Inverness CT 2
ROMAN Golobart’s biggest failing on arriving in Scotland was believing a central defender could dwell on the ball and do something attractive with it. Such idealistic notions probably befit a young man from the city of Barcelona.
But, when it came to his Caley Thistle debut at Pittodrie back in August, the pace and frenzy of the Scottish game dramatically caught up with the former Espanyol youth. Two basic errors marred Golobart’s display in a 2-1 defeat by Aberdeen, making it all the more fitting that he shone so brightly on Christmas Eve.
Still just 19, but 6ft 4ins tall and of formidable build, the on-loan Wigan Athletic defender powered in Saturday’s opening goal. He also drew deserved plaudits for a series of telling defensive interventions.
Son of Espanyol stalwart, Juan Golobart – a Uefa Cup finalist and now a famous pundit in his homeland – the youngster was quick to credit the mentors in his life.
Golobart said: “The work the staff at this club have been doing with me is amazing. I feel like I’ve improved so much. Even people from Wigan who have come to watch our games agree.
“There has been a lot of improvement because I’m receptive to it – I’m always trying to learn. We all makes mistakes and with every one you can improve.
“When you have ex-players of the calibre of Terry Butcher and Maurice Malpas to learn from, you can hardly fail. With every mistake it gets easier. I just knew immediately after my mistake how to improve on it.
“In another country, you can do certain things differently on the ball and that’s fine. I’m here to play as long as I can in Scotland and in England and I am ready to play this kind of football.
“I’m learning from the best in Terry and Mo, but also from players here like Richie Foran, Gregory Tade, Ross Tokely and Chris Hogg. They are massively experienced players and that’s important for a young squad. I also have great support from my family, particularly my father. Dad was a centre back like me and is a great support.”
Golobart’s loan deal expires next month, but he is very keen to prolong his stay. He said: “Hopefully, both sides agree and I can stay. I’m enjoying myself and I feel I fit in well here.”
A deadlocked first-half was thin on genuine chances, with Golobart putting himself under pressure with an early booking after fouling Scott Vernon. Kari Arnason’s long throws were posing occasional problems for the hosts, but Ryan Esson hardly muddied his knees. The only real save to make saw keeper Esson superbly parry a Josh Magennis snapshot after 26 minutes.
Caley Thistle don’t do 0-0 draws, though, and led on 64 minutes after David Davis’s strike was parried for a corner. Jonny Hayes’ delivery found the Dons’ defence sleeping as Golobart powered in a header from close range.
Five minutes later, the home side were 2-0 up as Hayes’ corner again evaded everybody bar Gregory Tade. Keeper Jason Brown felt the Frenchman had handled to control, but Tade’s finish through a sea of legs was clinical.
With echoes of the collapse against Dundee United, the heat was back on Caley Thistle after 75 minutes. Robert Milsom’s excellent work on the left saw him nip clear of Thomas Piermayr and the cross left Rory Fallon with a simplest finish. But Caley, denied a clean sheet for the 21st game in a row, held strong.
A beaming Butcher said: “I’m pleased with the manner of the win. The steel, grit and determination the boys showed was tremendous. I’m pleased for the whole club because we’ve not had our problems to seek. Even this week we’ve had to re-adjust with the 13th back four out of 21 games with Ross Tokely’s calf injury.”
A disgruntled Dons boss, Craig Brown, seemed embarrassed to issue an apology to the big travelling support. He said: “It is unforgivable to lose such goals from corners. What really bugs me, again, is that I’m making an apology to the terrific support we had here.
“Without question, that support is outstanding and I’m sure they are getting tired listening to me apologising. I hate having to do it, but I can only give an abject apology for them coming here and having to see us losing so softly.
“The game was there to be won by either side, particularly ourselves. We had the better of the game in the first hour. We didn’t look like conceding and then, all of a sudden, we’re two goals down.
“There was the usual fightback – and we’ve done it before – but the fact is we shouldn’t have been two down. We have only ourselves to blame for that.”
Inverness CT: Esson; Piermayr, Golobart, Gillet, G Shinnie; Hayes, Davis, Foran, Cox (Tansey 79), Tade; McKay (Sutherland 90). Subs: Tuffey, Ross, Morrison, Doran.
Aberdeen: Brown; Jack (Megginson 87), Considine, Mawene, Foster; Clark, Osbourne, Arnason, Milsom; Vernon (Mackie 70), Magennis (Fallon 70). Subs: Gonzalez, McArdle, Robertson, Fyvie.