Terry Butcher is probably not the only person in Scotland unsurprised by Inverness’s strong start to the new Premiership campaign, but he is the only man who can say that he actually saw it coming.
Inverness CT 2-0 Motherwell
Scorers: Inverness CT - Foran (4), McKay (36)
The Highlanders claimed a third victory in succession as first-half goals from Richie Foran and Billy McKay eased them to a comfortable 2-0 victory over a lacklustre Motherwell.
The victory kept Caledonian Thistle at the top of the table, still boasting a unbeaten record and not having conceded a goal into the process, and Butcher insists that he knew his team would get off to a flier after watching them in pre-season training.
He said: “This has been building up since pre-season. We won at Charlton and scored seven against Arbroath and this is because the players know what to do. The training sessions have been of great intensity, but also of the highest quality, probably the best they have ever been.
“The players have just reproduced what they’ve been doing pre-season and, if you do that, then you give yourself a good chance of picking up points.”
After a second loss in succession, Stuart McCall believes Motherwell’s challenge is simply to work harder on the training pitch to bring about an improvement in fortunes.
He said: “We’ve got to work hard in training this week to iron out the errors and that’s what we’ll be working to do.
“We’re three games into the season, so we won’t get too down but we’ve got to start picking up points and putting in better performances.”
Foran’s fourth-minute header and McKay’s third goal in as many games nine minutes from the interval moved Caley two points clear of second-placed St Johnstone.
Graeme Shinnie’s free-kick towards the far post found Foran throwing his head towards the ball and sending a lovely effort from eight yards beyond an exposed Lee Hollis.
James Vincent almost doubled the home side’s lead but a timely deflection off Stephen McManus diverted the shot narrowly over the crossbar.
Motherwell almost levelled when Iain Vigurs set up Keith Lasley, but the visiting captain’s fierce drive from 12 yards was turned away by Inverness goalkeeper Dean Brill at his near post.
Inverness were dominating proceedings, however, and it took a last-ditch block by Shaun Hutchinson to prevent McKay from creating a clear goalscoring chance after being set up by Doran.
It was an incisive pass from the outstanding Doran that was chased down behind the Well rearguard by David Raven, who found McKay to convert from close range in the 36th minute.
McCall sent on Stuart Carswell and Henri Anier at the start of the second half and Anier connected with a James McFadden cross only for Raven to block.
Brill then misjudged Vigurs’ corner, but Hutchinson’s resultant header landed on the roof of the net.