SPL v Inverness Caley Thistle
INVERNESS CT 2 DUNFERMLINE 0 Date: 15/08/04
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Attendance: 2700 Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Tom Brown, Weather: Warm Sunny 22C
It was a lovely sunny afternoon in Aberdeen but the Dunfermline performance was decidedly dull. Outplayed by the SPL newcomers the Pars sunk to a 2-0 defeat that emphasised, apart for the last 20 minutes in Iceland, how the season has yet to begin for the team that finished in fourth place in the SPL last term. A Stuart Golabek goal put the Highlanders ahead in the 12th minute and Juanjo`s neat execution ended the contest 20 minutes from time.
More Dunfermline fans travelled to Reykjavik for Thursday`s UEFA match than risked the speed cameras on the A90 to Aberdeen even though this was another historic match with newly promoted Caley Thistle playing their first ` home` SPL match and nearly 2000 making the 210 mile round trip from the Highland capital to their new `home` in Aberdeen.
Craig Brewster started and that was the only change from the eleven that faced FH Hafnarfjordur 66 hours previously. As DA waited to kick off in the glorious afternoon sunshine, Inverness unfurled the SFL Division One flag on the south end of the Merkland Road Stand.
Caley attacking the Richard Donald Stand end, were first to create a chance when in the fourth minute Graham Bayne lined up Liam Keogh for a pop at goal that broke off Greg Shields for a corner on the right. Derek Stillie collected the corner at the second attempt and Barry Nicholson tried a quick break that found Hunt but Noel`s centre was taken easily by Mark Brown in the Inverness goal.
Three minutes later Nicholson sent over a ball from the left wing about 25 yards from the Inverness byeline, Gary Dempsey attacked it at the far post but Juanjo covered back sufficiently to put the Irishman off target. The former Hearts man reminded us of his skills in the 11th minute with a well struck free kick that fortunately swung into Derek Stillie`s arms before Inverness went ahead in the next minute.
Stuart GOLABEK played the captain`s role collecting a Hart ball on the left side just ten yards inside the Dunfermline half. He set off on a run and made ground with little opposition so much so that when he got 20 yards from goal he unleashed a low shot as Andrius Skerla came into tackle him. The ball was drilled into the bottom right corner of the net and the Inverness support went wild with delight.
Minutes later Juanjo intercepted a pass from Dempsey to Shields in the same vicinity as Golabek had started his successful run. This time the Spaniard chose to switch the ball out right where Caley lost possession but Juanjo only highlighted how sluggish the Pars looked. Barry Wilson came on for the injured Hislop in the 23rd minute and within two minutes caused problems, running on to a ball down the left that he then fizzed through the penalty box.
Dunfermline then had their best two chances of the match. Firstly a Brewster pass out to Hunt on the left allowed him to twist and turn his way around Tokely before sending a cross into the penalty box that Nicholson left for Brewster who was making ground into the right side of the area but unfortunately his shot was blocked out. Two minutes later Brew laced another ball towards Hunt in a central position and as he raced in on goal he lifted the ball from 25 yards over Mark Brown but unluckily over the crossbar as well.
The keeper was given something to stop when Scott Thomson tested him from 30 yards and when Shields found the head of Brewster from a 32nd minute cross in from the right the ball was headed clear by Stuart McCafferty. Juanjo had another long range effort that Stillie held after Graham Bayne had set up the shooting opportunity.
At half time the buzz was all from the Inverness fans and it was a fairly subdued travelling Pars support, estimated at 400, that welcomed out the Pars well ahead of the `home` team. Former Pittodrie favourite Darren Young was brought on for Richie Byrne and Scott Thomson moved to left side of defence.
Five minutes into second half Golabek robbed Nicholson on the Pars right, played a 1-2 with Wilson to win a corner on the left. When the ball came over it took Bayne by surprise and his weak effort was allowed to roll back to Stillie. Gary Dempsey managed to get a 25 yard shot in but it was still Caley who looked the more dangerous.
There was a real fright in the 53rd minute when a Hart free kick came off the the toe of Greg Shields and just beyond the left goalpost. Brew was back to get the corner cleared and Hunty took the play swiftly to the other end, Munro`s diving header sending the ball out for a corner in front of the Pars fans. Scott Wilson went up to meet Barry Nicholson`s delivery but the ball went out on the left side and Scott was yellow carded for his protests suggesting that referee Tom Brown had got it wrong. Hunt forced another corner on the right 8 minutes later but this time Skerla was penalised for pushing into the challenge.
Caley then took control again pushing the Pars back and Thomson hoofing clearance was soon back with Barry Wilson. The former Livvy man passed to Juanjo and his shot was successfully blocked. The home support clearly had decided their SPL name as they broke into yet more chants of Caley and Wilson sent in another cross that just cleared Juanjo allowing Skerla to head away the danger.
Skerla had another header to Stillie to prevent further Juanjo bother and Dempsey`s block on the former Barcelona wee man diverted the ball out to Wilson on the right wing.
John Robertson`s men were soon attacking again down the right and despite Thomson closing in on Wilson this time his pass picked out JUANJO just seven yards from goal on the right and he masterfully turned the ball away from Stillie at an angle and into the far left of the goal.
At two nil down there was little hope of a repeat of the Laugardsvollur Stadium recovery. Mehmet came on for Brewster, Thomson shot a free kick into Brown`s arms, Nicholson fired over the bar from 18 yards and Darren Young chipped a shot that landed on the roof of the net. Inverness Caley thoroughly deserved their win and Dons boss Jimmy Calderwood, who watched the match from the Main Stand, must be relishing his trip to East End Park next Saturday.
Davie Hay and his team have seven days to inject sharpness into the Pars play. Too often the players were beaten to the ball or had the ball softly taken off them. With Aberdeen the next SPL visitors maybe that is just the incentive needed for his old charges to remind Jimmy Calderwood what they can really do.
Attendance was given as 1972 but that was only for customers paying at the gate. Caley Thistle have apparently sold between 900 and 1000 season tickets thus the reason for the declaration that was obviously under reported.
Inverness Caley Thistle: Brown; Tokely, Golabek, McCafferty, McBain, Hislop (Wilson 23), Bayne, Hart, Juanjo (Prunty 88), Munro, Keogh
Inverness CT Subs: Fraser, Dods, Duncan, Proctor, Black
Inverness CT Goal Scorers: Golabek (12), Juanjo (70)
Inverness CT Cards: none
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 18th March, Dunfermline v Ayr United kick off 3.00pm