Scott Allardice is calling on Caley Thistle to turn tight tussles into Championship victories to ensure the Highlanders are promotion contenders.
The midfielder was a class act in Saturday’s 1-0 opening day win at Arbroath, secured by the swipe of the boot from striker Shane Sutherland.
ICT failed to make their possession pay in the first half and it required a classy Sutherland finish from a Harrison Clark error to seal the deal.
Head coach Billy Dodds believed the win would come, given the best of the play came from the north side in the opening 45 minutes.
Allardice, who was handed a start in place of the suspended Michael Gardyne, was a threat on the run and never scared to close down the threat of Arbroath, who threw everything at them, especially after the 66th minute winner.
ICT drew 12 of their 27 league games last season as they missed out on the top four by three points. They were held to a 1-1 draw at Gayfield in February, so edging close contests can make a massive difference.
He said: “That’s the kind of game where last season we would have dropped points in. We know we drew too many matches.
“We need to turn games like this one into wins. Maybe there’s not a lot in it, but when we do get chances we have to take them to get three points rather than one.
“Our aim is certainly to be up there challenging. With the quality that the manager has brought in, along with the players already here, we’re a season further on now with the younger players too.”
Strong defending mattered
Allardice says the game panned out as expected, a hard-fought tussle, but was satisfied the team got the job done.
He said: “It was a tough game, a bit of a battle. I thought we created a lot of openings in the first half and we should have done better. We know we need to be better in the final third.
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“In the second half, we showed that side of our game by getting the goal. We sat in after that and were comfortable to a degree without really hurting them when we had the ball.
“We knew coming here that it wouldn’t be the prettiest at times because we know what Arbroath are about and how hard they make it. I felt we did what we had to do, but full credit to them as we had to defend well to get the win.”
Sutherland has ‘goals and quality’
The former Dundee United midfielder, who was snapped up from Waterford in Ireland last year, felt their match-winner Sutherland has been an early star in the opening month of the season.
He added: “It was a great finish and Shane has probably been one of our best players in the League Cup. I know the group stages didn’t go our way, but he has certainly shown what he’s capable of.
“He has got goals in him and quality throughout his whole game. He’s off and running and he’ll be looking for more.”
Rovers on road north next weekend
Caley Thistle host Raith Rovers on Saturday, a side who blew an incredible 4-0 lead against Hamilton to draw 4-4 at the weekend.
Allardice is eager for the Inverness team to build on the winning start they made in Angus.
He said: “It’s another game we need to win. Last season, we dropped too many points at home, while being okay on the road. Every game, we need to be looking to take three points and that continues against Raith Rovers.
“We need to try and build momentum from the start. We have that first win under our belts and we need to use that to kick on.”