CALEY JAGS SHOW SOME BASIC INSTINCT
Sometimes the most forgettable matches, even those memorable for the sheer absence of spectacle, can prove pivotal moments in a team’s season. Caley Thistle can only hope this was one of them.
It would take a great stretch of the imagination to suggest the home contingent in the 2,082 attendance will recall this game in any detail whenever, and however, their favourites’ fate is determined at the end of the season.
But if positive results flow in coming matches, with a rediscovered ability to carry out defensive basics aligned to recent attacking edge, then this pallid 0-0 draw might prove a turning point. Certainly, it was a starting point in terms of the Caley Jags players answering John Robertson’s plea to get back to basics.
Captain Gary Warren, an essential part of past successes in what now seems a distant era of accomplishment, was suspended but the central defensive duo of Brad McKay and Coll Donaldson displayed some promise as a pairing.
What proved decisive in sealing the scrambled point, though, was the performance of Wales international goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams, earning only his second appearance of the campaign.
On three occasions at least, Fon Williams spared his team a grisly fate. One of those saves was down to experience and a calm reduction of the very favourable odds presented to Queen of the South’s Callum Tapping, square on goal.
The others were moments familiar to the home faithful. If Fon Williams’ wage really was assessed as too great for the club in the startof-season assessment, might there be a rethink after a performance like this?
What it all boiled down to was a drop of one position in the Championship table for Inverness, into 11th, but at least an encouraging movement towards solidity and assurance at the back against a player of Stephen Dobbie’s experience and menace.
Dobbie’s luck was out in several close calls for Queens as they found their threat in the second half, pushing for a winner and, though frustrated, still climbing to fifth in the table after a solid point. After recent recriminations over defensive failings, the improvement for the hosts was quickly apparent.
When defender McKay sent a header just wide of target after seven minutes few would have expected that to be the best of it for Robertson’s men who offered very little else offensively throughout the 90 minutes.
Dobbie, increasingly, was the man making Queens tick as the second half opened and he had a strong penalty claim waved away early on after a dubious Donaldson challenge.
Just before the hour, Dobbie’s snapshot from just inside the penalty area was parried to safety by Fon Williams and, soon after, the same front player dragged an attempt past the post from 12 yards.
A huge moment came after 72 minutes. John Rankin’s lovely pass threaded Callum Tapping straight in on goal but Fon Williams stood strong to make a vital save. Through the final exchanges, the Dumfries team looked the only one likely to triumph. But, in the circumstances, the home clean sheet was a triumph in itself.
“Fon Williams spared his team a grisly fate”
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