Motherwell 3 - 0 Inverness CT

League Match
Saturday, July 23rd, 2011, 3:00 PM at Fir Park, Motherwell
Attendance: 4,190
Referee: Steven McLean
Motherwell Inverness CT

Steven Hammell (25)
Jamie Murphy (28)
Keith Lasley (77)

Team Managers
Stuart McCall Terry Butcher

Starting Eleven
Darren Randolph
Tom Hateley
Stephen Craigan
Shaun Hutchinson
Steven Hammell
Chris Humphrey
Steve Jennings
Keith Lasley
Nicky Law
Michael Higdon
Jamie Murphy
Ryan Esson
Ross Tokely
David Proctor
Kenny Gillet
Tom Aldred
Johnny Hayes
Nick Ross
Greg Tansey
Andrew Shinnie
Richie Foran
Gregory Tade

Lee Hollis
Steven Saunders
Robert McHugh
Gary Smith
Jordan Halsman
Steven Lawless
Stuart Carswell
Jonny Tuffey
Gavin Morrison
Graeme Shinnie
Martin Laing
Greg Smith
Shane Sutherland

Gary Smith -> Michael Higdon (83) Shane Sutherland for Andrew Shinnie (62)
Graeme Shinnie for Gregory Tade (81)

Shaun Hutchinson (51)
Keith Lasley (57)
Steve Jennings (68)
Richie Foran (72)

Red Cards
None. None.
Appearances & Goals To Date
Ryan Esson (GK) 109 apps -
Tom Aldred 1 app (debut) -
Kenny Gillet 15 apps -
David Proctor 147 apps8 goals
Ross Tokely 558 apps35 goals
Johnny Hayes 72 apps16 goals
Andrew Shinnie 1 app (debut) -
Nick Ross 52 apps2 goals
Greg Tansey 1 app (debut) -
Gregory Tade 1 app (debut) -
Richie Foran 94 apps28 goals
Graeme Shinnie (sub) 27 apps -
Shane Sutherland (sub) 36 apps2 goals

Starting Lineup
Youngest Player:Tom Aldred (20 years 320 days)
Oldest Player:Andrew Shinnie (2012 years 358 days)
Average Player Age:26 years 238 days
Domestic Players:11 (100.00 % of starting eleven)

Matchday Squad
Youngest Player:Shane Sutherland (20 years 278 days)
Oldest Player:Martin Laing (2012 years 358 days)
Average Player Age:25 years 278 days
Domestic Players:17 (100.00 % of matchday squad)

First Team Debuts
Andrew Shinnie(Signed )
Greg Tansey(Signed )
Gregory Tade(Signed )
Tom Aldred(Signed )


Butcher's fears realised as Well start in a hurry:

Two goals in a three minute spell midway through the first half set the Steelmen on the road to a comfortable victory against a hastily reconstructed Inverness side.

Hammell and Murphy in the first half and a Keith Lasley special in the second period sealed Inverness' fate. 

The visitors were a tad unfortunate after hitting the woodwork twice in the first period and rued their missed opportunities as they struggled to hit the target, this coupled with defensive frailties were to be the downfall of Butcher's patchwork side, and he will be looking to strengthen his back four with the addition of Austrian Thomas Piermayr who was unable to be fielded today.  Injuries to Lee Cox and Aaron Doran showed that we need time for the newbies to gel although it could be pointed out that these are self inflicted problems. 

Alternative Maryhill will reveal what went on at Motherwell with his match report, a little despondent, but looking at the long term rather than any knee jerking.  Maybe the early start to the season was just too much to handle.

We can’t say we weren’t warned.

