Tag Archives: Inverness Caley Thistle

Match Preview – Dundee United vs Inverness Caledonian Thistle

We won a game! We actually won a game of football! What made it even more incredible was that we fell behind and actually managed to claw our way back into the game and emerge victorious!

Lets be honest, the 3-1 win against Queen of the South was a bit of a surprise for most but hopefully it might spark a bit of life back into the league campaign with Livingston and Morton sharing a point at Cappielow. It would be great if the season actually ended up being interesting until the very end rather than it fading out into nothingness.

I wasn’t at the game in Dumfries but I did listen to the match commentary on ArabZone and despite a poor opening 20 minutes it felt like once we settled things down and started to put Queens under a bit of pressure we ended up controlling much of the match. It didn’t sound like the most exhilarating performance in the world but we did enough to get a vital 3 points on the board after such a long layoff. The big challenge now is to take advantage of the fact that our next three games are all at home and they all happen over a period of seven days. If the team can emerge from this mini-run of home fixtures with at least 7 points then it puts us back into contention for second place and the vital advantage that would give us in the playoffs.

Moving on to the game against Inverness the most exciting thing about it is not the fact that it is our first home game since the 27th of January but that it might mean a debut for Bilel Mohsni. Fans were left hanging in Dumfries as despite reports of his inclusion he did not make the squad and was simply left to sit in the stand wearing a tangerine bobble hat. If we can manage to beat Queen of the South 3-1 without him in the team can you imagine the unstoppable force we might become with him in the heart of the side (this last bit should not be taken seriously). The other exciting news is that we have finally signed a proper right-back. The arrival of Anthony Ralston from Celtic on loan should be seen as a very good piece of business. The highly rated fullback will be here until the end of the season and could become a key player for us.

A real plus against Queen of the South (and previously against Livingston) was the performance of Matty Smith. The youngster turned 21 on Tuesday night and he celebrated with a fantastic double. It is quite fitting that despite a raft of January signings (who have yet to make an impact) it was left to one of our own talents to make the difference when it mattered. Hopefully Smith can get a run of games and he can inspire some of the other younger players to push for first team places.

It wouldn’t be too much of a surprise if it ends up as pretty much the same team on Saturday but there is a bit doubt about some of the substitutes for the visit of Inverness. You would assume that it might be the same starting eleven (with the addition of Ralston). We should also see Emil Lyng, Jordie Briels and, potentially, Bilel Mohsni pushing for spots on the bench. The full squad will need to be used over the coming weeks but I think you can expect a similar team for at least the first few fixtures in this chaotic schedule.

My predicted team for tomorrow –

GK – Harry Lewis

 

RB – Anthony Ralston

CB – Mark Durnan

CB – Tam Scobbie

LB – Jamie Robson

 

CM – Paul Quinn

CM – Willo Flood

 

RM – Matty Smith

CAM – Sam Stanton

LM – Billy King

 

ST – Thomas Mikkelsen

 

Subs – Deniz Mehmet, Scott McDonald, Emil Lyng, Paul McMullan, Bilel Mohsni, Craig Slater, William Edjenguele.

Key Player – Matty Smith – It was incredibly refreshing to see a young United player make the difference on Tuesday night. One thing we have missed in the last 18 months or so is the emergence of any genuine talent from the Development side. With Matty smith now 21 years old he should be at an age where he can begin to stake a claim for a starting jersey. He is a physical and confident player who could be the surprise success story of the season if he continues to play as well as he has been.

Match Preview – Inverness Caledonian Thistle vs Dundee United

Another easy week at Tannadice….

Where shall we begin? First of all there was the most abject of abject performances against Greenock Morton. This was immediately followed by the manager and the first team spending nearly two hours in the changing room after the match. Since the weekend the players and manager have revealed that they had a bit of a ‘Q&A’ amongst themselves with Csaba Laszlo asking the squad to come up with some suggestions as to how to improve the team’s fortunes. I hope that hunger, desire and commitment were on the suggestion list. The big announcement yesterday was the news that Stephen Thompson is to resign as Chairman at the end of the season. The crucial point in this however is that he will remain as majority shareholder along with Mike Martin. The long-term effect of this is unclear at the moment but in terms of being the figurehead for the club Stephen Thompson’s days are numbered. Today, even more bizarrely, the club have been linked with some kind of tie-in with a club in the new 3rd tier of American ‘soccer’. Within all of this we also signed someone! Midfielder Grant Gillespie has joined under freedom of contract having left Hamilton.

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Moving on to the match on Saturday we surely, surely must see some sort of reaction from the United team. Our away record points to the fact that we might not get this and this is also complicated by the fact that Inverness are actually pretty decent at the moment and will be keen to repeat the victory they achieved in October. Our title hopes have all but been extinguished but the team must now focus on ensuring that at the very least we hold on to our 2nd position and if, by some miracle, St.Mirren start dropping points then at least we are keeping in touch with top spot.

