Inverness Caledonian Thistle 1 v 0 St Mirren
Inverness preserved their unbeaten run in 2015, admittedly only two games long but more importantly gleaned another three points in the fight for a top six or European spot. This wasn’t the display of verve and ruthlessness that silenced Ross County, but rather a display of tenacity and grit. At the end of the day, both were worth three points.
St. Mirren might feel aggrieved at losing this game after giving the crossbar and Dean Brill frights along the way, but the only side that showed enough quality to win the fixture duly did. Inverness might have been apprehensive for this game, missing Watkins after a late fitness test was failed, but they contained St. Mirren, moved them around and then countered when it mattered.
John Hughes said: "It was always going to be difficult in terms of our mind-set, in terms of getting the boys' mental attitude right - especially coming off the back of the effort that we put into the derby match. We had to be patient. I always felt we were the better team. The boys showed a character, a willingness and a spirit to go and dig it out and I'm absolutely delighted to pick up the three points”.
He was, from his unaccustomed perch in the stand able to appreciate the way that, when others might have faded, Billy Mckay took the match by the scruff of the neck. He had started by missing a fine chance when put through by Ross, but refused to be put off, and it’s a mark of the man that the greatest show of frustration you will see from him is an imploring look to the heavens. His movement is incessant and intelligent and opposing centre backs must look over their shoulders for him in the street, long after the end of the game. He’s always there, and I suppose that’s why John Hughes referred to him as a 'sniffer': “When you've got a sniffer in front of goal like Billy Mckay, you've always got a chance of winning the match. Great goal. He got to the front post with a back-flick through his standing leg and I was glad to see it hit the back of the net."
Of course Mckay would be the first to tell you that this is a team game and it’s true that David Raven and Nick Ross shone brightly in this game. Ross’s role was particularly noteworthy, coming against a background of not much game time. Raven simply continued the excellent form he has showed of late and Brill pulled off his customarily excellent save of the game when he had to. However, when it’s a hard day at the office and nothing seems to go right any team will look for that spark of inspiration to line up beside. Mckay offers that, time and again.
Still in fifth, equal on points with Dundee United and a mere five points off Aberdeen at the top Hughes’s team goes to Kilmarnock next for the next instalment, the next three points. They will be hard fought, but no-one fights harder that Yogi’s team. Who knows where that will take us?
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