Lambs to the slaughter:
Greek Tragedy for Inverness Caley Thistle as Georgios Samaras netted a hat-trick as Terry boys were butchered in the League Cup. ICT were forced into a number of changes with a mounting injury list and ended up on the wrong side of a 6-0 drubbing from a rampant Celtic.
Alternative Maryhill has now recovered sufficiently from the drubbing to put this report together.
For Terry Butcher, pragmatism took priority over any romantic notions of Hampden in the spring. For the supporters who travelled to this game, the consequences of that decision were painful to witness. Statistics will show that this result merely equalled Caley Thistle’s heaviest-ever defeat, but the reality was that this was probably the most one-sided game the team has ever been involved in. The Inverness manager chose to rest first team regulars Ryan Esson, Adam Rooney and Eric Odhiambo and leave recent signing Stuart Duff and injury recoveree Richie Foran on the bench. With Innes, Gillet and McCann all unfit, the team lined up with a central defence of Grant Munro, Ross Tokely and Stuart Golabek, with Graham Shinnie and David Proctor playing as wing backs. Last season’s regular central midfield pairing of Russell Duncan and Lee Cox was restored and Shane Sutherland played as a lone striker ahead of Nick Ross and Jonny Hayes. Celtic were set up to attack, with a front three of Anthony Stokes, Gary Hooper and Georgios Samaras playing in front of of a midfield of Juarez, Ledley and Ki. In the early stages the Inverness side was competitive, with Nick Ross running onto a good Sutherland pass in the left-hand side of the penalty area, only to see his shot forced behind for a corner by Ki. Ross continued to look tricky and tenacious going forward, but it was not long before Celtic began to dominate. From early on it was obvious that the Celtic players had been told to try to exploit the lack of pace in the Inverness defence, with Juarez running onto the first of numerous balls chipped beyond the Caley Thistle backline and sending a cross behind. After nine minutes, Jonny Tuffey had to make a fine diving save to his left to keep out a Ki free kick, but he had no chance eight minutes later when Georgios Samaras, six yards out, deflected a Ledley shot into his top right hand corner. Almost from the restart, Samaras again got beyond the ICT defence, but saw his shot rebound from the bar. In twenty-one minutes, however, Celtic went further ahead when Gary Hooper pounced on Stuart Golabek’s failure to clear a dangerous Samaras ball into the box and slid the ball beyond Tuffey. With the score at 2-0, Caley Thistle put together their most dangerous move of the first half when Nick Ross and Shane Sutherland combined to set up Jonny Hayes, whose shot from 18 yards was saved by the legs of Forster. Tuffey also saved well with his legs from Mark Wilson’s shot as Celtic continued to catch out the high Inverness defensive line with dinked passes, and one such ball in the thirty-seventh minute found Samaras, who seemed to have limitless time to send a languid chip over Tuffey with most of the ICT defence appealing for offside. David Proctor, bicycling through the air in a vain attempt at a last-ditch clearance, succeeded only in helping the ball into the net. Half time: Celtic 3 – Inverness Caledonian Thistle 0 For the second half Terry Butcher attempted to be more positive, replacing Stuart Golabek with Richie Foran. Foran’s ability to hold the ball up and make a nuisance of himself in the box did make some difference, and shortly after the break there was a scare in front of the Celtic goal when a clearance by Forster cannoned off Foran. Another thing that might have made a difference, had the referee acted properly, was Ki Sung-Yeung’s straight-leg, studs-up tackle on Lee Cox after losing control of the ball in the fiftieth minute. This was a reckless and unnecessary challenge that left Cox needing treatment for several minutes and lucky not to be more seriously injured, yet Dougie McDonald saw fit to issue only a yellow card. Any hope ICT had of making a game of it in the second half was extinguished, however, in the fifty-seventh minute, when Georgios Samaras cut inside from the left and pressurised David Proctor into a weak clearance which Samaras pounced upon and steered into the bottom right hand corner of the net. With the fourth Celtic goal, a lot of life went out of the game. The Inverness players never looked like they had given up, but it became increasingly difficult for them to get any of the ball, while Celtic slowed the pace down and played a relaxed game of possession. Richie Foran did have the ball in the net on sixty-five minutes after a neat chip over Forster, but the flag was already up for offside. Celtic’s fifth, on seventy-four minutes, came from a punted Celtic ball from their own penalty area which Grant Munro couldn’t quite reach. His backwards header fell into the path of Anthony Stokes, who ran into the penalty area and was taken down by Tuffey’s legs. The Caley Thistle goalkeeper escaped a red card but could not prevent the goal, diving to his left as Stokes stroked the ball into the opposite corner. Stokes finished the scoring seven minutes later with a powerful swerving shot from twenty yards. Apart from a David Proctor run that brought a corner in the dying minutes, ICT had little more threatening possession. On the football front it was a miserable night for the few hundred travelling supporters, but as has become the case in the last few seasons, there were plenty who stood and sang and shouted encouragement throughout, and most applauded the team’s efforts at the end despite the scale of the defeat. Out of fairness, I should also mention the hard core of Celtic supporters in the corner of the north stand who kept up a steady stream of songs and chants throughout the ninety minutes. Whatever other prejudices they may harbour, no-one can accuse them of discrimination against anyone on the grounds of sexual preference, as evidenced by their rousing chorus of eighties gay dancefloor anthem ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’. We hoped they might follow this with their own versions of ‘Smalltown Boy’, ‘Master and Servant’ and ‘Heavenly Action’ but regrettably, they coyly reverted to ‘It’s a Grand Old Team...’ One cup over for another year, then, and if the team goes to Paisley and wins on Saturday, then Terry Butcher’s approach to this match will be entirely vindicated. It must be hoped, however, that the players can put the defeat out of their minds and do not allow their confidence to be affected by it; and it must be hoped that when the Scottish Cup comes round in January, the team is in a strong enough position that the manager does not feel it necessary to sacrifice that competition too.
Cheers Maryhill, have a lie down now.
Match report written by Alternative Maryhill