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  1. Last Gasp Agony Inverness now require a miracle of biblical proportions to make the play-off after a 95th minute goal snatched our destiny from our own hands in a pulsating match against the Pars. It was always going to be a big ask to win our remaining eight games, but we looked to be getting down to the last two until the stoppage time equaliser ruined the day. Nicky Clark did the dastardly deed with almost the last touch of the ball heading home a set piece to spoil our weekend. The Pars had gone ahead after some slack play at the back, Andy Ryan scoring. However, Joe Chalmers found the bottom corner of the goal with a super free kick and when Nathan Austin surged forward to thunder the ball into the net it was looking good until the last few seconds when a draw was snatched from the jaws of victory. Influential playmaker and the voters & players player of the year Iain Vigurs was suspended and in came Charlie Trafford to the midfield. Gary Warren missed out through injury and Collin Seedorf slotted in at right back with Brad Mckay moving alongside Coll Donaldson at the heart of the defence. Carl Tremarco replaces Riccardo Calder in a straight swap at left back. Dunfermline had on form Fraser Aird keeping Jo Cardle on the bench and former Inverness Cup hero James Vincent starting. Nat Wedderburn was also on the bench. A big travelling support boosted the crowd to near three and a half thousand on a bright Saturday afternoon, no chance of this game being called off. The Pars showed they were going to be difficult to beat in the early exchanges as they moved the ball around swiftly but it was Aaron Doran that got the first shot away, saved comfortably by Lee Robinson in the Pars goal. George Oakley tried his luck with a header that missed the target. Dunfermline made the breakthrough after some slack defending on the right side of our defence. Andy Ryan benefitting and beating Ridgers to open the scoring. Kallum Hegginbotham felt the need to hammer the ball into the North Stand in a peculiar sort of celebration and was promptly booked. Brad Mckay had a shot saved by Robinson as we looked to get back on level terms and we did just that a couple of minutes later when Joe Chalmers curled a free kick round the bottom of the wall into the vacant space beside the near post. Great strike and another that was in as soon as it left his laces. Dunfermline are a class act though and continued to play football as did Inverness and the game was moving swiftly from end to end in a great advert for the Championship. Fraser Aird brought out a fine save from Mark Ridgers with both sides probing for an opening and near the interval Nathan Austin broke down the left, cutting into the box but shot from a tight angle when a ball across the box might have been more beneficial. Half Time 1-1 The hosts exploded out of the blocks at the start of the second half and Liam Polworth and George Oakley both went close. We would do even better a minute later. Nathan Austin tussled for a ball around the half way line. He held the troublesome defender at bay for thirty yards and as he entered the box he landed a thumper of a shot which blurred behind the keeper for an absolutely superb goal. Inverness were in total control at this point and looked most likely to extend their lead with Seedorf and Donaldson going close to doing just that. A bit of a delay as a clash of heads saw Oakley being bandaged like Butcher and a Pars player also receiving attention. That would prove costly later. Substitute Jo Cardle went close for the visitors around twenty minutes from the end as Dunfermline got their second wind. Another substitute, Daniel Mackay could have sealed it for Inverness after great work by Aaron Doran down the left. He cut into the box and rolled the ball across to the other side where young Dan had made great strides to get into the box. Unfortunately his first time strike whistled just past the outside of the post. We would pay for that miss deep into injury time when Dunfermline won a simple free kick some forty yards from goal. Cardle swung a dangerous ball into the box and Nicky Clark silenced the home fans and sent the away fans delirious with a header that found it's way into the net for that all important leveller. Full Time 2-2 There was barely time to kick off and that was that. The dream almost done and dusted unless Dumbarton could do us a massive favour by beating the Pars next Saturday. It could all be irrelevant should we fail to win our last two games anyway, starting with Livingston on Tuesday night and ending at Greenock on Saturday. It had been a pulsating game with plenty of slick football from both sides. Inverness probably should have seen this one out having got their noses in front, but credit to the Pars for hanging in there. I suppose nobody could really complain about the final result but it was a hard one to take. Difficult to pick a clear MotM, but Nathan Austin got my vote for that goal alone. What a strike, showing pace, power, skill and determination. He was ably assisted by Liam Polworth, the tireless George Oakley and Aaron Doran who had the beating of the defence and was a threat whenever he went forward. Young Player of the Year Coll Donaldson put in another good shift at the heart of the defence and he would have been my pick for Player of the Year. It's not over until the fat lady sings, but she's on the final verse now. All we can do is beat Livingston and see what happens next Saturday. Unfortunately I fear the worst, but it has been a great comeback to the season after a horrendous start. Brad Mckay agrees with that, and here is his tweet: Agony that, boys have been unbelievable in the last 2 months. Unbeaten in 10 games, bad start to the season cost us dearly in the end. We keep going last two games and see what’s what. Coll Donaldson was just as gutted............ Such a disappointing end to a fantastic run! Means a lot for the team mates to vote me in as this though. Small consolation on a day like today but already looking forward to what we can achieve next year. Match highlights from Caley Jags TV Here's the goal that ruined our weekend................................ Alan Johnston talks after the game Cup Final hero from 2015 James Vincent has his say................ Date: 21/04/2018 Venue: Caledonian Stadium Attendance: 3316 Referee: Stephen Finnie Inverness CT: 2 Lineup: Ridgers; Seedorf, B Mckay, Donaldson, Tremarco, Doran (Calder 90), Polworth, Trafford, Chalmers, Austin (D Mackay 60), Oakley Subs (not used): Esson; Mulraney, Bell, Elbouzedi Brown. Scorers: Chalmers (16), Austin (48) Booked: B Mckay (32), Trafford (90), Polworth (90+2) Sent Off: none Dunfermline: 2 Lineup: Robinson; Williamson, Martin, M'Voto, Ashcroft, Higginbotham (McManus 66), Clark, Ryan, Aird (Cardle 60), Vincent, Craigan (Morris 90). Subs (not used): Gill; Wedderburn, Armstrong, Talbot, Scorers: Ryan (13), Clark (90+5) Booked: Higginbotham (13), Williamson (45) Sent Off: none a
  2. Must Win Game Five down, three to go. We have had the must not lose games, well, we are at the stage where it's now a must win game. We have come a long way since Dunfermline hammered us 5-1 back in August. Smith, Ashcroft, Hopkirk and Cardle twice putting us to the sword in a Welcome to the Championship game. Iain Vigurs got a consolation goal for us that day but he will sit this one out after yellow cards caught up with him. These are the two form teams in the Championship just now. Inverness are on a winning run of five in a row, the best by any team this season in the league. The Pars are not far behind with four on the trot and they are the target for Inverness to aim for in the race for a place. Other than the 5-1 thrashing, both sides have enjoyed 1-0 wins. In fact neither side has lost since they last played each other on 13th March when the Pars won 1-0 at East End Park. Something is going to give! Ask the players and they will all tell you the same thing. They are taking it one game at a time over the last month with the games coming thick and fast after a winter of discontent disrupting the fixture list. Every win has taken us closer to the possibility of snatching a play-off place and the one game that keeps the dream in our own hands is here. Robbo will be without the suspended Iain Vigurs for the next two crucial games. His midfield partner Liam Polworth will have to take up the slack and he has been is fine form lately, pointing the way to go. Gary Warren came off after less than half an hour in midweek and is out. I would expect Collin Seedorf to return at right back with Brad Mckay teaming up with Coll Donaldson in central defence. Charlie Trafford will surely come back into midfield with Vigurs suspended. Jake Mulraney is another option and may be used later in the game. Allan Johnston has a settled side at the moment and that has shown in their recent run of results. Fraser Aird is a man on form just now scoring twice against Brechin at the weekend. tm4tj prediction:- This is a tough one. We are not talking about brushing aside part time Brechin or Dumbarton, but full time Dunfermline Athletic, a well established unit who are gearing up for a promotion push. Neither side will be wanting to give anything away and it could be a bit cagey. The Pars have only won twice in Inverness, the last time was in 2007. We did win the last time Dunfermline came North but they defeated Inverness at East End Park. Dunfermline's defensive record is similar to ours but they have scored seven more goals than us. In Jo Cardle they have a pacey wide player who can cause problems. Both sides are on tremendous runs and it's about who has the belief and will go the extra mile to complete the job. We might just edge this one, but part of me believes a draw will be the end product and that will end the dream. I hope I am wrong.
  3. Austin Hat-Trick Inverness went goal crazy against a Dumbarton side they failed to trouble for ninety three minutes in the IrnBru Cup Final a couple of weeks ago. This time we showed no mercy and but for some wayward finishing could have scored more, but we can't be vexed at five surely. Dumbarton, to their credit came to play, unlike the final where they did their best to stop us playing. However, after opening the scoring through Grant Gallagher in the 13th minute, Inverness stepped up the pace and blew the Sons away scoring five going on eight. Aaron Doran replied four minutes later with a superb long range effort flying high into the unguarded area of the net. Four minutes before the break Nathan Austin scored his first of three. Five minutes after the break he added his second and Dumbarton heads went down. The influential Iain Vigurs added a fourth before Austin grabbed the match ball finishing off after a Liam Polworth burst into the box. Look what Fash took home with him after the game. John Robertson was forced into making three changes from the last game with Charlie Trafford, Coll Donaldson and Carl IrnBru Tremarco all suspended. In came Riccardo Calder, Collin Seedorf and Aaron Doran with Brad Mckay and Gary Warren taking up the slack in central defence. Dumbarton did their best to field a team of Gallagher's, three of them starting with the talismanic Froxylias on the bench. We fell behind when Calder dived into a tackle wide right but Andrew Stirling was always first to the ball and he skipped round the mis-timed tackle to cut a dangerous ball into the box where Grant Gallagher smashed it high behind a helpless Mark Ridgers. Excellent goal for the Sons, but all it did was wake up Inverness. Four minutes later and Doran crashed a swerving shot from all of thirty yards high into the net. What a strike from the wee man, goal as soon as it left his boot. Polworth almost matched it soon after as the ball sat up but his volley just dipped wide of the mark. His next contribution proved more fruitful as he lifted a ball wide to Doran who saw the run of Austin to the near post. He picked him out effortlessly and Nathan stepped round the keeper to tap in for an excellent finish to a tidy move. Half Time 2-1 Polly's next moment was less productive. After he broke down a clearance from defence, Polworth danced across the box delaying the finish a couple of times before cutting the ball cutely back across the keeper. Unfortunately he cut it back wide of the post as well when it looked easier to score. Gives the boo boys something to moan about I suppose. Great effort from Liam though. His assist rate is second to none though and after bursting into the box he chipped the ball goalwards where Austin was on hand to finish the task. Iain Vigurs showed his midfield companion how to cut the ball behind the keeper in a tight spot from close range as he did just that, Polworth again involved in the goal Austin grabbed his hat-trick after some neat play down the left, the striker guiding a low cross into the net after Calder drove forward, another good team goal finished by a player on song. Connor Bell had a couple of efforts late in the game which could have produced more after the tireless George Oakley did the spade work, but his wee leggies would not get him to the ball soon enough and when Mulraney met the loose ball Gallagher parried away his shot. Full Time 5-1 Biggest win for some time in a league game, probably since scoring six at Kilmarnock in 2011 (double hat-tricks that day from A Shinnie and Tade). First league hat-trick for a long time too, Billy Mckay bagging one against Motherwell in 2013. The statisticians will no doubt have more but it's good to get a couple of monkeys of the back on the same day. Great performance from Nathan Austin who is my MotM, but some unselfish work by others allowing him to flourish in front of goal. Notable grafters were Liam Polworth, Iain Vigurs, George Oakley and Aaron Doran who scored a beaut. All to do again on Tuesday night at Dumbarton where I doubt the home defence will be so generous. Ooooops, nearly forgot, congratulations to St Mirren who are on their way into the Premiership after clinching the title with a draw against Livingston who have secured their play-off place as well. Congrats all round and we hope to join you there. Here's the action from the game............ Johndo made the game and here are the marks from our Chorley scribe with his infamous Smileymometer..... Ridgers πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ Must have appreciated the rest. No chance with the goal which was a screamer Seedorf πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ some nice touches, especially one showboat that Clarence would have been proud of. But a right back or wing back he is not. And I suspect that his attacking capability is stifled. Warren πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€Solid but he is no playmaker McKay πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ Again solid but again not a playmaker and clear why we missed Donaldson. Fortunately Gary and Brad usually had Polly or Vigurs in space. Calder πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ Not a defender either and dived in completely in the run up to the Sons opener. Unlike Seedorf he has attacking flair and was always ready to take on the defender and hit the line in an old winger style that I still appreciated Polworth πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ Gawd does that poor lad get some stick or what ? He ran and ran and ran, some of his touches were sublime. He has got bad press for two second half errors. From my perspective if he had completed the final touch on both occasions it would have been a goal of the season contender and he would have walked off with the MOM. Chalmers πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ The man with the sweet left foot also appears to be the boo boys target. He basically sat and covered for Vigurs and Polly.I would have said that he was quietly effective. Vigurs πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ Provided a master class for an hour, pinging balls accurately all over the pitch. I thought he could have been carded for one horrendous follow through tackle in the first half and he clearly tired at the end Doran πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ Has lost a bit of pace but he is another with a high skill ability. Cracker of a goal. Oakley πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ I thought he had a lazy, lacklustre first half but a real old centre forward second half display. Appears to Be the boo boys favourite as he made more errors than Polly. But he would have been in my top three Austin πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ Well we have been asking for a goal scorer and he certainly fitted the role. Good turn of pace of the mark and good finisher to boot. I was surprised the he was hooked but I was told that it was a mistake and it was supposed to be Seedorf. Amateurish if correct. As DD alluded to Elbouzedhi looked sharp and I would like to see more. Disappointed that Robbo sent on Bell and not young McKay. Some of the refereeing decisions were bizarre. Good crowd and the Young Team were a credit. My first home game of the season and I can't understand what everybody has been complaining about πŸ˜› Date: 14/04/2018 Venue: Caledonian Stadium Attendance: 2355 Referee: Gavin duncan Inverness CT: 5 Lineup: Ridgers; Seedorf, B Mckay, Warren, Calder, Doran (Elbouzedi 64), Polworth, Vigurs (Mulraney 71), Chalmers, Oakley, Austin (Bell 69). Subs (not used): Esson, D Mackay, Brown, Harper Scorers: Doran (17), Austin (41, 50, 66), Vigurs (63) Booked: B Mckay (22) Sent Off: none Dumbarton: 1 Lineup: Gallagher; Gallagher (Hill 75), Barr, Dowie, McGlaughlin, Nisbet, Wilson (Burt 58) , Hutton, Stirling, Handling, Gallagher (Stewart 67) Subs (not used): Walsh, Ewings, Froxylias. Scorers: G Gallagher (13) Booked: Barr (62), Stewart (76), Hutton (90) Sent Off: none a
  4. Dumbarton Double Header It's part one of the Dumbarton Double Header as we take on the Sons with a place in the top play-off hanging by a thread, and a very thin one at that. After a late win over Falkirk we can still make the top-end promotion push, but as it was prior to the Bairns game, it's a tall order. It sounds simple enough. Win all your games and a play-off place is guaranteed. Try putting that into practice and it becomes a lot more difficult. The best we can do as fans is take it one game at a time and see where that takes us. The team are going the right way about it at the moment, seven games unbeaten including a Challenge Cup Final win over Saturday's opponents, Dumbarton. That's five wins and two draws (St Mirren & Dundee United). We are on our best run of the season with three wins on the bounce (Brechin, QotS, Falkirk). A Jake Mulraney goal was enough to give us a hard earned victory over Falkirk in midweek. Mark Ridgers was called into serious action as the seconds ticked away making a tremendous save to ensure we kept ahead. Dumbarton suffered on Tuesday night when Morton scored a very very late winner to edge the game 3-2. One of Morton's scorers was none other that John Baird. Who would have thought that. Danny Handling had scored the opener for the Sons before Morton went ahead. An og with three minutes to go looked to have given Dumbarton a point until Jack Iredale slotted home in the 94th minute. That leaves Dumbarton fighting to escape the relegation play-off. The second part of the double-header will be played out at Dumbarton on Tuesday 17th April with a 7:45pm kick off. John Robertson has been rotating the squad recently with our hectic schedule and that has worked ok so far. Charlie Trafford is suspended for this weekend which is a pity as the big midfielder has been on a good run of form since getting his chance recently and adds a bit of steel to the midfield. Carl Tremarco and Coll Donaldson have also fallen foul of the beaks and are also set to miss this one. We should have plenty of cover though with a full squad otherwise. Defender Brad Mckay and young keeper Cammy Mackay have both accepted extended contracts to remain at Inverness until 2020. Stevie Aitken has worked wonders to get Dumbarton to where they are just now and took them to the IrnBru Cup final a couple of weeks ago. Not bad for a part time club. Last time out against Morton, this was the Sons line-up: Gallacher; Dick, Barr, Dowie, McLaughlin, Hutton, Wilson, Stirling, Handling, Walsh, Gallagher. On the bench were: Ewings, Gallagher, Stewart, Hill, Froxylias, Nisbeat, Burt. tm4tj prediction:- If we have any aspirations about going up then these are the games we need to be winning, and winning well at that. Dumbarton showed in the Cup Final that they are a difficult team to break down and we have shown over the season that we are not always best at breaking down teams that are well disciplined and organised. Could be a testing afternoon. The introduction of Mulraney against Falkirk proved to be the difference between the sides with his pace a huge asset. Maybe he will be due a start as the player rotation goes round again. Home win, but a tight affair methinks.
  5. Jake makes amends. Inverness kept their faint play-off hopes alive with a late winner from substitute Jake Mulraney. Sweet moment for Jake who had been red-carded in the away fixture at Falkirk earlier in the season which led to Inverness being turned over by the Bairns. This was another must win game for Inverness and after a dour first half they battled hard to get the points in a tough contest with Falkirk. John Robertson went pretty much with the same starting XI that did so well at Palmerston at the weekend. That meant another start for Nathan Austin who would feature against former club Falkirk. The Bairns were without Andrew Nelson and Peter Grant and that saw Tom Taiwo and Paul Watson start with Grant on the bench along with Alex Harris. It had been a pretty miserable day in the Highlands and the evening was no different as the sides took to the park with just over 2000 in attendance. Inverness were on a healthy run and looking to keep the pressure on the teams above them in the race for a play-off place. Falkirk had been seven Championship games unbeaten but lost at the weekend to big rivals Dunfermline. The game kicked off in damp conditions with Inverness playing in the unaccustomed direction of the North Stand for the first forty-five and Iain Vigurs tested his rangefinder with a shot that went wide. Some adjustment needed by the looks of it. Charlie Trafford gave away a free kick in a dangerous position but Mark Ridgers was equal to the shot by Sean Welsh and as the game opened up, Liam Polworth fed Nathan Austin but he volleyed wide. With Inverness keeping the pressure on the Falkirk defence, there were no takers for an excellent Brad Mckay cross to the far post but the defenders got it clear. Polworth fired over a corner and Gary Warren saw his header deflected for another. Mckay's header came back off the bar and Austin saw his effort cleared off the line as the hosts looked for the opener. The game became a bit towsy and bogged down in midfield with a number of petty fouls, neither side able to create the clear opening they were hoping for, but, if anything, the visitors were beginning to get to grips with the pace of the game and Welsh headed wide just after the half hour. Just on the break Polworth was denied by a great block by Watson but in all honesty it was a fairly innocuous opening half with defences rarely tested. Half Time 0-0 The first dangerous moment of the second period saw a Paul Watson header cleared off the line and at the other end just when it looked as though it was opening up for Polworth, he saw his effort blocked en-route to goal. Another Falkirk header from Watson cleared away from goal, this time it's Tremarco doing the mopping up. Ridgers holds an effort from Longridge as Falkirk up the pace. As in the first half, a bit of stalemate and a spate of substitutions by both sides as they tried to break the defensive shackles. Hazard managed to thwart Mulraney and his clearance fell to Mckay, but his effort was cleared by Muirhead. Oakley thought he had opened the scoring but he was ruled offside, however moments later substitute Jake Mulraney scored from inside the box after cutting in and firing low behind Hazard with ten minutes remaining. Sweet revenge for Jake who red misted in the away game. In the final minute, Mark Ridgers made a vital one handed save to deny Jordan McGhee with Peter Grant firing over. Inverness held on to take all three points in a really close encounter, but the all important three points stay in Inverness and the run continues. Full Time 1-0 Another vital win for Inverness which keeps us on track, just, for a shot at the play-offs. With Dumbarton losing a late goal to Morton, we now only need to concentrate on the top end of the Championship. Tonight's win was vital as both Morton and Dundee United picked up full points. We now have a double header coming up against Dumbarton and the possibility of six points that would bring us right back into the mix is making for in interesting finale to the season. All the action.............. Robbo delighted to take all three points Hartley miffed........... Date: 10/04/2018 Venue: Caledonian Stadium Attendance: 2053 Referee: Nick Walsh Inverness CT: 1 Lineup: Ridgers; B Mckay, Warren Donaldson, Tremarco, Polworth, Trafford (Mulraney 69), Vigurs, Chalmers, Oakley, Austin (Doran 69). Subs (not used): Esson; Seedorf, Calder, Bell, D Mackay. Scorers: Mulraney (81) Booked: Oakley (50) Sent Off: none Falkirk: 0 Lineup: Hazard; McGhee, Muirhead, Tumilty (O'Hara 89), Watson, Sibbald, Robson (Grant 73), Taiwo (Kidd 74), Welsh, Jakubiak, Longridge Subs (not used): Thomson; McKee, Harris, Blair. Scorers: none Booked: Longridge (60) Sent Off: none a
  6. I don't like Tuesday's It's just a typical Tuesday, another game, another must win scenario and another six-pointer as Paul Hartley brings his Grangemouth revival squad North on the back of seven games unbeaten in the Championship since Livingston won 3-1 at the BairnabΓ©u Stadium. That was until Dunfermline pipped them at the weekend. Inverness were at Palmerston on Saturday trying to keep our slim chances of a play-off place alive and we came away with an excellent 2-0 win after Nathan Austin opened his account at Inverness. George Oakley added a second and that was George's 10th of the season. Whilst we were playing Queens, the Bairns were hosting Dunfermline but left it too late in their comeback. Kallum Higginbotham and Fraser Aird had the Fifers two up but Aaron Muirhead reduced the deficit with a penalty ten minutes before the end. However the Pars held on for an important win that keeps them in a play off position. These sides have met five times already this season. We started by losing 2-0 in the League Cup group game and followed that with a no scoring draw away from home before winning the IrnBru cup game 1-0. The next Championship game saw us rout Falkirk at home 4-1, but when we went South in the next one we lost 3-1 after Jake saw red. Both sides are capable of winning this one but we are coming together at the right time and it would be a brave man to put their money on a Falkirk win. There's little between the sides in goals for, Inverness just edging it by three (40) but we are ten better off in defence (34). That shows us just three points above Falkirk with one game in hand. John Robertson should have a full squad to choose from and Coll Donaldson came through the game at Palmerston without any further niggles. Good to see Nathan Austin get off the mark with the opener against Queens and fellow striker George Oakley beginning to show his worth with ten goals to his name. Paul Hartley has been building well recently, seven unbeaten until the loss to Dunfermline at the weekend. Here's the starting XI from that defeat to Dunfermline: Hazard, Muirhead, Grant, Watson, McGhee, Sibbald, Robson, Nelson, Welsh, Jakubiak, Longridge. tm4tj prediction:- We are building a bit of momentum at the right time and the win at Palmerston was a massive boost Falkirk had been on a run until the Pars pipped them at the weekend. Usually tight games to call but with Coll Donaldson showing his class at the back, Mark Ridgers high on confidence and George Oakley into double figures then I'm looking for a home win to continue our good run. Good cameraderie amongst the squad at the moment, here's hoping that continues tonight.