Richie Foran begged for the supporters’ patience while Terry Butcher’s new look Caley Thistle team found its feet in the SPL; and Butcher himself very publicly condemned the truncated close season, claiming that many managers would not have had time to finish building and preparing their squads. It was strongly hinted that we might have a slow start, and so it proved, with Motherwell running out quite comfortable 3-0 winners of our opening game. Yet despite the warning, it was difficult not to feel a little flat after the inevitable excitement surrounding the start to the season. Comparisons with ICT’s very first game in the SPL, a 3-0 defeat away to Livingston, are difficult to avoid. It was after that game that Graham Spiers stated that he would ‘eat my hat’ if Caley Thistle survived that season without being relegated. And we all know what happened next. The Inverness team finished the season in eighth place and Spiers was sent enough hats by ICT supporters to keep him in headwear from now until Judgement Day. It’s worth remembering this in the midst of our disappointment: it would be foolish to start predicting a disastrous season on the basis of one game. Before the football came along to cast a bit of a dark cloud, it was a near-perfect day for a travelling supporter. The sun was shining, there was a chance to catch up with a few faces not seen for several weeks, plenty to discuss, and a good choice of pubs to discuss it in. Fir Park is blessed not only with having Jack Daniel’s less than five minutes from the ground but also with having its own social club right outside the turnstiles. We headed straight for the latter and after handing over our pound coins to an elderly moustachioed man of military bearing who called everyone ‘son’ – for a brief moment it felt like being a thirteen-year-old at a Crown Church Hall disco all over again – we were in, and able to spend the next couple of hours mulling over the big issues: do we really care what players tweet, should Colin Baillie be the man to carry the Olympic torch and what we’d like to do with it given the chance, and most importantly, what did the close season tell us about our new signings and how would Terry Butcher organise the team for its first SPL game? When we got into the ground all was revealed. The team lined up with David Proctor at right back, Kenny Gillet at left back and Ross Tokely and Tom Aldred in the centre of defence; a midfield diamond with Andrew Shinnie at its head, Greg Tansey at its base and Nick Ross and Jonny Hayes on the right and left respectively; and Gregory Tade ahead of Richie Foran up front. What quickly became apparent after the game had kicked off was that this formation left the team with less width than we had become accustomed to last year, although this may only be temporary if Butcher intends to start with Aaron Doran once he is fit. As the game progressed, it also became clear that certain players were still not entirely confident playing together – Ross Tokely and Tom Aldred notably – and that others were struggling a little to define their role (Andrew Shinnie and, to a lesser extent, Gregory Tade). These, presumably, are the sort of issues that both Foran and Butcher were alluding to when they insisted that the team needs a little more time to gel. Despite the obvious teething problems for ICT, the team started fairly brightly and saw plenty of possession despite Motherwell having the better chances. Jamie Murphy had the first clear opportunity in the second minute, when he exchanged passes with Michael Higdon down the left hand side and outpaced Ross Tokely and David Proctor before sliding an angled shot across Esson and wide of the post from inside the box. This move encapsulated the two qualities of the Motherwell performance that would cause ICT most problems throughout the course of the game: skilful one-touch passing from midfield to front, and the direct running of Jamie Murphy, the clear man of the match. In the fifth minute, Tom Hateley’s weak effort was saved easily by Esson, and a few minutes later, after another neat touch by Michael Higdon, Nicky Law was able to get another shot away from the left hand side of the box, the ball once more going wide. Gregory Tade’s first shot was a snatched effort which went over the bar, but on seventeen minutes his enthusiastic running was used to greater effect when he latched onto a good through ball from Jonny Hayes, took the ball wide left then slid it back to Richie Foran, twenty-five yards out, who exchanged passes with Nick Ross before firing in a fierce left foot shot which cannoned off the base of the post. A few minutes later Foran had another opportunity which cleared the bar, before the game took a decisive turn in Motherwell’s favour. Motherwell’s opening goal again exemplified their ability to create openings from neat, one-touch passing football, although there was an element of luck involved too. Steve Jennings exchanged a one-two before spreading the ball wide to Tom Hateley, who fed the ball to Chris Humphrey on the bye-line. Humphrey’s cross was nodded on by Higdon to Stevie Hammell, and his angled drive from ten yards struck both the post and Ryan Esson’s head before hitting the back of the net. The Caley Thistle players looked slightly shell-shocked at the loss of the goal, and this might explain why another goal was conceded so quickly, although it would be harsh not to acknowledge the quality of the build up. Again Steve Jennings’ vision was at the heart of the move, as he, Nicky Law and Jamie Murphy simply passed their way through the Inverness midfield before Law released Murphy who ran at the retreating Tom Aldred before dispatching a shot beyond Esson from about fifteen yards. Two goals in three minutes, and the ICT supporters were suddenly contemplating a comprehensive opening day defeat. To give Terry Butcher’s players some credit, they responded by trying to take the game more to Motherwell, with Tade chasing everything and Andrew Shinnie having a headed effort which went wide of the post. The closest the team came to getting on the score sheet came during two moves just either side of the forty-minute mark. After Richie Foran had been fouled by Stephen Craigan twenty five yards from goal, Greg Tansey lined up the free kick and swung it right-footed over the wall and off the inside of the top of the post, with Randolph beaten. Two minutes later, a diagonal ball from Hayes found Tade and the French forward, making his most effective contribution to the match, took the ball wide right before firing in a cross which the incoming Tansey hit first time from seven yards, forcing an excellent instinctive one-handed save from Darren Randolph. This little flurry gave the ICT supporters some renewed hope, but the half finished with Motherwell back in the ascendant and Ryan Esson being forced into making a good save with his feet from Stevie Hammell’s shot after one-touch passing had once more opened up the right hand side of the Caley Thistle defence.

