Graham Bayne, Barry Wilson and Dennis Wyness were all on the scoresheet tonight as Caley Thistle eased through to the next round of the CIS League Cup with a 3-0 victory over Gretna at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, but it could so easily have been more.
Bayne opened the scoring in 21 minutes and goals in 67 minutes from Barry Wilson and in the 80th minute by Dennis Wyness sealed the victory.
Malkowski made his full ICT debut between the sticks for this fixture, and despite one slight lapse of concentration in the first half, seemed to deal with whatever came to him and cleared his lines well. Graham Bayne, also playing for the full 90, linked well with Brewster up front and put the home team in front midway through the first half, and deservedly so. The midfield of Wilson, Duncan, Cowie and Morgan produced some great flowing football and were quick to track back when called upon. Munro, and Tokely, alongside the returning Stuart McCaffrey and Richard Hastings, made for a strong back 4 which Gretna found hard to break through. Ian Black, Roy McBain and Marius Niculae were to be rested for this tie, with Fraser warming the bench alongside Wyness, McDonald, Proctor and John Rankin.
Gretna, shooting towards the North Stand in the first half, produced the first attack of the game when Brenden McGill sent in a cross towards Colin McMenniman, only to be met by a solid defensive set-up. From then on it was all Inverness, and the fans certainly played their part. Barry Wilson made some mazy runs, swapping passes with Craig Brewster with some classy 1-touch football. Wilson was also on hand early on with some decent corners, creating many problems for goalkeeper Gregg Fleming.
Inverness made the most of some sloppy play by the Gretna defence, who conceded 5 corners in as many minutes after constant pressure. Don Cowie and Barry Wilson providing an array of quality deliveries into the box, and a 21st minute header from close range was enough to put ICT into the lead. Graham Bayne scoring in his first game since returning from injury.
At first, Gretna seemed to try and create an equaliser, but the final pass seemed to elude them some what. Hogg and McGill were unable to get a decent enough cross in for the front pairing of McManniman and Buscher, and Malkowski was set for a trouble free evening in the ICT goal.
Inverness started to play very well leading up to half time - the goal obviously a boost to them - and created an opening for a second goal. Don Cowie, settling nicely in his role on the right flank, read the game superbly, and sent in a superb cross towards the far post for Alan Morgan to create an opening. The ball was cut back across goal towards Craig Brewster only for David Cowan to clear once more for Gretna.
The half time whistle blew with ICT sitting at 1-0. Would Caley Thistle sit on their lead, or would they go all out to finish off a Gretna side who seemed somewhat weakened after their triumph over Dundee Utd at the weekend?
The Second Half was dominated by Caley Thistle pressure, and it was great to see Tokely and Cowie linking well on the right. Rossco did, however, seem to drift out of position on the odd occasion, and Munro did well to cover his tracks. Barry Wilson, again throughout the half, made a nuisance of himself in the midfield, continuously running in and out of position to get the best delivery into the box. His frustration was showing, though, as Gretna managed to clear their line time and time again.
15 minutes into the second half, Inverness made their first substitution of the game, with Player-Manager Craig Brewster taking himself off to be replaced by Dennis Wyness. Brewster had previously received treatment in the first half after a strong tackle from Gretna‘s Daniel Grainger.
Wyness first touch of the ball could have put Inverness further ahead, when a splendid delivery from Alan Morgan from the left was met with Wyness’ head. Unfortunately for them, Fleming was well placed to punch clear and Gretna were on the attack.
Shortlived it was though, as Inverness pushed for a second. Barry Wilson in the 67th minute, the ball falling nicely to him to fire the home side into a 2-0 lead. Fleming pretty much left stranded, with little the defence could do.
It was around this time that things in the stand got more interesting than activities on the park, as those who were getting behind their team were soon unable to do so. With 25 minutes of the 90 still to play, and your team winning 2-0 against SPL rivals, there is obviously going to be celebrations and an atmosphere. The latter almost certainly encouraging this changed ICT team to perform well on the pitch. The scenes in Section G were unbelievable and contradicting, bullying and encouraging. Overall, very surreal. The heavy handedness of certain stewards is astounding at a fixture of this nature, and with no malicious intent, racism or rude chants to be heard from anyone, it baffles even the most intelligent minds as to why we get behind our team in the first place.
I digress!!! Back to the game and ICT were still dominating. Wyness now making some superb runs as the midfield tried to create an opening, and holding the ball up well to try and create for Bayne.
With all three subs now used in the form of Mcdonald (for Bayne 72) and Rankin (for Wilson 79) it was clear their was no way back for the former Unibond Premier outfit. Very little was created for them, and even with the introductions of double subs Skelton and Grady, there was no inspiration to drive forward and create chances.
The final nail in the coffin came in the form of a strikers poach. Don Cowie ran down the right flank to swing in a superb cross for Alan Morgan. Morgan tracked back to swing the ball back into the box, and an anticipated run by Ross Tokely saw him get in behind 2 defenders. Across goal went his shot with Fleming well and truly beaten, and all Wyness had to do was tap it in from 3 yards. 2 goals in 2 games now for Dennis Wyness, and there was surely signs of his former self on show.
3-0 it was to finish and it could have been more. Even Dean MacDonald had the ball in the net late on, but he was already judged to have been offside before he struck low into the bottom right corner from just 18 yards.
Man of the Match was Barry Wilson and rightly so. He played extremely well and produced some great passing moves. His awareness was fantastic and he topped of a great night with his first goal of the season.
Things looking very very good for ICT on the park, but in the stand - well - it’s going to be a long long season to come!!!
Match report written by CaleyD