Both sides had won their opening three fixtures with Killie having the better goal difference. Both sides had yet to concede a goal; something was going to give, and it did after five minutes. This game had the potential to be the toughest test so far in the Billy Dodds era and it was a tight affair but Inverness scored the only goal of the game when Michael Gardyne lashed the ball into the net via the keepers palms. That proved to be the winner. Blair Alston nicked one off the outside of the post before the interval and Mark Ridgers kept Killie out with his 4th clean sheet in a row in the Championship after denying Innes Cameron from point blank range to put the Caley Jags at the top of the table on their own.
Tommy Wright was without Chris Stokes but had former Inverness midfielder Liam Polworth in his starting XI and his counterpart Billy Dodds fielded former Killie defender Kirk Broadfoot. Roddy MacGregor continued in midfield, with captain Sean Welsh on the bench amongst other strong attacking options.
A bright afternoon and a healthy crowd greeted the teams as the game kicked off and it was only five minutes old when Michael Gardyne lashed the ball into the net via the keepers palms from the left side of the box around twelve yards out, Shane Sutherland with the assist.
👋 Morning ICTFC Fans— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) August 29, 2021
Here's Michael Gardyne's goal which sealed yesterday's 1-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
Yesterday's win means it is the first time we've started a season winning our first four league matches! 💪
Happy Weekend folks 🔴🔵 pic.twitter.com/4aUK5UGno9
Liam Polworth looked to reply for the hosts but Ridgers comfortably saved his low shot. Two minutes later Ridgers pulled off a tremendous save diving full length to tip a Blair Alston shot onto the outside of the post and behind for a corner. Great work by the big keeper on his way to his 60th clean sheet for the Caley Jags.
For all their possession, Killie were unable to put the visiting defence under sufficient pressure, Devine and Broadfoot mopping up most advances with ease although there was a bit of a scramble in the Inverness box before the ball was cleared after Polworth tried his luck.
Inverness were content to hit on the break in the first forty-five after getting the early break as Killie toiled to create clear opportunities.
Half Time: 0-1
Sean Welsh replaced the subdued Manny Duku as Inverness began to control the pace of the game more effectively, but Innes Cameron had the best opportunity of the second half when he met a cross some eight yards out only for Ridgers to pull off an instinctive reaction save to keep the ball out.
The hard working Shane Sutherland set up Aaron Doran but he shot over and a minute later David Carson saw Hemming save from his shot as Inverness began to assert themselves on this game with Kilmarnock running out of ideas. Sutherland broke forward with ten minutes left after Sean Welsh set him free but his floated effort from outside of the box drifted over the bar with the keeper beaten.
Full Time: 0-1
Inverness saw out the final few minutes with little threat coming their way for an excellent three points with a very workmanlike performance, every man doing his job. Killie floundered on a solid defensive performance from the visitors who's game plan worked a treat, stifling any threat, snapping at ankles and pressing high enough to keep Killie away from goal. Ridgers was impeccable, assisted by his defence, and Roddy MacGregor once more showed why he is keeping others on the bench. Sutherland worked tirelessly up front and well done to Michael Gardyne for getting his first goal for the club.
🗣️ "I thought we were brilliant in every department."— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) August 28, 2021
Head Coach Billy Dodds gives his thoughts following this afternoon's 1-0 win against Kilmarnock pic.twitter.com/5cR6dn4Si7
Immortal Howden Ender is back
When was the last time that we led a league after 4 matches? That was as good a vocal support at Killie as I have certainly witnessed. RIG sums the action up well but I have been busting to do a Smileymometer. Killie really did not look like scoring and we did look dangerous on the break. The only two negatives were that our final pass was abysmal and we could have racked up 4 or 5 otherwise. And I think that we could have employed swapping Gardyne and |Walsh on a regular basis (or was Gardyne played there because of Burke ?)Gawd do we look solid defensively. A structured back four and three or four making a second line in front and everybody pressing. Killie tried to play football at the back but let themselves down with hoof tactics when they ran out of ideas. It was also a good idea to tag team Burke (WWE style) early doors. And what a bunch of whingers the Killie fans are. It was as if they were expecting a non contact sporting event.
RIDGERS * * * Did not really have that much to do but you can sense that his confidence is high and the players in front of him know that he will be there as a practical and reliable sweeper. Commanding is the word.
CARSON * * * Still not convinced that he is a wing back. Gives 100% and gets stuck in but needs to learn the role.
BROADFOOT * * * * Uses his head and experience to good use. The Killie hoof played to his strengths,
DEVINE * * * * Pleasantly surprised as I was unsure about his return but he and Broadfoot complimented each other.
DEAS * * * Had the task of shackling Burke. That did not come to fruition in the first 10-15 minutes but Gardyne gave him the support he needed thereafter
WALSH * * * Played his role but wasted on the right. Killie evidently sussed that he is very left footed.
ALLARDICE * * * Did not notice him at the start but he grew into the game and filled in a few gaps later on and added to the defensive structure playing in the hole in front of B & D.
MacGREGOR * * * * * Thought that he was SUPERB, especially in the second half when he played further up. Some of his touches were SUBLIME. MOTM by a country mile
GARDYNE * * * * Very impressed. Took goal well. Spent most of the match covering the danger of Burke. Ran his socks off and he an McGregor evidently are on the same wavelength.
SUTHERLAND * * * * What he lacks in finesse he makes up for in effort and running, May well soon be a choice between him or Duku to partner Mckay.
DUKU * * First time that I have watched him so I presume that he had a bad day at the office. I felt that he did not deal with the physicality.
To be able to bring Welsh, Doran and Mckay off the bench - well enuff said