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17.01.2004 @ 15:00 Caledonian Stadium, Inverness Attendance: 1443
Inverness CT 2 - 1 Ayr United
Referee: M McCurry League-match

Goalscorers
Paul Ritchie (22)
David Bingham (81)
Doyle (62)
Starting Lineup
Mark Brown
Ross Tokely
Bobby Mann
Stuart Golabek
Stuart McCaffrey
Russell Duncan
Liam Keogh
David Bingham
Darran Thomson
Paul Ritchie
Darren Mackie
Roy
Lyle
Hardy
Smyth
Campbell
Craig
Chaplain
Ramsay
Brown
Kean
McColl
Substitutes
Michael Fraser
Grant Munro
Barry Wilson
David MacRae
Craig MacMillan
McGrady
Doyle
Ferguson
Burgess
Hillcoat
Substitutions
Barry Wilson -> Darran Thomson (72)
Grant Munro -> Darren Mackie (83)
McGrady -> McGrady (37)
Doyle -> Hardy (37)
Ferguson -> Brown (64)
Yellow cards
Darren Mackie (60)
David Bingham (60)
Smyth
Ramsay
Red cards
None. Mark Campbell (88)
Match report
The points should have been wrapped up comfortably in the first half but the home side could only manage one goal. An Ayr revival in the second half led to an equaliser and a tense finish. On a bitterly cold afternoon Caley Thistle dominated the first half and they could easily have gone ahead in the first ten minutes. In nine minutes David Bingham turned and shot in the box but it hit off Mark Campbell and fell kindly for Ludo Roy. A minute later Ross Tokely crossed from the right and it nearly fooled Roy it bounced to safety off the crossbar. In 15 and 17 minutes Roy saved shots from Darren Mackie then a Paul Ritchie header flashed past. In 22 minutes a Tokely header sent Bingham off goalwards, he passed inside to Mackie who could have shot but he found Ritchie in a better position Ritchie turned just inside the box and hit a left-foot shot past Roy for the opening goal. The expected avalanche never happened. In 27 minutes Roy dropped the ball on the 18 yard line - or just outside some claimed, Mackie passed to Ritchie and his chip towards the empty goal was palmed away by Roy. Binghams cross-goal ball from the left a minute later came close then in 35 minutes Roy came to Ayrs rescue once more when he stopped a Ritchie volley. Ayr sparked to life after the break but still rarely troubled Mark Brown. In 51 minutes Ritchie latched onto a Darran Thomson corner but his header was cleared off the line by a defender. Ayr equalised with a freak goal in 62 minutes. Brown punched away a high ball from Stuart McGrady and it struck Jamie Doyle 15 yards out with the goal unattended the ball trickled over the line. Ayr substitute Andrew Ferguson latched onto a poor pass six minutes later but, with only Brown to beat, he shot low and wide. Substitute Barry Wilson flicked the ball over Roy in 76 minutes but it cleared the bar. There was great relief for the home fans when the winner came with nine minutes left. The hard-working Mackie won a corner on the left and Wilsons kick was headed in by Bingham. Ayr could not hit back and their misery was compounded when Mark Campbell was sent off two minutes from time for a reckless challenge on Stuart Golabek. With Clydes game falling victim to the weather Caley Thistle are now just one point off the top.