Top-six finish a priority for Terry Butcher
INVERNESS manager Terry Butcher was euphoric after his team beat Ross County to win a match he had billed as the biggest Highland derby of all time.
The stakes were high and the “huge win” for Inverness has all but ensured they will make history this season by securing the club’s first top-six finish in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
Inverness regained third place from County as Billy McKay’s contentious 59th-minute penalty proved decisive after a stunning Paul Lawson goal ten minutes before the break restored parity for the Dingwall side following Andrew Shinnie’s fifth-minute opener.
Earning a European place still remains a possibility for Inverness but Butcher is not willing to contemplate that until their place in the upper half of the table is certain as the league split fast approaches.
He said after the 2-1 home victory: “You don’t know much this means to me. However, I’m not talking about Europe. I’m just thinking about top six just now. This was a huge win for us. It doesn’t matter how we got it.
“I brought Richie Foran back into the midfield, into the heat of the battle, and he was certainly in there digging away. Ross County have good height in their team but we matched them and I’m just delighted.”
Ross County boss Derek Adams raised eyebrows when he did not recall captain Richard Brittain, despite him being available following a suspension. Martin Scott also missed out despite being involved in the 3-2 win over Celtic, with his place being taken by Ivan Sproule, who limped off injured early in the second-half.
Adams said: “I only left out Martin Scott, who was excellent, from the team that played Celtic, while Richard Brittain was suspended for that match. He (Brittain) missed out on Saturday as well and the reason for that was because the team had played so well last time out against Celtic. Ivan has a hamstring problem. He told me at half-time and it soon became clear he wasn’t going to be ready for the second half, so we’ll need to see how he is.”
County goalkeeper Michael Fraser was powerless to stop Shinnie from putting Inverness in front in the fifth minute from a set-piece. Taylor swung in a corner, which was flicked on by Foran and, with Fraser and his defence failing to deal with it, Shinnie turned home during a goalline scramble.
McKay might have added a second but, after turning well to find space in the box, he curled his shot wide. Aaron Doran was next to fire off target for Inverness when McKay set him up on the edge of the box. It proved costly as County stunned the hosts with a magnificent equaliser from Lawson in the 35th minute. The midfielder’s 30-yard strike beat full-stretch Inverness goalkeeper Ryan Esson, after Iain Vigurs rolled a free-kick into Lawson’s path.
The advantage swung back in the hosts’ favour when McKay put them back in front after Mihael Kovacevic felled Taylor in the box.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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