Ten man Inverness hold out for all three points:
After Josh Meekings received his second yellow card it was all hands to the pumps for Inverness as Aberdeen surged forward in the second half. However Inverness held out for all three points after Gregory Tade scored the only goal of the game early in the first half to ease the Highlanders relegation squeaks. He also squandered a great opportunity to seal an easy victory after scuffing a shot past Brown's post in the second half, but as time would tell, the Dons misfiring strikers were unable to trouble Jonathon Tuffey and we held out comfortably.........
Terry Butcher had to reshuffle the pack just before kick off as regular goal minder Ryan Esson tweaked his groin and will be a doubt for this Wednesday against St Johnstone. His place was taken by Jonny Tuffey who proved to be an adequate replacement for Esson as he kept a clean sheet whilst keeping Aberdeen at bay during the second half siege, especially after Josh Meekings walked for his second bookable offence. Nothing sinister, just a tad clumsy from young Josh.
Esson's absence catapulted young keeper Scott Mathieson out of the stands and onto the bench. Ross Tokely partnered birthday boy Roman Golobart in the heart of the defence and Graeme Shinnie fitted in at left back in place of the injured Kenny Gillet. Owain Tudur-Jones made his long overdue start with Tansey, Foran and Sutherland in the engine room and Tade and McKay were the front runners.
Coastal fog kept the sun away, but it never stopped Inverness from making a bright start to the game and as our Marchers will tell you, our bright start got even brighter after 10 minutes.
The marchers will provide the full match report when they regroup, and sober up after a hectic week..................and here is Gringo Junior with a double header for you.
"A Meaningless Encounter" - This was how this match was described by some in the media in the build up to this fixture, but both Aberdeen's Craig Brown and our very own Terry Butcher were quick to dismiss that notion. It's not too difficult to see their own reasons as to why.
Jim Jefferies has been appointed as the new manager at Dunfermline following the sacking of Jim McIntyre, in an effort by their board to instill a little end of season spark to their campaign. With Hibernian just five points behind Inverness at the start of play, Terry Butchers men would be looking to increase the gap between themselves and the bottom pairing.
With Aberdeen 9-points away from 6th-placed Hearts with 3 games to go before the split, Craig Browns men would be looking to hold on to the very slim hope of gaining that final top six spot with a victory over ICT, or at least look at being 'best of the rest' come the end of the season.
A good number of fans travelled along the A96 to Aberdeen for what Jeff Stelling called 'a Highland Derby'. The Sky Sports presenter, who is usually so knowledgeable when it comes to his football trivia, should perhaps save that terminology for our near neighbour's arrival into the top flight next season. A 1-0 win for them away to Partick Thistle means they need just 6 points from their remaining 7 fixtures to secure the First Division title!
Onto the match itself and what a day for football it was. The weather over the week had seen temperatures in the area reach the high teens, but the hint of mist and a slight breeze off the North Sea made the playing conditions almost perfect. The pitch didn't look too bad either!
Ryan Esson, who has been fantastic all season for Inverness, was injured in the warm-up and replaced by International goalkeeper, Jonny Tuffey. Johnny Hayes and Kenny Gillet didn't make the trip to Aberdeen due to Injury, and Owain Tudor Jones was to make his first start since recovering from his own injury nightmares.
Aberdeen made just one change to the side that lost to Motherwell last week, as Rory Fallon was dropped to the bench in place of Mitch Megginson.
The away support were in full song from kick-off, and it wasn't long before they had something to really shout about. Despite a fantastic save by Jonny Tuffey in the Inverness goal following a cross-come-shot by McArdle in the first minute of the game, it was Inverness that broke the deadlock after some fine play between Gregory Tade and Billy McKay. The tall Frenchman neatly flicked on a clearance to the feet of McKay who did well to nip past his marker, round Jason Brown and slot the ball square to Tade. Tade simply bundled the ball, and himself, into the Aberdeen net to put Inverness 1-0 up after less than 10-minutes!
