Inverness Caledonian Thistle vs. Ayr United
Saturday 11th August 2018. Kick-off 3pm
On Saturday, Ayr United make the long trip north to face Inverness Caledonian Thistle in their first away game of the new Championship season. After four wins from four in the Betfred Cup, United got off to the perfect start in the league last week, celebrating unfurling the League 1 winner’s flag with a second 2-0 win over Partick Thistle in just eight days.
United’s travelling support will be looking forward to a first trip to Inverness since 2010 and while the goalscoring exploits of Lawrence Shankland have been capturing attentions, Saturday saw Ian McCall’s side keep a fourth consecutive clean sheet. Michael Tidser’s 14th minute free kick for Morton in our opening game is the only time Ross Doohan has been beaten this season. Caley Thistle, however, look set to prove a stern test to the buoyant Honest Men.
The Opposition: Inverness finished last season strongly under John Robertson, taking 26 from a possible 30 league points in addition to lifting the Irn-Bru Cup in March. Their late push, however, was not quite enough to make the promotion play-offs, ending the season fifth, two points behind Dunfermline Athletic. Having spent just one previous season outside Scottish football’s top tier since 2004, it meant a second successive season the Championship for the Highlanders.
George Oakley – who top scored for the Caley Jags last season with eight goals – got them off to a winning start in the league on Saturday with the only goal of the game at Falkirk. That saw them bounce back from a promising League Cup campaign that was abruptly ended by a 5-0 defeat versus Heart of Midlothian, which halted their progression in the competition.
Former AFC Wimbledon striker Oakley looks to have formed a useful partnership upfront with ex- Nathan Austin, who joined Inverness in January having been released by Falkirk. Former Rangers midfielder Tom Walsh will look to create from midfield where 6ft 3½in Canadian international Charlie Trafford is a big presence while Brad McKay and Coll Donaldson form part of a back-line that kept 11 consecutive clean sheets last season.
Team News: Chris Higgins is still on his way back from injury, everyone else is fit and available.
Ian says: “Last week was fantastic, for everyone involved at the club. The pre match celebrations, a good crowd and then of course the performance. We deserved at least a 2-0 win but being honest it could have been more. We have worked just as hard this week as every other week as last week means nothing now. Our focus has completely been on tomorrows game. It will be a completely different test and one we are really looking forward to. They are in excellent form and have been for some time so it will be extremely tough for us. We are looking to keep this momentum going and hopefully give our supporters something to celebrate on the long journey home.”
Head to head:
Ayr United wins –7
Draws – 10
Inverness wins – 20
The Honest Men have won just once in 14 matches at the Caledonian Stadium but we are unbeaten in our last three trips to the Highland capital. That one away victory was in January 2003 and came courtesy of a 3rd minute Stewart Kean strike.
Last Meeting: The last meeting between the sides came during United’s run to the League Cup semi-final during season 2011/12. Eddie Malone’s strike on the hour mark proved to be the only goal of the game at Somerset Park in this second round tie as Inverness became the first of three SPL scalps that year.
Inverness hit 10 goals in just two matches at Somerset Park during season 2009/10, including a 7-0 win in April 2010 as they celebrated promotion to the Scottish Premier League in style. However, they were unable to overcome the Honest Men in the two matches at home; there was a goalless draw at the start of the season while later in the year a controversial last minute Adam Rooney penalty made it 3-3. Andy Aitken and Mark Roberts had put United ahead in the first-half before goals either side of half-time from Richie Foran and Jonny Hayes level it for Terry Butcher’s side. Tam McManus gave the Honest Men the lead once more before Martyn Campbell was harshly adjudged to have pushed Grant Munro in the box by referee Scott Macdonald.
Referee – Andrew Dallas
Assistant Referee 1 – Graeme Stewart
Assistant Referee 2 – David Burns
Adults – £20
Concessions (16-25, Senior Citizens) – £15
U16s – £6
We thank you for travelling to support the team. Your support is vital. However, we all need to be able to enjoy watching games in a safe and considerate environment.
We ask that you support the players and team without resorting to unacceptable behaviour that can lead either Club or individuals facing charges.
All Scottish grounds have a searching policy as a condition of entry.
Possessing or using any pyro device and anyone detected will be liable to prosecution and a lifetime ban from football stadiums.
Copies of Ayr United’s Unacceptable Conduct Policy can be found on our website. http://www.ayrunitedfc.co.uk/unacceptable-conduct-policy/
Thank you and enjoy the game.