141122 motherwell celeb 001Inverness Caledonian Thistle 3 v 1 Motherwell

Motherwell arrived in Inverness for this game managerless but buoyed by an unlikely victory against Dundee United last week. Kenny Black could look to bolster his case for becoming boss on a permanent basis, but on this evidence he might think twice.

His side are, in many ways, a mirror image of Caley Thistle – unearthing talent from afar, nurturing it and watching it move on to greater things. It’s all dependent on keeping players or replacing those who leave with equal quality but this season looks one step too far them and their inability to cope with a quality football side was there for all to see at Tulloch Caledonian Stadium.

Inverness, on the other hand, are mining a rich seam of form that shows no signs of running out. You might have thought that they would miss Ross Draper, the midfield enforcer who has already gleaned an SPFL player of the month award this year. Not a bit of it. The midfield was rejigged with Vincent in a central role and Ryan Christie filling the vacancy. The result was seamless.

141122 motherwell mckay 001The match started quietly and went through a spell of shadow boxing as both sides measured up to each other. It was obvious that Motherwell were anxious to avoid giving Inverness room to operate in, fearful of the consequences but in 29 minutes Billy Mckay forced the issue by showing his pace against a static and far too high defence. He beat Twardzick with ease.

If the Inverness faithful then sat back a bit in their seats, they were dragged upright by the impressive Ojamaa. A quick break, a Sutton cut back and the Finn placed the ball past Brill. It has to be said though that even with this flicker of good fortune, Inverness always looked liable to win this with ease. John Hughes, ebullient as ever said: “I felt we dominated the football and were always on the front foot, but we need to pass it with a better purpose and belief, everybody take part in the game, and that was the case in the second half”.

It certainly was. The only surprise was that goals by Watkins and Meekings were the only counters in a contest that would have been stopped had Bobby Madden been refereeing a boxing match.

141122 motherwell watkins 002Watkins header, a surgically precise affair, ended the contest with only Motherwell’s keeper continuing his one man resistance.

Meekings counter – his second of the season – must have had Sutton wondering just how he had circumnavigated the Motherwell defence to finish with such force that Sutton barely avoided being dispatched into the net with the ball.

It could easily have got worse, the mightily impressive Aaron Doran igniting proceedings in his cameo appearance and Ibra Sekajja suggesting his striking ability may be proved sooner rather than later. It says much that the most difficult decision of the day was around man of the match, and in truth it could have gone to any of Raven, Christie, Watkins, Shinnie, Tansey or Mckay.

That level of consistency will be important this season: “It just shows you the strength we've got on the bench because I felt the introduction of Aaron Doran and Nick Ross certainly swung it in our favour. 
Touch wood we've got the consistency this year and we need to keep driving forward and keep demanding off each other” said Hughes after the match to a BBC reporter who had penned a pre-match eulogy about “Hughes lighting up the Highlands” Setting them on fire might be nearer the mark.

Next week sees the small matter of a Scottish cup tie at St. Mirren that might turn out to be a massive step along the way of a much desired cup run. It’s a tough place to go up against a team with a long history of upsetting cup odds and Caley Thistle will need every voice they can get in support. Will yours be amongst them?

Find all our latest videos at youtube.com/officialict Photos by CaleyJags.com Report by Davie Balfour