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Inverness CT Cove Rangers
3pm, July 14
Betfred Cup
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Pos Team Pld Pts
3. Dundee Utd 36 61
4. Dunfermline 36 59
5. Inverness CT 36 57
6. Q.O.S. 36 52
7. Morton 36 50
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150321 partick christie 001Partick Thistle 1 v 0 Inverness CT

Saturday’s game at Firhill was a fixture that many in red and blue had looked forward to with relish. Partick hadn’t won two games on the bounce since Adam was a lad, the sun was shining and Inverness had no injury or suspension worries.

The warm up was even graced by Dean Brill, evidence that the big man was returning to full health. What no one had remembered was that, if any side held an indian sign over Caley Thistle this year, it was Partick.

150321 partick meekings 001Looking at the line-ups, you would have thought that a five man Inverness defence, and one that included three centre backs would have been nigh on impregnable. Partick certainly thought so, as Chris Doolan tilted at windmills alone for most of the afternoon.

The pitch was a rock hard affair, similar in bone jarring intensity to the red blaze pitches that so many Scottish school kids remember with dread. Any attempt to caress the ball over it led to passes being under hit and then unaccountably zipping off the surface which led inexorably to players like Greg Tansey and Ryan Stevenson becoming increasingly frustrated and marginalised as they struggled to cope.

150321 partick watkins 001The first half finished without note or real incident and if there were chances, they were of the fleeting and difficult variety. As John Hughes said: "We were the better team in the first half, we dominated the football and we should have scored one or two goals if we were a little bit more clinical in front of goal. We had a solid shape, we passed it quite well on a sticky pitch.”

Still if a half time draw was no bad thing, the next half hour continued to serve up the same fare, both sides probing and cancelling each other out as they increasingly resorted to firing long balls over rather than across the pitch. The net result was that Marley Watkins and Ryan Christie were both struggling to cope with the ball being fired at them with the ferocity and unpredictability of a scalded cat.

Again, Hughes called it: “In the second half we were miles off it and not doing what we were doing in the first half. We never got on it, never passed it, played it too straight, and that put us on the back foot. We kept giving the ball away, and all credit to Partick, that gave them the incentive to get on the front foot and they got their goal. I'm a little bit disappointed in the goal, we should have been round about the second ball so to see it nestle in the bottom corner was a little bit disappointing. I thought we were not too bad first half, but, second half, miles off it."

Maybe not miles, as the goal that decided the game arrived in 84 minutes as an initially sclaffed shot by Lyall Taylor landed kindly for Lawless. He dispatched it beyond Esson via the slightest contact with the post, leaving the Inverness keeper helpless. Ofere and Kink replenished a tiring attack in an effort to restore parity, but Lady luck was firmly in Maryhill until a full time whistle that saw Inverness brimming with frustration.

150321 partick kink 001These games are the ones that try the managers, players and fans patience to breaking point. They are also part and parcel of the tapestry of football which draws us back time and time again as we strive upwards this season. On course for third place and competing with a Dundee United side traumatised by their recent results, the next fixture for the Caley Jags is a home one against Dundee that will be keenly anticipated. There is one thing that shines as brightly as the spring sun did on Saturday though – we won’t have to face Partick again this year!

There were the usual band of noisy away supporters at the game. A lot of them were there on a bus run by the supporters trust and organised by the redoubtable John Horne. He wasn’t there, having been taken ill and hospitalised on Friday. Get well soon John.

All our latest videos at Photos by Report by Davie Balfour

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