Motherwell 2 v 1 Inverness CT
It had to happen sometime. Caley Thistle’s unbeaten 2015 run ended at Motherwell as the home side grabbed the three points. How they must have felt about the other sides in the bottom three can only be imagined, but it will have been matched by Caley Thistle’s relief that the sides above and below them also lost.
Fir park is never a good surface to grace passing football at this time of the season, and it also welcomed the return of two prodigal sons, Stephen Pearson and Scott MacDonald. Omens? Not really, as Inverness introduced their own debutant, Edward Ofere. The former Sogndal and Malmo man was to have the biggest impact, possibly unsurprising for a man of his stature!
A first half that ended as it started – goalless – found Inverness presented with the best chances as Greg Tansey unleashed his now customary thirty-odd yarder that dipped about a foot too late and Danny Williams was thwarted as he rounded Long, the keeper desperately clawing the ball away when Williams looked set to score. MacDonald had previously blasted a decent chance over, but Meekings and Devine, deputising for Warren, dealt with Motherwell with some ease.
The second half meandered along in the same fashion, only the rain getting heavier until the deadlock was broken by the home side. A Motherwell corner was dealt with and the ball cleared as far as Conor Grant. His ball was met by Laing, who powered a decent header past Esson.
Thereafter, Ofere hit the woodwork and Inverness started to look predatory. Their reward came in 77 minutes when a delicious Graeme Shinnie cross was met by Ofere’s forehead and planted beyond Long. At this point, there looked a real danger of Motherwell folding as Inverness pressed hard.
That they suffered a sucker punch of Motherwell’s second goal was galling, especially as Ainsworth’s shot looked to be covered by Esson until the ball spun outrageously off Ross Draper’s unsuspecting heel. His reaction spoke volumes, but he really knew nothing about it. Even after this, Simon Ramsden conspired to make the host’s job just that wee bit harder as he was sent off for a second yellow. He could complain about neither of them.
So it finished, but on a weekend where neither Aberdeen or Dundee United could capitalise John Hughes disappointment was tempered. "After hitting the woodwork twice, putting a couple past the post, we certainly deserved to take something out of the match. I don't know if it's all three points but we could have took three points. We showed character to come back having lost a goal. I felt we could have gone on to win the match but it wasn't to be. It's the first time we've been beaten this year, on a heavy pitch, by a team that's fighting for their life."
Of his new signing he said "You can see he's a lovely big guy, he's a gentleman and he plays the game in a fantastic manner. He is a real good footballer and when we get him fit he'll be a fantastic player for Inverness."
In the chase for a UEFA League qualifying spot, things just got a bit more interesting, but Hughes will look to bed in Ofere and anyone else gradually with the Raith Rovers cup tie at the weekend followed by a min-break. I can’t think of a better time to get on board at Tulloch Caledonian Stadium. Can you?
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