Caley winless again as points are shared with Accies

Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s struggles continue, as the Highlanders were unable to secure all three points against Hamilton away at New Douglas Park. Andrew Morrison reports.

Josh Mullin gets on the scoresheet after a brilliant half-volley.
(Photo Credit – SNS Group)

Critics of Billy Dodds’ management of Inverness Caledonian Thistle are likely to rise in numbers after his side failed to secure all three points after a lively night of action at New Douglas Park, with the Highlanders managing to claim a 1-1 draw.

After this result, Caley Thistle have failed to win any of their last 10 outings. In a complete contrast to their opening 10 games of the season, this torrid turn of form stretches back into 2021, with the pressure on Dodds to find a solution increasing day by day.

The Inverness head coach made five changes to his side that succumbed to a 2-1 loss at home to Ayr United last week. Daniel Devine, Sean Welsh, Lewis Hyde, Aaron Doran and Austin Samuels replaced Wallace Duffy, Cameron Harper, Davie Carson, Shane Sutherland, and Logan Chalmers.

Accies boss Stuart Taylor opted to start goalkeeper Ryan Fulton ahead of Joe Hilton, and replaced defender Jamie Hamilton with Steve Lawson.

Within the opening minutes of the match, the home team were given a tremendous opportunity to open the scoring. Matty Kennedy pounced on a defensive error made by Kirk Broadfoot as the experienced centre-half failed to clear the ball away from Inverness’ right channel. The Hamilton player failed to get his shot on target from an acute angle however, as further questions were asked of Inverness’ defensive acumen.

This early opportunity would set the tone for the rest of the opening quarter, as Hamilton dominated possession at a time where Caley seemed to make a nervy start to proceedings.

Stuart Taylor’s team were rewarded for their efforts in the 14th minute in the form of a sensational attempt by Josh Mullin. Capitalising on another loose ball which was not successfully cleared by an Inverness player – this time Reece McAlear on the edge of the box – Accies’ Lawson teed up Mullin brilliantly on the 18 yard line before the player let the ball bounce, and unleashed a half-volley timed to perfection, sailing past both the onlooking Inverness defence, and the helpless Cameron Mackay in goal.

The Caley players were slow to react to this development however, as the team only managed to register their first shot after 21 minutes. Billy McKay received a grounded pass by Samuel Pearson after a good solo run down the flank before crossing the ball in from the right towards Samuels in the middle. The subsequent shot at goal was deflected over the bar. 

After the initial stop-start performance by Inverness, they would grow into the game after the attempt by Samuels and were themselves gifted a goal, (albeit with less replay value) through loanee Pearson.

Samuels made a surging run down the left flank before spotting Doran waiting in the Accies penalty area. The Englishman then performed a lay-off which reached the feet of the midfielder, but the subsequent shot ricocheted off the legs of Mullin and, unfortunately for him, landed at the feet of his opponent Pearson, who hastily slotted the ball into the net before Fulton could react decisively.

In response, Hamilton nearly claimed a second goal as a Reghan Mimnaugh free kick was delivered beautifully into the box. Sent high and from a deep position beside the byline, no Accies player could get sufficient contact on the ball as it bounced in front of the backtracking Robbie Deas, who saw the ball go out for a goal kick.

The action continued to come in the second half, as Inverness manufactured a brilliant chance to go ahead. McKay was played through on goal in the middle of the park by captain Sean Welsh. The number nine opted not to hit the ball first time, with his delayed effort being well held by Fulton.

Later, McKay also failed to make amends for this earlier miss as he was the focal point of an Inverness counter attack which led to the striker testing his luck against Fulton again. This time, his chipped effort produced a fingertip save by the Hamilton keeper.

Mullin would also later fail to capitalise on a further opportunity presented to him. Commotion in the Inverness box led to the attacker taking aim from 18 yards yet again. This time, his effort was directed towards the near post but the strike, which travelled very low and evaded everyone, hit the woodwork.

On the 90 minute mark, substitute Joe Hardy almost broke the two-month hoodoo for his team but his effort, the end result of a counter attack, was saved last-ditch by the legs of Fulton after being played in by fellow replacement Sutherland down the right hand side.

That would stand as the final action of the match, with Inverness’ long winless run carrying on for at least another week. Speaking to the media after proceedings, Dodds had this to say on his side’s draw:

‘’I thought it was a really good game of football. We had to show determination and a fighting spirit. You could see the desire and the attitude. The passion is clearly there and I think everyone watching saw that tonight.

‘’Their goalkeeper had to work and brought off a few great saves. Joe Hardy could have maybe played Billy McKay through at the end, but he shoots and as a striker, I don’t blame him for that. I would have loved the three points but I’m delighted with the way the players performed and the work rate they gave me.

‘’I thought Lewis Hyde was brilliant after his first game back in a long time. I thought Cameron Mackay was also excellent. Both of them gave us passion and determination.’’

Inverness will now face Partick Thistle at Firhill as the Glasgow side look to take advantage of their games in hand against their opposition. A win against Raith Rovers in their upcoming game will see them leapfrog both the Kirkcaldy and Highland sides in the race for the playoffs. Meanwhile, Hamilton Accies will travel to Kilmarnock next week as they continue their resurgence under Stuart Taylor. 

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