Barry Anderson's Hearts verdict: More frustration as Jambos near 11 years without a win at Inverness

Hearts’ wait for a win in Inverness has entered its 11th year. For all the cosiness between the two clubs in recent weeks, no quarter was given at a sold-out but empty Caledonian Stadium.

Hearts' Liam Boyce scores the equaliser at Inverness.
Hearts' Liam Boyce scores the equaliser at Inverness.

There was one debuting interim manager, two former Tynecastle team-mates in charge, but a third successive draw to leave Hearts frustrated again. Their last victory in the Highland capital came back in September 2010.

This fixture had subplots aplenty but the critical issue for the visitors was the final result. After successive 1-1 scorelines against Queen of the South and Morton, they wanted far more than this.

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Neil McCann arrived in Inverness midweek as a temporary replacement for manager John Robertson, given compassionate leave after a family bereavement.

McCann’s first assignment was against former Hearts colleague Robbie Neilson – although he sat in the stand serving the second of a two-game touchline ban.

Liam Boyce’s first-half equaliser cancelled out Miles Storey’s opener before a second half of sustained maroon pressure. The outcome was much the same, though, with only three efforts on target from the visitors.

Inverness announced pre-match that more than 10,000 virtual tickets had been sold for this game which far exceeded the Caledonian Stadium’s record crowd of 7,753.

The final total reached 11,366 as fans of both clubs rallied to donate cash in a very public show of solidarity.

The ground would have erupted on ten minutes when Storey opened the scoring. James Keatings determinedly won a loose ball and lofted it forward for Storey to outmuscle Hearts defender Michael Smith and fire emphatically beyond goalkeeper Craig Gordon.

Hearts caused their own problems by ceding possession too often and the hosts’ quick balls forward – frequently to Storey on the left flank – gave them the attacking impetus.

They appealed vehemently for a penalty on 19 minutes when midfielder David Carson collided with Mihai Popescu. Moments later, Gordon’s point-blank save prevented Shane Sutherland adding a likely second goal.

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In a competitive first half with every ball contested and four yellow cards issued, Inverness fared considerably better for the first half hour. Hearts’ first concerted spell of pressure produced an equaliser on 35 minutes.

Popescu ought to have levelled with a glancing header from a corner moments earlier. When Aaron McEneff’s delivery from a rebounded free-kick found Craig Halkett, his downward header was pounced upon by Boyce for a clinical striker’s finish five yards out.

Neilson replaced on-loan winger Gervane Kastaneer with striker Armand Gnanduillet at half-time in anticipation of a second-half onslaught. It wasn’t long before several cross balls were being aimed in the Frenchman’s direction.

Hearts’ application was visibly better but they needed quality and craft against a defiant Inverness back line. Their cause wasn’t helped when both captain Steven Naismith and right-back Smith were forced off injured.

Boyce hit the crossbar with a late header and Gnanduillet drove a shot across goal. Substitute Jamie Walker stung the palms of Inverness goalkeeper Mark Ridgers, but in truth he was not overly troubled.

Inverness CT (4-1-3-2): Ridgers; Duffy, Devine, Deas, Harper; Welsh; MacGregor (Mackay 57), Carson (Allardice 65), Storey; Keatings (Todorov 78), Sutherland.

Hearts (4-3-3): Gordon; M Smith (Irving 79), Popescu, Halkett, Kingsley; Naismith (Walker 61), Halliday, McEneff; Kastaneer (Gnanduillet 46), Boyce, Mackay-Steven.

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