Gardyne volleys us to the top
Goals from Sean Welsh and Michael Gardyne were just enough to put Inverness back to the top of the table despite a worldy goal from Lee Connelly for the visitors. Inverness deserved the win but made hard work of it before Gardyne scored a superb volley to win the points and ease the fans nerves.
Billy Dodds had Michael Gardyne back from injury but Doran and Sutherland were on the bench after knocks last week. Sean Welsh was in the starting XI as Inverness looked to get back above Kilmarnock after they drew with Arbroath on Friday night.
Queen of the South came North on the back of some indifferent form which showed they were better suited to playing away from home. No Dobbie as the prolific striker had left Palmerston after a glittering career. Much travelled former Ross County and Inverness player Alex Cooper was on the bench for the Doonhamers.
Mark Ridgers was the first keeper in action as he smothered a weak shot from Lee Connelly with just sixty seconds gone; Connelly would do better later in the game..
Inverness responded with a Scott Allardice drive that fizzed a couple of feet wide in the fifth minute, although the keeper looked to have his post covered.
Allardice's next involvement was a booking after a rash tackle out wide as Inverness made heavy weather of making any progress. However, Duku turned his marker and was brought down on the edge of the penalty box arc as David Carson fed the ball to him. Sean Welsh stepped forward and curled a sublime low free kick into the bottom corner from around twenty-five yards, the ball coming off the surface at pace.
Tom Walsh almost got on the end of a Gardyne cross after a quick free kick, the ball just out of reach. Minutes later another Gardyne cross found Manny Duku but his header was glanced wide. Duku was causing problems for the defence with his awkward style and direct running, almost finding Walsh after another cut back into the box. Yet another Gardyne cross not connected with Duku's head as the striker passes up on another opportunity.
Ten minutes to the break and the hosts are well in control although Queens are not completely out of it so far with only one goal separating the sides as another Gardyne cross evades two forwards in the box.
After Gardyne was fouled wide left, a Walsh free kick was headed goalwards but it lacked sufficient power to trouble the keeper as the interval loomed.
Half Time: 1-0
The visitors managed to make some progress early in the second half and Mark Ridgers pulled off a superb save and he was not to know it was adjudged offside.
Substitute Reece McAlear stung the palms of the keeper as Inverness came back into the game.
Broadfoot dollied a header into the keeper and when Johnston broke on the right side for Queens, he got the break of the ball but dragged his shot just wide across the keeper.
Billy McKay replaced the hapless Duku around the hour as Inverness looked for the cushion.
Clear chances were difficult to come by as the hosts won a couple of corners to no avail, but from the return ball, Walsh's cross bounced back off the corner of the bar.
Out of nothing the visitors scored a superb goal through Connelly with a curling shot from the corner of the box high into the net across the keeper. Great strike!
Lewis Jamieson replaced Allardice as Dodds decided a second goal was needed.
It almost came at the other end as a cleared ball ricocheted off a defender and Ridgers had to look sharp to save.
Just when Queens looked the more likely to score, Michael Gardyne volleyed in a beauty after a long through ball from Robbie Deas bounced up nicely for him to chest then volley home with power.
Inverness pressed for a third goal and Carson and Gardyne were blocked in the six yard box as the clock ticked towards the ninety.
With the hosts in command the referee ended the game to send Inverness back to the top of the table after a deserved win over a gritty Queens.
Good performances all over the park with Michael Gardyne the pick of the bunch and honourable mentions for Sean Welsh, Danny Devine and David Carson.
From BBC Sport
Billy Dodds: "We had to work for it but I thought our attitude was fantastic. My experienced players came up trumps. Sean Welsh with a brilliant free kick and Michael Gardyne with a great finish."
Allan Johnston: "The least we should have come away with was a point with the way we played, especially in the second half so we are a little bit frustrated. We have to make sure we learn from that."
From CTO Robert: Pretty dominant first half without creating any clear cut chances, but deservedly ahead after a great free kick by Welsh. We failed to kick on after the break and it was no great surprise when the equaliser went in, as they had tested us a few times before it. It was a very good finish. That was the kick up the backside we needed and we got the winner through Gardyne from a long ball by Deas, with Jamieson playing his part by distracting the defence. However, we need to be more clinical and put teams away when we are on top, and stop making it hard for ourselves. Pick for me today was Gardyne, closely followed by Welsh.
From CTO RIG:
Deserved win. We largely cigared that today save for a period in the second half when Queens got their equaliser and looked like they might steal a point but fortunately we were able to go up a gear and get a deserved winner.
Smashing performance from Gardyne. He might be 58<<disclaimer alert>> but he's still as fit as anyone in our squad and still has plenty to offer. Pacey and direct and not afraid to have a crack at goal when some might take an extra touch too many (Duku). Lovely finish for the winner and a deserved MotM. Devine continues to be perhaps our most consistent performer. He almost score a comedy own goal but other than that he was excellent again and stepped out of defence on numerous occasions to intercept balls forward from Queens. Carson was again solid at RB and MacGregor, before his injury, was running the midfield. Walsh was disappointing though and I feel that he's not really hit the height he did in his previous stint with us.
Connelly looked useful for Queens who did press and harry us a lot in the first half but seemed to cease after conceding a goal and seemed content to let us knock the ball about looking for an opening. Unfortunately a fair bit of our play broke down in the final third (we definitely lacked a killer pass at times) but I felt we dealt with their few attacking opportunities quite well. Their equaliser was absolutely stunning but fortunately we just upped our game a bit and took a deserved win.
All in all, a very pleasing day.
Here's the goals, three crackers...