Match Report: ICTFC 2-2 Ross County (03/11/2018)
Written by Adam Sturrock
Caley Thistle and Ross County offered up every ingredient for a spicy Highland derby as the sides battled it out for the bragging rights on Saturday. A comeback goal, a spectacular save (or two) and some well worked goals was more than enough to secure the three points for the home side, but after a blistering first half, the luck was not falling to either side and the game ended two goals apiece.
After picking up an injury against Patrick Thistle, George Oakley made his first start in around two months against Ross County, replacing Jordan White from the Dunfermline game. Aaron Doran and Joe Chalmers were the other changes for the home side, with Daniel Mackay and Charlie Trafford being rested .
On the Ross County side, home fans could spot many familiar faces as ex-Jags Ross Draper, Iain Vigurs, Don Cowie and the recently in-form Billy Mackay were given the nod to play against their former employers.
The opening goal was bound to involve a former Caley Player. Ian Vigurs collected the ball from deep in the middle of the park and passed to fellow ICT alumni, Don Cowie, who then duly set up Lindsay on the right hand side. After he tee'd himself up, he swept a low, skimming shot from outside of the box, across Mark Ridgers and into the bottom left corner as County took the lead.
The Caley Jags responded promptly and with style only a few minutes later. Aaron Doran slipped into space on the left channel and smacked a high cross, which was then met by Tom Walsh with a cushioned header. Just as the ball seemed to be a little too high for George Oakley, he stretched his leg to hook it on target with the outside of his foot to equalise. It was a goal that many in and around the club were ecstatic for, as the Englishman overcame his injury to contribute once again to the team.
At the midpoint of the first half, ICT went ahead with some great play from Liam Polworth. Sean Welsh had a cheeky backheel to set up Polworth on the left hand side in acres of space and the number 7 had all the time in the world to look up and pick his pass; dribbling at the defence for a period before picking out Shaun Rooney in the middle. The RB-come-Striker sidefooted the pass first-time into the bottom corner.
Mark Ridgers proved to be a frustrating figure for the Ross County attack as they tried to bring things level, arguably making one of the saves of the season to deny an otherwise equaliser. From the right hand side, Mullin curled a deep cross that seemed to bend around the first defender and onto the head of Billy Mckay. The Northern Irishman directed a looping header in the opposite corner and with Ridgers contorting his body to change direction it seemed destined to land in the net. But Mark twisted his body again to claw the ball away and around the post - a truly amazing save from the Caley Jags' number one!
But that save was short-lived as the former Caley Jag was heavily involved in making the game 2-2. Mckay managed to avoid offside calls to drag the ball to the goal line on the left hand channel. He hit a low cross that seemed harmless but Brad Mckay stuck his leg out to attempt a clearance and he could only redirect it in from close range. It was very unlucky from the defender.
The second half still had the feistiness from the first, but goals became an elusive reward.
As goalscorer Rooney pulled up injured, Ross County were played on by the referee and they were within a hair of taking the lead again. Ian Vigurs cut a pass across the box to Sean Kelly from the right hand side and the defender surely thought his effort had slipped in - the fans thought so too. The pass was just behind him and he could only clip it into the sidenetting from close.
Rooney eventually couldn't continue as he limped off, so McCart was subbed on to shuffle the defence, allowing Brad McKay to slot into the fullback position.
The next opportunity to go ahead came to ICT, this time the effort was even closer. Doran was threaded through at speed in space on the right hand side and the ICT captain crossed to the middle for Liam Polworth swept his effort first time to his left and the goalkeeper was struggling to reach, only for his shot to kiss the post and go out.
Perhaps channeling his frustrations over his missed opportunity, Kelly rolled a tantalizing cross left footed that came unchallenged and unwanted by any player. It was within a touch of becoming dangerous for the home team, but it harmlessly slithered out for a goalkick.
The last clear cut chance to change the game fell to Chalmers and Doran. Joe received the ball in that halfway point between the wings and midfield and after taking a touch, bent a tantalising pass around the defence to Doran. Aaron stretched to get a touch but he couldn't get enough contact on the fizzing pass and could only skew his effort wide.
ICTFC: Ridgers, Rooney (McCart 57'), Mckay, Donaldson, Calder, Welsh, Chalmers, Polworth, Doran, Walsh (Mackay 74'), Oakley (White 61')
Ross County: Fox, Fraser, Draper, Watson, Kelly, Mullin (Stewart 85'), Cowie (Graham 75'), Vigurs, Lindsay, Keillor-Dunn (McManus 66'), Mckay
Referee: Kevin Clancy
Sponsor's Man of the Match: Coll Donaldson
Watch the Highlights HERE