Caley Collapse as Pars Pick Up First Win
Dunfermline Athletic battled back from a goal down against Inverness Caledonian Thistle to claim their first win of the cinch Championship season. Andrew Morrison reports.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle coach Barry Wilson believes that his team “need to get back to winning ways quickly” after the Highlanders succumbed to a 2-1 home defeat in the Scottish Championship at the hands of bottom club Dunfermline.
The Pars new head coach, and former Inverness manager, John Hughes was sighted in the stands as the club elected to continue with Steven Whittaker and Greg Shields inhabiting the technical area.
Winless in his last four matches before kick off, Billy Dodds made two changes from the XI that drew with Ayr United last week, with David Carson replacing the injured Wallace Duffy on the right hand side of defence. Norwich City loanee Reece McAlear also replaced captain Sean Welsh in the midfield. Five substitutes were named, as striker Manny Duku dropped out altogether.
Dunfermline opted to make three changes. With Kai Kennedy on International duty, Lewis McCan was chosen as his replacement, with Paul Allan making way for veteran Graham Dorrans, and Kyle MacDonald coming in for Ryan Dow.
Inverness took the lead within 25 minutes, as Michael Gardyne – a standout for Inverness throughout the season – took a strike at goal from just outside the penalty area. His shot smashed into the woodwork, but fortunately for his side, no Dunfermline defender could successfully clear the rebound as striker Billy McKay fired past Owain Fon-Williams.
Dodds’ men continued to press the away side in the first half in an attempt to steal a second goal, but Dunfermline came into the game slowly and began to assert themselves too.
Dom Thomas was the standout on the wing during this period, as his crosses into the box caused problems for the Inverness defence and the goalkeeper Mark Ridgers – as Rhys Breen and Mark Connelly also had shots saved before the halftime whistle blew.
Hughes saw his new side draw level on 50 minutes – as his former player, and former Par – Daniel Devine suffered the ignominy of scoring an own goal after Aaron Comrie was allowed the space to drill a cross from the right directly into the box, and into the path of the helpless Irish defender at the near post.
Caley Thistle refused to let the setback hinder their chances of victory however, as they continued to find ways forward through David Carson on the right, but nothing he produced could connect in the box.
Dunfermline were also insistent in finding another goal, as Thomas again played some nice footwork in the Inverness half, the winger eventually finding Kevin O’Hara, but the Pars frontman could not find sufficient space to unleash a shot at goal.
This minor setback for Dunfermline would not come back to bite them, however. Another great Thomas run down the right hand side granted the wide man the space he needed to unleash a similarly beautiful strike past Ridgers, who was helpless in the Inverness goal.
From there onwards the visitors asserted their dominance on the game for the rest of the second half, as Inverness were reduced to taking shots from well outside the box. Unfortunately for Caley, neither Scott Allardice, nor substitute Roddy MacGregor had the quality to conjure a moment of brilliance like Thomas had done a few minutes earlier.
Added time saw a late bombardment by Caley Thistle though, as the first of a multitude of corners late on by Gardyne was met by Ryan Dow, who quickly cleared any danger away from his penalty area.
A further corner taken a couple of minutes later was first saved by Fon-Williams, but still found its way towards young substitute Lewis Jamieson. His effort, however, was cleared off the line.
One final corner in the 96th minute proved to be Inverness’ final chance. The ball found its way back to Gardyne, but his final strike went wide of the goal.
This victory means that Dunfermline have won their first league game of the season, and are now only two points away from both Queen of The South and Greenock Morton. They face Ayr United next Saturday.
As Raith Rovers won away against struggling Hamilton Accies 3-0, Inverness drop to third place in the cinch Championship, and are now four points adrift of Kilmarnock, who maintain 1st place after a 2-0 victory over Morton. The Highland outfit’s next opponents are Queen of The South, who they play at Cappielow next Friday.