ABERDEEN huffed. And they puffed. And Inverness blew them down. For all the corners and all the balls slung into the box by the home side as they chased their ninth victory in ten games, they lacked the nimbleness and the threat of John Hughes’ men.
Scorers: Inverness - Williams (22)
A landmark day for the Inverness manager, the win – earned by Danny Williams’ first strike for the club and the sort of stout, repel-all aerial defending the charismatic Leither made a career trademark – marked his first of sizeable proportions. The only other victory across his nine games in charge, which came six encounters ago, proving to be the near obligatory defeat of Hearts.
Hughes, was entitled to purr satisfactory afterwards. He didn’t disappoint. His post-match also brought confirmation that former Hibernian team-mate and Falkirk charge Russell Latapy will start work as his assistant at the Highland club on Tuesday. “There is a wee guy coming from Trinidad and Tobago, and if he loses a stone, he might just make it in to the team,” Hughes joked when asked if he had any signings to add to the capture of Greg Tansey, who appeared from the bench in his first game back. “I’m not one for that paly-paly stuff. Russell knows the game like the back of his hand, was massively important to the way we played at Falkirk, and if any of his talent rubs off on the guys here it will be good enough for me.”
Hughes himself knows the game. He summed up yesterday’s encounter in succinct and insightful fashion. “It was a powerplay against a team that wanted to counter-attack,” he said. The latter approach carried the day because it was carried out in smarter and sharper fashion. The Inverness manager was concerned that injuries and suspension had left him with a lack of height, but his players stood tall and, he said, in the middle of the park played “some good stuff, some good little get-and-gos”.
A series of corners for Aberdeen preceded the clinching goal, and the foray forward that led to it was one of the first attacks of any note from the visitors. An Aaron Doran cross from the right 22 minutes in found full-back Alan Tate out of position and meant Williams had time to set himself when the ball bounced to him at the back post. He used the seconds well, ramming a shot high off the underside of the bar and in from 12 yards.
The pattern was then set. McInnes’ men had more of the ball; Inverness made better use of it. Not until the closing stages was Dean Brill tested, the keeper then forced to tip over a vicious, dipping effort from Willo Flood. In contrast, Hughes, being generous to his side, spoke about their “five or six chances”. There were certainly four of note, Billy McKay failing to connect from four yards in the first half, and tugging an effort wide after Flood’s fizzer. Jamie Langfield saved from Williams late in the first period and Graeme Shinnie struck the upright with a low curling effort late on, meanwhile.
It all made for a day the Aberdeen manager seemed intent on forgetting in a hurry. “Today I thought we didn’t do enough to get ourselves into good positions,” McInnes said. “We weren’t quite at our best, and we have to be to win games. That hasn’t happened often and we shouldn’t get too down on ourselves.”
Aberdeen’s play was one-dimensional – Barry Robson alone must have launched about a dozen crosses in the hour he was on – with no spark from such as Peter Pawlett and Niall McGinn, and no danger offered by Scott Vernon. With McInnes linked with moves for strikers David Goodwillie and Adam Rooney, inevitably questions must be asked about the club’s forward line potency. “It was just about our front players today,” McInnes petitioned, restating if opportunities to improve the squad in the remaining two weeks of the transfer window arose, he would take them. Yet, Aberdeen remain second, and next week face a Motherwell side that are currently their nearest challengers for second. Now, though, with two games in hand and only seven points adrift, Inverness are back in the frame. And Hughes appears firmly in the game.