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Caley Thistle head coach Billy Dodds out to defend 18-year record against Ayr

Sean Welsh strokes home a Caley Thistle penalty in the 2-2 draw with Ayr United in April.
Sean Welsh strokes home a Caley Thistle penalty in the 2-2 draw with Ayr United in April.

Caley Jags head coach Billy Dodds is not taking the club’s 18-year unbeaten home record against Ayr United for granted ahead of Saturday’s Championship showdown in Inverness.

There have been many brilliant matches between these sides home and away over the years, with goals galore and an ICT title party in Ayr in 2010 thrown in for good measure.

Amazingly, the Honest Men have not won at the Caledonian Stadium since an early Stewart Kean goal sealed a 1-0 victory for them in January 2003.

Since then, Caley Thistle have racked up four wins and seven draws when facing Ayr at home.  The 2-2 draw in April was enough to keep United in the second tier.

Inverness CT head coach Billy Dodds.

However, Dodds, who watched their opponents edged out of the Premier Sports Cup by Dundee United on penalties last week, isn’t expecting anything other than a close encounter against a team with belief.

He said: “Even with Raith Rovers recently, it was pointed out to me that they haven’t beaten us for a while, but that was a hard-fought game

“Sometimes – I wouldn’t say you suit playing against teams – but there are teams you like playing against.

“Hopefully that’s the case, because we do have a good record against Ayr.

“We can’t take it for granted that we’re going to win the game though. It’s nice to look at records and stats, but it’s more about being focused and realising what’s at stake for us.”

Victory would ‘show intent’

If ICT can get a third league win on the spin, they will hit the road to Ayrshire next week to face Kilmarnock at least level top and Dodds knows three points in this one will further build up belief within his camp.

He added: “If we win it, it shows we have intent in the league, that our confidence is there and we have momentum.

“That’s what football is all about. I know it’s all cliches, but it’s true, that’s the way players think.

“The players will look forward to the game against a team that, yes, we have a good record against, but it doesn’t mean we will win the game if we don’t put in the hard work and give ourselves the opportunity to win the match.”

Belief in Ayr after testing Tangerines

And he’s far from under-estimating David Hopkin’s Ayr side after two impressive performances in the past fortnight.

He said: “I was at Ayr v Dundee United and Ayr also came back well to draw with Arbroath the week before. That will build their confidence a bit too.

“They were unlucky against Dundee United and should have won the tie. They hit the bar and had unbelievable chances when they were 1-0 up.

“You could see Ayr growing within the game. The first 20 minutes, Dundee United were on top, as you would expect from the Premiership club, but as soon as Ayr won a couple of second balls and got a half chance they grew right into it.

“They deservedly took the lead and could have gone on to win the tie, but unluckily for them they lost out. That shows us that we have to be at it. If we are nowhere near it then we will cause ourselves problems.”

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