Irn Bru Cup: Inverness Caley Thistle 1 Dunfermline 2: 14/08/18

For the trip to Inverness Allan Johnston fulfilled his promise to field a side of young boys and experienced players requiring game time. There were eleven changes from the side that faced Ross County on Saturday meaning Tom Beadling returned to start his first match since 7th April.

The last time the Pars made eleven changes to their starting eleven was in May 2014 and that day they drew 1-1 in League One with Rangers.

Andy Ryan, Calum Smith, Aidan Connolly and Lewis McCann made their first competitive starts of the season. There were five starting debuts - Paul Allan, Brandon Luke, Matthew Todd, Lewis McCann and Stuart Morrison. Six teenagers and a team with an average age of under 21.

ICT manager John Robertson made seven changes to his starting eleven handing starts to all seven of his subs from Saturday at home to Ayr. Retaining their places were former Pars Shaun Rooney and Brad Mackay, Liam Polworth and Charlie Trafford. That meant starting debuts for Daniel Mackay and Jamie McCart.

The visitors kicked off against the Irn Bru Cup holders attacking the goal at the Kessock Bridge end. The opening minutes saw the Pars enjoy possession and play in front of the opposition goal but a break by Mackay raised the hopes of the home fans and they were awarded a fifth minute free kick 30 yards out. Liam Polworth fired over the ball and it was headed narrowly wide for a goal kick. Minutes later Mackay was on the end of a cross from the left but sent his effort wide of the near post.

Aidan Connolly looked really lively as he dropped back to halfway and he earned a free kick that Allan prodded up for Ryan on the right but he could not control. The Fifers forced an eleventh minute corner, Connolly took that short on the left to skipper Kallum Higginbotham but the cross was too strong.

Cammy Gill had to be out fast to collect a long ball from McKay and as Smith and then Ryan won possession in the final third, the visitors were a bit unlucky with their final ball. Higginbotham ran out of field when he tried to force a route up the right but in 19th minute it was Caley who got the next shot at goal, Mackay sending his shot over the bar from 20 yards out.

Keeper Daniel Hoban held a Higginbotham cross and almost immediately after that was diving at full stretch to turn a Ryan attempt around his right hand post. Connolly sent the ball in from the corner but the Pars were penalised for too strenuously attacking the cross.

Midway through the first half Connolly who had this far been a real aggravation to Caley Thistle dispossessed Trafford midway inside the opposition half, he slipped the ball forward to Ryan to his left and McKay brought the striker down on the edge of the box. Referee Alan Muir stunned the home fans by pointing to the spot. After McKay was shown yellow Kallum HIGGINBOTHAM trotted up and crashed the ball home into the left side of the net. 0-1

Gill dived forward to hold a powerful Polworth cross on the half hour. Mackay then set up Doran to his left but Allan blocked the shot at the edge of the box. A Riccardo Calder cross was cleared by Todd and Caley took a quick free kick after Morrison cut down White but Polworth overhit the cross.

A Caley Thistle corner in 37 minutes was headed over Gill’s crossbar before Welsh, McKay and Calder completed long cross field passes punctuated with a delivery into the box that Todd intercepted.

Four minutes from the break Connolly’s cross was headed back out by McKay, Higginbotham drove the ball and it was going wide left until Ryan put his head on it to test Hoban. Next Luke got forward and he too tested the lime green keeper but again he held.

Half time: Inverness Caley Thistle 0 Dunfermline 1

Within two minutes of the restart the Fifers were denied a second as Calder cleared off the line. The chance came after Ryan smashed a high shot on target that the keeper could only take the sting out of.

Dunfermline kept up the pressure and the home fans grew increasingly frustrated as their side failed to make much headway going forward. The ICT management reacted with a double substitution in 55 minutes, George Oakley and Tom Walsh replacing Daniel Mackay and Charlie Trafford.

Next danger came from the home side from a Walsh cross that Morrison diverted over his own crossbar and Caley came close from the corner, a header going narrowly wide right. In 59 minutes Morrison tracked Oakley but Calder gathered the defended ball and raced in on the left side of the Pars box. The cross came in and Doran met it but sent his header wide.

There had certainly been an injection of urgency since the substitutions and that paid off when Calder’s cross from the left was glanced home in 61 minutes by the former Pars youth WHITE. 1-1

Gill was forced into a fine save low to his left at the midpoint of the second half when Walsh struck a good attempt from 20 yards out. A Pars corner in 69 minutes found no black and white shirts and Caley cleared. Gill was again tested by Walsh from just outside the box and he stopped the powerfully struck ball and then dived on top of it.

Allan blocked a fierce attempt by Doran and then in 72 minutes Morrison again headed over his own bar from a Calder delivery. Five minutes past before Walsh put in another great effort and this time Allan performed the heroics in keeping him out. Morrison headed behind a Walsh cross to hand the Highlanders a corner on the right. A second followed after the ball was turned behind and next time Gill was able to clear.

Inside the final ten minutes Connolly and then Higginbotham worked the ball forward and McCann was a shade unlucky as the ball ricocheted about the box. Gill punched clear an 83rd minute corner after Morrison had blocked another Oakley shot.

Next minute Gill dived to the base of his right hand post to miraculously keep Walsh’s shot out. It had been a sustained period of attack on the Fifers` goal but in 87 minutes they were to score what turned out to be the winner. Ryan gathered the ball on the left, cut inside and nicked the ball back for the in-running SMITH to sweep past Hoban. 1-2

In 90 minutes Rooney sent the ball into the Pars six yard box but Oakley’s header was deflected over the bar. Gill then had to fist another dangerous ball away and Calder crashed a final chance over the top.

After eight trips to Inverness at last a win, the first there for Dunfermline since 2007. Well done to this primarily young inexperienced side.
INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE: Daniel Hoban: Shaun Rooney, Brad MacKay, Jamie MCart: Riccardo Calder: Liam Polworth, Sean Welsh, Charlie Trafford (Tom Walsh 55): Aaron Doran (c), Jordan White, Daniel Mackay (George Oakley 55)
SUBS NOT USED: Jack Brown, Cameron Harper, Ryan Fyffe, Roddy Kennedy, Cammy Mackay (GK)
SCORERS: White (61)
YELLOW CARD: McKay (24), Rooney (34), Welsh (39)

DUNFERMLINE: Cammy Gill: Paul Allan, Stuart Morrison, Tom Beadling (Gregor Jordan 63), Brandon Luke: Kallum Higginbotham (c), Matty Todd, Aidan Connolly, Calum Smith (Josh Robertson 90+1), Andy Ryan, Lewis McCann
SUBS NOT USED: Kieran Swanson, Lewis Crosbie, Paul Brown, Lewis Sawers, Craig Burt (GK)
SCORERS: Higginbotham (24 pen.), Smith (87)
YELLOW CARD: McCann (64)

REFEREE: Alan Muir
WEATHER: Clear 18C

NEXT MATCH: Betfred Cup Second Round: (home) v Hearts, Saturday 18th August 2108, kick off 3.00pm at East End Park.

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