  7. Stroll for Inverness League whipping boys Brechin City were comfortably beaten by an Inverness side who went about their business and left Brechin winless after 31 league games, a statistic that will see them ply their trade in the next division down next season. Two goals in each half were sufficient to end the contest with Joe Chalmers bagging a brace and Coll Donaldson and George Oakley completing the scoring. A miserable night saw Inverness dominate proceedings and made all the early running. It took until the twelfth minute for Joe Chalmers to benefit from a Liam Polworth ball into the box to tap in the opener. Ten minutes later and Chalmers set up Coll Donaldson to knock in number two. Isaac Layne broke the monopoly and fired a warning shot just wide as Brechin tried to hit back immediately. Liam Polworth had a couple of attempts near the break but no further scoring despite our dominance. Half Time 2-0 Donaldson had a header blocked just after the interval as the game continued in our favour and George Oakley went close with a header of his own. The third goal arrived just before the hour and it was Chalmers who notched his second of the night with a driven left footed shot into the bottom right and that was game over. Eight minutes later the scoring ended when Oakley finished a good move by stroking in Connor Bell's pass. One downside was an injury sustained by Donaldson on the heavy pitch and he was replaced by Gary Warren with twenty-two minutes to go. Fair play to City who had a mini revival and Layne made Ridgers work before half-time substitute Euan Spark fired one just wide. Nathan Austin and Connor Bell both had a couple of close calls and Layne brought out another save from Ridgers, but the result was never in doubt. A comfortable nights work for the home side who possibly could have scored more given our superiority, but credit to Brechin for having a go right to the end. I hope Coll Donaldson was a precautionary substitution as he will be an important player in the final seven games. Good win for Inverness who were best served by two goal Joe Chalmers with Riccardo Calder not far behind. Liam Polworth put in a good shift as well. Date: 03/04/2018 Venue: Caledonian Stadium Attendance: 1963 Referee: Colin Steven Inverness CT: 4 Lineup: Ridgers; Seedorf, B Mckay, Donaldson (Warren 68), Calder, Polworth, Trafford (Austin 67), Vigurs (Doran), Chalmers, Oakley, Bell Subs (not used): Esson, Tremarco, Mulraney, D Mackay. Scorers: Chalmers (12, 58), Donaldson (22), Oakley (66) Booked: none Sent Off: none Brechin City: 0 Lineup: Smith; Smith, McLean, Fusco, Dyer, Tapping (Sinclair 80), Graham, Dale (Lynas 63), Watt (Spark 45), Orsi, Layne. Subs (not used): Morrison, Costello. Scorers: none Booked: none Sent Off: none a
  8. Thick and Fast We are playing catch up now in the Championship and the games keep coming after the winter disruption with relegated Brechin coming North on Tuesday night, kick off at 7:45pm. Been a good week for Inverness, four points in the Championship from two tough games and an IrnBru Cup in the trophy cabinet from the victory over Dumbarton at McDiarmid Park. Who knew? Our last outing saw us rally after going two down to St Mirren but Gary Warren and Liam Polworth restored parity. An excellent point given the gravity of the situation when Lewis Morgan scored a second for St Mirren. However Mark Ridgers was in inspired form with a string of superb saves including a hook off the line with his foot penalty save as he dived the wrong way. Wonderful stuff from the big stopper who has turned his season round after a sticky start. Brechin are already mathematically relegated and they come North after losing 3-0 at Falkirk, the Hedge boys coming apart with two players sent off just before half-time. Not surprising really as they are without a win in thirty Championship games having amassed only four points all season. A word of caution however as we only just beat them in our last meeting in a see saw game. We went from 1-0 up to 2-1 down before George Oakley spared our blushes with a late goal despite ending the game with 10 men. Warning heeded I hope. All the stats are in our favour for this one. We are 34 for & 34 against, Brechin are 19 for & 42 against. In league games this season we have three wins with an 11-2 advantage. So, this is an opportunity to get into positive goal difference territory and maybe jump back above Falkirk. Injury lists have shortened as the season has worn on and Robbo should have a reasonable squad to choose from. Darren Dods will be without his suspended duo of Sean Crighton and Paul McLean as his season fades away. No disrespect to Brechin, but we should be winning games like this comfortably. Alas, games are not played on paper and given our struggle at Glebe Park, Brechin will be determined to finish the season with a mini flourish. Isaac Layne was one who caused a bit of discomfort with his burly robust style, but Coll Donaldson eventually got to grips with him and the threat was nullified. I'm looking for a goal scoring home win to set us up for a wee run in the home straight. The play-offs at the top end of the league are a long shot to be honest, but that could be achieved with an unbeaten run to the wire. We'll see how that goes. Defeat here is unthinkable, but as I said a wee bit of caution will not go amiss.
  9. Champions elect coming North. St Mirren are the visitors on Saturday as we complete a hectic week with the Championship leaders looking to edge closer to promotion whilst we search for a way into the play-off zone. A large away support is expected for this one and the home fans might well be outnumbered given their reluctance to get down to the stadium. It has been a memorable week for Inverness as we won the IrnBru Cup after defeating Dumbarton last weekend courtesy of a Carl Tremarco stoppage time goal. We followed that up by beating pre-season title favourites Dundee United on Tuesday night, thanks to Aaron Doran's strike just on half time. It was a narrow win but well deserved and a decent performance to boot. That was in contrast to the rather dull Cup Final. However the result was the important thing and finals are often like that as nobody wants to be the one that makes the error. St Mirren are closing in on the title. Their charge began last season after being somewhat detached at the foot of the table, but Jack Ross has transformed the Buddies into a formidable side and one that thoroughly deserve to be promoted as Champions. St Mirren have almost double the points that Inverness have accumulated so far and sit top of the league by 14 points from Livingston. They are the highest scorers with 57 goals compared to our 32. Defensively we are much closer with the Buddies conceding three less than us. St Mirren have won the previous encounters this season although the games were closer than the scorelines suggest. St Mirren romped past Dumbarton in midweek banging in five goals without reply. Lewis Morgan bagging a hat-trick in that one. Four wins on the trot for the Paisley side. John Robertson has a doubt in Jake Mulraney but should have an otherwise injury free squad to choose from. Not often we can say that. tm4tj prediction:- Our season seems to have finally begun. We're a bit late to the party, but confidence can be a game changer and we need that from now to the end of the season. It would be a brave man to bet against St Mirren winning this one, but maybe we can take something from the game. Celtic bound Lewis Morgan is a big danger with 22 goal Gavin Reilly and Daniel Mullen on the goal trail as well. Formidable opposition it has to be said but it's not beyond the realms of possibility that we could take all three points, but that's optimism at it's best. A draw might be our best bet. Detailed Preview on Official ICTFC website
  10. Ton too heavy for lightweights. Morton all but ended any faint hope Inverness had of making the play-offs with a clinical two goal victory in the Highlands, their first ever at Inverness. A sorry Caley Jags look destined for another season in the doldrums after failing to win this six-pointer and Morton took full advantage to move above Dundee United into third place in the Championship with their fourth win in the last five games. A first half goal from Scott Tiffoney was added to after the break when MotM Gary Harkins slotted home a penalty. It could have been so different had we hit the net instead of the woodwork, twice, and not had two goals chalked off. However, we were the architects of our own downfall, Brad Mckay having a first half to forget as he allowed the ball to bounce over him which led to the opener, and Collin Seedorf giving away a penalty in the second period. We did try, but Morton seemed to have all the answers and looked a yard sharper than us all over the park, the pace and movement of their front runners causing our Donaldsonless defence problems. Liam Polworth missed what can only be described as a sitter near the break and that summed up our day really. Inverness were dealt a blow before taking to the pitch with news that Coll Donaldson was injured. Carl Tremarco made the bench as did Nathan Austin, and Aaron Doran started with Jake Mulraney suspended after his red card madness at Falkirk. No surprises in the Morton side with Jack Purdue making his debut today coming off the bench and the evergreen Gary Harkins was the orchestrater in chief. Inverness went straight into the visitors box after some neat interplay in the opening seconds, but Trafford shot down the keepers throat. However, it was Morton who looked liveliest thereafter with their front players causing concern with their movement and pace. Inverness appeared second to every ball and anything loose was snapped up by the eager Morton players. The opening goal was a schoolboy error by Brad Mckay who allowed a long punt from Gaston to bounce over his head. Wee Tiffoney new exactly what was happening and turned Mckay to spin in behind him as Brad mistimed his interception. He almost made amends by blocking the first attempt, but Tiffoney mopped up by driving the ball towards the net as Gary Warren tried to recover the situation. The ball eventually going into the net off Warren's outstretched boot. We worked hard enough, but looked to have little up front to trouble Gaston in the visiting goal. However, we should have been level before the break when Liam Polworth tried to turn a Doran cross from the right into the net. He only succeeded in sclaffing it across the face of the goal when it looked easier to score. Great opportunity to get back on level terms before the interval. Half Time 0-1 Nathan Austin was given a part to play as Robbo hooked Trafford at the break. We looked to take the game to Morton but made heavy work of trying to create openings. Austin's day was short lived as he pulled up after only twenty minutes. It appears that he is made of porcelain. Apparently he has done his other hamstring this time. We were unfortunate on a couple of occasions when Joe Chalmers guided a shot onto the post with the keeper stranded and later on when Iain Vigurs rattled the crossbar with the keeper beaten again. From the rebound, Aaron Doran caught a sweet volley but Gaston got down to block at his near post. The keeper just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Right after that double miss, Morton went up the park and ended the contest. It had looked like it was not going to be our day and that was confirmed when Seedorf gave away a penalty with twenty minutes left bringing down Tiffoney as he jinked past him. Gary Harkins was calmness personified as he stroked the ball off the inside of the post and into the net to double their advantage and Inverness knew their fate. Full Time 0-2 We did have the ball in the net twice, but were penalised on both occasions, but in truth, we played second fiddle to a better organised side and Morton thoroughly deserved the win, their first at the Caledonian Stadium. MotM for me was Morton's Gary Harkins who has skill to burn. After Iain Vigurs wilted in the second half, Harkins took control of the nidfield and he was the main reason Morton pulled off this deserved win. Frustrating day for the Caley Jags who could have taken something from the game but in the end, when the going got tough, the heads went down and the all too familiar stench of defeat was there for all to smell. Here's the goals if you can suffer it................ Date: 24/02/2018 Venue: Caledonian Stadium Attendance: 2359 Referee: Steven Kirkland Inverness CT: 0 Lineup: Ridgers, Seedorf, Warren, B Mckay, Calder, Polworth, Trafford (Austin 47, D Mackay 65), Vigurs, Chalmers, Doran, Oakley Subs (not used): Esson, Tremarco, Bell, Elbouzedi, Harper. Scorers: none Booked: none Sent Off: none Morton: 2 Lineup: Gaston, Doyle, Lamie, O'Ware, Russell, Ross (McHugh 72), Murdoch, Harkins, Tidser, Tiffoney (Purdue 83), Oliver. Subs (not used): Strapp, Brennan, Langan. Scorers: Tiffoney (28), Harkins (70 pen ) Booked: Purdew (90+1) Sent Off: none a
  11. Let the six-pointers begin. Inverness host Morton in the Championship as the battle for play-off places hots up. With only ten games left for Inverness to save their season, many of these encounters will be seen as six-pointers, and this one is certainly a must not lose game. It's game on after the pitch inspection. It had been arranged for 08:30 on Saturday morning as a precaution with the surface struggling to recover recently. It's back to league business for Inverness after the enthralling IrnBru Cup win over Irish side Crusaders last Sunday. It looked all over bar the shouting at the interval as Inverness raced into a three goal lead with goals from George Oakley, Joe Chalmers and Jake Mulraney. However, Inverness were once more reduced to ten men and Crusaders had a real go, Heatley grabbing a brace to make the last few minutes a touch tense. But we held on and even had the luxury of spurning a scoring opportunity when Iain Vigurs made a hash of a penalty kick after CTO Man of the Match Liam Polworth was sent tumbling to the sodden turf. That victory will see us play Dumbarton in the final on Saturday 24th March at 16:15 with the game being played at McDiarmid Park, Perth. Morton moved eight points above Inverness in midweek with a hard earned win over Dumbarton. Thomas O'Ware was the man that consolidated their position in the top four in a game that they always looked like coming out on top. The Greenock side have won three of their last four games, drawing the other one. They have the best defensive record in the league conceding only 23 goals whilst scoring 34, giving them a +11 goal difference, to Inverness' +2gd. We drew 1-1 in the first meeting this season with Gary Warren scoring in the first half. Morton eventually got to grips with the pace of the game and were well worth their point after Robert Thomson levelled just after the break. Collin Seedorf was red carded at the end of this game. In the second game, Morton held the upper hand after David Raven was sent off as he conceded the penalty after twenty-two minutes from which Gary Harkins scored the only goal of the game. Discipline has been a big part of our downfall this season and can probably be attributed to the loss of around ten points, enough to see us comfortably in the play-off zone. After the IrnBru game, we have now had nine players sent off. Whether the referee's decisions have been correct or not, we are putting ourselves in the position of ending the game with less players than we started with, mostly through petty trips, clips, minor indiscretion and often sheer stupidity. What it boils down to is those left on the pitch are suffering because we can't keep our composure when the going gets tough resulting in the ruination of the fans weekend plus our struggle to climb the table is like running in treacle. This really needs addressed Robbo, time to take drastic action against those seeing red where indiscipline is an issue. Inverness were without Carl Tremarco, Aaron Doran, Nathan Austin and Charlie Trafford against Crusaders. Tremarco is almost ready and could feature in the squad. Austin was cup-tied and will return. Doran was not risked on a really heavy pitch and he and Trafford are available. Brad Mckay will be eligible for this game as his red card will only make him miss the final against Dumbarton. John Baird has been loaned to Morton for the remainder of the season therefore I doubt we will see him in the squad tomorrow. No big loss really as although he worked hard, his return of only four goals in thirty-one games was hardly game changing stuff. Talking of red cards; Jake Mulraney will sit this one out after his madness at the end ofJanuary in Falkirk. It was that long ago that even the SFA forgot to put his name on the current list of outstanding suspensions. SFA not as observant as Caley Stan who pointed that one out. Morton were without Australian centre half Jack Iredale against Dumbarton and Robert Thomson has not played in over a month now. Jai Quitongo, Ross Forbes and Keeper Jamie McGowan are all out long term. tm4tj prediction. Well, if they can't be motivated for these final ten games then there's no hope. I expect us to be fired up for this one as we push for the top zone. It's taken a long time for Robbo to suss out his best options and he's nearly there. George Oakley has made the front man job his own. It's possible Austin could compliment him with Calder and Doran the providers. Liam Polworth had his best game for ages last week and his confidence is growing as is Mark Ridgers in goal. So, coming good at the right time we hope, but Morton have got where they are by hard graft and will be difficult to break down as their defensive record suggests. Gary Harkins will always be a threat with his quality. Tight game but we should edge it. 2-1 for Inverness, mon the Caley Jags. Official Preview Here's Morton keeper Derek Gaston pulling of this acrobatic save against QotS recently. Incredible stuff....
