Appearances & Goals To Date
|Youngest Player:||David Proctor (23 years 283 days)
|Oldest Player:||Ian Black (2009 years 130 days)|
|Average Player Age:||27 years 64 days|
|Domestic Players:||10 (90.91 % of starting eleven)|
|Youngest Player:||Iain Vigurs (19 years 219 days)|
|Oldest Player:||Phil McGuire (2009 years 130 days)|
|Average Player Age:||27 years 163 days|
|Domestic Players:||17 (94.44 % of matchday squad)|
First Team Debuts
Sponsor's Man of the Match Marius Niculae grabbed his first ever goal in the SPL just before half-time, and then scored another in the second half as Caley Thistle maintained their dominance over Hibernain at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium.
Hibs have not won, or even scored at the stadium in more than three years and we are delighted to say the only scoring duck that was broken today was Marius' SPL one ....
Craig Brewster sent out the same starting line-up for the second week running, and this was hardly surprising given how successful we had been in taking 3 points from Dundee Utd the week before.
From the off it was obvious that this game was going to be played at a tremendous pace and with both teams opting to keep the ball down and passing it about then we could be in for a pretty entertaining 90 minutes of football.
With our formation of 5 across the middle Hibs were finding it hard to find a gap through to the goal and the first shot of the game came in 8 minutes as a result of a free kick after Black had fouled Donaldson. Murphy had decided to shoot direct from 20 yards out but the curled ball was easily taken by Fraser.
Players on both sides were finding conditions underfoot a little difficult to cope with as the surface appeared a little greasy. This was resulting in some mistimed and clumsy challenges from everyone and it was such a challenge that lead to McGuire getting a yellow card on the 12 minute mark.
The action was being played out mostly in the middle of the pitch with neither team doing much to trouble the opposition’s defense. Roy McBain managed to get a shot on target in 17 minutes but it lacked pace and was easily gathered for the save.
Things looked like they were about to go sour for ICT on 25 minutes when Fletcher managed to find himself through one on one with Fraser. Fraser had been quick to react and had pushed out off his line to cut down the angle. Fletcher attempted to play the ball into the right hand corner but Fraser managed to make contact and parried it to safety.
Hibs seemed to be caught in the frustrations of the miss and ICT got the ball forward quickly. Rankin spotted the keeper off his line and sent in a lob from 25 yards out. Had it been anyone other than Makalamby then the ball would have found the net, but the towering keeper managed to recover and used his height to great advantage in tipping the ball over the bar.
The resulting corners saw ICT apply the first real period of pressure that any team had shown, but despite a 12 yard drive from Niculae they were unable to convert it in to a goal.
Fouls conceded within range at both ends offered opportunities to get the scoring underway but neither team were able to capitalise.
Caley Thistle were relying heavily on playing on the counter, a result of the lone striker role being filled by Niculae and the midfield sitting a little deeper than many of us would have liked to have seen.
However, it was just such a play that saw Rankin play a defense splitting ball on to the edge of the box for the on rushing Niculae. Makalamby found himself committed and a long way off his line and Niculae made sure this was punished. For all his height there was no way the Hibs keeper was going to manage to get a hand on this one as it was coolly lobbed over his head and in to the back of the net.
Given his frustration in the goal department since arriving at ICT it was hardly surprising that Niculae was over the moon to finally see one go between the sticks and he was joined in grand celebrations by his team mates as the Home Support roared from the stands and the final 4 minutes of the first half played out without much to report on.
Half Time – Inverness CT 1 v 0 Hibernian
Conditions hadn’t improved much when teams took to the field for the second half and I come to realise (not for the first time) that the trade off for a better view in the main stand is often having to suffer the full force of the brass monkey weather that comes hurtling along the Glen.
Collins half time talk seemed to have sparked a little more urgency into the Hibs squad and they looked the brighter for the opening spell. Despite this the Caley Thistle back line seemed to be holding strong and it was 10 minutes in before Hibs managed to get a shot away when Donaldson should have done better than to shoot wide from the edge of the box.
Makalamby seemed to be pushing his luck a lot when it came to collecting and distributing the ball and not for the first time in the match it looked like he had deliberately handled the ball outside his area. Fortunately for him, this was something that all three officials seemed blind to despite calls from the fans on each occasion.
Collins decided to make some early substitutions on 56 minutes when Stevenson and Morais were replaced by Beuzelin and O’Brien. O’Brien getting an early welcome from Proctor with a heavy challenge only moments after stepping on to the pitch.
Duncan shot narrowly over on the 60 minute mark and the return play saw Donaldson’s shot saved…shortly after Fraser pulled of another great save when Kerr managed to get a shot on goal from 12 yards. The clearance wasn’t the best and Donaldson found himself in a bit of a scuffle on the edge of the box before getting his shot in. The ball came off the underside of the bar before bouncing and being collected by Fraser. Hibs players were claiming that not only should it have been a penalty for Donaldson being pulled down, but that the shot had crossed the line…fortunately for us the linesman and referee disagreed and play was waved on.
Fraser had come under a bit of unfair criticism from the North Stand in our last game at TCS but the cheers this week were “There’s Only One Mikey Fraser”…what a fickle lot we really are!!!
The ICT dugout signalled that they wanted to make a substitution and Bayne was ready to take to the pitch. Niculae looked prepared to make way and had even gone so far as to roll his socks down. Much to his surprise he was not the man being hooked, and nobody could have faulted his effort if he had been, but it was a none to happy McBain who was waved from the field.
The philosophy seemed to be that the best form of defense was attack and by bringing on the second striker this prevented Hibs being able to push so many men forward without leaving themselves exposed at the back.
Black, Rankin and Cowie all had efforts on goal in the next 15 minutes of the game demonstrating just how important they are to this squad in terms of providing an attacking midfield option.
However, it was that man Niculae who was to prove deadliest again on 77 minutes. He tee’d up his first shot at goal with his left foot, but despite it heading wide it was blocked and fell back to him, this time he took it on his right and made no mistake when sending it in to the bottom left corner beyond the reach of the outstretched Makalamby.
Noubissie and Black had been having a right battle in the middle of the park the whole game with the smaller of the two men not giving an inch to his Hibernian rival. Black had taken a few knocks and almost come off worst in a couple of the encounters so it would have come as a relief to see Noubissie being replaced by Antoine-Curier on the 80 minute mark.
The temp of the match had been high since the first kick of the ball and neither team seemed willing to let up as it continued in to the final 10 minutes. Russell Duncan had taken a knock and tried to continue but it wasn’t happening and he signalled to the bench that he needed replaced…Wilson coming on to relieve him.
Hibs were pushing forward desperately in an attempt to claw the game back which was leaving them a little more exposed at the back. Every time they came at us we were ready to hit them on the counter it was an end to end affair for the final minutes of the game.
Niculae came close to securing his hat trick, and it would have been well deserved had he not gone inches wide in the final play of the game.
All in all a great team effort with every ICT player getting full marks for effort and commitment. With Tokely due back from suspension and Wyness hopefully available soon after problems with a hamstring then Brewster will be facing problems in terms of team selection as we head towards the festive fixtures. These are the kinds of headaches that no manager would ever complain about.
We face Celtic next week, a match which we would have been dreading a month ago when things weren’t looking to good. However spirits are high among players and fans and I for one am thoroughly looking forward to the clash. Like a Pheonix from the ashes…Tulloch Caledonian Stadium is one again re-establishing it’s Fortress Status….long may it continue.
Match report written by CaleyD