James Keatings led a dominant display by the Caley Jags against Greenock Morton on Friday night, putting his stamp on a 5-0 win at home.
Keatings was the quickest to react to a loose ball in the box at the 42nd minute and then added his second immediately after the restart in the second half.
Jordan White and Nikolay Todorov notched a goal each from one-one-one chances, sandwiching a well taken Donaldson header from a corner.
There was only one change from the 0-0 draw at Dens Park for the hosts, with Jordan White starting up front over Miles Storey.
Morton arrived in decent form, having put away 27 goals in all competitions so far this season under Hopkin. But the first half was a cautious affair, with both teams getting plenty of the ball but unable to find many pockets to probe.
12 minutes in, Ridgers had to make a smart save with his legs as Nicky Cadden fashioned a tight chance for the Tons. Cadden nutmegged Rooney near the touchline from a short corner, and managed to get a low left footed effort on target, with Ridgers blocking with his feet at the post. The winger had a second attempt from a more conventional angle seconds later after jinking into the middle from the right, but this time it was well wide.
ICT had their own fair share of half-chances, but oftentimes it wouldn’t land properly to test their keeper during the first half. Tom Walsh whipped a pass from the right hand side and it managed to sneak all the way to Doran at the back post. He did well to get his knees above the ball on the volley and it probably was on target, but it was blocked by a Morton back and out for a corner.
Moments later, Keatings kept Danny Rogers alert with a well-hit speculative shot from range. From a free-kick 35 yards out, James Keatings eyed up his target and hit a knuckleball on goal that squiggled towards his mark; Danny Rodgers just about stopped it. A minute later, Walsh hit an enticing cross that Donaldson did well to meet, but could’t get it on target under pressure.
Just before the end of the half, luck would fall kindly to the team in blue and red and Keatings’ opportunism would be rewarded.
Aaron Doran squared up to Stephen Welsh in the box on the left after stopping a lofted pass, and dragged the ball onto his right foot. After carving out a window to shoot, he tested Rogers through a field of players and the ball landed fortunately at a good height for Keatings to volley home – it was his first league game for the Caley Jags.
But that wasn’t the end of the chances in the half. Shaun Rooney did well to drive up the right hand side to float a great cross into the box, with Doran meeting it and rattling the crossbar – it was ruled for offside.
The second half would be a different story as Keatings wasted no time from the re-start. Jamie McCart looked up within his own half and hit a cross field ball that was uncontested until it reached James’ feet on the edge of the box on the right. He took a touch and guided a low shot into the far corner with his weak foot to double his tally and the team’s lead.
At the 51st minute, Walsh did well to direct a first time low volley on target, but Rogers did well to direct it around the post. Morton caused a scare moments later from a set-piece – Brian McLean rose highest from Morton’s corner to firmly direct it on goal and it was a David Carson leg away from nestling in the back of the net; great coverage from the midfielder.
In the middle of the second half, Jordan White added to the scoreline and settled some nerves with a very tidy finish after breaking the offside trap. Doran received the ball on the left hand side and turned to pass to Vincent behind him in the middle, taking the pass first time, he delicately weighted it perfecty for the number nine to run onto it and squeeze the ball past Rodgers from close range.
From the restart, Greenock Morton were up the pitch rapidly in response and managed to win a spot kick with a fortunate call on the first attempt. The ball was flicked up inside the box and according to the referee, it made contact with David Carson’s arm. Cadden had his chance to convert it but his mid-height shot to the right was fairly comfortable for Ridgers to palm away.
James Keatings almost completed his hattrick from an unfortunate slip by the keeper. He stood over the ball from the right hand side and whipped it from left to right and Danny Rogers seemed to have it covered, but his grip was elusive and it almost embarassingly slipped between his fingers and into the net, thankfully sliding out for a corner.
Keatings took it and Donaldson did well to meet it at the near post to finish for ICT’s 4th.
Nikolai Todorov replaced Jordan White after the 4th goal, but he wasted no time in adding his effort moments after running out. David Carson was having a great game up to that moment and he managed to turn and tee up Todorov with a splitting pass down the middle from his own half, with the Bulgarian narrowly breaking even with the defensive line. Same scenario as White, same result and what looked like a slightly slow first half, gave way to a comfortable 5-0 lead.