  12. Irish Crusade ends in Inverness Crusaders arrived in Inverness off the 12:30 flight from Belfast City some ten minutes ahead of schedule, and less than four hours before kick off. They were greeted at Dalcross by a fine winter's afternoon after the recent rain, sleet, snow and frost that has left the pitch less than pristine. There had been much speculation surrounding the rights and wrongs of this tie given the Sunday evening slot, but it's now time for the talking to stop and the action to take centre stage. John Robertson was without the injured Carl Tremarco and cup-tied Nathan Austin for this one while his Irish counterpart Stephen Baxter had a full squad to pick from. This is a squad that leads the Irish Premiership and have scored 82 goals in the 28 league games played so far. The free scoring Belfast club will probably be favourites for this one given our inactivity since the 30th of January. Aaron Doran was missing from the squad with George Oakley, Connor Bell and Jake Mulraney tasked with getting the goals. John Baird and Zak Elbouzedi and young Daniel Mackay were on the bench. Crusaders started with top scorer Gavin Whyte on the bench but still had plenty of fire power in the starting XI with Darren Murray and Paul Heatley having notched 25 between them. The teams came out with the pitch looking heavy, rain having replaced the early sunshine. Loads of sand had been used to get the surface playable in front of a sparse 1044 crowd, the BBC Alba live broadcast keeping many fans away. Crusaders kicked off towards the North Stand and Darren Murray was marginally offside in the first minute as he cracked the bar with a shot. Inverness strode forward from the free kick with Liam Polworth making a long run forward and he played in George Oakley who side footed home the opening goal in the second minute. Crusaders were unfazed though and took the game to Inverness playing the game in the Inverness half as they probed for an opening. Mark Ridgers did well to flop on the ball after a long throw in bounced across the box and seconds later Crusaders shot well over as they looked to level the tie. Great start for Inverness, but Crusaders look like they have goals in them as we struggle to make much headway, misplaced passes being the order of the day so far after that stunning opening couple of minutes. Thirteen minutes gone and Connor Bell did well to hold off the defender before feeding Oakley wide on the right, and his perfect cross found Joe Chalmers at the back post and he headed strongly behind the keeper for number two. Oakley headed wide at the front post soon after from another Mckay delivery as Crusaders heads went down since the second goal. Polworth almost threading another into the box as the hosts began to dominate. Donaldson had to time a tackle to perfection to stop a Crusaders break forward and from that, Polworth drove forward again before feeding Chalmers on the left, but his shot went just a tad too high. The next burst forward showed the best of Jake Mulraney as he skinned his marker before crossing for Bell, but his wee legs could not quite get on the end of the cross for what would have been a simple tap in. Mark Ridgers reacted well to stop Murray bursting into the box and from the clearance Polworth blasted a long range effort high and wide. Crusaders were creeping back into contention though and Ridgers guarded his near post well from Heatley at the expense of a corner which he clutched confidently. Riccardo Calder was booked on the halfway line as he clumsily brought down Heatley. Took one for the team methinks. Mulraney found acres of space down the right and he picked out Oakley who picked his spot in the net, but keeper Brian Jensen reacted brilliantly to tip his ten yard effort over. Polworth picked his spot as well, unfortunately his spot was just the wrong side of the post. Glackin was booked for pulling back Calder, the wide player enjoying his forays forward down the left wing. Iain Vigurs was pulling the strings in midfield and his promptings were causing plenty of problems for Crusaders. Mulraney should probably have added a third five minutes before the break after he danced into the box, but one step too many allowed Jensen to block his shot. Crusaders were not out of it yet and Ridgers pulled off a wonderful save to deny Heatley as he turned and shot inside the box. Lightning does strike twice and Mulraney passed a curled shot into the net from twelve yards after Polworth set him clear. Similar to a previous goal he scored in the championship. That ended an excellent first forty-five from the hosts with Crusaders having it all to do. Maybe top scorer and flying winger Gavin Whyte will be introduced after the break as Stephen Baxter looks to get back into the tie. Half Time 3-0 He did in fact make two changes with Whyte and Jordan Owens replacing Glackin and Forsythe. Ridgers had to make an early save as Crusaders came out in the second half intent on pushing forward but normal service was resumed soon after as we forced a corner from a dangerous looking cross. Heatley should have done better when offered an excellent shooting chance when Calder erred, but he hit it straight at Ridgers who saved comfortably near his post having got his angles right. The visitors were making inroads though and Inverness will need to be wary of the injection of pace from the Crues. Burns burst into the box and from a tight angle shot over as Inverness played a dangerous game and the keeper came to the rescue once more, blocking a certain goal, the ball skewing away for a corner. You could tell a goal was coming and in the next attack after the Inverness defence failed to clear the ball effectively, a driven shot from substitute Whyte deflected off Donaldson to throw the Crues a lifeline, and one which they look well capable of taking at this point in the game. Apparently the goal has been credited to Heatley who challenged Donaldson for the ball as it deflected into the net. Whyte was booked for hauling down Mulraney in midfield, but the big talking point was to follow seconds later as Brad Mckay was yellow carded and red carded. Here we go again, reduced to ten men, what a surprise. That prompted the removal of Bell who was replaced by Collin Seedorf as Robertson looked to tighten the midfield. Mulraney then waltzed into the box on the left side but his cross was marginally too high for Oakley to connect properly with and Jensen gratefully gathered. Steady rain was continuing to fall and the heavy pitch may play a part later in the game. As it was, tackles were becoming more reckless as conditions deteriorated. Twenty minutes to go and Ridgers watched a Burns shot drift wide as Crusaders pushed for another goal. The comfort of the first forty-five seems a long time ago now. Crusaders had the ball in the net after a swift break but the linesman had flagged for offside. With fifteen left, Crues brought on Paul Lowry and soon after Mulraney was replaced by Zak Elbouzedi, but it was Crusaders that opened the game right up when Heatley sped into the left side of the box and prodded tidily behind Ridgers. The game is right in the balance now with Crusaders looking likely to level the tie. We passed up on an excellent opportunity to restore our two goal lead, but Vigurs shot tamely wide from fifteen yards. Ridgers saved with his feet as a driven cross came into the box and when we broke forward Oakley forced Jensen into a low save to deny the striker. Fast and furious now and Crues missed a great chance to level the game but the ball fell the wrong side of the post as Ridgers and Seedorf combined to keep the ball out. Oakley again almost scored when his deflected shot squirmed behind Jensen but spun away off the post. Nail biting stuff now as every ball into the box looks likely to cause problems. Another scary moment when Gary Warren looked skinned, but Owens had tugged him back and Inverness were awarded a free kick instead of conceding a goal. Three minutes of time were added on with Crusaders still probing for the breakthrough and Inverness defending somewhat nervously. Coates headed into the side netting as we held on by our finger tips with thirty seconds to go. Suddenly, Liam Polworth made a tremendous run in the last seconds which ended with him being brought down unceremoniously for a penalty. Iain Vigurs should have ended the scoring from the spot, but not before Declan Caddell talked himself into a red card. Vigurs then completely scuffed his shot, dragging it wide of the post in possibly the worst penalty in the history of soccer. After that embarrassing scuff, the ref ended the contest and it's Caley Thistle that will contest the final against Dumbarton the weekend of 24/25 March. Full Time 3-2 Well, we got there in the end but all credit to Crusaders who put up a tremendous battle in the second half which almost went bottoms up after Brad Mckay was sent off. BBC Alba gave Jake Mulraney the MotM but for me it was a toss up between Liam Polworth and Iain Vigurs. Polworth gets my nod after that penalty miss. Crusaders can be happy with their display after taking a battering in the first half. But the introduction of Whyte and Owens caused our ten men problems and Heatley was a handful all game. Stephen Baxter was indignant though. He reckoned Crusaders should have won 6-4. I'm not as convinced as he was, but they certainly made a game of it after the break in what turned out to be a highly entertaining game. See you all at the final. Here's the goals from Caley Jags TV Date: 18/02/18 Venue: Caledonian Stadium Attendance: 1044 Referee: Bryn Markham-Jones Inverness CT: 3 Lineup: Ridgers, Mckay, Warren, Donaldson, Calder, Mulraney (Elbouzedi 79), Polworth, Vigurs, Chalmers, Bell (Seedorf 65), Oakley. Subs (not used): Esson, Baird, Mackay, Brown, Harper. Scorers: Oakley (1), Chalmers (13), Mulraney (44) Booked: Mckay, Calder, Polworth Sent Off: Mckay (63) Crusaders: 2 Lineup: Jensen, Burns, Beverland, Coates, McClean, Forsythe (Owens 45), Caddell, Glackin (Whyte 45), Snoddy (Lowry), Heatley, Murray Subs (not used): O'Neill, Carvill, Cushley, Suarez. Scorers: Heatley (57, 79) Booked: Murray, Glackin, Whyte, Owens, Caddell Sent Off: Caddell (90+6) a
  13. IrnBru Cup Semi-Final Inverness welcome Irish Premiership side Crusaders to the Scottish Highlands for the IrnBru cup semi-final. Just when you forgot all about this competition, someone somewhere comes up with a date and time to suit everybody. Well, the date is Sunday 18th February, the time is 17:15. I kid you not. The weather has relented in the last couple of days which is just as well as the pitch looked somewhat tired and heavy after weeks of dismal winter weather took it's toll. I would still expect a less than velvet surface with the going soft. Logistics aside, the competition has reached the last four with Inverness v Crusaders (Northern Ireland), and New Saints (Wales) v Dumbarton. To give New Saints their Sunday name, it's The New Saints of Oswestry Town & Llansantffraid Football Club. They play in Oswestry, Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain. That'll be why TNS is the preferred title. Thankfully, it's Crusaders that we play and they are known as the Crues. ***Latest News*** We now know one of the finalists and it's congratulations to Dumbarton who have reached their first Cup final in over 100 years. They came from behind to beat TNS 1-2 with late goals from Danny Handling and Dimitris Froxylias. Former Caley Jags player Dean Ebbe had given TNS the lead early in the second half. So what do we know about them? They hail from Belfast where they have a 3383 capacity all seated stadium, Seaview. Manager Stephen Baxter is a former player and has been in the job since 2005. They play in red and black, so they have something in common with half of Caley Thistle. In season 2016/2017 they relinquished their title and finished second in the NIFL Premiership behind one of their Belfast rivals, Linfield. It was a last day victory for Linfield that decided the title. However, this season appears to be back on track with Crusaders 5 points clear with 10 games remaining. Some impressive stats so far, Played 28:- Won 22 - Lost 2 - Goals For 82 - Goals Against 28. Crusaders last game was a 4-2 victory over Glentoran although they were knocked out of the Irish Cup a couple of weeks ago 4-1 by Cliftonville after being reduced to ten men. Jordan Owens, Billy Joe Burns, Colin Coates and Gavin Whyte were the scorers in the win over Glentoran. Gavin Whyte is the top scorer in the division with 18 goals, and fellow Crusader Paul Heatley is third with 13 goals. Whyte was the man that scored a last minute goal to knock out Dundee United in the last round. The 22 year old is regarded as a flying winger and one of the hot prospects in the Irish Leagues. He was also a signing target for Dundee United at one point but he is content to remain at Seaview for now where he is scoring goals almost every week. Recent signing Darren Murray is also amongst the goals and scored a brace on his debut in the 3-0 win over Carrick Rangers. The former Warrenpoint Town striker feels he will benefit from playing at Crusaders as he will get more scoring opportunities. He has already notched 12 for the season. Check out this BBC Sport footage of their win over Glentoran. Crusaders v Glentoran From the Belfast Telegraph, defender Sean Ward said the players are relishing the chance to progress to another major final. "It's