Inverness Caledonian Thistle 4Clachnacuddin 0
Caley Thistle's second game in as many days presented an opportunity for more of the squads younger players to impress and my, they certainly did.
The matchday squad has practically picked itself for the most part the last couple of seasons, but with greater strength in depth and performances like that from those looking to impress for the future (and they did impress), then Terry Butcher could find himself with the opposite problem this season.
A 0-4 win over a Clach side that included a few ex-ICT players in their line up, the likes of Martin Laing, Kyle Whyte and Andrew Skinner, provided another physical test for the Caley Thistle boys, but team fitness showed once again as we allowed them to wear themselves out before powering on to a four goal haul in the second half.
Wholesale changes were made to that which beat Brora the night before, Inverness opting for a side largely made up from the under 20's with a few notable first teamers mixed in...the likes of Aaron Doran and David Raven adding that bit of experience to the squad. New signing Carl Tremarco also got a start after a brief run out against Brora.
Only 3 minutes in and Clach were nearly in front but a hard drive was well saved by Dean Brill who'd been handed the gloves for tonights encounter. 10 minutes later and Caley Thistle should have gone in front courtesy of a ball whipped in from the left by Danny Williams which found Doran unmarked at the back post, but the Irishman volleyed over the top.
ICT were then nearly gifted a goal by Clach keeper Dougie Maclennan as he spilled Liam Polworth's header and just as it was rolling in Maclennan did well to palm the ball off the goalline, denying the on rushing Ryan Christie who was quick to follow up.
Half an hour played and the home side went close again, another powerful drive definitely looked like it was heading in but Matthew Cooper managed to get his body in the way of it. Christie then pounced onto a mistake in the Clach defence but was denied by the upright from what was a fairly tight angle.
Just before the break Williams tried his luck from 30 yards and his shot wasn't far off the top right corner before the same man was played through one on one but Maclennan stayed big to deny him.
HT: Clach 0 ICT 0
It wasn't long after the restart when Caley Thistle finally break through, and it was Christie with a really well taken goal, flicking the ball over the defender's head before lifting it over the keeper. A sumptuous finish to break the deadlock.
It was tough to catch what happened for the second goal from where we were standing, but it seemed like Adam Evans from all of 3 yards headed the ball back across goal instead of into it...fortunately Calum Ferguson was on hand to tuck it away.
Ferguson grabbed his second, and ICT's third, shortly after with a fine solo goal. A good sprint through the middle and a bit of a break took him past the last defender, remaining composed to poke the ball past Maclennan.
Not long before the full time whistle ICT got a fourth and it came from Jason Brown who had only been on the pitch for a couple of minutes. The corner was drifted in from the left and Brown rose highest at the back post to bullet the header into the back of the net.
FT: Clach 0 ICT 4
So, just over 2 weeks before the start of the season and the boys are looking in good shape both physically and technically. It's been a good test against some of these Highland League sides and with Raith, Arbroath and then Charlton coming up the bar continues to be raised every game in preparation for the 3rd of August.
I've been impressed with all the new signings and I'm sure I'm not the only one who is highly optimistic for the season ahead.
REPORT: JACK DAVIS
PHOTOS : CALEYJAGS.COM