Phil McGhee at the Caledonian Stadium
A lacklustre Motherwell turned in a poor display and were soundly beaten by Inverness CT in the Highlands today.
After an encouraging and welcome win over Dundee United, hopes were that ‘Well would be able to build, but in truth, Kenny Black’s side failed to get out of first gear for the whole ninety minutes.
The home side had taken the lead in the 29th minute when Billy McKay ran clear of the Motherwell defence, but the managerless Steelmen levelled just two minutes later through Henrik Ojamaa.
But Caley Thistle displayed more of the qualities that see them share top spot in the second half as they went back ahead through Marley Watkins close-range header on 70 minutes before Josh Meekings secured the points eight minutes later as he slid in to meet a corner-kick at the back post.
Black named an unchanged side from the one which defeated Dundee United 1-0 in their last outing, while Caley boss John Hughes welcomed back impressive youngster Ryan Christie into his starting eleven.
The early stages of the match were fairly uneventful, with Caley seeing most of the ball but with side creating anything of note until the 24th minute when Greg Tansey’s 30-yard free-kick sailed just wide of the post.
But five minutes later Billy McKay put the home side ahead after being sent clear on the right by Ryan Christie and he finished coolly beyond Dan Twardzik in the Motherwell goal.
That sparked the game into life – and just two minutes after going ahead, Caley were pegged back to level terms by Ojamaa after the Estonian got on the end of a John Sutton cutback before keeping his composure to blast the ball beyond Dean Brill. It perhaps wasn’t merited, but the visitors would very much take it.
Ryan Christie almost put Caley back ahead with half-time beckoning, but he was denied by a tremendous Twardzik save to keep the scores level.
Inverness began the second half well and should have retaken the lead inside two minutes of the restart as the usually deadly McKay again broke clear before rounding Twardzik, but his shot, albeit from an angle, was high over the goal.
The Northern Irishman wasted yet another chance when he lofted a ball over the bar from just inside the area after escaping the attentions of Craig Reid. The home side kept plugging away however, and they were rewarded with 20 minutes left when Graeme Shinnie sent a ball into the box and it was headed home from close-range by Marley Watkins.
And on 78 minutes, the points were secured as Josh Meekings got himself on the end of a Tansey corner at the back post to make the game safe.
There should have been even more for the vast majority of the 3,037 crowd to cheer as Watkins hit the bar from just six yards out after Caley broke at pace and substitute Aaron Doran played him in.
However, the final whistle signalled a thoroughly merited victory for the home side against a Steelmen side who frustratingly failed to cause the home defence any problems at all.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at the Caledonian Stadium
FT: inverness CT 3 – 1 Motherwell #ICTFCvMFC
91mins: ‘Well get a free-kick 25 yards out which Vigurs fires straight into the wall #ICTFCvMFC
3 minutes added on #ICTFCvMFC
84mins: Final ICT change, McKay off for Ibra Sekajja #ICTFCvMFC
81mins: Off the bar by Watkins! ICT break and the cross found Watkins free at the back post.Should have made it 4. #ICTFCvMFC
80mins: Vigurs is then booked for hauling Ross down as Caley broke #ICTFCvMFC
79mins: Doran is booked for a tackle from behind on Vigurs #ICTFCvMFC
76mins: GOAL! Meekings pokes home from a corner to make it 3-1 #ICTFCvMFC
75mins: ICT sub, Christie off for Ross #ICTFCvMFC
73mins: Twardzik reads Watkins’ cross/shot well and manages to gather it in. McKay was lurking #ICTFCvMFC
72mins Motherwell sub, Ramsden makes way for Erwin #ICTFCvMFC
70mins: GOAL! Watkins makes it 2-1 tapping home from close range #ICTFCvMFC
69mins: Raven’s ball into the box is half-cleared to Christie who whips it well over #ICTFCvMFC
65mins: ICT sub, Doran on for VIncent #ICTFCvMFC
63mins: Another good save from Twardzik, this time diving low to his left to beat away Watkins’ curling effort #ICTFCvMFC