Not a huge amount of team news for Saturday but it looks like Tam Scobbie is back and Paul McMullan will return to the team after his suspension. New signing Grant Gillespie should go straight into the squad after declaring himself match-fit. The only other changes may be as a result of Laszlo making alterations due to the abysmal performance against Morton. He doesn’t have a huge opportunity to rotate but we might see two or three changes.

My team against Inverness would be –

GK – Harry Lewis

 

RB – Stewart Murdoch

CB – Mark Durnan

CB – Tam Scobbie

LB – Brandon Mason

 

CM – Grant Gillespie

CM – Craig Slater

 

RM – Paul McMullan

CAM – Sam Stanton

LM –  Billy King

 

ST – Thomas Mikkelsen

 

Subs – Deniz Mehmet, Jamie Robson, Willo Flood, Logan Chalmers, Scott McDonald, Emil Lyng, Idris Kadded.

Key Player – Paul McMullan – After a couple of weeks out of the team it is important that McMullan turns in a performance to show that he deserves to be in the team. He can provide a huge amount of creativity going forward and the team are desperate for more goals.

 

Scottish Championship Mid-Term Report Card – Inverness Caledonian Thistle

It is always difficult trying to re-adjust after a relegation (as Dundee United found out last season) and for Inverness the same pressure was in place during the summer as they knew that they would be playing in the Scottish Championship. I don’t think it is unfair to say that for a long time now Inverness have been punching above their weight. That is not say that they are not a Premiership sized club but their budgets are much smaller than many of their counterparts (including now in the Championship). It is a big challenge to plan and attract new players when you don’t have the lure of top-flight football or the ability to pay big wages. Having sacked Richie Foran after a disastrous spell in charge (plus for his terrible beard) the board moved to bring back John Robertson as head coach in the summer. nintchdbpict000348189927.jpgMany, myself included, thought that his appointment would end in disaster. Bizarrely he didn’t even apply for the job but was offered it due to connections on the board. I don’t particularly like clubs that re-visit previous regimes but Inverness seem to do it more than most. It also doesn’t help that the boardroom situation at the club is in a bit of a mess. People seem to be coming and going on the board which does not help with stability, especially in a difficult period such as this. It has also been suggested in recent weeks that the future of the club could be in jeopardy due to the current stadium deal (link).

As for the team on the park well Robertson, who last managed the club nearly 15 years ago, got off to a pretty disastrous start after winning only one of his first seven games. However, as if by magic, on the 30th of September a 0-0 draw at home to Queen of the South seemed to kick some life back into their season. Since that game Robertson’s men have only lost twice in twelve and have managed to shore up their defence (breaking a club record for consecutive clean sheets in the process). They are still way short of a finished article but they seem to have a decent momentum behind them. Games against St.Mirren, Falkirk and Dunfermline in quick succession in January will go a long way to show how far Robertson has improved this team since the start of the season.

January Wishlist – Just like a few teams in this division Caley are crying out for some firepower. They have secured the services of Nathan Austin who was released by Falkirk but they will need another one striker at the very least. Furthermore, with the departure of long-serving David Raven they will definitely need another reliable right-back to take his place.

Player of the Season (so far) – I have noticed a few Caley fans singing the praises of Mark Ridgers this season and it seems as though he has definitely improved as a goalkeeper. However for player of the season so far I can almost feel my fingers hurting as I type this. DQxhiLQUQAE-SsbTo be honest any Dundee United fan reading this report will have this down as one of the greatest pieces of fiction ever written, but my pick for the best player for Inverness so far is……..Coll Donaldson. Yes, Coll Donaldson. The world is a weird and wonderful place.

The central defender has found a new lease of life at Inverness and has put in some terrific performances during his spell at the club. He has recently signed a contract extension and will undoubtedly be keen to continue to prove the haters wrong (mainly United fans).

Predicted Finish – 4thI’m taking a gamble here but I have faith in Inverness finishing in the last playoff spot. I’m not sure what it is but I think they have reason to galvanise as a squad and they seem to have found a bit of purpose recently. Much will depend on two or three quality additions in January but for me I think Robertson’s side have more about them compared to others who will be fighting it out for 4th spot. I’ve probably jinxed it now but I do think that they will have just about enough.

Manager Grade – B. John Robertson. Even thinking about him as a football manager again still makes me feel a bit odd. He was out of coaching for five years and got the job despite not applying for it but yet he has managed to do something good in recent months otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about a possible 4th place finish. Are Inverness where they are because of Robertson or in spite of Robertson?

Overall Grade – C.  I’m not really sure what to make of Inverness, and I am sure that some of their fans probably think the same. If you are a diehard Caley fan then this season has been really difficult. Beyond the relegation itself behind the scenes things are not healthy and you wonder if another season in the Championship may make things even worse. Who knows what the future may hold for this club but at the moment there does not seem to be much good will towards the board and the prospect of what may happen in the coming months. On the pitch things are a bit more stable after a shaky start and it may be the case that in a few months time the fans will have at least the playoffs to look forward to. In many ways, more than most in this division, the next few months will be huge for this club.

