Arbroath v Inverness: There was only ever going to be one winner and it was neither of the teams involved

Given that Inverness won here on a slightly more clement afternoon in July, it would be tempting to conclude that the weather is a great equaliser.

Arbroath's Derek Gaston attempts to punch clear under pressure from Inverness' Shane Sutherland.
Arbroath's Derek Gaston attempts to punch clear under pressure from Inverness' Shane Sutherland.

However, it has already been made abundantly clear that Arbroath do not need any help from the elements in this exposed football stadium, the closest to the sea in British football. They have already won in Inverness and cemented their place at the top of the league with a 3-0 win at Dunfermline on Boxing Day.

They are the league leaders. And they remain so after this goalless draw against second-placed Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Nobody should be discounting them.

Dick Campbell, back on site after missing the last two games due to Covid, started off sitting in the stand but then made his way to the dugout. A few hundred Arbroath fans also opted for a different vantage point and migrated from the south end of the ground to the north end during half-time in order to gain a better view of the longed-for Arbroath goal.

It didn’t come, though it always threatened. Now playing with the wind at their backs, there were some very close-run things, such as when James Craigen’s effort crept just past the far post after he was played in by Anton Dowds.

Substitute Jack Hamilton, back on loan from Livingston, had an effort ruled out for offside. He also attempted an audacious shot from near the corner flag after he chased down a long ball forward and sought to take advantage of Inverness ‘keeper Mark Ridgers having become stranded. The striker hoped to use the wind to bend the ball in. Typically, just when he was counting on a gust, there wasn’t one.

That said, it was Inverness who came closest to scoring. The industrious David Carson hit the top of a post with a shot from the edge of the box midway through the second half.

It would have been harsh had either side emerged with full points given the effort both teams put in in challenging conditions on the Angus coast. Scotland’s game of the day was not given the chance to live up to this status.

Campbell has described Joel Nouble as the player he has been waiting 33 years to manage. Now he’s found him, he’s already set to lose him. The striker has one game left, at Ayr this Saturday, before he returns to parent club Livingston, who he has still to play for. He caught the eye here and was expert at getting his team up the park.

Perhaps surprisingly, only one ball cleared the roof of the enclosure closest to the sea, helped on its way by a south-westerly described by one club official as nothing more than a "stiff breeze" at a place where waves have been known to slurp over the wall during games.

It was not that wild but wild enough. The first effort of note on goal was when Kirk Broadfoot tried his luck from just inside his own half, which summed things up.

Inverness manager Billy Dodds told his players before the match to forget everything they had worked on in training because it was now redundant. Never mind the in-form opposition, it was the elements they now had to try and outfox.

There was only ever going to be one winner and it was neither of the teams involved.

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