IF CELTIC are the Premiership’s Olympian long-distance runners, easing up through the heats while barely breaking sweat, Caley Thistle might be compared to the plucky club runner elbowing their way in among the supposed elite.
Defiantly keeping pace with a club operating in a different financial stratosphere, there is no end in sight given the stamina, durability and panache they display on a weekly basis.
Where once only physical strengths were highlighted, it would have been a blinkered observer who overlooked the flair, fluency and accomplishment of their play yesterday, in stark contrast to Motherwell’s meek performance.
Their excellence has not gone unnoticed. This week, Inverness manager John Hughes found himself angrily berating Graeme Shinnie’s agent, Clive Hart, for going public over the players’ contract rejection. However, it didn’t faze the promising Scotland U-21 cap one bit.
“I’ve always tried to stay away from speculation,” Shinnie, who was linked with Aberdeen and Rangers, said. “My whole focus is on my football and trying to do well for this club. That’s all I can do.
“There’s going to be talk probably from now until the end of the season, but, in my head, it’s just a focus on football – and taking this club to where we want go to.”
Motherwell had one chance all day and took it, with home goalkeeper Dean Brill otherwise idle. Other than that, it was a tale of total domination from a host team these days combining attractive play with relentless, winning form.
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Hughes’ side took time to warm up, despite some periods of neat build-up play, but took a 29th- minute lead that was to last less than two minutes.
After patient movement, David Raven’s measured through pass caught out the away defence and Billy Mckay timed his run to perfection before slotting past Dan Twardzik.
Slackness from the Highlanders cost them the lead from the very next attack after a tremendous ball down the left found Iain Vigurs supplying John Sutton in the penalty box. Sutton had the strength to hold off his marker and tee up Henrik Ojamaa ten yards out and he smashed high into the net.
More home pressure and intricate passing almost produced an Inverness second four minutes before the break, ending with a well-placed Ryan Christie shot from an eight-yard angle. Twardzik was superb as he dived to fingertip the net-bound attempt around the post.
The hosts’ flowing football continued, with Greg Tansey’s left-foot drive almost skimming the outside of the upright before half-time.
Caley’s dominance continued, with Mckay missing a couple of decent chances before Shinnie was architect of the Inverness second after 73 minutes. A cross from the left found the energetic Marley Watkins, who glanced a spinning header beyond Twardzik’s reach.
It was all over bar the shouting when a Tansey corner bounced all the way to the back post where Josh Meekings waited to bundle the ball over the line.
“The better team won on the day, no question,” Motherwell caretaker Kenny Black admitted. “They were far better, far brighter than us, passed the ball better and created loads of chances.”
Black has been linked with the vacancy arising from Stuart
McCall’s resignation, but seemed like a man open to dissuasion last night given what he had just seen.
“I don’t enjoy football after today,” Black offered grimly, refusing to blame managerial or ownership issues bubbling behind the scenes. “I like the game. I’ve been in it over 30 years as player, coach, manager, assistant manager, but on days like today, it was certainly painful viewing. That’s the highs and lows of football, I suppose.
“There is a lot happening behind the scenes, but that’s just no excuse at all. There was a lot happening behind the scenes against Dundee United and we won.
“I’m not going to paper over the cracks. I’m 100 per cent honest, and always will be. That had nothing at all to do with the performance.”
Inverness CT: Brill, Raven, Meekings, Warren, Shinnie, Christie (Ross 76), Tansey, Williams, Vincent (Doran 66), Watkins, McKay (Sekajja 86). Subs not used: Esson, Devine, Tremarco, Polworth. Booked: Doran, Watkins. Goals: Mckay 29; Watkins 71; Meekings 78.
Motherwell: Twardzik, Kerr, McManus, O’Brien, Reid, Ainsworth (Law 58), Ramsden (Erwin 73), Lasley, Vigurs, Ojamaa, Sutton. Subs not used: Stewart, Francis-Angol, Thomas, Cadden, MacLean. Booked: Reid, Vigurs. Goals: Ojamaa 31.
Ref: B Madden
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