Tangerines squash insipid Inverness:
Dundee United eased past Inverness with a goal on the stroke of half time from Danny Swanson. He capitalised on the frailties of the Inverness defence to drill a ball home after a half clearance from Tokely, and some head tennis from his team mates. Up to this point the game had been memorable for it's lack of adventure from either side.
The visitors were always in the game right up to the end when despite a number of forays forward, they could not get the leveller to leapfrog Motherwell into the top-six.
Hogg had the best opportunity in the first half for Inverness but keeper Pernis blocked the ball on the line with his legs and in the skirmish that followed the keeper was awarded a free kick for the follow up challenges on him. For United, David Goodwillie made a good turn and run forward but Esson was equal to it and blocked with his legs. The warning was not heeded however as Swanson scored what proved to be the winner as the clock ticked towards half time. Lee Cox had a shot on target in the second period, but overall it was too little too late for Butcher's boys as United gained their fifth win on the trot.
The scene was set, plenty of refreshment houses in Dundee for the supporters to sample their aperitif of choice, be it the Snug, Willie Frews or the Centenary on Cleppy road and no shortages of corner shops for the kerry oot.
Could Inverness stun their hosts again, in what was arguably our finest ninety minutes this season back in August, every goal a belter? Would we see another Russell Duncan special, he only scores spectacular ones? Or would the malaise that has been lingering around since Xmas time rear it's ugly head to spoil what should be a good day out for the travelling fans, who were moistening their throats and ready to boo David Goodwillie at his every touch of the ball.
Bright sunshine was the order of the day as both teams took to the park and a crowd of just over 6500 settled into their seats to watch the afternoons entertainment, using the word loosely. And then the game started..........
Top Six Next Year wanted to know if the tupperware box would make an appearance, theres only one way to find out, read on and all will be revealed by our intrepid reporter.......
Inverness would make a couple of changes from the side that tumbled out of the cup on Wednesday night. Nick Ross was missing altogether, apparently unwell, and Shane Sutherland dropped to the bench with Hayes and Odhiambo starting. Kenny Gillet found a place on the bench after a long lay off with knee ligament damage sustained last year against Hibs, and it was good to see him eventually get some game time as a second half substitute, MacDonald and Doran also entering the fray. At last a left back making an appearance for us.
United were still without Severin and Kovasevic who were both on the bench and longer term absentees Dods, Kenneth and Conway, while Prince Buaben was suspended. Jon Daly filled the centre back position admirably, maybe a new career beckons for the Irish striker.
Davie will take up the story and tell it as it was .......................ooerrr, unfortunately he was seriously ill, he had man flu and was unable to attend the game and visit his mammy, get well soon davie.
With the prelude covering the notable events, the only other talking points in the second half came mainly from the Arabs, with David Robertson volleying over after good work from Daly, and the crossbar saving Russell Duncan's blushes after he headed a dangerous Swanson inswinger against his own bar. Hayes had the best opportunity for the visitors other than Coxs' effort that was comfortably saved, when he sliced a shot wide, and at the other end Swanson should have made the keeper work but fired over, as did Johnny Russell. A late flurry from Inverness saw Foran try his luck and Munro head into the arms of Pernis, as I said earlier, too little too late.
With our roving reporter out of commission, and the pre-amble pretty much describing the main talking points, I am going to let the fans do the talking, a few unhappy bunnies out there:-
Alex Macleod said:- "Just home from what was a pretty rubbish game. The team selection and tactics left a lot to be desired. All in all the game was pretty scrappy. Too many needless stoppages and too many mistakes from both teams. We were lacking in ideas and any attacks we mounted came to nothing. Dundee U were no better but our big problem, and ultimately their goal, came from a failure to clear our box with any authority. We lacked communication and too many times found two or three players staring at a loose ball with nobody acting".
gdm was not happy with Eric's contribution along with a few others and he posted:- "Was a poor game overall. Odi was indeed awful, his touch was left In Leicester when he left I think. Again the ball was being hoofed up the park and lost in the last third. I can't help but feel with the squad we have an attacking 5-3-2 formation might be worth a try. I know it prob sounds a bit defensive but counter attack wise it could be great. Maybe I'm just fed up of the recent performances !! Had a fun day footy aside!
