WHILE most people have been claiming that Aberdeen and Dundee United pose the biggest threat to Celtic, Inverness Caledonian Thistle have been quietly collecting the points that keep them in third place in the Scottish Premiership thanks to their 2-0 victory at Hamilton.
Hamilton Accies 0-2 Inverness
Scorers: Inverness - Gillespie (og 53), Ross (76)
On Saturday at New Douglas Park, Caley clocked up their fifth consecutive league win and closed the gap on the second-placed Dons to a single point.
And although it was a comfortable win in the end, it took a vastly improved second half from the Highlanders to secure their third victory of the season over the Accies.
Inverness manager John Hughes admitted that it took some half-time intervention to set them on the road to victory.
He said: “I had a bit of trepidation before the game. Hamilton have had great energy and spirit this season but were coming off a sore one in midweek and with Martin’s [Canning] appointment we didn’t want to get caught up in all that.
“They were better for the first 30 minutes but we were the better side in the second half. It was just a question of getting them in at half-time and change the shape and tactics. We got a break with the first goal but got a good second and their keeper has had some great saves to deny his Irish squad mate Billy McKay in particular.”
Nick Ross was delighted to score the second goal after 76 minutes when he finished off a slick move involving McKay and Ross Draper, but admitted he was also content that nobody talks about Caley.
The Thistle midfielder explained: “We are amazed that we don’t get much praise while everyone talks about Aberdeen and Dundee United challenging Celtic – but it suits us in many ways.
“It is unbelievable for a young club like ours to be third, and thinking about a place in Europe is really special.”
Just as Inverness’ winning run continues, Hamilton’s dramatic change in form continues with Saturday’s loss making it their fourth straight defeat since Alex Neil departed for Norwich.
An entry fee of only 10p to honour Neil’s ten years with Accies and the final game for his assistant Frankie McAvoy encouraged a healthy turnout of more than 5,000. The fact that it was also the first game in charge for Martin Canning who was appointed player/manager in midweek, should have boosted the home side, but – as highlighted with the first goal – Accies never carried the luck needed to end their miserable run.
Despite being new to the task, Canning knows their luck and form has got to change. He said: “It is disappointing and frustrating but we are not getting any breaks and everything is going against us just now. I thought we played well in the first half and Inverness have not had any chances. But the first goal is crucial at this level.
“Our keeper has made the save and then it hits Grant Gillespie in the chest and goes into our own net. Once they got ahead they sat in and hit us on the break.
“It would be nice for us to get a wee break and get the first goal. We have a new backroom team so this week we will enjoy the training and look forward to the Dundee game.”
It was a double disappointment for Accies’ Stephen Hendrie who watched a dream move to West Ham United break down last week.
But the full-back was optimistic about his own and Hamilton’s future as he said: “We have lost four games now so we need to get back to winning ways next week.
“I tried not to let [what happened] midweek affect me. I just have to continue playing well and see what happens, but if a chance for a big move comes I would take it in case it doesn’t come again. However, I am sure that everything for me and the club is going in the right direction.”