Dropping points at Dunfermline and Hamilton has put Caley Thistle on guard for their top of the table Championship showdown at Kirkcaldy this Saturday.
That’s the view of Inverness head coach Billy Dodds as his team get set to tackle in-form Raith Rovers at Stark’s Park, with the first-placed Highlanders holding a five-point gap over their hosts and Kilmarnock.
A 2-1 defeat at Hamilton when Accies were second bottom and a goalless draw at rock-bottom Dunfermline have been ICT’s only winless matches from their opening nine league outings. A special late Roddy MacGregor goal saw ICT edge past Raith back in August.
🔜 This Saturday we're in action as away from home as we face Raith Rovers
In our meeting earlier this season, we won 1-0 thanks to this strike from Roddy MacGregor 💥
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) October 21, 2021
And Dodds, whose side beat Morton 2-0 last week, knows any drop in standards against a Raith team with eight wins from 11 games will result in a second league loss.
Every side desperate to beat leaders
He said: “The bottom teams can be the top teams and anybody can beat any other and that happened to use when we dropped points against Dunfermline and Hamilton.
“You’ve got to be guarded all the way through. That’s why this has been such a good start for the team and you can’t do anything other than look at it positively.
“Being top gives you momentum and confidence, but also puts a target on your back where teams are desperate to beat you.
PRE – MATCH INTERVIEW | 🎙️ 🎥 @RaithTV talked to John McGlynn before Saturdays @cinchuk @spfl Championship 1st v 2nd match v @ICTFC https://t.co/4o6Noul5Bm#timetocomehome #backatstarks pic.twitter.com/2RaI5LyfVf
— RRFC Official (@RaithRovers) October 21, 2021
“When we dropped those points against Dunfermline and Hamilton, you could see they were desperate to turn us over and every other team will be the same. We’re a scalp.”
ICT seek big performance in Fife
Amazingly, Raith have not beaten Caley Thistle for 21 years, despite being such well-matched sides for so long.
That is a run of 24 games for ICT without losing to them, but Dodds know his players can deliver another big performance, having won 1-0 at title favourites Kilmarnock in August.
He added: “It adds a wee bit of extra pressure when you play in a first v second game, although they are all difficult games. It brings an edge to the game.
🔜 We travel to Kirkcaldy this weekend as we face @RaithRovers
🎟️ Tickets available now online
🚌 @ICT_STC Bus leaves Stadium at 10am this Saturday
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) October 19, 2021
“We handled it at Kilmarnock when we played well and were strong mentally and physically. We moved the ball well and had chances to kill off that game.
“It might take that sort of performance again and that’s what we’ll be looking for. Going to Kirkcaldy, on that astrofurf, given the way Raith are playing and in the form they are in, this is a big game.
“If we are off it at all, we know this could be a defeat for us. But we’re playing well and the players are looking forward to it and so am I.
“We have shown we can win games in different ways and if it takes one of those ways then I’ll take it.
“If we don’t play well and nick a goal and a win, we’ll take that. We have played in different ways and won most games so far.”