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  1. Cup of Cheer In a pulsating Cup derby Aaron Doran put the visitors ahead with a fantastic goal after thirteen minutes, firing home from range. It remained that way at the interval but substitute Ross Stewart pulled the tie level soon after coming on. Brad McKay lashed Inverness ahead but Josh Mullin squared it in time added on to send this tie to a replay on Tuesday 19th February. The draw took place after this game and here are the fixtures. Aberdeen v Rangers/Kilmarnock Dundee United v Inverness /Ross County Partick Thistle v Hearts Hibs v Celtic ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Inverness boss John Robertson sprang a handful of surprises by giving starts to recent injury victims Mark Ridgers, Tom Walsh, Coll Donaldson, Carl Tremarco and Aaron Doran. Jordan White would spearhead the attack. Shaun Rooney made the bench along with Nathan Austin, and Darren McCauley. County's former Inverness players Billy Mckay and Ross Draper started for County along with Kenny Van Der Weg. The effervescent Michael Gardyne would be the provider with Brian Graham the target man. Josh Mullin and Declan McManus were on the bench. A cagey opening few minutes as both sides jockeyed for position was ended when Billy Mckay dipped an angled volley over the bar after five minutes. Inverness responded by winning a corner but the ball to the back post produced nothing and Michael Gardyne looked to be the danger man for the hosts as he forced a corner at the other end after a good run forward. Jamie Lindsay drilled a deep cross wide of the target from the corner. A bit of a midfield battle ensued as the sides struggled to get to grips with the game and Liam Polworth won a free kick as Van Der Weg handled on the edge of the box. Joe Chalmers forced Fox into an excellent save as he curled low to the near post, however the visitors kept the ball around the County box, and when Aaron Doran latched onto a headed pass forward from Tremarco some 25 yards out. He turned and whipped a vicious half volley low behind the outstretched Fox for a superb opening goal. Gardyne broke into the box after 25 minutes but his shot was blocked at the expense of a corner. Gardyne took it himself but Mark Ridgers came out to gather the cross confidently. Gardyne was at it again and his floated cross caused problems but was turned behind for a corner which Ridgers gathered again. It was Gardyne against Ridgers now and Mark turned a stabbed effort behind for a corner, diving low to his right. Inverness broke forward and Tom Walsh almost emulated Doran's strike but Fox made a brilliant diving save to deny Walsh a second Inverness goal. County were racking up the corners after a Brian Graham shot was deflected wide but again it came to nothing better than a free kick for the visitors. A ball forward saw Fox have to block from Tom Walsh as the Inverness wide player sped into the box and flicked the ball goalwards. A few moments later Walsh saw an effort deflected for a corner as the Caley Jags pressed for a second goal before the break. Yet another great break forward by Doran who fed Brad McKay but the wing back saw his cross cut out for a corner. As Inverness gathered momentum once more, the first half drew to a close with the visitors on top. Half Time 0-1 There were no changes at the interval and County would be playing towards the Jailend after the break, and that usually inspires them to greater things. Scott Fox had to make an unorthodox stop to deny a piledriver from Carl Tremarco, the keeper eventually keeping the ball out with his knees as the ball fizzed goalwards. Great effort from Tommy. Ross Stewart replaced the ineffective Brian Graham and within a couple of minutes he drew County level after some untidy midfield play saw Gardyne drive the ball into the box where Stewart volleyed home. Doran spurned a glorious chance to put Inverness back in front but he mistimed his header and sent it wide when he should have hit the target. It was end to end stuff now in typical derby cup-tie fashion. Liam Polworth flashed a powerful shot towards the County goal that was head deflected for a corner. From the resultant corner Brad McKay found the ball at his feet a few yards out and he smashed it high into the net. Walsh broke down the left but his shot was a bit ambitious and it went well wide. County won a free kick just outside the box after Chalmers upended the dangerous Gardyne, but after the shot was blocked County were penalised and the danger was over. Carl Tremarco was having a magnificent game at the back and was putting his body on the line time and time again as County threw balls into the box, but the wee man stood firm. Substitution for Inverness as Doran was replaced by former Coleraine player Darren McCauley as Ridgers mopped up another ball into the box. Almost a chance to get a third as a ball is flicked into the six yard box but it runs through to Fox. And as the rain started to fall a mistake at the back by County let Walsh speed forward. He lashed a shot to the top corner but Fox pulled off another great save to deny the Inverness man. Shaun Rooney had replaced the injured Coll Donaldson by now and we re-jigged at the back with Brad moving inside. A loose ball some 30 yards out found Chalmers but it was wasted and McManus wasted an effort at the other end. They would not be denied though as our defence parted and Substitute Josh Mullin squeezed the