Caley Jags legend Ross Tokely reckons an early goal against dangerous opponents Raith Rovers will test the visitors’ resolve after their opening day four-goal collapse.
The Highlanders kick off their home campaign in the Championship against Rovers this Saturday on the back of a 1-0 win for Billy Dodds’ players last weekend at Arbroath.
Raith, who have ex-ICT striker James Keatings on board, were on track to also start with three points as they led 4-0 against newly-relegated Hamilton at Stark’s Park.
However, four Accies goals in the final 22 minutes resulted in a stunning 4-4 draw in Kirkcaldy and the former ICT full-back would love to see his old team get their noses in front.
Can Caley Jags ask early questions?
He said: “If you have scored four and conceded four then there’s a vulnerability there.
“I’m sure Billy has looked at them, knowing they are going to be dangerous after scoring four times and they scored a lot last season too.
“In terms of that vulnerability, if Caley Thistle were to get an early goal, how would Raith deal with that?
“Caley Thistle need to deal with improving their home form. They drew too many games and I’m sure Billy is looking to get that first home league win. To get a run of wins is important.
“You saw Kilmarnock, who beat Ayr 2-0 on Monday, they will be a strong side, especially at home.”
Another strong ICT display needed
While there will be question marks hanging over Rovers following last week’s disappointment, Tokely is keen to stress that Rovers have class in attack to cause ICT problems too.
He added: “John McGlynn has always got good attacking teams and this will be a dangerous one for Caley Thistle, but if they play with the mentality of not wanting to lose goals then it gives them a platform to build upon and hopefully go and win games.
“You need to be tight at the back and work hard for one another. That’s the first thing to get right in football.”
Shane Sutherland’s goal earned the Inverness team their opening victory on Saturday, although they needed to be strong against wave after wave of Arbroath attacks to earn that win.
Tokely, who helped the club roar through the leagues to the top-flight, knows results like that can make a difference.
He said: “It was an excellent win because the form wasn’t great in the League Cup. To go there and put on a battling performance and getting a clean sheet was great.
“Dick Campbell’s teams are always strong and they’re really good at home, so it was a result that Billy needed and got them off to a really good start.
“It was a bit back-to-the-wall in the second half and sometimes you have to do that. Under Terry Butcher and various teams, we have hit on the counter because you have the pace to trouble teams.”
Midfielders settling in well
One of the most pleasing factors on Saturday was the ever-improving central midfield pairing of Norwich City loanee Reece McAlear, 19, alongside Scott Allardice, 23.
Tokely already sees progress McAlear as he quickly finds his feet in the Highlands.
He said: “I did the commentary for the Peterhead game and I felt Reece maybe had a bit of a slow game. It was his first (competitive) game and he was maybe just bedding himself in.
“Then he came on against Stirling Albion and he looked very athletic and he’s certainly got something to offer. Being at Norwich, he’s going to have that bit of quality about them.
“Reece and Scott Allaradice suit one another in that midfield. There are good legs there and both are good passers of the ball.”
Younger, louder voices in stands
Fans will be in the Caledonian Stadium this weekend and Tokely is delighted to see the next generation of supporters click through the turnstiles.
He added: “The more wins the team have, the greater the incentive for the fans to come along.
“In the last game I was at, there were a lot of younger fans and it is nice to see that. When I was playing, it was mainly the guys who had supported the club for years, but now there’s the younger generation too and gives them a bit more of a vocal backing.
“Younger people tend to cheer a lot more, which is great. Any support is welcome and gives the stadium a much better atmosphere.”