been a good competition for us and like every one we enter we want to go as far as we possibly can," said Ward. "We are confident we can beat Inverness, there is no doubt about that, but we will need to perform well. "We will give it our best. To reach the final will be special. Players want to play in finals, it's why we play the game and it's another massive opportunity to reach a big final. "After the disappointment of the League Cup semi-final and Irish Cup it's a welcome distraction for us. We will face a full-time Inverness outfit who will be good but we will give it our best and see if it's good enough." And manager Stephen Baxter added:- "This Inverness game is a break away from the relentless pressure and tension of the league games. It's a big game of football but it will be a nice break for us. "We will give a good account of ourselves. We won the Setanta Cup which was a huge lift to everyone and reaching an IRN BRU semi-final is a big feather in our cap as these are the best teams in our islands." Inverness have stuttered somewhat in recent weeks and have also dropped out of the Scottish Cup with a 1-0 defeat to Premiership side Dundee after a replay. That was our last game (30th Jan) as the weather saw the Dundee United game postponed. We were idle last weekend as we were not involved in the Cup and had no game arranged. Before the Dundee game we lost 3-1 at Falkirk in the Mulraneygate encounter. We were comfortable until Jake saw red and once we were reduced to ten men we lost the plot like Jake. We are lingering in no-mans land at the moment in seventh place in our own Championship. Team News It's been a slow news fortnight in the Highlands football wise, but here are the last known team line-ups for both squads. Carl Tremarco is still injured and Nathan Austin is cup-tied, otherwise Robbo should have a full squad to choose from. Inverness (v Dundee) : Ridgers, Mckay, Warren, Donaldson, Calder (Mackay 83), Chalmers, Vigurs, Polworth, Bell (Mulraney 67), Doran (Baird 67), Oakley Crusaders (v Glentoran) : Jensen, Ward, Burns, Coates, McChrystal (Beverland 46), Lowry, Forsythe, Heatley, Owens, Murray (Caddell 78), Whyte (Cushley 88) More detail and Robbo chat can be found on the Official Preview. From the Crusaders website:- Any Crusaders supporters going to the Irn Bru Cup Semi Final on Sunday against Inverness Caledonian Thistle are asked to gather at the ICT Social Club at 28 Grieg Street where a bus will transport you to the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium for the game. If you are there for 3.45pm Norman Coleman will have a "gift" for you as a thank you for travelling to the game so please do not miss out. It will be worth it and it is a gesture for your making it to the game to get behind the lads on the pitch. I'll make no prediction on this game as I have never seen Crusaders play before. However, given their win over Dundee United and their current form in the Irish Premiership then I would expect them to be an accomplished side well capable of troubling an Inverness side in indifferent form and during our rebuilding process. It will be a first for Inverness to be playing an Irish side and a welcome break from the somewhat turgid games we have witnessed in the Championship. Crusaders come over with an exciting free scoring side and we should be in for an entertaining match. Anyway, welcome to the Highlands of Scotland and I hope you enjoy our national drink, it's made from girders you know, although made with less sugar now. SlΓ‘inte............ It's not great quality, but here's how Dumbarton got into the final. Two cracking strikes to win it.
  14. Over and Out. This seasons Scottish Cup run was short lived when an efficient Dundee came North and stifled our creative players after the break to score an early second half goal through Scott Allan to win this replay. There was nothing between the sides in the first half, but once Dundee opened the scoring they never looked back as we offered little in the way of a goal threat until a final flourish once Daniel Mackay entered the arena. He at least managed to make Parish work in the Dundee goal. We can't be faulted for effort, but all too often the final ball was not there and too many players wanted an extra touch or passed the buck when a shot on target might have been more beneficial. It was a swirling blustery and somewhat wet evening that greeted the players onto the park in front of 1746 hardy souls who were mostly looking for a cup upset. Inverness had Iain Vigurs and Liam Polworth re-instated to the midfield after suspension along with Aaron Doran and bad boy Jake Mulraney benched. Daniel Mackay and John Baird also began on the bench. Dundee had Celtic target John Hendry in the starting XI and were looking for Sofien Moussa and Leitch-Smith to provide the goals with Scott Allan the driving force in midfield. A tentative start saw both sides probing for an opening but little came the way of the strikers with defences on top. That theme continued for 45 minutes. The strong gusty wind and driving swirling rain saw both sides struggle to get the upper hand and the first half passed everyone by. Half Time 0-0 The second period was just two minutes old when Dundee surged forward after an Inverness attack broke down. A-Jay Leitch-Smith did the spadework and Scott Allan supported him and placed the ball beyond Mark Ridgers low into the corner of the net. Poor play from Inverness in attack and the defence backed off as Dundee went forward giving Allan the opportunity to pick his spot. Dundee took control from that moment and should have increased their lead on a couple of occasions but for some wayward finishing, good goalkeeping and some good fortune on our behalf. AJLS was looking lively and he missed the best chance after a scrambulation in the box when two or three chances should have been put away. The woodwork and keeper doing their best to deny the Dundee forwards. Ridgers made two or three excellent stops to keep us in with a chance of snatching a late goal but we ran out of ideas all to quickly and most forays forward ended in wayward passes or defenders blocking the crosses before they became chances. Daniel Mackay came on and forced Parish to concede a corner which was as near as we came to scoring, but as I said, too little too late and Dundee deserved their shot at the next round. Full Time 0-1 Ultimately disappointing exit after matching Dundee for a game and a half. They looked sharper on the ball, especially in the second half, and the movement of their front players was dragging our defenders around creating the space for them to exploit, something that we never quite matched. Inverness were best served by Coll Donaldson who is a class apart, Iain Vigurs (1st half), Daniel Mackay who livened proceedings and goalkeeper Mark Ridgers who made some remarkable saves and who knows how he kept the ball out of the net after the 10 second stramash. He is my MotM for tonight. Wonderful moment of light relief in the first half when the steward confiscated the young teams siren effect gadget thingamyjig. It sounded like a police car siren and as the steward marched it along behind the goal over to the main stand, siren wailing and blue lights flashing. The siren could be heard disappearing into the distance with images being conjured up of the head steward trying to switch the damn thing off below the stand as the siren baffled the morons. That was the brightest moment of a dull first half. Highlights or lowlights.................. Robbo agrees................. Date: 30/01/18 Venue: Caledonian Stadium Attendance: 1746 Referee: Stephen Finnie Inverness CT: 0 Lineup: Ridgers, Chalmers, Warren, Polworth, Doran (Baird 67), Vigurs, Oakley, Calder (Mackay 83), Bell (Mulraney 67), Mckay, Donaldson Subs (not used): Esson, Seedorf, Trafford, Brown Scorers: none Booked: Doran (45), Oakley (60), McKay (65), Vigurs (78) Sent Off: none Dundee: 1 Lineup: Parish, Kerr, Waddell, Hendry, Holt, Allan, O'Hara, Kamara, El Bakhtaoui (Spence 46), Leitch-Smith, Moussa (Deacon 84) Subs (not used): Malherbe, O'Dea, Aurtenetxe, Wolters, Lambert Scorers: Allan (47) Booked: Hendry (36), O'Hara (62) Sent Off: none a
  15. Dundee Replay. After their winter break Dundee come North looking to put Championship side Inverness Caledonian Thistle out of the Scottish Cup. The first tie ended in stalemate and the prize up for grabs is a home tie against Premiership side Motherwell. A precautionary pitch inspection is planned for Tuesday lunchtime to see if the pitch is holding up after recent drookit weather of biblical proportions. Inverness went to Dens park and justified Robbo's faith in his own side when he said it would not be a shock to him should Inverness progress into the next round. Well, it never quite went to script but we earned a replay with a deserved 2-2 draw. Neil McCann was blaming rustiness for his sides failure to get through at the first time of asking. Aaron Doran started the scoring and Dundee replied through Sofien Moussa and Mark O'Hara before George Oakley knocked in the late equaliser to send the tie to a replay. Since then, we have been to Falkirk in the Championship, and with a depleted squad through injury and suspension, we lost 3-1. We had fared pretty well until Jake Mulraney went berserk. A booking just before half time, another dubious tackle seconds later then yet another crude challenge gave the referee no other option but to send the nutter packing. We often complain about poor refereeing, but I'm afraid this was all Jake's doing. He let the team, manager and support down, but more importantly he let himself down. Robbo will be introducing stricter discipline rules within the club and that is no surprise as that was our eighth red card this season. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. He's not the first this season that has let the side down, let's hope he's the last though. On the bright side, youngsters Daniel Mackay and Jack Brown came on against Falkirk and combined to score a brilliant goal, Mackay superbly finishing off a brilliant assist from Jack Brown. Dundee have played twice since the cup draw. A home game against Hibs in the Premiership on Tuesday night and an away game at Hamilton on Saturday. They went down 1-0 to Hibs and McCann was left furious by refereeing decisions going against his side. Aye, tell us about it Neil. They fared better at Hamilton after a very late goal in time added on to the time added on gave them all three points. It was hyphen man AJ LS that got the winner with Mathew Henvey getting Dee's opener after Hamilton had benefited from an og from Mark O'Hara who sliced the ball into his own net. Pity he could'nt do that against us in the first game instead of running half the pitch and smashing the ball into the net, meh! Hamilton were undone by a sending off as well, David Templeton trying to outdo Mulraney for the fastest two yellow cards of the season. John Hendry has been attracting the attention of other clubs and Dundee are reported to have turned down a bid from Celtic for the talented young defender. Another one about to be paid a lot to sit on a bench probably. James Vincent, he of Caley Thistle Scottish Cup fame has left Dundee and gone to Dunfermline on loan. This is what the draw looks like at present. You would imagine Hearts, Falkirk and Fraserburgh will join Brora for the fifth round games. Would be a shame not to get that opportunity to join them, so it's all to play for on Tuesday night....... Inverness should have Iain Vigurs and Liam Polworth back after suspension. Jake Mulraney's suspension will be for the next Championship game, although Robbo was raging after the Falkirk game and he might be punished by the club and miss out. Tremarco is a long term absentee. Nathan Austin was missing, presumed injured still, against Falkirk. We need someone with a bit of flair to create the opportunities for Oakley and Bell, let's hope he has recovered for this game, but it's doubtful. Dundee are beginning to find their feet again as Neil McCann steadies the ship. He is looking to bring Toni Martinez in from West Ham. The Spaniard has scored 12 goals for the Hammers under-23's this season, although McCann reckons he might be out of their league. Hendry may be included after missing the first game through manflu. This lad has plenty quality and was missed in the first encounter. tm4tj prediction:- With our midfield taking on a more familiar look with Vigurs and Polworth returning that will give us a better balance in the engine room. Aaron Doran will feature in this one after not being risked at Falkirk on the artificial surface. Strong shouts for youth to get their chance after Daniel Mackay scored his second for the Caley Jags. Maybe not in this one with Dundee up for it, but surely in coming games he will be slowly introduced. AJ -LS is getting amongst the goals and will be a test for our defence once more but with Coll Donaldson playing well for us we might be able to keep him and Sofien Moussa quiet. Another tough game to call and it might take extra time and penalties to separate the sides. If we can keep eleven men on the park, we should be a match for the bottom six clubs in the Premiership. When we plumb the depths, we are barely a match for the Highland League clubs. I'll go for us to oust the Dark Blues, but given our recent shady performances, it's anyone's game. ICT after extra time, Motherwell (at home) here we come.
