Ladbrokes Championship: Inverness CT 2 Dunfermline 0: 21/12/19
Bright sunshine welcomed Dunfermline to Caledonian Stadium for their final away fixture of the decade. Without the suspended Greg Kiltie Stevie Crawford brought in Joe Thomson for his first start since March. Kyle Turner and Harry Cochrane were relegated to the bench to accommodate Paul Paton and Lewis McCann.
Inverness manager John Robertson was without Carl Tremarco, out with a foot injury meaning he brought in former Pars youth Kevin McHattie. There starting eleven included two other former Dunfermline players Jordan White and Shaun Rooney. James Vincent returned to the Caley bench.
McCann got the match underway with the visitors attacking the goal at the Kessock Bridge end. It was the Pars who created the first danger in the fourth minute of the match. Ryan Dow exchanged passes with Kevin Nisbet before slipping the ball to Thomson on the edge of the Inverness box and receiving it back via Aaron Comrie to release the first shot of the afternoon but that was blocked by McHattie and the home side successfully defended the resultant corner.
Home skipper Aaron Doran then created two opportunities for his side, both crosses from the left. The first was smashed narrowly wide left by James Keatings, the second one Ryan Scully held. Then in tenth minute Keatings sent Miles Storey into the left side of the Pars box and Paton slid in to direct the ball back towards Scully who was able to hold.
Charlie Trafford sent a wild shot over the crossbar from 25 yards out before Nisbet had a glorious chance on the quarter hour. Played through by McCann with just keeper Mark Ridgers to beat, the keeper stopped the shot and then had an easy catch as Nizzy followed up with a header.
Four minutes later the tenacity of Lewis Martin took him to the byeline but his cutback found McCann rather than Nisbet further behind him and ball went wide left. Back at the other end Scully made a great save turning a deflected Storey cross from the right around his right hand post.
The sun was going down, the few clouds in the sky reflected its glow and Caley really should have lit up the home fans too but they failed to take two good chances. A delivery from the right was fired on target by Doran and then again from the block by Keatings but he was narrowly wide right with his low driven effort.
Paton launched a 32nd minute Pars free kick into the Caley Thistle box and while Ashcroft managed to head it back towards Danny Devine, possession was lost until McCann latched on to the clearance and it was Jordan White who cleared his cross.
Two minutes later however Caley scores the opener after a corner from the right was defended and then returned by Keatings for Shaun ROONEY to sweep into the left side of the Pars net. 1-0
Comrie did well to thwart Doran who was bearing in on a diagonal ball and directing it back to his keeper. Keatings sent a 39th minute effort wide right before play stopped for Tom Beadling to receive treatment. Unable to continue Kyle Turner was the 43rd minute sub and he came close to providing the equaliser. The ball was played through by McCann for Nisbet but yet again Ridgers came out on top in another one on one.
The Pars keeper had been by far the busier of the two keepers as reflected by the first half stat of 61% Caley Thistle possession.
Half time: Inverness Caley Thistle 1 Dunfermline 0
David Carson smashed an early second half effort wide left before the Fifers had a spell where they pushed up but failed to trouble the keeper. Gradually the home side moved play deeper and deeper into the Pars half and in 57 minutes Ashcroft made a great tackle on Storey to left of goal to concede only a corner. That was defended but Paton under pressure from White turned the ball behind two minutes later for another corner on the left. This time Scully plucked the ball from the air.
Anthony McDonald made his Pars debut coming on for Lewis McCann in 62 minutes and almost made a stunning impact but would only force what was the visitors first corner of the game. Dow delivered from the left and Ashcroft collected the loose ball and was unfortunate no one was in front of goal to convert.
Comrie made a run and found Nisbet with his cross but he could not get his shot away. The Fifers were beginning to look the more likely to find the net, even Ashcroft was driving deep and the increasingly nervous home support were starting to call for a substitution.
Martin dispossessed Rooney to hand Caley a 72nd minute corner and from the second play Rooney had a shot that was deflected behind for another corner that Jamie McCart got his head to but could not put in the net.
Andy Ryan replaced Joe Thomson with sixteen minutes remaining but it was Caley’s Doran who forced another corner and when he delivered McCART again rose to head the ball in at the left post. There were appeals that Trafford had assisted the ball across the line off his arm but the referee deemed he didn`t touch it so goal stood. 2-0 with ten minutes remaining.
Three minutes later there was a speedy break by McDonald that set up Nisbet on the edge of the box but Ridgers held the shot. Vincent intercepted an 88th minute Ryan corner and Inverness saw the game out to consolidate their second place in the Championship. As for Dunfermline they fell out of the play off positions as a consequence of Dundee’s win over Partick Thistle.
INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE:Mark Ridgers: Shaun Rooney, Coll Donaldson, Jamie McCart, Kevin McHattie: David Carson, Aaron Doran (c)(Nikolay Todorov 89), Charlie Trafford, James Keatings (James Vincent 74), Jordan White (Mitch Curry 85), Miles Storey
SUBS NOT USED: Cammy Harper, Roddy Macgregor, Matheus Machado, Cammy Mackay (GK)
SCORERS: Rooney (34), McCart (80)
YELLOW CARD: Donaldson (65)
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully: Aaron Comrie, Danny Devine, Lee Ashcroft, Lewis Martin: Ryan Dow, Paul Paton (c), Tom Beadling (Kyle Turner 43), Joe Thomson (Andy Ryan 74), Lewis McCann (Anthony McDonald 62), Kevin Nisbet.
SUBS NOT USED: Tom Lang, Harry Cochrane, Josh Edwards, Cammy Gill (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Dow (35)
REFEREE: Alan Newlands
WEATHER: Sunny 4C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship: (home) v Alloa Athletic Saturday 28th December 2019, kick off 3.00pm at East End Park