TERRY Butcher’s team seem to court favourable statistics these days like Peter Andre craves publicity. You could easily rattle off a dozen sweet sets of facts and figures surrounding this remarkable season of theirs.
Scorers: Inverness CT: McKay (12 pen, 48), Tudur Jones (24), A Shinnie (69); Dundee - Riley (19)
Yet none of that made the Caley Thistle manager any happier as he fumed, fretted and breathed fire into the night air at times during this ultimately emphatic victory.
There is a perfectionism at play this season for the Englishman, whereas last year mere survival was the goal that he cherished.
The stark contrast between this campaign and last was summed up by just one statistic. When Andrew Shinnie hit the crowning fourth goal against Dundee, it equalled the 42 SPL strikes they managed in the whole of last season.
Victory took the hosts back to second in the table and Shinnie exemplified the optimism coursing through the club, when he said: “We set high standards and a few times we gave the ball away cheaply and were maybe a bit slack.
“I think the gaffer was maybe a bit worried about this game out of any over Christmas as we were big favourites.
“It was a really tough game, just as we expected, but we played well, scored four goals and won 4-1. The goalscoring has been incredible. That’s my tenth and Billy McKay has hit 18, while we’ve had 11 different scorers. It is up to us how far we want to go. We’ve been lucky with injuries and suspensions.
“If we can keep the squad fit and try to avoid suspensions there is no reason why we cannot finish second.”
McKay’s double – including one from the spot – also matched Craig Dargo’s club record of netting in seven consecutive matches.
For Dundee, it was a fresh setback but a margin of defeat that perhaps flattered the hosts, given the Dark Blues’ contribution.
Butcher, with one defeat in 18 now, had the luxury of naming the same side for the fifth game running.
The conditions were poor with heavy rain battering the surface, with a fierce breeze.
Dundee seemed oblivious to the conditions during a promising opening spell, only to tumble behind to a penalty after 12 minutes. A Richie Foran shot from the left angle of the box drew a superb save down low from Rab Douglas.
From the corner, Douglas again saved brilliantly from McKay’s header but, as Foran darted for the rebound, he was bundled down clumsily by Declan Gallagher. Mckay stuck away the penalty with great ease.
Dundee were undeterred and showed good passing and movement in the slippy conditions.
The reward came in the shape of an equaliser after 19 minutes, with holes in the home rearguard again exposed.
Colin Nish spotted one such gap with a terrific diagonal pass on the break. Nicky Riley had to stretch to control on the run but did so superbly and dispatched a perfect strike low beyond Antonio Reguero into the left-hand corner.
Butcher’s men seemed to be on the ropes as a John Baird blast was desperately tipped over by the Spanish keeper.
But Caley went ahead for the second time just four minutes later as Owain Tudur Jones struck low, with immense power from outside the area.
After the break, Caley Thistle soon grabbed the third.
Dundee’s Lockwood was at fault as his short pass-back went straight to McKay. The striker went to round the on-rushing Douglas, but the keeper managed a one-handed block. With both players grounded, McKay rose first to finish the job with a clip into the net from six yards.
It was all over bar the shouting after 69 minutes.
Andrew Shinnie cut into the box gracefully from the left, jinking clear of a couple of challenges before smashing an angled shot into the far corner of the net.