Aberdeen didn't seem to get into the game and more chances were forthcoming for Inverness. Tade, who was winning most of the headers against his marker, was able to create a few snippets with his delecate flick-ons, and Billy McKay was having one of his best performances for the club since signing on from Northampton Town. Greame Shinnie was fantastic at left-back, and even had the confidence on one or two occasions to take on the Aberdeen midfield.
ICT Captain Richie Foran commanded the midfield well and even got in on the action in front of goal. With only one goal to his name this campaign, he could have doubled his tally, and the score, when he found himself inside the box and should have done better with an effort that was well cleared by Kari Arnason on the goal-line. A cleaner strike either side of the Aberdeen defender and it would have been 2-0.
Penalty decisions have eluded Inverness for in excess of 12 months and they were again to miss out in the first half after Sutherland was tripped in the box following a through-ball from Foran. With referee Finnie waving away the players' claims and a weak Scott Vernon effort the only noticable points of the first half, the Caley Jags ended the half the better team.
Half Time:- Aberdeen 0-1 Inverness CT
As much as Inverness were the more dominant of the sides in the first half, they were a far cry from watching Brazil. They would certainly need another goal to provide a little comfort and settle any nerves. Unsurprisingly there was to be no substitutions for Inverness CT at half time, although Arnason was replaced by Pawlett in an effort to tighten up the Aberdeen midfield.
Aberdeen came out of the blocks in the second half and reduced Inverness to just the rare break, consisting mostly of the famous Caley Thistle long-ball punt up the park, with Tade and McKay trying to latch onto the end of it. A bombardment of balls into the box saw Golobart and Tokely worked fully for the first time in the match. Golobart in particular, who celebrated his 20th birthday mid-week, was solid in clearing the Inverness lines, much to the joy of the travelling supporters who would chant his name with every touch!
Graeme Shinnie, who had also performed well in the first half, was lucky to get away with not conceding a free kick on the edge of the box as he appeared to push the ball away with his hands after slipping over under pressure. But Aberdeen were not to be denied a little fortune when Josh Meekings saw red for two second half yellows, both of which were received following clumsy late challenges. The second being on Scott Vernon as he skipped the ball past Meekings, and his trailing leg was caught by the Inverness number 26. There was certainly no complaint from Meekings as he turned immediately towards the tunnel, head bowed.
With Inverness now reduced to 10 men, Aberdeen had half and hour to make their extra man count. Piermayr replaced McKay for Inverness as Terry Butcher tried to tighten the back line and keep the Dons at bay, shortly after Craig Brown had put on an extra forward, Chalali in place of midfielder Clarke.
Although Aberdeen were pressing and Caley Thislte were down to 10-men, it was Gregory Tade who came closest to changing the score-line after he latched onto a long ball from Golobart. Cutting inside and with his eyes on goal, he scuffed his effort straight at Jason Brown and Tade's frustration was clear to see. The travelling fans were in full voice despite the Aberdeen pressure and after Tade went off for treatment, he returned to the park with a change of shirt, without name or number printed, to chants of 'The Man With No Name'.
Chalali and Vernon were beginning to link up well for Aberdeen, yet they continued to misfire as shot after shot failed to trouble Jonny Tuffey. Chalali was, however, to have Aberdeen's best chance for an equaliser by creating space just inside the Inverness box and driving a shot hard towards goal. Jonny Tuffey was equal to the challenge and got a strong fist to the shot to see the ball out of danger.
As the game drew to a close, the Inverness fans were still in full song and encouraging their side to push out after every clearence. It was a credit to the stewards to allow the travelling fans to stand and chant for more or less the entire fixture. With Fallon replacing Megginson for the final 10 minutes, Steve Williams replaced Owain Tudur-Jones for the away side to keep the back line solid. Aberdeen became desperate, with even goalkeeper Jason Brown taking throw-ins whenever the ball went out in the Aberdeen half, and a dive from Chalali on the corner of the box saw him yellow carded as Inverness held out for a hard fought victory.