ball through the exposed Ridgers in time added on. A dangerous free kick by County was wasted as they looked to get ahead in added time with Inverness now hanging on a tad, but the late comeback by County was just enough to earn the Dingwall side a replay as time ran out. Inverness were best served by Aaron Doran, Tom Walsh, Coll Donaldson and Jamie McCart, but none better than Carl Tremarco. The biased Bill Dodds gave the TV MotM to Michael Gardyne who was undoubtedly County's most influential player. Another frustrating night for Inverness who have held the upper hand in all four derby's this season with little to show for it. On BBC Sport:- Inverness CT manager John Robertson: "It's just about being street-smart. They stopped. "You just keep defending but they've let Josh Mullin through and he's scored. That sums up our season. We've been in the lead and given away a goal at the end. We now have a replay to play so we'll just get on with it. "We felt we were getting close to that third goal which would have finished the game off. We didn't see where their goal was going to come from. That's the difference. That's why we're fourth in the league and County are top." Ross County co-manager Steven Ferguson: "We always felt there would be one more chance in the game. Josh is well onside and does great to finish it. "The players never know when they're beaten. Sometimes it's not pretty and you have to put your shoulder to the wheel and the players deserve all the credit for that. "I don't think either us would have wanted a replay. We're delighted we're still in the hat." Robbo after the event.............. Date: 11/02/2019 Venue: Global Energy Stadium, Dingwall Attendance: 2800 Referee: John Beaton Ross County: 2 Lineup: Fox; Fraser, Boyle, Watson, Draper, Lindsay (McManus 86), Van Der Weg, Gardyne, Spence (Mullin 67), Graham (Stewart 55), Mckay. Subs (not used): Munro; Grivosti, Murray, Wallace, Scorers: Stewart (55), Mullin (90+1) Booked: Watson (68) Sent Off: none Inverness CT: 2 Lineup: Ridgers; B Mckay, Donaldson (Rooney 80), McCart, Tremarco, Chalmers, Walsh (Trafford 85), Polworth, Welsh, Doran (McCauley 77), White Subs (not used): C Mackay; McHattie, Austin, MacGregor, . Scorers: Doran (13), B Mckay (65) Booked: Welsh (25), Chalmers (77) Sent Off: none a
  2. CUP DERBY AGAIN How about that, another chance to relive the 2012 Highland derby cup game at Dingwall where many a pundit had the game all over after 93 minutes when Richard Brittain put the Staggies ahead. Butcher's boys had other ideas and Richie Foran had the last laugh when he knocked in the equaliser two minutes later. Inverness would go on to win the replay at the Caledonian Stadium. That game saw Billy Mckay score a superb volley to open the scoring for Inverness. Rocco Quinn levelled with a dipping 20 yard strike. Inverness went back in front when Mckay's shot deflected off Foran's bottom. He made an arse of a few things did Richie, but he had the cheek to get that one right. Bad boy Iain Vigurs restored parity when his effort took a massive deflection to go up and over the keeper and into the net. Foran's equaliser did not best please Derek Adams, the Inverness support were delighted though. Of course it's just past the 19th anniversary of the Parkhead SuperCaleywentballistic evening when we put Celtic out of the Scottish Cup on their own patch. We would go on to put them out of the cup twice more since then and go on to win the trophy, something County have yet to achieve. County are looking like title favourites in the Championship and have taken five points out of nine in the derby's this season with Inverness managing only two despite dominating for large parts in all three games. Inverness look like they might hang on to the final play-off position in fourth place. That seems to be our best option given our smaller squad. However, this is cup football and anything can happen as Ellie Goulding would say. Home advantage won't count for much as the Inverness travelling support at Dingwall is always very vocal and committed to the cause. Injuries have disrupted our climb up the league of late and our display against Partick Thistle last weekend was nothing short of criminal. An error strewn first half gifted Partick a two goal cushion that we never quite managed to overhaul. Other results below us meant we remained in fourth place. County sit top of the table by three points after a 2-1 win at East End Park, goals by Billy Mckay and Michael Gardyne overcoming a half-time deficit. John Robertson will be hoping that his injury list is shrinking. Mark Ridgers could return to action and Coll Donaldson will be looking to start this week after playing 45 minutes against Partick. Tom Walsh could be a surprise inclusion to the squad. Darren McCauley got off the mark against Partick but is maybe not up to full speed yet. Aaron Doran missed out last week as did Daniel Mackay. I suspect Iain Vigurs won't feature after his misdemeanour at an Inverness nightclub, allegedly. One of his bosses will be joining him in the stands as Stuart Kettlewell has a six game ban for his disgraceful behaviour at Greenock. What on earth are they teaching them in Dingwall? County have a riches of depth to their squad and any missing players will be easily replaced. Here's Mark the goalie talking ahead of the cup clash...... We are ahead already. Crossbar Challenge, we'll take it. Robbo's no speaking to the fans, so here's Scott Kellacher.........
