St Mirren 1 - 2 Inverness: Inverness joint-second

THEY don’t get the credit or the fanfare they merit, but Inverness continue to march on towards a possible European berth, albeit with another Jekyll-and-Hyde performance.

St Mirren's Jim Goodwin, left, holds off Marley Watkins. Picture: SNS
St Mirren's Jim Goodwin, left, holds off Marley Watkins. Picture: SNS
St Mirren's Jim Goodwin, left, holds off Marley Watkins. Picture: SNS

Scorers: St Mirren - Goodwin (68); Inverness CT - Tansey (3), Christie (60)

Dazzling in the opening half, they again finished a game they should have put to bed hanging on and just grateful for a narrow victory against an opponent they all but invited back into the contest.

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Inverness manager John Hughes, while delighted to see his troops draw level on points with Aberdeen, rued his team’s lack of a ruthless cutting edge. He said: “Our first-half performance was exquisite, but the game should have been over at half-time had we taken our chances.”

The interim St Mirren manager, Gary Teale, was disappointed, but honest enough to admit his team had been second best. “If we had got an equaliser, it would have papered over the cracks of our performance. The first half was the worst we have played since I took over.”

Saints, if not quite a team transformed since Tommy Craig was put out of his misery, have certainly been revitalised under Teale, so quite what was going on in a first half the home team sleepwalked through is hard to explain other than Inverness just being the better team across the field. Indeed, it took only three minutes for Caley’s passing game to rip Saints to pieces, with Greg Tansey applying the finish from just inside the area.

Time and time again the quick, crisp interchanges of the visitors had befuddled Buddies chasing shadows they never looked like halting. Marley Watkins, as he did at Firhill last week, passed up a series of one-on-one chances before Ryan Christie got in on the act and wasted a similar opportunity of his own.

Defensively, St Mirren were about as effective as the Maginot Line as Caley poured through them like water through a burst dam. There wasn’t so much a question of how Caley managed to go in only a goal to the good at the break, but rather quite how the game was still a viable contest such was the Highlander’s dominance and utter wastefulness in the final third as Ross Draper drove inches wide and Gary Warren headed against the bar.

Teale tinkered with personnel and formations at the interval, however it made little immediate impact as Caley continued to looked like they could have played with a cigar in one hand and a malt in the other such was the consummate ease they bossed every area against a dismal Paisley outfit. Eventually, Christie, pictured, added the long-time coming second with a cool finish, having been played in by David Raven.

Two goals up, it seemed Inverness were cruising to the points, but they cheaply allowed Jim Goodwin to nod home a corner and from nowhere the game was back on.

Despite being thrown an ill-deserved lifeline, Saints still couldn’t mount genuine pressure or give the home supporters anything to truly get behind to suggest their 15-game run without a win at home is nearing an end as Caley held on relatively easily to take the points they deserved.