  16. Closing in on a play-off position Inverness recorded their first win over Queen of the South this season with a comfortable 3-1 scoreline. First half goals from Iain Vigurs and Joe Chalmers gave us a deserved lead and Aaron Doran added a third after the break. As we eased off, Queens came more into it and got their consolation when Owen Bell headed a fine goal with five minutes left. This win pulls Inverness level on points with the Doonhamers and within striking distance of the two teams above us although we have played more games than most. Still, it's a healthier position than we were in a few months ago. Carl Tremarco missed out through injury as did Nathan Austin. Riccardo Calder slotted in at left back with Brad Mckay on the opposite side. Collin Seedorf and Jake Mulraney were fit enough to make the bench. The Doonhamers had the firepower of 35 year old Stephen Dobbie up front and youngster Owen Bell starting on the bench. On loan Rangers defender Myles Beerman was on the bench along with him. Striker Chris Kane was making his final appearance for Queen of the South before returning to St Johnstone. The 23 year old has now made 24 appearances for the Doonhamers scoring five goals and has benefitted greatly playing alongside the vastly experienced Stephen Dobbie. The frost of the previous days had relented and it was a brisk day, a tad chilly but nonetheless a decent day for a game of footy. Just over two thousand two hundred fans made the effort to get to this game and they were treated to an excellent start by the hosts who came out of the blocks with all guns blazing. The two previous meetings this season produced no goals but Inverness were looking to carry their excellent form from the Falkirk game into this one. Queens were confident their excellent away form would continue. The opening moments were a taste of things to come and captain Gary Warren had a header saved in the second minute as Inverness pressed from the off. The keeper did well to tip his powered header onto and over the bar. Moments later from the resultant corner Iain Vigurs placed a header into the keepers top right corner as he kept a cool head when a loose ball presented itself to him. Great goal and what a start to this game. Dobbie and Polworth exchanged efforts at either end as the game opened out but it was Inverness that were in control and it was no surprise when a second goal came along, although it was all done in slow motion. Joe Chalmers gathered a ball on the edge of the box and his scuffed effort deceived everyone, including the fans in the North Stand. It wrong footed half a dozen players and an unsighted keeper to roll gently into the bottom corner with Leighfield scrambling frantically across his line to no avail. Take that and a first for Joe Chalmers. We saw out the half comfortably and our attacking endeavour should maybe have reaped more, but Queens got away lightly. Half Time 2-0 Gary Naysmith no doubt got them to up their energy levels after the break and with Inverness content to hold what they had Queens came more into it, Stephen Dobbie coming close. However, when we broke forward we always looked dangerous and Aaron Doran knocked home a third after Polworth crossed into the box from the right. Dobbie tried his luck again but his curling effort was mopped up easily by Mark Ridgers as Queens began to believe in themselves and we gave up ownership of the midfield. Beerman and Kerr went close as well but most of the work Queens were doing ended in hopeful efforts rather than guilt edged chances. Iain Vigurs was yellow carded in bizarre fashion. Shaun Rooney went down when tackled and the ref blew for a foul, albeit a soft one. After the players exchanged pleasantries Rooney shoved Vigurs over. As is the norm these days, the ref calls them both over and booked Rooney then Vigurs. Seems to me that getting pushed over is a bookable offence. How odd. Mark Ridgers saved a rasping effort as Queens went looking for a goal and we began to look a little edgy at the back but we weathered the storm and it probably was more comfortable on the park than it was watching from the stand. John Baird had an effort saved but Queens got their reward for not giving up when a superb Beerman cross was briskly headed high into the net by Owen Bell. Inverness responded and Oakley almost restored the three goal cushion but he shot across goal and wide of the mark. Full Time 3-1 Fantastic first half again for Inverness. Some really tidy play and a thoroughly deserved win. Coll Donaldson was once again immense, he is some player for a big lad, but for me, he was outshone by Riccardo Calder who doubled as a full back and left winger. Great shift again from Calder who is my MotM. There was some wonderful play all over the park and George Oakley is turning out to be a useful front man using his upper body strength to good effect. Unsung hero Joe Chalmers has come onto a game over the last couple of months playing on the left midfield side. Without the shackles and constraints of defending, the big loon has come into his own and scored a goal into the bargain. Iain Vigurs, despite his booking tally reaching it's limits, was a class apart in the first half and himself and Polly are beginning to create plenty for the strikers. No failures yesterday and competition for starting berths is hotting up. So, we are starting to pick up pace and are now pushing for a play-off position, well deserved given our recent form. Scottish Cup game at Dundee next week followed by an away trip to Falkirk. Goals highlights from Caley Jags TV Robbo delighted. Gary Naysmith was honest as usual accepting his team were second best. Here's what he had to say. Date: 13/01/2018 Venue: Caledonian Stadium Attendance: 2209 Referee: Alan Muir Inverness CT: 3 Lineup: Ridgers; Mckay, Warren, Donaldson, Calder, Polworth, Vigurs (Trafford 78), Chalmers, Doran, Bell (Baird 72), Oakley Subs (not used): Esson; Seedorf, Mulraney, Mackay, Brown Scorers: Vigurs (3), Chalmers (29), Doran (58) Booked: Mckay (21), Vigurs (74), Donaldson (76), Sent Off: none Queen of the South: 1 Lineup: Leighfield; Rooney, Kerr, Brownlie, Mercer, Murray (Fergusson 63), Thomson, Rankin, Dykes (Beerman), Dobbie, Kane (Bell 71) Subs (not used): Martin; Akubuine, Gourlay Scorers: Bell (85) Booked: Dykes (41), Rooney (74) Sent Off: none
  17. Is there a goal at the third time of asking? After the big win on Tuesday night, it's Gary Naysmith's Queen of the South that come North looking to keep Inverness out of the play-off zone on Saturday with a 3:00pm kick off. It's the third time the clubs have met this season in the Championship and both previous games had the same outcome, no score draws. The first one at Inverness saw Queens get the better of a 0-0 scoreline but with Inverness content on sorting out their defensive frailties, it beckoned the start of a new defensive era, one where we stopped shipping comedy goals and started to build from the back. The return game at Palmerston was closer in terms of superiority but the result remained the same. Inverness got their shooting boots on in midweek with an excellent win over the Bairns. Oakley, Bell, Mulraney and Baird all scored to banish the narrow defeat at Paisley to the recycle bin. It was a swashbuckling performance in the first half that saw the Bairns blown away as Inverness consolidated their mid-table position. Jake Mulraney was in sparkling form, his pace was awesome and let's hope he recovers from his knock to make a start on Saturday. Queens had a fruitful visit to Livingston and came away with a 1-0 win to jump over them in the League, albeit on goal difference. Chris Kane was the man that made the difference with a first half goal. The clubs are more evenly matched in terms of goals scored and conceded than they were the last time they played. We have started scoring and shored up the defence and have closed the goal difference gap to four. Queens (for 33 against 27) Inverness (for 26 against 24) Carl Tremarco is back on the injury list with a suspected hamstring injury, the heavy pitches and busy schedule being blamed for his problems. He will be scanned before the extent of the injury can be gauged. Jake Mulraney was also subbed against Falkirk as a precaution after taking a knock. No David Raven to call on now, but Riccardo Calder did well when he came on against the Bairns, both in defence and going forward. Collin Seedorf is an option but he is another coming back after a recent injury. Up front Nathan Austin could return after his niggle at Paisley although he missed the Falkirk game. Queens have had recent injury problems of their own and will be looking to get back to full strength before some of their loan players return to parent clubs. James McFadden has left the club looking to play abroad. This was their team that played in the 1-0 win at Livingston that saw Queens jump into fourth place in the Championship:- Martin, Rooney, Brownlie, Kerr, Mercer, Murray, Thomson, Rankin, Dykes, Kane, Dobbie (Bell 90). tm4tj prediction:- Any club with a natural goal scorer like Stephen Dobbie has to be taken seriously. Despite the lack of goals in the earlier tussles, there is plenty of players on both sides capable of knocking one in. We had three strikers scoring against Falkirk and Mulraney notching his first for Inverness. So things are looking up. I'll take our in form strikers to get more goals in this one and edge closer to the top zone. In case you missed it, here are the goals from the Falkirkgame with all three strikers scoring.
