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Michael Gardyne believes Queen of the South victory proves Caley Thistle’s strength of character

Michael Gardyne hit the winner for Caley Thistle against Queen of the South.
Michael Gardyne hit the winner for Caley Thistle against Queen of the South.

Michael Gardyne felt Saturday’s spirited recovery against Queen of the South showed exactly what the Caley Thistle dressing room is made of.

The former Ross County attacker’s dramatic late winner lifted his new club three points clear at the Championship summit.

It came just seven minutes after losing a hammer-blow leveller against the run of play.

Despite controlling great spells of play, the Caledonian Stadium hosts had failed to kill off the Dumfries men after Sean Welsh’s ninth minute free-kick finish.

With 16 minutes left, there was deflation and dread in the home stands after a wonderful Lee Connelly equaliser.

For a couple of minutes, the Highlanders also looked startled, before mustering a stirring response.

Veteran Gardyne, lasting 90 minutes after three weeks out with an ankle injury, deftly controlled a high, angled Robbie Deas ball in the box before lashing in the winner.

Twice a Championship winner with County, the 35-year-old recognises that something special may be brewing across the Kessock Bridge.

He said: “I thought the lads were brilliant again.

“To show the resilience and character we did to get the winner after losing the goal is just fantastic.

“This is my first season here, but some of the lads who were here before were saying that the team bond we have was maybe not as strong in the past.

“I’m not saying they haven’t had that strong bond at Caley Thistle – they clearly have – but lads like Sean Welsh and David Carson have mentioned how good it is now.

“When we scored the winner, everybody came to celebrate and that’s massive. To compete at the top end of the league, you need that team spirit.

“I’ve been part of some great dressing rooms in my time and, coming here, the lads have been brilliant with me and other new boys like Kirk Broadfoot.

“Even the wee things like coffee club after training helps. The lads are friends off the pitch as well.”

Inverness goalscorer Sean Welsh is congratulated by his teammates after giving his side the lead.

Gardyne, like any player of his vintage, will face scrutiny on how the legs are holding up to years of service.

But the County record holder for appearances and goals felt so good late in his comeback game that he asked manager Billy Dodds to keep him on the park.

Gardyne, who also hit the winner at Kilmarnock in August just before injury, said: “No matter your age, after an injury lay-off you can blow up after an hour or so.

“I got a second wind and when I saw the manager go to make a substitution, I told him he better not take me off!

“I just had a good feeling because I felt fit and strong and, thankfully, I produced in the end.

“I’ve come through a tough three weeks with my ankle but I’ve kept my fitness levels high.”

Gardyne used to be one of the County men the Caley Jags faithful loved to hate, but took selfie requests from the fans after the final whistle.

Michael Gardyne celebrates the Caley Thistle win at full-time. 

He added: “Have I won them over? I’d like to think so.

“Even in the summer when I signed, there wasn’t too much negativity.

“To get winners at Kilmarnock and now here in Inverness probably helps build a bit of a relationship.

“Even without the goals, I’d hope the fans would see how hard I work on and off the ball for my team.

“We’re all showing a great work ethic. It’s only the start of the season, but it was a really important win.

“Over the years, Caley Thistle haven’t had great starts, so what we’ve done so far is massive. We just want to keep building on it.”

 

 

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