DCSIMG

Kilmarnock 1-2 Inverness: Caley Jags grind out win

Picture: SNS

Picture: SNS

  • by GAVIN McCAFFERTY
 

INVERNESS manager Terry Butcher hailed his side’s new-found winning mentality after victory at Kilmarnock consolidated their position at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

Caley Thistle took just six minutes to open the scoring when Aaron Doran pounced on Billy McKay’s knockdown to hook the ball across goal for Richie Foran to nod over the line. And they took just five minutes to regain the lead after Graeme Shinnie’s attempted clearance ricocheted off Barry Nicholson during a 51st-minute Kilmarnock

counter-attack. McKay notched his sixth goal in as many games when he ran on to a Josh Meekings clearance and lobbed Craig Samson.

Butcher, the August SPFL manager of the month after an unbeaten start to the season, admitted his side had not matched their early-season fluency but the victory ensured they kept their three-point lead over Celtic.

Nicholson’s goal denied them a fifth clean sheet of the season but Inverness showed a real determination, coupled with impressive organisation as the home side pressed for a leveller.

Kris Boyd did hit the outside of the post from a very tight angle and

Butcher said: “Three years ago we would have lost that game. Ross Draper said ‘Last year we would have probably drawn that game’. So there is a slight difference. It’s lovely.

“Since June 27, we haven’t lost a first-team game. It’s a big thing to hold on to. It’s quite an impressive record. The boys are working hard.

“There is a lot more hard work to come but I’m delighted.”

While Caley Thistle are playing with momentum, Killie are still trying to get their first win of the season and are being undone by some lax defending.

The home defence were slow to react at several phases of the opener and were caught flat-footed for the winner.

Manager Allan Johnston said: “You must lose a wee bit of confidence. You can maybe see that towards the end of the first half, maybe a couple of the younger boys. But the way they responded in the second half, they showed they have got the confidence to take the ball under pressure and play, and that’s what they did.

“Once again, we were the better team in the second half, but we have got to start games like that.”

Killie’s Manuel Pascali came off the bench in the second half for his first meaningful run-out since a serious hamstring injury seven months ago. Johnston said: “He gives the whole place a massive lift. He’s a big influence on the team. He can come in at centre-half or centre midfield but he just gives us that extra height at set-pieces.”

Johnston is likely to bring in more help this week after earmarking a new centre-back and forward.

Ex-Rangers striker Nacho Novo, former Hearts defender Ismael Bouzid, Tunisian winger Tijani Belaid and Portuguese winger David Silva are all on trial. “They are still training,” Johnston said.

“We are in a position to bring in a couple so that should strengthen us.”

 

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