Betfred Action at Tynecastle
An empty Tynecastle greeted the teams for the first competitive game for nearly seven months, the fans deprived of live action due to the covid19 restrictions. Both sides were much changed from last March with Inverness requiring a whole new back four amongst other departures. New signing Kai Kennedy was on u19 international duty but should be available for the Cowdebeath tie next week. Defender Wallace Duffy comes straight into the squad along with the returning Daniel Mackay and Shane Sutherland and newbies Robbie Deas and Scott Allardice. Danny Devine, Lewis Toshney, Kevin McHattie, David Carson, James Vincent and Aaron Doran never travelled down with injury concerns hanging over them all.
Keeper Craig Gordon has returned to Tynecastle. Former Caley Jag forward Jordan Roberts, Elliott Frear, Mihai Popescu and Josh Ginnelly are all new down Gorgie road and left back Stephen Kingsley is a late signing. Christophe Berra and John Souttar are out long term and Michael Smith and former Ross County striker Liam Boyce are on International duty.
Here we go...........
A relatively inexperienced Inverness took to the field with Wallace Duffy going straight in at right back for Inverness and Shane Sutherland, Robbie Deas and Scott Allardice also making their competitive debuts. James Keatings and Nikolay Todorov were on the bench.
The Jambos had Craig Gordon in goal and the main threats up front would be former Dundee striker Craig Wighton and Scotland International Steven Naismith with Josh Ginnelly the provider. Jordan Roberts was named as a substitute.
Mark Ridgers kept the scoreline blank with a tremendous double save in only the second minute from Jamie Walker and Craig Wighton but three minutes later it was Craig Gordon with the heroics to deny a point blank Daniel Mackay header from a Shane Sutherland cross, diving low to his left to keep the ball out.
Josh Ginnelly was prominent for Heart in the early exchanges and Sutherland was probing well for the visitors.
Gordon was able to clutch a dangerous free kick from Scott Allardice when a touch might have produced a goal and Ridgers was alert to a Ginnelly effort from the hosts. Halfway through the half Craig Halkett headed narrowly over, but it was defences on top thus far.
Sean Welsh came close to the opener but unfortunately for the visitors he sliced his shot from 15 yards and the ball spun agonisingly over the bar.
Wighton went even closer but his shot hit the bar and was put behind for a corner as Hearts began to pressure the Inverness defence. Ginnelly was pulling the strings for Hearts wide right and a cut back saw Andy Irving have his shot charged down brilliantly by Wallace Duffy.
Game over for Shane Sutherland as he pulled up around three minutes before the break as we won a free kick which was cleared for a corner, and when it came in Robbie Deas fired a low volley back across the goal and out for a goal kick.
The dangerous Ginnelly cut inside for the umpteenth time and fired just over from the edge of the box as Nikolay Todorov replaced the injured Sutherland.
Half Time 0-0
No changes at the break and Ginnelly continued to provide for his strikers, Steven Naismith blocked by Robbie Deas as tried to pick his spot from the edge of the box.
Good play by Roddy MacGregor won Inverness a free kick wide on the left but Allardice disappointingly lofted the ball harmlessly over.
Ridgers pulled off a great save from Brandon after good work by Ginnelly, pushing the ball round the post for a corner. Five minutes later he produced another save in the top corner as Ollie Lee let fly from distance.
A tricky run from Ginnelly saw the ball poked out for a corner and a second followed where Propescu slid a header just over the bar.
Ridgers flapped at a high ball in the box and the resultant driven ball into the box saw Cameron Harper adjudged to have handled the ball. Harsh, but Jamie Walker didn't mind and he stroked home with Ridgers going the other way. PENALTY OR NOT!
Duffy was replaced by Lewis Hyde just after the goal. Allardice moved to right back and made a good sliding tackle to deny Hearts a crossing opportunity.
Inverness spurned a great opportunity as Todorov blazed a shot high and wide with 15 minutes left. Soon after, a James Keatings free kick saw the ball cleared and the follow up to Todorov who should have done better than volley wide.
Jordan Roberts headed a good ball into the box wide in the last minute as the game entered three minutes of injury time.
A good effort from Inverness but time ran out for the visitors as Ridgers diverted a Henderson shot for a corner in the final embers.
Another injury concern for Robbo as Sutherland appears to have done his hamstring.