59mins: ICT get the break of the in the middle of the field and counter quickly, Christie slid in McKay who curls it just over #ICTFCvMFC
56mins: Motherwell sub, Ainsworth makes way for Law #ICTFCvMFC
53mins: Long range shot form Christie but it’s pretty harmless and Twardzik gathers with ease #ICTFCvMFC
47mins: Incredible chance! McKay skip past Twardzik but somehow, with all the goal to aim for, he scoops the ball well over from 12 yards
Teams are back out for part two. Watkins and McKay kick-off #ICTFCvMFC
Half-time in the Highlands and it’s 1-1. ICT largely in charge but could only hold their lead for 2 minutes. #ICTFCvMFC
HT: Inverness CT 1 – 1 Motherwell #ICTFCvMFC
44mins: Tansey’s left-footed shot from 22 yards is thankfully deflected just wide of the left-hand post #ICTFCvMFC
41mins: What a save by Twardzik! Christie cut in from the left and fired it towards the bottom corner but Dan gets down to it! #ICTFCvMFC
40mins: Entering the final 5 minutes of the first half. Still 1-1, perhaps luckily so for The Steelmen but we’ll take it #ICTFCvMFC
34mins: Ainsworth is very nearly played through by Ramsden but Brill gets off his line sharply and sweeps it clear #ICTFCvMFC
31mins: Unbelievable! Ojamaa hammers home Sutton’s cutback to make it 1-1 with our first venture into the ICT box #ICTFCvMFC!
29mins: GOAL! That’s been coming. McKay is slid through 1v1 and he isn’t going to pass that one up, slotting it past Twardzik to make it 1-0
23mins: Closest chance so far for ICT. A great free-kick from Tansey flashes inches wide of Twardzik’s right-hand post #ICTFCvMFC
…McKay heads just wide at teh back post #ICTFCvMFC
21mins: ICT turning the screw. Only a last-ditch interception from Kerr prevented Watkins a clear scoring opportunity then seconds later..
20mins: Williams finds an opening on the edge of the box but his attempt on goal is poor, blazing it well over the bar #ICTFCvMFC
18mins: Mistimed tackle by Lasley in centre of the park, maybe lucky to escape a booking #ICTFCvMFC
…has the sting taken out of it by McManus allowing Twardzik to gather easily. ICT have had the best of the opening exchanges #ICTFCvMFC
15mins: Slack midfielding from ‘Well allows Shinnie some space to get down the left wing and deliver a cross to Watkins, whose header…
12mins: Christie whips a good ball into the box but Kerr cooly nods it back to Twardizk with Watkins lurking #ICTFCvMFC
11mins: Second corner of the game for ICT but there’s no takers for Tansey’s back-post ball #ICTFCvMFC
10mins: Neat spell of passing there from ICT but Vincent over-hits his through ball to McKay and it goes out for a goal-kick #ICTFCvMFC
7mins: Christie jinks forward and slides in Watkins on the left wing but his floated cross is easily gathered by Twardzik #ICTFCvMFC
3mins: ICT win the first corner of the match. They work it short and Tansey delivers, straight to McManus who heads clear #ICTFCvMFC
Lasley and Ojamaa kick off the action #COYW #ICTFCvMFC
Motherwell caretaker manager Kenny Black:
“I don’t think the team gave enough in the 90 minutes and 3-1 flattered us.
“It could have been more and as much as I enjoyed the game against Dundee United a fortnight ago it was the total opposite today.
“It wasn’t good enough – simple as that. I didn’t think we caused Inverness any problems at all and at times it was like some of our players had never seen a ball before.
“The better team won on the day. I thought they were far better, far brighter and they passed the ball better than we did.
“You are looking to try to cause them problems, and our only attack in the first half resulted in the goal – and it was probably the only time we strung three or four passes together.
“It was hard work watching that today and I feel for the supporters that travelled up. They showed a lot more enthusiasm than some of our lads.”
Inverness CT manager John Hughes:
“We knew that coming off a win the other week they would be galvanised and they would have that siege mentality.
“In the first half it was a wee bit sticky and it took us a while to break the game down.
“We didn’t really get started until we changed the shape and made a few substitutions, but after that we played well and dominated the football. I’m delighted we picked up the three points.”