  3. He scores when he wants. Unfortunately it's not Billy Mckay but Moussa Dembele as the Celtic striker scored back to back hat-tricks to add to goals from Mikael Lustig, Kieran Tierney and Scott Brown. A not unexpected result and Richie Foran has enough on his plate to worry about after this crushing defeat. As expected, Owain Fon Williams returned to the sticks and Brad Mckay moved into central defence as Foran made two changes from the side that started against Dundee last week. Patrick Roberts missed out as Liam Henderson started for the Scottish Champions who were without Leigh Griffiths and Stuart Armstrong at a less than packed Parkhead. Tremendous start by Inverness inside the first minute as David Raven almost slipped Mckay in after Billy had made good ground down the left and at the other end Liam Henderson fired wide. The opening exchanges were sprightly with both sides having a go and Inverness looking composed on the ball. Ten minutes in and Celtic gradually began to impose themselves on the possession stats with the visitors content to keep them at bay and look for the counter opportunity. Neither keeper had been asked to work in the first fifteen although there was plenty of enterprising play on show, mostly from the hosts as Inverness struggled to hold on to the ball. Twenty minutes gone and Mikael Lustig opened the scoring from close range, brilliantly controlling a through ball from Nir Bitton and slipping it behind Fon Williams. A bit harsh on Inverness who had coped well up to that point. The free kicks were flowing now for Celtic as Inverness tried to stem the flow and the Bhoys were taking full advantage of this causing the Inverness defence plenty of problems but unable to make Fon Williams work. It was constant Celtic pressure now as Inverness failed to link play to the forwards. Ross Draper picked up a booking after a couple of robust challenges as Inverness forced a corner down the left and another as the defence cleared. Warren was adjudged to foul from the second set piece. Iain Vigurs was rightly booked for a clumsy tackle on Dembele to be the third naughtyboy, Carl Tremarco being the first, and as the interval approached we were coming out of our shell and entered the Celtic half a couple of times before the already booked Vigurs offended again. Warren became the fourth villain for upending Dembele who was causing all sorts of problems as he drove at the defence time and time again. A minute before the break Dembele squeezed the ball over the line, Fon Williams failing to keep out his low shot as it crept over the line after James Forrest had skinned Tremarco down the right flank. Fon Williams was on the bench last week for exactly that and it was a disappointing goal to lose. If the plan was to give Celtic total dominance, it was working well as we approached the interval, but with two goals in it, the Caley Jags still had some interest in the cup, albeit very faint. Despite their superiority, Fon Williams had little to do other than pick the ball out of the net twice. Half Time 1-1 Game over just after the break when Dembele slotted home with composure from ten yards. Super save from Fon Williams soon after as Celtic threaten a cricket score and Billy King leaves the pitch through injury with Jake Mulraney entering the field. No fairytale this time for Inverness as Celtic turned the screw and memories of Feb 8th 2000 were quickly erased as Dembele easily notched his hat-track after being set up by Forrest. Forrest was the provider again as he teed one up for Kieran Tierney to nod home and the icing was on the cake when Scott Brown lifted the net off the rigging with a thunderous shot to end the scoring. Full Time 6-0 Oh dear, that went well! A thrashing for Inverness but we have bigger fish to fry with a relegation battle to be won. Nothing we could do about this with Celtic rampant and Dembele in fine form. James Forrest was the architect of most things as Inverness were done by his pace time and time again. It was always on the cards and the killer blow was the soft goal on the stroke of half time that OFW will not want to see again. In fairness he was maybe partially sighted and he just could not get down quick enouh as the ball agonisingly crept under him and over the line. Inverness MotM. Jake Mulraney who looked like he should have been on from the start. The rest need to take a long hard look at themselves. Iain Vigurs was lucky to stay on the park as he pushed the boundaries a few times after being booked. If he wonders why the fans are giving him a hard time, then look no further than his contribution today. It's not a day for criticism though as Celtic were simply too good. All the best players on the park were in green and white hoops. If you can face it, footage of the drubbing can be seen on the BBC Sport website Date: 11/02/17 Venue: Celtic Park, Glasgow Attendance: 25577 Referee: Kevin Clancy Celtic: 6 Lineup: Gordon, Lustig, Boyata (Toure 88), Sviatchenko, Tierney, Bitton, Brown, Forrest, Henderson (McGregor 65), Sinclair, Dembele (Ciftci 81) Subs (not used): De Vries, Izaguirre, Gamboa, Mackay-Steven Scorers: Lustig (20), Dembele (44, 50, 59), Tierney (86), Brown (91) Booked: Lustig (72) Sent Off: none Inverness CT: 0 Lineup: Fon Williams, Raven, Warren, Brad McKay, Tremarco, Draper (Cole 63), Tansey, Vigurs, King (Mulraney 53), Anier, Billy Mckay (Ebbe 63) Subs (not used): Hoban, Polworth, Fisher, Boden Scorers: none Booked: Tremarco (29), Draper (35), Vigurs (37), Warren (42) Sent Off: none a