THERE had been precious little patience shown to John Hughes this summer among bookmakers and a fair number of doom-laden punters – and even local fans – as they predicted the manager’s early demise.
Scorers: Inverness - Doran 75; Tansey 80
Patience, though, seems to be a watchword for this intriguing, talented group of Inverness performers. When the passing and possession failed to translate into goals through a disappointing first half and deep enough into a more compelling second period, panic was conspicuous by it’s absence.
They kept moving the ball, making Killie chase and probing for openings which eventually came in eye-catching fashion.
The opener, after 75 minutes, epitomised what Hughes has long stated he wants – football played with panache and with end result, on this occasion through Aaron Doran’s low finish.
The second goal was a killer for Killie – Greg Tansey rocketing against the post and in off Craig Samson’s back.
So there they sit, still top of the table after five matches, with no goals conceded and eight scored – and the champions already humbled on Highland soil.
While expressing his delight, Hughes was quick to throw in a small barb of warning in his assessment too – feet must stay firmly on the ground. “That was very pleasing,” the Inverness manager said. “To get off to the start we have in the league, could hardly be any better.
“The first half today was very frustrating. I think the sun coming out slowed the pitch a little bit and in the second half we put it right.
“The sprinklers went on at half-time, speeded it up and we’re good on our own pitch when it’s quick like that. That was evident in our play thereafter.
“I’m also absolutely delighted for Aaron Doran to get the goal [on his first start]. He worked ever so hard today and some of his touches were quality. He was very unlucky in the first half and he had to be patient.
“As for the second goal, Tansey has that in him – he’s a great ball striker. But we cannot start believing everything is going just fine as I’ve been in football long enough to know that’s when it comes back and bites you on the backside. We’ll stay focused and we’ll keep working hard for every game we play.”
The hosts even shook off a significant pre-match blow with Mr Reliable Gary Warren failing a fitness test. Midfielder Ross Draper, as he had already this season, dropped back to ably partner Josh Meekings in the heart of defence.
Warren’s woes paved the way for Doran’s first start, with Danny Williams dropping back into the Highlanders’ midfield. Killie had won three on the trot, but took time to settle in the face of rhythmic possession from Inverness.
There was little to shout about before the break with clear chances thin on the ground, but Inverness visibly upped the ante thereafter.
Graeme Shinnie let rip with a right foot strike from outside the box that keeper Samson didn’t save convincingly but smothered at the second attempt. Soon after, David Raven’s dangerous cross from the right had the lethal Mckay rising for a header but he was beaten by Ross Barbour’s nod for a corner.
Soon after there were howls for a home penalty as Watkins appeared to be tripped in the box by Manuel Pascali. But the breakthrough finally arrived after 75 minutes – and in quite some style. Danny Williams, Graeme Shinnie and Billy Mckay linked slickly on the left before the latter released Doran clean through on Samson before the Dubliner expertly clipped a low shot into the corner of the net.
The crucial second came after 80 minutes and was breathtaking. From a Watkins’ cutback, Mckay struck hard at goal but hit his own man, substitute Nick Ross. Killie couldn’t clear properly and it fell to Greg Tansey 30 yards out. The Scouser let rip, striking Samson’s left hand post and then smacking off the keeper’s back and in. It had taken a while but it seemed utterly convincing by the finish.
“I just thought we looked a wee bit sluggish all over the park,” Allan Johnston, the Rugby Park manager, observed. “We never passed the ball as we have been doing in recent games. That was the most disappointing thing for me.”