Billy Dodds is calling on Caley Thistle to rediscover their killer touch after their shock slip-up against Arbroath handed Kilmarnock top spot in the Championship.
A wind-assisted free-kick from Red Lichties’ midfielder Michael McKenna earned the visitors a 1-0 win at the Caledonian Stadium on Tuesday on a night where the dismal weather compounded the misery for home fans.
The loss ended a five-match winning home run and came on the back of a 1-1 draw at 10-man Raith Rovers on Saturday.
In the space of 10 days, Inverness have seen their five-point advantage vanish and Killie are ahead, albeit only on goals scored.
Better quality required, says Dodds
Head coach Dodds insists the squad will be seeking to improve the quality of chances created and the rate of goals scored as they head to fifth-placed Partick Thistle on Saturday.
A sparkling 3-1 comeback victory over Partick in September was one of the main high points of the season so far and Dodds is eager for his players to reach those levels once more.
He said: “In terms of scoring goals and getting into goalscoring positions, I think the Partick game at home was our best performance. We played great football in the second half.
“I think that’s gone out of our game a little bit and I have to get to the bottom of that. We’re creating the odd chance within games, but not enough for the amount of possession we’ve got.
“We’re not creating enough and I’ve told the boys that. I said the only thing I could label at them was we’re not creating enough chances, even though we’re playing with width and getting crosses into the box.
“I don’t think we got enough crosses in either. With the style we play and the shape we’ve got, we should be creating more chances and scoring more goals.”
Mistake for goal which ‘floored’ ICT
Dodds felt sure Tuesday’s encounter against now third-placed Arbroath was heading for a 0-0 outcome.
McKenna’s set-piece early in the second half, following words of advice from his manager Dick Campbell, crashed high off the bar and past Ridgers for the winner.
Dodds hoped the rest of the team would be able to find a way back to salvage a point from the match-defining moment.
He added: “The goal floored us a wee bit. Big Mark has made a mistake, but I am not criticising him because he has saved us plenty and had a great save just after the goal as well.
“It wasn’t a great goal to lose, but I wanted the rest of the team to go and bail him out because he’s bailed them out so often.
“We couldn’t conjure a chance. We had a couple of wee sniffs, but that was it.
“They scored first, dug in and did the exact same to us that we did in the first game of the season.”
I take share of blame – Dodds
And the Inverness boss held his hands up as he pitched players forward in numbers to get a share of the points.
He said: “We just couldn’t peg it back. I tried everything – and I’ll take a bit of the blame for trying to throw a different shape at them.
“I just tried to get men in positions to get an equaliser. We had a go and it didn’t work and then I swapped it back.
“Maybe we should have kept the same shape and just pushed people higher.”
Leadership will chop and change
He’s urging his group to respond to Killie moving ahead of them on goals scored after their late 1-0 derby win at Ayr United thanks to a penalty from ex-Ross County forward Oli Shaw.
Dodds said: “Losing is disappointing, but again we’re still joint top.
“It will chop and change all season, but if anyone can put a run together in this league, which we did, you see what happens.
“Now Killie are replying and fair play to them.
“We just have to put a run of results together. We have to dig in now.
“This club can lose games and we just have to get on with it. It is how we respond to it.
“Do I go all doom and gloom and slaughter the boys? No chance. They’ve been great for me.”
Walter Smith was a ‘true legend’
Dodds, meanwhile, took a moment to speak about the death of former Rangers and Scotland manager Walter Smith.
Former Light Blues striker Dodds never played under Smith, but knew him well enough to have been touched by the loss of the 73-year-old legend.
He said: “When I heard the news on Tuesday morning, I was shocked and saddened because I knew he was ill.
“I had been in Walter’s company many times. I didn’t know him brilliantly, but he certainly had an aura. He was a brilliant football man and a true legend of the game.
“Overall, Walter was a really nice man. We lost a legend this week, but also an absolute gentleman. We always called him Sir Walter in jest. He probably should have been knighted for everything he did for the game.
“I feel for his wife Ethel and sons. They are brilliant people and he was always brilliant company.”