Inverness players have to forget the disparity between themselves and Highland rivals Ross County in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League when they resume battle in the cup tonight, according to Caledonian Thistle manager Terry Butcher.
In-form Inverness leapfrogged Hibernian into second place in the SPL on Saturday by beating them 3-0, while struggling County were losing 3-2 at Motherwell to keep them in 10th place without a win in six games.
Caley won 3-1 when the two clubs met in their first SPL derby in October and, in the recent William Hill Scottish Cup fourth round meeting in Dingwall, they grabbed a dramatic last-gasp equaliser against the 2010 finalists to ensure the sides would lock horns again at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium.
While all the signals point to a Caley win, Butcher – whose side have lost only once in the last 15 games and have already reached the Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final against Hearts in February – said: “We will give them respect and they deserve that. They are a fantastic club. They have come a long way in a short space of time, very much like ourselves, and they have been a credit to themselves in the SPL. But it’s not about SPL football, it’s about the cup and look at their recent history. They have been to a cup final, they have had some terrific results in the cup.
“They are scoring goals, Rocco Quinn is on fire at the moment, and they have good delivery on free-kicks and corners, so they are a threat. But, having said that, in the two matches against them we have scored three goals in each and we aim to score and win again. So everyone is looking forward to it. There have been two crackers and this is the third instalment. There has to be a winner and there has to be a loser so it has the making of another entertaining match. There have been so many twists and turns in the previous two matches that I’m sure there are going to be more in the third.”
Graeme Shinnie does not believe the Caley players will take anything for granted. “You can never really tell what is going to happen but we are coming off the back of a good performance and comprehensive win so the confidence is high just now,” the defender said. “We have kept in the tie and it is all to play for now and we want to progress through to the next round. I think the boys know we have to keep our feet on the ground. We can’t get carried away.
“We have achieved some things this season but, so far, in terms of the league, we haven’t achieved anything and we have to keep picking up points.
“We have done well to get to one semi-final and we want to progress in this cup but we need to keep up the performances and not let it drop.”
Derek Adams, meanwhile, wants his County side to stop playing “kamikaze” football.
After a solid start to their first season in the SPL, the Staggies are without a win in six games and boss Adams was particularly displeased with the concession of Nicky Law’s strike a minute into the second half at Fir Park, calling it “idiotic” and “totally unacceptable”.
Adams is looking for improvement at both ends of the pitch when he takes his side to the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, following the 3-3 draw in the first game in Dingwall.
“We have to do a lot better than we did against Motherwell to get through the cup match,” he said.
“If we defend like that and don’t take the chances we had we will be out the cup. We had other opportunities to score, very good opportunities. You would have to say they were sitters.
“We are not putting them in the net and are conceding at the other end so it is a wee bit kamikaze and we have to get away from that. We have to do better in certain situations. We cannot be so naive because good teams will pick us off. And, with Inverness coming off an extremely good result, we are going to find it extremely difficult. So the players will have to get themselves sorted out and get ready for Tuesday night because we need one big performance to get through to the next round of the Scottish Cup.”
Defender Scott Boyd is glad of the quick opportunity to make amends for Saturday’s result in Lanarkshire.
“We won’t have to wait long for another game,” he said. “It’s a chance for us to set things straight and get back on track. The boys are kicking themselves after losing what we thought was a point at least, so we look forward to Tuesday and the boys will be buzzing as it’s a derby.
“We felt a bit hard done by the last time but we will go into this game with confidence as we do in every game.”