  18. Bairns Battered Inverness stunned Falkirk with a superb opening forty-five to end this contest with three first half goals. George Oakley, Connor Bell and a sublime first for Jake Mulraney gave the visitors too much to do and they never recovered from that opening spell. Louis Longridge scored a consolation looking suspiciously offside but John Baird quickly restored our three goal advantage to end the game. John Robertson had Iain Vigurs back after suspension but Nathan Austin missed out through injury. With David Raven now departed, Brad Mckay was shipped out to right back with Gary Warren back in the heart of defence alongside Coll Donaldson. George Oakley started with John Baird on the bench. Paul Hartley came North buoyed by his sides 6-1 thrashing of Championship contenders Dundee United with Louis Longridge in the starting XI. Tom Taiwo missed out through injury. Oakley was yellow carded early for an alleged dive, I'm not as convinced as the referee John Beaton. However, Inverness went ahead after only ten minutes. Iain Vigurs won the ball deep and fed Liam Polworth. He drove forward before sliding a great ball into the path of the electric Jake. Oakley then benefited from Mulraney's pace and direct ball into the box, the striker bundling the ball in from close range. The visitors tried to force their way back into the game, mainly due to some wayward passing from the home defence, but their shooting left a bit to be desired. Gary Warren earned a booking for a cynical type of foul after losing his man in the final third, Joe Chalmers would earn his card for a similar foul later in the game. The free kick drifted wide with Ridgers watching. Warren would be more constructive soon after, popping up in the visitors box and bringing out a tremendous save from Robbie Thomson from ten yards when a shot found him unmarked close to goal. The hosts would not be denied though as we forged a path through the Falkirk players from our own left back position. the ball was transferred swiftly with Polly travelling again before feeding Jake who in turn teed up Bell to notch number two. Fantastic break from defence into attack involving six players. Two minutes later and the Bairns were in disarray. Another ball from the back showed Oakley use his strength to turn his marker on the halfway line. He played on to Jake who skipped forward before curling a beauty behind a stunned Thomson with his left peg from just outside the box. 3-0 at the Interval and even the home fans were stunned. Half Time 3-0 Inverness were obviously wary of a backlash from the Bairns and we were content to relinquish territory and possession and hit on the counter. That worked well for most of the half with Falkirk only having a couple of efforts wide of the mark although Ridgers was called upon to make a smart save when a loose ball was cracked goalward. It was the only moment of real concern until Longridge lifted a ball over him when he was sent clear behind our high line. It looked offside but hey ho. Two minutes later, and the final goal came When substitute Aaron Doran broke down the left flank. He measured a cross onto the head of fellow substitute John Baird who gleefully nodded into the empty corner of the net. Full Time 4-1. What a surprisingly fabulous result for Inverness, their best win of the season against last weeks surprise package, Falkirk. The confidence boosting statistic is that three different strikers scored and electric Jake got his first goal for the club in the Championship. Some great performances. Iain Vigurs ditched his bad boy nonsense and oozed class in the first half. Jake Mulraney was magnificent with his searing pace and scored a super goal before coming off injured in the second period. Riccardo Calder came on and was a revelation at left back after Tremarco went off injured. At one point, one of the Falkirk players had to pay to get back into the ground as Riccardo left him bamboozled and bewildered. Great skills from the wing back. However, my MotM goes to the ever confident Coll Donaldson who must surely be getting right up the Arabs noses with his stylish displays since joining Inverness. That win has us closing in on the play off slots and another win at the weekend over Queen of the South will do us no harm at all. It also keeps Falkirk away from us just now, so all good. FromFalkirk TV Robboe delighted..... Date: 09/01/2018 Venue: Caledonian Stadium Attendance: 2014 Referee: John Beaton Inverness CT: 4 Lineup: to follow Subs (not used): to follow Scorers: Oakley, Bell, Mulraney, Baird. Booked: ???? Sent Off: none Falkirk: 1 Lineup: to follow Subs (not used): to follow Scorers: Longridge Booked: ???? Sent Off: none a
  19. Weather Permitting............. We will try and play Falkirk again at the Caledonian Stadium on Tuesday night with a 7:45pm kick off. There has been heavy frost for a few nights now on top of a pretty wet surface and a pitch inspection has been called for 11:00am on Tuesday morning to see if the game will go ahead. Inverness went down 1-0 at Paisley over the weekend despite creating plenty of opportunities to get something from the game. Both managers agreed it could easily have been a draw but with 20 goal Gavin Reilly in your side, it was St Mirren that took all three points whilst our goal shy strikers, (using the word loosely), squandered everything that came their way. However, Robbo was not too despondent given the effort they put in and the chances created but admits a bit of quality in front of goal would not go amiss. Unfortunately Nathan Austin lasted less than ten minutes before pulling up with what appears to be a slight hamstring injury. George Oakley, John Baird and Connor Bell all missed from decent positions, that's been a familiar pattern this season. Conversely, Falkirk went goal happy and absolutely thrashed Dundee United 6-1. What was so unusual about that scoreline was the fact that the Bairns were the lowest scorers in the league prior to this game. Only twelve goals from eighteen games - that equates to 2/3 of a goal per game. Billy King had the temerity to put United ahead, but goals from Peter Grant and Reghan Tumilty before the break and a double from new signing Louis Longridge after as well as strikes from Tommy Robson and Lewis Kidd ended the humiliation for title contenders United. That really was a bolt from the blue but could be just what the Bairns needed to kick start their season. Despite that crushing win, Falkirk are still seven points adrift of Inverness, have scored less, and conceded more. Since the 0-2 League Cup defeat up here, we have drawn 0-0 at Falkirk and won the IrnBru tie 1-0, which shows that we have improved from a slow start to the campaign. This game has been postponed a couple of times already, here's hoping the weather relents a bit. Inverness missed the control of Iain Vigurs at the weekend through suspension but he will be included in the squad for this one. Nathan Austin pulled up during the Paisley game and will miss out. Coll Donaldson also missed the weekend game after being injured against Brechin City. Falkirk welcomed Louis Longridge into their squad and they got instant payback when he scored twice against the Arabs. Along with Longridge, Tommy Robson, Andrew Nelson, and Reghan Tumilty all started against United and their squad is now unrecognisable since the start of the season when little went right. It would appear that Paul Hartley is slowly starting to turn things around which is bad news for the teams above the Bairns. tm4tj prediction:- despite our loss at the weekend, there was enough on display to suggest we were close to getting something out of the game against the leaders. Since the defeat to Falkirk in the League Cup, it was clear that they were not the force they had been in previous seasons and we have upped our game as well, especially in defence. We will do well to keep our distance from Falkirk and that might be the game plan. I'm going for a scoring draw with a home win as second best bet. If you like goals and seeing Dundee United getting thrashed, here's the seven goals from United's destruction at the weekend.
  20. Time for Vigurs to grow up. For the third game in a row, Inverness were reduced to ten men after Iain Vigurs got a second yellow for an attempted overhead kick. However it was the circumstances surrounding the first yellow that leaves a nasty taste in the mouth and something our talented midfielder needs to grow out of. Many felt that his sending off changed the game. We were leading 1-0 at the time after Aaron Doran drilled in the opener, but Livi levelled in the second half when Alan Lithgow headed home unchallenged. John Robertson made a few changes to the starting XI, some enforced and some to freshen up the side. Carl Tremarco missed out through suspension and Colin Seedorf through injury. John Baird paid the price for his lack of goals and George Oakley started. Connor Bell made way for Aaron Doran and captain Gary Warren returned to the defence. Brad Mckay was the right back and Joe Chalmers filled Tremarco's boots. Nathan Austin began on the bench with David Raven who would make his last home appearance for the Caley Jags later in the game when Chalmers had to leave the field through injury. It all started so well for Inverness and Aaron Doran scored in the sixth minute with a low shot placed beyond the keeper from within the left side of the box. It was starting to look good for the hosts and a Doran cross/shot bounced off the crossbar as we searched for a second goal. Liam Polworth was booked for fouling Josh Mullin in the 36th minute. Iain Vigurs poked his nose in and was also foolishly booked and that would lead to his dismissal later in the game, just before the break. Gary Warren had a header saved as we pressed hard then in the 43rd minuted after a scramble in the Livi box Vigurs was shown a second yellow followed by a red for his attempted overhead. The Livi defender doing the dying swan act obviously caught the referee's attention and that was sufficient to see Vigurs head for an early bath. Livi were nowhere to be seen in the first half, but that sending off would change the shape of the game and ultimately the outcome. Half Time 1-0 Robbo reacted at the interval by removing Jake Mulraney and fitting Ricardo Calder in at left back and moving Joe Chalmers into the space vacated by Vigurs' departure. That would change again when Chalmers had to leave the field and Raven ended up at left back with Calder moving into midfield. Down to ten men for the third game in a row is something that Robbo needs to look into and the flow of the game began to swing towards Livi now as we reshuffled. However, we still looked dangerous on the break and should have scored a second when Trafford burst into the box only for his cross to fall awkwardly for Doran and the moment passed without him getting a clean shot away. Livi were seeing plenty of the ball but most of their crosses were mopped up by the home defence and keeper Mark Ridgers. Just when it looked as though we might hold out for all three points, Livi equaised. Raven and Calder combined to give away a free kick on the Livi right. When Raffaele De Vita swung in the ball it was Lithgow who climbed first to head past Ridgers as our defence watched on. Liam Polworth almost scored after the restart when he gathered a ball just outside the box but his curled effort just shaved the side netting on it's way past the post with the keeper beaten. We did manage another couple of moments around the visitors box after the introduction of Nathan Austin who seems to have the abiity to drift past defenders as if they were not there. Surprisingly, we almost lost the game in injury time when Dale Carrick skied a shot over when it looked much easier to at least hit the target and thus endedeth the match. Full Time 1-1 Iain Vigurs needs to have a word with himself. Having an abundance of skill is no use to anyone when you are taking an early bath. There is no doubt in my mind that his sending off cost us two points and the chance to climb the table next week. Nathan Austin looks a tasty addition and Aaron Doran took his goal well. Mark Ridgers was fairly comfortable all afternoon and will be disappointed in the defence at the goal. Chalmers went off injured as well and that will be another midfielder missing for the next game with Vigurs needlessly out. David Raven played his final home game coming on around the hour and got a good send off at the end as the fans chanted his name. Difficult to pick a MotM in this one with so many playing in unfamiliar roles. I'll go for Gary Warren who returned to the heart of the defence and made some crucial tackles and blocks as Livi used their extra man to good effect late in the game. However, it's not a point gained but two dropped when others around us were drawing, so Vigurs, think about your actions next time for the good of the team and not your own inflated ego. You let your team mates down today. If I'm honest, it's not just today as he has been booked far too many times for petulant immature actions all too often. Tough game next week away to St Mirren who were held to a 1-1 draw by Morton today. Video footage and match reaction to follow....... Date: 02/01/2018 Venue: Caledonian Stadium Attendance: 2239 Referee: Greg Aitken Inverness CT: 1 Lineup: Ridgers; B Mckay, Donaldson, Warren, Chalmers (Raven 58), Polworth, Trafford, Vigurs, Mulraney (Calder 45), Oakley, Doran (Austin 70). Subs (not used): .Esson; Baird, Bell, Cooper. Scorers: Doran (6) Booked: Vigurs (36), Polworth (36), Calder (81) Sent Off: Vigurs (43) Livingston: 1 Lineup: Alexander; Lithgow, Halkett, Gallagher, Longridge, Byrne, Mullin (Todorov 66), Cadden (Carrick 58), De Vita, Mackin (Robinson 66), Pittman Subs (not used): Knox, Malley Scorers: Lithgow (82) Booked: Gallagher (41), Halkett (84) Sent Off: none a
