FRIENDLY : Inverness CT 2 v 1 Fleetwood Town

The teams took to the field at Tulloch Caledonian Stadium in blazing sunshine, shortly after the place was inundated by a downpour of epic intensity. The pitch gulped in water gratefully leaving a pristine playing surface that is again a testimony to groundsman Tommy Cummings.

Inverness immediately showed that they will want that surface to last as long as possible this year as their entire game plan has changed and is now much more about retaining possession and incisive passing than it ever was pre John Hughes, and how the big man is enjoying it. Against a physically big and skilful Cod Army, Inverness showed that they will move sides around this year, passing around them and going for the jugular only when the time is right. It demands patience and vision, and in Greg Tansey they have a player who has both in abundance. Everything good in the midfield came through the Liverpudlian as he passed, prompted and cajoled. A more mature player than in his last spell with Caley Thistle, this could be his year to shine. He created a couple of good opportunities for Billy Mckay, although it was David Raven who supplied a raking cross to the Northern Irishman which he slipped beyond keeper Maxwell in 44 minutes.

If the first half was about probing and exploiting Fleetwood, the second half opened with Caley Thistle’s best period of the game. Approaching full match intensity, they pulled Fleetwood all over the place but as so often happens Fleetwood pulled a goal back. A Schumacher free kick was met by Ryan Cresswell, who plonked a looping header over Brill. If that was a cue for any anxiety, it didn’t show as the Inverness side took the lead again in short order. A rapier breakout involving Doran and Mckay culminated in a shot that cannoned back off the upright with Maxwell beaten. James Vincent strode on the rebound and Inverness were back in the lead.

As a contest, that was that. There was no further scoring but Fleetwood more than held their own and show signs of being a useful addition to League 1 in England. As a preparation for the games ahead this was a step up in intensity from Highland League and the home side will need to step up again next week at Birmingham City, and they still have Meekings, Foran and Devine to call upon when their knocks have settled down and the real nitty gritty of the SPFL Premiership starts. You suspect that if he was quietly satisfied at this game, he might sport the widest grin in Scottish football come late August. We live in hope.