Full Time:- Aberdeen 0-1 Inverness CT
Delight surrounded the travelling supporters as cries of 'Inverness, Inverness' echoed around the stadium. With each player that approached to show their appreciation, their name was chanted, and not a single soul left their seat until the last player had ventured down the tunnel. A truly fantastic result, and with the Pars and Hibs both dropping points, this 'meaningless encounter' clearly meant something to the Inverness faithful.
Next up for Inverness is their re-arranged fixture with St Johnstone which was initially meant to be played at the turn of the year. The 3-points gained from this win sees Inverness close to within 2 points of the Dons and 6 points of Kilmarnock who take up 7th. I wonder if the media again will see Wednesday as another meaningless affair, considering the Saints have already consolidated their place in the top-six?
Great report from Rob and as a bonus, here is the Highland March Training Report:
I had the pleasure of walking to this game from Elgin as part of my training for the forthcoming Highland March, which sets off in 6 weeks time. CapitalCaley (Mark MacRae), who took part in last year's venture, joined me on the jaunt to Aberdeen which would see us cover a distance of nearly 70 miles.
Initially planning to follow Cycle Route 1 all the way (90+ miles), we had to take into consideration the fact we were doing this without a support vehicle. The plan was to camp each night so as to keep costs down, and the added weight certainly slowed us down.
We set off from Elgin railway station at 0645 on Wedndesday morning and headed along the A96 for 2 miles before turning off on the back roads to Garmouth. Our back packs were pretty heavy and with the sun beaming down on us for the entire day, it was tough going. Despite this, we managed to reach Cullen well in advance of our intended arrival time. Cullen was our planned over-night stop, but with more hours of daylight ahead, we continued on for a further 10-miles and bunked down at Cornhill. A special mention here to the 'Peggy Duffs' bar (Gordon Arms) in Cornhill. The landlady and her customers were more than accommodating and extremely friendly!
After waking to noisy crows on Thursday, the pace was extremely slow as the aches, pains and blisters of Wednesday didnt want to let off. The planned end of stage was Turriff, yet with this being just 13 miles away, we had again revised our intentions and looked to make Oldmeldrum instead. Unfortunately, for myself at least, my legs couldnt seem to carry me much further and we wisely called it a day after our lunch stop in Turriff. We did, however, make the most of our afternoon by skipping the next few miles and getting much needed rest, sorted out the feet, grabbed a beer and enjoying the shade. It was again a good decision to ditch the tents and take the opportunity for a comfy room and a shower, yet the price tag per single room left a little to be desired! Sceptical here that 'the last two rooms' were in fact the last ones, as we didnt see anyone else around the establishment for the entire time we were there. Oh well!
We knew we could make Dyce, or even Aberdeen, by the end of Friday, but our concern at this time was for the busy main road linking Turriff with Aberdeen. In typical Highland March style, we simply went for it and made our way along the grass verges. At Tarves we were able to once more link up with the cycle route and we followed this all the way into Dyce, making sure we sampled a pub lunch (and a cold pint) upon reaching Newmachar.
In typical 'Bear Grylls' style, we headed to the Britannia Hotel on the A96 at Bucksburn for a cheap nights kip and must again praise the bar staff who were doing well to keep the beer flowing in the busy village bar.
Our final jaunt was a 6 miles trip to Pittodrie via the railway station (so we could dump Capital's baggage), and it was great to see some friendly faces disembark on the train from Inverness as we arrived at the station.
Pre-match drinks at the Caledonian were very welcome, and I must admit it was great to get a seat on the Travel Club bus home.
This was only a training walk for the pair of us, but thanks to social networking, we were able to keep people up to date, receive words of encouragement, and ultimately place our bets for the 10p Bowling antics of which we take part
Thank you to those that wished us well for this tough training session. It's certainly kicked me into touch before the main event on May 5th. I just hope we avoid Kilmarnock and St Mirren!!!
Match report written by Rob Wilson