Half time: 2-0

Terry Butcher’s team came back out for the second half with the same personnel but the formation slightly adjusted. Nick Ross was brought into the centre with Andrew Shinnie moving to the right, and for a while this looked like it might bear fruit, with Shinnie finally finding himself able to get some time on the ball and ICT, initially at least, having more of the possession. Yet once again it was Motherwell who created more clear-cut chances. Immediately after the restart Nicky Law, a new signing who along with Michael Higdon seems to have slotted straight into an otherwise settled Motherwell side, had a shot saved by Esson and two minutes later the same player sent a looping twenty-yard shot narrowly over the bar. Caley forced a couple of corners and Richie Foran managed to get his head onto a cross from Jonny Hayes but sent his header wide. With his players still having been unable to reduce the deficit after an hour, Terry Butcher replaced the disappointingly quiet Andrew Shinnie with Shane Sutherland, perhaps hoping that the young forward could take inspiration from the fine goal he scored when the two clubs last met and turn the game around. For all his enthusiastic running, however, Sutherland was unable to create much, and his best opportunity, on seventy minutes, was a shot which he sent over the bar. Motherwell responded once more with Jamie Murphy latching onto a beautiful diagonal ball and running the ICT defence ragged again before pulling his shot across the face of goal narrowly wide. Three minutes later, they killed the game. A corner from Tom Hateley was met by Stephen Craigan, who was able to lose his marker Aldred, and his header found Keith Lasley in acres of space twenty five yards out. Lasley was able to take a touch before lashing a shot high into his top left hand corner of the goal. Thereafter, unsurprisingly, the Caley Thistle heads went down and the game was effectively finished as a spectacle. Jonny Hayes had one long range shot which never looked like troubling Randolph. Graham Shinnie was given a brief run-out as a replacement for the hardworking Tade, but was unable to make any impact. When the final whistle went, Terry Butcher looked like he could not get back up the tunnel quick enough, and the away supporters returned to the social club in more subdued mood than they had left, where they discovered early departees The Knowledge, Harry Chibber and San Miguel chatting up a variety of Caley Jags WAGS. Priorities, lads. A disappointing opening to the season then, but despite his demeanour at the end of the game, Terry Butcher in his post-match interviews refused to sound despondent, vowing that his players would ‘bounce back next week’. And if history is anything to go by, he could be right. After that Livingston defeat seven years ago, when the team’s chances had already been written off by hatmuncher Spiers, John Robertson’s team took on Dunfermline in a home fixture and won 2-0. Better yet, next week’s opponents are Hibernian, a team that has yet to win a league game in Inverness in nine attempts. What better opportunity to get ICT model 2011-2012 up and running? 

Match report written by Alternative Maryhill

Pld W D L F A +/- Pts
1. Motherwell 1 1 0 0 3 0 3 3
2. Hearts 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1
3. Rangers 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1
4. Aberdeen 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
5. St. Johnstone 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
6. Inverness CT 1 0 0 1 0 3 -3 0