Football photo of the day…SPFL Roundup Week 3

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After a hectic and eventful set of midweek fixtures it was a case of keep calm and carry on for Hearts, Aberdeen, Celtic and Dundee who all continued their fine start to the season. Sidess are now beginning to show their worth as the season begins to pick up pace and a total of 25 goals were scored on Saturday as every single team took to the field . For some it has been a very positive first few matches but for fans of sides like Kilmarnock, Dundee United and St.Johnstone there has been little to shout about. The biggest surprise of the weekend came at New Douglas Park as a previously goalless Hamilton side destroyed Dundee United 4-0. With some behind-the-scenes issues at Tannadice in the headlines the pressure is really beginning to build on Jackie McNamara. His odds of being the first sacked manager of the new season fell significantly at the weekend…

Full results –

Celtic 4 – 2 Inverness

Dundee 2 – 1 St.Johnstone

Hamilton 4 – 0 Dundee United

Motherwell 1 – 2 Aberdeen

Partick Thistle 2 – 2 Kilmarnock

Ross County 1 – 2 Hearts

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Highlights

Player – This week it is praise for one of those unsung heroes. Dundee’s Nicky Low produced a fine midfield display against St.Johnstone, one that included two assists. The summer signing will feel as though he never really established himself at Aberdeen so he will see this season as an opportunity to finally make his mark.

Performance/Result – Definitely has to be Hamilton’s wonderful performance against Dundee United. Having not scored a single goal so far this season they played some lovely football and completely outclassed a lacklustre United. Will this be a result to kickstart their campaign?

Goal – After securing a dramatic point midweek you would have assumed that James McPake had finished scoring for the season but on Saturday he managed to pull off a wonderful acrobatic volley straight from a corner that just about gives him the tag ‘goal machine’.

Controversy – A fairly quiet week in terms of decisions however Ross County might feel slightly hard done by after Heart’s defender Igor Rossi was allowed to stay on the park after conceding a penalty up in Dingwall. Had he been sent off it could have changed the game but it was a tough call by the referee who only produced a yellow. Elsewhere, although it wasn’t a refereeing decision the signing of Scott Allan by Celtic has certainly caused some lively debate on Twitter!

Football photo of the day…SPFL Roundup Week 2

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Week two of the Scottish Premiership season saw three teams maintain a 100% record but piled further misery on Kilmarnock supporters. The Killie fans travelled to Aberdeen knowing that they were likely to lose against everyone’s ‘best of the rest’ side and their fears were realised as they fell meekly to a strong Dons team. Even this early in the season there are doubts as to how they will collect points from week to week. Elsewhere Dundee United bounced back after an opening day defeat against Aberdeen as they collected all 3 points against a Motherwell side who would have felt a little disappointed at not getting anything out of their game at Fir Park. Dundee and Hearts served up the weeks most intriguing and entertaining game at Dens, with the Edinburgh side picking up a massive three points against a strongly fancied Dundee team.

Full results – 

Dundee 1 – 2 Hearts

Motherwell 0 – 2 Dundee United

Ross County 2 – 0 Hamilton

St.Johnstone 1 – 1 Inverness

Partick Thistle 0 – 2 Celtic (Sunday)

Aberdeen 2 – 0 Kilmarnock (Sunday)

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Highlights

Player – Hearts have found a player in striker Juanma. The summer arrival scored in the opening fixture against St.Johnstone and won the game for Hearts against Dundee. An impressive solo goal capped off a fine performance for the Spaniard as he grabbed a brace at Dens. It already looks like he will be a key player for Hearts this season.

Performance/Result – After the turbulent times of last year it was a very impressive Ross County performance and result at home against Hamilton. The Staggies have undergone yet another squad transformation this year and this was their first real test. A 2-0 home win against a side who will be considered one of their rivals this year was the perfect start to their home campaign.

Goal – A couple of strong candidates this week. A bizarre but pretty fine finish from Tom Rogic for Celtic was up there, as was the strike by the very talented Ryan Christie for Inverness in Perth. My favourite finish of the week though was from the impressive Graeme Shinnie. Scoring his first goal for Aberdeen the fullback took his goal very well, showing off his technique and ability. Already he is proving to be a great signing for the Dons.

Controversy – A couple of penalty claims and incidents had a few people talking this weekend. At Dens we had a handball decision that led to a penalty for Hearts and at Firhill we had a handball decision that was ignored by the referee. Both were as a result of a defender jumping to head the ball but both were under slightly different circumstances. At Dens it was James McPake who was the guilty party and although some have claimed it wasn’t a penalty the fact that he was facing the ball and it had been floated in meant it probably was the correct decision (and I am not just saying that as a United fan!). With the incident in Glasgow it was a case of a close range ball in the air and although Mikael Lustig had his hand up he was facing away from the ball and had no way of purposely handling it. The decision to ignore the claims was probably justified in this case but it is one of those incidents that would have been given on another day.