Roger Kettle, yes, the Roger Kettle has a view from the dark side :- "Having left Inverness-shire for Dundee a long time ago, I kind of have mixed emotions. I became a United fan because of some friends down here and I've been lucky enough to see some great football from the likes of Sturrock, Bannon, Narey etc. Despite that, I have retained my fondness for ICT and have witnessed some truly wonderful performances from them---and a level of football that was a joy to watch. Today was dire. Neither team played well but United were playing their 5th game in 12 days. To their credit, they were also fielding eight Scottish players under the age of 23 which, these days, has to be commended. On today's evidence, the neat football that has been played by ICT over the last few seasons appears to have gone but you guys will know better than me if this is true. There also seemed to be a lack of togetherness. Foran appeared to be mumping about everything and, once again, I have no idea if this is how he always is or if this was just a one-off performance. As I said earlier, not a great game but I was disappointed in the way my old team played".
Alternative Maryhill was downbeat, but the one positive was the return of Kenny Gillet :- "Poor game all round. I didn't think Utd were much better than us apart from a spell in the second half when they passed it around quite nicely. Very little happening in front of either goal. It was good to see Hayes back - he looked quite dangerous early on and worked hard throughout - and as gingerjaggy has already mentioned, Richie Foran had a fine game. Rooney wasn't at his best but the decision to take him off on 57 minutes, especially when Odhiambo had been so ineffective, was baffling - it removed any chances we had of holding up the ball up front, and we needed to be able to do that because for most of the second half, it was back to long balls out of defence.
One positive was that Kenny Gillet looked very good when he came on: strong and direct. On the other hand, Aaron Doran concerns me a little. Yesterday was the fourth or fifth time I've seen him, and while he clearly has a bit of ability, he looks a bit nervous about getting involved. There was one glaring example of this yesterday when Duff, I think, had the ball in the right back area and was looking for a pass. Doran was in acres of space wide left and would have had a clear run-in on goal, but didn't seem to want the ball. Maybe it's something that will develop with more game time, but I'm not sure if we can afford to give him that: we badly need attacking players who will have a go and in that regard I think I'd rather see Ross or Sutherland in the team.
Unless there's a significant improvement against Celtic, Killie and Hearts, I can't see us making top six now, and what began as a very promising season will probably peter out into one that, although decent for a newly-promoted team, will feel rather mediocre".
Caley Mad in Berks had to make do with BBC Alba last night and he was not impressed either, and not just because of the Gaelic:- "I watched it late last night on Alba. How sad is that? In the old days we would have said it was a typical mid table end of season game. Nothing to play for. But with top 6 still up for grabs there was a strange lack of urgency about us. Dundee Utd were there for the taking, clearly below par after 5 games in 10 days. But we seemingly could not motivate ourselves to give it a real go. Had this form over last 3 months happened at the beginning of the season I have no doubt that Butcher would have been long gone by now. Our early season good run bought him time, but he badly needs to motivate the team for an end of seson push. Somehow ending up 9th or 10th will seem like a poor season, even though, realistically most of us would have settled for that at day one. Come on lads, give us just a little more to be proud of in the last few games".
Gringo_Junior is asking the question most of us want answered:- "For me the biggest question mark - and it gets repeated time and time again - is why we continue to go for the long ball punt and not play it to feet? F-knows how many times this happened, mostly in the second half. Doing that basically took Hayes out of the game, he had made a few decent runs in the first half. It also didnt help Doran when he came on either, and also MacDonald, who struggled to leap highest against their full-backs".
Rinomac summed up the fans feelings spot on:- " A draw would probably have been a fair result. Both teams weren't exactly great, not many clear cut chances, pretty poor game.
Odhiambo had the touch of an elephant, Rooney was isolated on his own a lot of the time and was left to run after long balls. If he did somehow manage to get to them, there was nobody in sight to help him. Bizarre decision to take him off - I would have gone with two up front as we were one goal down so where was the harm in going for it? Some baffling decisions by the referee but that doesn't mean we would have won if he had made the correct decisions.
Gillet looked good when he came on. Since both he and Shinnie have been out, we have really been lacking a left back. Munro hasn't been bad in that position, he just doesn't offer us as much going forward as these two do.
I really think that we should be playing with two up front. We played much better in the games where we moved Foran up top with Rooney. We are chasing a place in the Top 6, we need to go out and try to win games. Since this is not happening with our current tactics, and has not been happening for quite some time, it's time to try something else".
I took a bit of a liberty lifting some of the comments from the forums, but with our reporter unable to attend I hope nobody has any objections to me using their words. It's always good to get different perspectives on how the team performed, but it looks like we are unanimous in our thoughts and are finding our recent form a bit hard to understand. On the brighter side; I never knew we had so many scribes in our midst.
No game next week, but Celtic are up North in two weeks time, enjoy the break.
Match report written by various fans comments