  21. New Year, New Striker? Livingston are the first footers on 2nd January 2018 at 15:00 as we look to build on our hard fought away win at Brechin in the final game of 2017 when we came from behind to win with ten men. An upset looked to be on the cards after we squandered an early lead at Glebe Park. Jordan Sinclair scored from the spot then volleyed home a tremendous second before the break to give Brechin some hope. Substitute George Oakley levelled the game but Carl Tremarco picked up a second yellow, therefore a red to give the hosts some impetus. However, some baller skills from big Coll ended up with Oakley tapping home his second and the winner to give us all three points which might have been harsh on Brechin, but showed some real determination from Inverness and that was not lost on Robbo in his post match reaction. Livi had a break before the bells when their game with Dunfermline was called off, one of six SPFL games to fall foul of the weather. Their previous game saw them thump Dumbarton 4-1 at the Rock, with goals coming from Craig Halkett, Scott Pittman, Dylan Mackin and Scott Robinson The current report card for Livi will show that they have made a tremendous start to life in the Championship and sit comfortably within the play-off positions at the end of 2017. However, more recent defeats to St Mirren and Dundee United and a draw against Falkirk have taken some of the shine off their results. Our own report card will show much improvement, but more required to make the play-off zone. Livi are third in the table on 29 points, four places above Inverness on 23 points. Defensively there is nothing between the sides, but Livi have the edge in attack with 28 goals to our 21. In fact, if you take Brechin out of the equation, then we would have only ten goals to our credit! Thank you Brechin City, call again. In the previous games this season, Livi came out on top in the first encounter winning 3-1 at the Caledonian Stadium when Todorov, Robertson and Halkett answered a Connor Bell strike. The return at the Pasta Place saw us draw 0-0 during our record breaking clean sheet run. So, we have improved, but a draw at Palmerston, defeat at Cappielow and a scrambled win at Brechin show we still have some way to go before we can consider ourselves candidates. David Raven could return after suspension in what could be his final game for the Caley Jags. Carl Tremarco will miss this one after being red carded at Brechin. Collin Seedorf is a doubt after being subbed at Brechin. New signing Nathan Austin could be in line for a start, but will have to climb over George Oakley to get it unless Robbo realises that scoring goals is not John Baird's best attribute and finally benches him. There's no doubting Baird's commitment, but scoring goals is not for him at the moment. Matt Elsdon and Big Susan look to be on their way out after failing to impress for whatever reasons. Nathan has plenty of style as you can see from this photoshoot. Welcome to the Caley Jags. Livi will have to do without the Mullen streak. Five goal striker Daniel Mullen signed for St Mirren on loan in mid-December and that will become permanent in January along with a five figure fee. Possible line-up for Livi: Alexander, Penrice, Lithgow, Gallagher, Halkett, Mullin, Jacobs, Byrne, Pittman, Boyd, Toderov or Makin. tm4tj prediction:- Let's not get too carried away after a stirring performance to beat Brechin. Yes, that's right, it was only Brechin. With Neil Alexander in goal, that makes it a more difficult task, and having Halkett, Pittman and Todorov in your side, goals are a distinct possibility. However, with results mainly on the up I will be looking for at least a point from this game. Anything less would be a severe setback to our aspirations and will have us looking over our shoulders once more. More info on Official Site
  22. I was there when John Baird scored. Inverness cruised to victory against bottom club Brechin City thanks to two early goals and another two later in the second half to secure a comfortable 4-0 win. Goals from Brad Mckay, John Baird, Connor Bell and George Oakley secured the points on a chilly winter night, the pitch heavy and proving difficult to move the ball around quickly. A crowd of 1801 braved the dropping temperatures to witness a rare occasion, a John Baird goal in this re-scheduled fixture, the first one being postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. Gary Warren returned to the bench with Brad Mckay re-instated alongside Coll Donaldson after his suspension. The disciplined Iain Vigurs was replaced by Charlie Trafford in midfield. Brechin were as expected, with Isaac Layne ploughing a lone furrow up front.The same man has the power to carry it off though and caused a few problems with his burly physique. There was almost a dream start for Brechin as a long ball forward sat up nicely for Connor McLennan on the edge of our box. Ridgers was caught in no mans land and a subtle lob left him stranded, but the ball bounced back out off the base of the post. A let off for Inverness before we got going and a warning we heeded. In the seventh minute we went ahead, Brad Mckay crashing a close range volley high into the net direct from a Polworth corner. Two minutes later and it was joy for John Baird. The striker had not scored for over a couple of months, but he capitalised on a defensive mix up by a pair of Smiths to squeeze the ball home from ten yards for number two after it broke kindly to him off the defender and keepers lack of communication. We dominated the half but the game went quiet, for long periods, akin to a Sunday afternoon kick-about. Isaac Layne made some powerful bursts, but Coll Donaldson and Brad Mckay were equal to him overall. Jake Mulraney was a menace to the visiting defence throughout and he was unfortunate not to break his duck on a couple of occasions. Half Time 2-0 Connor Bell headed in number three early in the half to put the game to bed and that allowed us to make some alterations with Aaron Doran getting more game time. Our intricate play was not helped as the heavy pitch deteriorated and made simple things difficult. Substitute Alex Cooper hit a ferocious shot that Keeper Smith did well to beat away but he was helpless when another sub, Goerge Oakley ran onto a tidy through ball from Trafford to flick it round the advancing keeper. Cool finish from Oakley who is beginning to look the part. As said earlier, Layne was the one Brechin player that looked mildly menacing but Ridgers was untroubled for the entire ninety minutes as he froze his bells off between the sticks. Full Time 4-0 A convincing win for Inverness against a side that drew with Dundee United at the weekend. Conditions were not conducive to silky football, and what skill was displayed came from the home side. Overall, an excellent win in what could have been a potential banana skin game. Best for Inverness were Brad Mckay, Jake Mulraney (first half) Liam Polworth, and my MotM Coll Donaldson. Good in defence, quick and willing to play the ball out of defence when required. Date: 28/11/17 Venue: Caledonian Stadium Attendance: 1801 Referee: Craig Charleston Inverness CT: 4 Lineup: Ridgers; Raven, Mckay, Donaldson, Tremarco, Chalmers, Polworth, Trafford, Mulraney (Cooper, 80), Bell (Doran, 63), Baird (Oakley, 63) Subs (not used): Mackay, Warren, Calder, Seedorf Scorers: Mckay (7), Baird (9), Bell (52), Oakley (87) Booked: Chalmers (57) Sent Off: none Brechin City: 0 Lineup: G Smith; McLean, Dyer (Lynas, 55), Dale, Graham, Layne, Watt (Sinclair, 70), Spark, McLennan (Orsi, 76), Crighton, E Smith Subs (not used): Fusco, O'Neil Scorers: none Booked: Dyer (12) Sent Off: none
  23. Still 693 and counting. With the Brechin game being called off in midweek, our next visitors will be a much more difficult proposition and the clean sheet record will be well tested. St Mirren are the next club attempting to breach our defence, something they managed four times in the previous fixture this season in Paisley. To be honest, the record, 693 minutes, is a welcome notch in the clubs history, but let's not let it detract from the job in hand. Three points is the aim in each match, clean sheets or not. The Brechin game fell foul of the weather on Tuesday. Constant heavy rain for hours on end scuppered any chance of the game going ahead as it got heavier as the day wore on. St Mirren went on a scoring spree last Saturday as they were involved in a Scottish Cup 3rd round encounter with Lothian Thistle Hutchinson Vale.The Championship side knocked in seven goals in the first half, with Gavin Reilly helping himself to four before being substituted in the 67th minute. The Buddies sit second in the table despite no wins in their last three. Draws against Falkirk and Morton and defeat at Tannadice has seen the Arabs hit the top, but St Mirren have a game in hand over leaders Dundee United who lead by three. St Mirren have scored 24 goals in their dozen games so far and have conceded 17. That's 11 goals more than us although we are one better off in defence thanks to our recent run of seven games without conceding. They got the better of Inverness earlier in the season by virtue of a 4-2 win. It rained goals in thirteen second half minutes. When the dust settled, it was the Buddies that took the points. Goals from Lewis Morgan, Gregor Buchanan, Cammy Smith and Ian McShane did the damage with John Baird and Liam Polworth replying for Inverness. John Robertson has Aaron Doran back after a two year injury hell. The wide player featured against Falkirk in the IrnBru cup and will benefit from more match sharpness as the season progresses. Jake Mulraney returns after international duty with the Irish u21 side where he scored a superb solo goal. Brad Mckay is suspended and that opens the door for a return to the heart of the defence for captain Gary Warren. Collin Seedorf and Zak Elbouzedi are making progress and could be included in the squad. Big Susie is still out. Jack Ross has Gary McKenzie's back in training but not available for this one. tm4tj prediction:- St Mirren have not fared as well away from Paisley where they have only dropped two points this season. Away from home they have lost three times which offers us a glimmer of hope. Our form has got better as the season lengthens. A win is a big ask, but we are well capable of matching the opposition. I'm looking for a narrow home win. More details are on the Official Site
  24. 693 minutes and counting. Bottom club Brechin City are next up for Inverness at the Caledonian Stadium on Tuesday evening with a 19:45 kick off scheduled. City are without a win this season from the twelve league games played and have only two points to show for their efforts. That has planted them firmly at the foot of the table and are no doubt the bookies favourites for automatic relegation. They have scored just eight goals and more importantly have conceded twenty-five. So, scoring 0.6 of a goal a game and losing just over two. That's the form that justifies their position at the moment. On the face of it, City have a lot to do. However, closer inspection shows that their last five league games were tight affairs only losing by one goal in each game. Those defeats were by St Mirren, Morton, Queen of the South, Livingston and Dumbarton. The Dumbarton game was particularly hard to take with the Sons scoring the winner in the 90th minute. And the icing on the cake; it was a Willie Dyer own goal. Brechin had a Scottish Cup game at Buckie on Saturday and were 2-1 down at the interval. Jordan Sinclair had scored a leveler in the first half and substitute Isaac Layne equalised again on the hour. Layne scored the winner with four minutes left. It may only have been Buckie Thistle, but that was a tremendous and much needed confidence booster for Brechin, and Isaac Layne will be one to watch when they come North on Tuesday night. He may just have played himself into the starting eleven for Tuesday. Inverness are on a record breaking run at the moment. Seven games without conceding has seen us edge our way up the table. Still a long way to go, but what a transformation from our opening couple of months. Defeat at Dumbarton on 23rd September with Gary Warren red carded saw us only two points better off than Brechin and morale at an all time low. we started the record breaking run with a hard fought goalless draw against Queen of the South. It was not a classic, but a determined effort and the team were under strict orders to keep Queens at bay. It worked and things have looked up ever since. It's great credit to Mark Ridgers and his defence that we have continued that run. Coll Donaldson is doing so well at the moment that captain Gary Warren can not get back in the side just now. Long may it continue. The manager of the month curse has not struck yet and our last game saw us beat Falkirk 1-0 in the IrnBru cup quarter final. Our previous game was a 0-0 at Livingston. A far cry from the beating we took in Inverness by Livi two months earlier. Robbo has one or two more players available since the break. Aaron Doran was a surprise substitute against Falkirk. He had played in a charity game at Dingwall, as did Collin Seedorf and Zak Elbouzedi. The injury list is shortening, though the returning players may well need more fitness training before being rushed into a full match. It was great to see Doran back on the park after his two year injury hell and he will be like a new signing when he is fully fit. Jake Mulraney missed the cup game against Falkirk but is available after playing with the Ireland u21 side where he scored a confidence boosting spectacular solo goal. Brad Mckay is suspended which paves the way for Gary Warren to return to the heart of the defence alongside Coll Donaldson. Darren Dods starting XI at Buckie was: Smith, Crighton, Fusco, Smith, McLean, Watt, Graham, Dale, Dyer, Orsi, Sinclair. On the bench were Love, Layne, O'Neil, Lynas, Spark, O'Neil. tm4tj Prediction:- Brechin are not the soft touch that their league position suggests. However, having defeated them twice already this season I would expect us to eventually be too strong for them. Comfortable home win after grinding them down. Maybe we can continue the clean sheet run as well, that would be a bonus, but it's the three points that are important here. Jake Mulraney should come back into the starting line-up and that will give us plenty pace up front. He and Connor Bell were starting to form a willing partnership and a couple of assists for Bell from Jake were sowing the seeds for the future. The Scottish Cup draw has given us an away tie at Premiership club Dundee in January. On Sunday 26th November, Hibernian will be the challengers for our youth squad in the 4th round of the Scottish Youth Cup. Admission is free, so come along and support the young team. The game kicks of at 13:00. Watch Jake Mulraney goal from 30 seconds in to this highlights................
  25. Bell ends the contest Inverness eased their way into the semi-final of the IrnBru Challenge Cup thanks to a second half goal from striker Connor Bell, his fifth goal of the season. In doing this, we also established a new record for consecutive clean sheets. That's seven in a row now. By my calculations, that's 693 minutes of play without conceding, give or take a minute or two. Fantastic effort guys. Alex Cooper replaced Jake Mulraney who was on u21 international duty. For Falkirk, Kevin O'Hara began his eight match suspension and Nathan Austin, Alex Harris and James Craigen all started. Chances were at a premium in this tight contest but after a dogged first half, Inverness gradually got on top and their presence in the Falkirk half eventually paid off when the ball broke to Bell after a headed clearance cannoned off the back of John Baird into the path of Bell. He steadied himself before firing through Robbie Thomson to score the only goal of the game. Inverness were able to see out the game without too much fuss. Falkirks best moments came in the first half when Coll Donaldson cleared one off the line and Myles Hippolyte fluffed a couple of good opportunities. Carl Tremarco was voted MotM on Alba TV, Connor Bell got the vote from the match sponsors, but there were a few worthy winners. Aaron Doran was a surprise inclusion on the bench and he got on the park for the final twenty minutes. Great to see the wee winger back on the field after his horrendous injury problems over the last two seasons. The draw for the semi-finals will take place on Tuesday. Included in this are Crusaders from Northern Ireland, Dumbarton and the winners of Sunday's tie between Welsh league side New Saints and Queen of the South. Robboquote:- "The players are now playing for the name on the front of the jersey rather than the name on the back". Falkirk Manager Paul Hartley felt his side were a bit unfortunate. Highlights from Falkirk TV The BBC Alba broadcast of the game can be seen on iplayer for the next six days ICT -V- Falkirk Date: 11/11/2017 Venue: Caledonian Stadium Attendance: 1078 Referee: Euan Anderson Inverness CT: 1 Lineup: : Ridgers, Raven, Tremarco, Chalmers, Polworth, Baird (Oakley 79), Vigurs, Bell (Calder 86), Cooper (Doran 71), Mckay, Donaldson. Subs (not used): Cameron Mackay (GK), Warren, Trafford, Daniel Mackay. Scorers: Connor Bell (57) Booked: Bell, Tremarco Sent Off: none Falkirk: 0 Lineup: Thomson, McGhee, Muirhead, McKee (Loy 63), Austin (Dunne 71), Hippolyte, Longridge, Harris, Balatoni, Craigen (Blues 84), Watson. Subs (not used): Mutch (GK), Grant, Gasparotto, Gallacher. Scorers: none Booked: Craigen Sent Off: none a