Appearances & Goals To Date
|Youngest Player:||Aaron Doran (20 years 360 days)
|Oldest Player:||Graeme Shinnie (2013 years 277 days)|
|Average Player Age:||26 years 318 days|
|Domestic Players:||9 (81.82 % of starting eleven)|
|Youngest Player:||Roman Golobart (20 years 47 days)|
|Oldest Player:||Josh Meekings (2013 years 277 days)|
|Average Player Age:||25 years 55 days|
|Domestic Players:||16 (88.89 % of matchday squad)|
First Team Debuts
Oh well, that's relegation out of the equation after a no scoring draw saw Inverness retain SPL status for next season. Dunfermline still look favourites for the drop although they could still pip Hibernian should results swing their way, but it does look like a long shot for them.
A minutes silence was impeccably observed before the match started to pay respect for Inverness fan John McDonald who passed away in the stand at Kilmarnock last Saturday.
Without Jonny Hayes, Inverness relied on Aaron Doran for the spark to ignite their fire, but it was a difficult task with Dunfermline defending in depth and neither side able to fashion many clear scoring opportunities.
Esson retained the No 1 jersey ahead of Jonny Tuffey and Roman Golobart was on the bench, with Steve Williams partnering Ross Tokely in central defence. Nick Ross made a rare start but Welsh international Owain Tudur-Jones was rested with Andy Shinnie, Gregory Tade and Shane Sutherland named as substitutes.
The Pars looked to former Hearts man Andy Kirk to get them out of the mire with the experienced Martin Hardie on the bench, full-backs Austin McCann and Jordan McMillan returning to the starting line up. The dangerous David Graham was providing the width in the Pars late throw of the dice to stave off relegation, and hopes were raised after their thumping 3-0 nwin over the Dons at the weekend.
A bright evening was the setting for this 19:45 kick off and hands were raised to the eyes in the main stand as the game kicked off with the sun shining directly into the away support as it dropped slowly behind the Black Isle. A perfect evening for football, with a delicate breeze cooling the late spring air, pity only 3036 bothered to turn up for what was an important game for both clubs and referee O'Reilly started the proceedings with a sharp puff into his whistle as the noisy 300 or so Dunfermline fans took on the reserved Highland crowd.
So, the scene is set and ajsict92 will take up the story..........
Safety achieved…but not without minds being frazzled
Well safety has now been achieved with 2 games to spare but it wasn’t by digging out a hard fought win and it wasn’t by tearing apart the opposition with the new style of football we were promised. It was achieved by dragging out arguably the most mind numbing and tedious 0-0 draw I have ever witnessed during my young life as an ICT follower.
ICT went into this game with arguably the strongest squad they’ve had available but it was minus the suspended Jonny Hayes and long term injury victim Chris Hogg, but otherwise Terry Butcher had plenty options at his disposal including Aaron Doran and Andrew Shinnie, both of whom have missed large chunks of the season through injury but have been dreadfully missed through out the campaign.
The match itself was put aside for a moment before kick off in order for everyone to observe a minutes silence in the memory of John McDonald who passed away suddenly at our away match against Kilmarnock on Saturday.
The game began slowly. Both sides seemed to be rather cagey with the importance of the game. ICT seemed to be showing a bit more quality though, Aaron Doran in particularly looking very lively and it was he who had the first real chance of the game. He weaved his way around a couple of defenders before unleashing a low drive which he dragged across goal and wide. Inverness continued to threaten and from a Doran corner the ball bounced around very close to Chris Smith's box with Williams and Foran attempting to connect with it but it was eventually cleared.
Billy McKay was next to come close as he picked up the ball and made a run across the box before squeezing off a deflected shot that was easily gathered by Smith. News was beginning to filter through that Hibs were leading Aberdeen which had a direct influence on Dunfermline’s position come full time. Kyle Hutton had the Pars main chance when he let fly from the edge of the box but his effort was straight at Esson. Dunfermline were beginning to threaten though with a dangerous run from McMillan thwarted by Gillet who made a wonderful slide tackle to prevent any danger.
The first half was beginning to drag on with both sides beginning to grind out the remainder of it, the last chance of note being a long range effort from Aaron Doran which flew harmlessly wide. The half time whistle sounded and with Hibs already 2-0 up at Pittodrie it wasn’t looking good for Dunfermline.
Half time – ICT 0-0 Dunfermline
Without question it was ICT who started the 2nd half the brighter, there seemed to be more of an edge to the play and an increase in the tempo. However a real thorn in our young side this season has been the lack of quality in the finishing department and that old bugbear reared its ugly head as yet again in a short space of time ICT spurned multiple opportunities to take the lead.
The first culprit was Graeme Shinnie who cracked a tame effort straight at Smith but he then managed to miss the pick of the bunch. Greg Tansey played a delightful switching ball across the park for Billy McKay who held it up long enough for Shinnie to get into position, on his stronger left foot you would have hoped he’d score and for a moment I think everyone in the ground thought he had but he somehow managed to curl his shot wide of Smith’s far post. He managed to miss an even better chance after being put through by Foran but fortunately for him an Offside flag spared his blushes.
Dunfermline were beginning to put pressure on us as the introduction of Martin Hardie to the game added a new dimension to Dunfermline’s play. They won a free kick at the edge area which was well floated in by Cardle, who was a nuisance throughout the game and Alex Keddie connected well with it but his header was inches over the crossbar, skimming the roof of the net.
Butcher responded to this by making a double switch Shane Sutherland replacing Graeme Shinnie and Nick Ross being replaced by Andrew Shinnie who made his first appearance since January having been out with a broken foot and he added a bit of much needed quality to a game that was getting more and more desperate as it went on.
A couple of dangerous moments in Dunfermline’s final third were not enough as ICT fans grew more and more frustrated but Shinnie’s first effort of the game was a lovely dipping shot which fell wide of the top corner but did leave Smith scrambling a bit.
Martin Hardie then blew a great chance to grab a lead for Dunfermline as he shot straight at Esson from the edge of the box and then curled wide a free kick that was tailor made for him from about 25 yards.
By this point it was becoming more and more clear that neither team was going to muster a goal. Aaron Doran was becoming frantic in his own search of a goal, firing high and wide from all angles and with ICT beginning to play for a point the referee eventually brought an end to the game.
Full time – ICT 0-0 Dunfermline
To summarise:- It was never going to be pretty, none of the games between the two sides have been this season but ICT’s goal scoring problem is in need of being addressed. Several chances were spurned tonight and had Dunfermline scored, heads would have been dropping. Billy McKay was working his socks off but was getting little support. In order for him to play his game he is in need of a strike partner who can get into good areas but I shouldn’t moan too much. We are safe and that’s what matters but we haven’t done it by winning, if I’m being blunt we have done it simply because Dunfermline are worse. A striker has to be top priority in the summer though. I’m glad we can chill out though for the last 2 games and look forward to seeing what changes are made to the squad in the coming weeks and months. Roll on 2012-13.
ajsict92’s motm:- Ross Tokely – Mopped up anything that came into his path and is still an important part of the squad who’s experience must a great asset to this team. If Butcher has any sense he will give him another season.
Match report written by tm4tj/AJS