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01.04.2006 @ 15:00 Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, Inverness Attendance: 7368
Inverness CT
0 - 1
Referee: C MacKay League-match

None. Lovell (83)
Starting Lineup
Mark Brown
Richard Hastings
Ross Tokely
Grant Munro
Darren Dods
Barry Wilson
Russell Duncan
Richie Hart
Ian Black
Dennis Wyness
Craig Dargo
Michael Fraser
Stuart Golabek
Stuart McCaffrey
Liam Fox
Alan Morgan
Graham Bayne
Rory McAllister
Graham Bayne -> Craig Dargo (74)
Rory McAllister -> Richard Hastings (86)
Alan Morgan -> Ian Black (92)
Foster -> Snoyl (63)
Stewart -> Diamond (84)
MacFarlane -> Crawford (88)
Yellow cards
Craig Dargo (29)
Barry Wilson (78)
Severin (58)
Clark (78)
Lovell (83)
Smith (90)
Red cards
None. None
Other statistics
2 Shots 7
0 Shots on goal 4
2 Offsides 0
5 Corner kicks 5
10 Free kicks 17
0 Penalties 0
Match report
The home side’s top six aspirations took a severe dent with this defeat by bogey team Aberdeen – at the tenth attempt they have still never beaten their former landlords.

In the days leading up to the game heavy rain and a high spring tide resulted in a wet pitch and the match was in doubt. The weather improved and sterling work by ground staff meant that a 10am pitch inspection gave the green light for this vital match.

The stadium was virtually full as sixth placed Caley Thistle met the team lying just a point behind in the penultimate match before the league split. Ross Tokely’s return from suspension gave Charlie Christie a selection problem but he chose to restore him to the starting line-up at the expense of Stuart McCaffrey. Craig Dargo came back from illness to partner Dennis Wyness up front.

It turned out to be a close fought match with few shots on goal and could easily have ended 0-0. Steve Lovell changed all that in the 83rd minute with a bizarre goal that stunned the home fans.

The first half was pretty even but tough. In ten minutes an excellent Grant Munro through ball was chased by Dargo but Jamie Langfield reached it just ahead of him. Wyness hit two angled shots past the post in the 15th and 16th minutes then a Richie Hart long shot sailed over the bar.

Richard Hastings blocked a James Smith drive in 20 minutes then a Stevie Crawford overhead kick was taken easily by Mark Brown. In 31 minutes an Ian Black through ball was headed over the advancing Langfield by Dargo and a goal looked on the cards before Zander Diamond stepped in to clear the danger.

Aberdeen finished the first half strongly aided by the award of a couple of rather soft free kicks but the home defence held out.

The Dons were the stronger side in the second half and a Crawford header in 48 minutes went just wide. Brown turned a Smith free kick past the post in 52 minutes as Aberdeen continued to press. The match flared up in 77 minutes when Chris Clark went down at the left angle of the box and Clark chased Tokely to remonstrate. After order was restored the resultant free kick by Smith hit off Hastings and was collected by Brown.

Lovell’s winning goal in 83 minutes came out of very little. A high ball towards the home box tempted Brown to race out to collect but it hung in the air and Steve Lovell stepped in. He lobbed it goalwards and it looked like bouncing over the bar. The soft ground assisted and it went in for 1-0. Lovell collected a yellow card for his celebrations in front of the away fans and the stewards had to look lively to thwart an attempted pitch invasion.

The home side pressed hard in the remaining minutes and substitute Graham Bayne set up Ian Black 25 yards out but he hit high over the bar. Defender Hastings was withdrawn with four minutes left and striker Rory McAllister sent on to bolster the attack. Langfield punched away a Barry Wilson free kick then a Black chip into the box was cleared before Black was stretchered off with a knee injury following a foul. The delay took the time over the 90 minutes and Alan Morgan came on for Black. Morgan took the long-delayed free kick 40 yards out but it was held by Langfield.

Smith was booked for throwing the ball away as Aberdeen did everything to hold on to their lead. They succeeded and moved back into the top six. Motherwell also won and moved to seventh with ICT slipping to eighth.

All will be decided next Saturday – Caley Thistle need to win and the others to lose but there is another scenario. An ICT win, an Aberdeen draw and a Motherwell defeat would also suffice because of the Inverness side’s superior goal difference.