call for Robbo to drop four players from Wednesday but they paid dividends with MacGregor, Todorov and Carson all impressing today. MacGregor offers a much more mobile link between our midfield two in front of the defence and the wide players / forward than Keatings does whilst Carson was tenacious alongside Allardice marshalling McCowan well after he moved inside and also breaking forward to support our counters attacks. Todorov showed some excellent touches holding the ball up and Ridgers pulled off some superb saves particularly from McCowan and Walsh in each half.
As mentioned earlier I think Kerr's changes to the three behind Moffat disrupted the fluency of Ayr's attacks and whilst Walsh was still a threat McCowan and Smith were anonymous after the break. They didn't seem to have anything in the centre of the pitch to break up our counter attacks with Murdoch and Chalmers nowhere to be seen at times.
Cheers RIG, great in depth report on the game and tactics in action
And here's Bazza post match