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Revenge dished up by Caley Thistle as lethal win at Morton retains top spot

Billy Mackay celebrates after making it 3-0 for ICT.
Billy Mackay celebrates after making it 3-0 for ICT.

Caley Thistle gained revenge for their midweek Scottish Cup defeat with a 6-1 rout of Morton to stay in first place in the Championship.

The lethal scoreline means ICT are one point ahead of Raith Rovers, with Morton dropping to the foot of the table on goal difference.

Just four days after losing on penalties to managerless Ton in the Scottish Cup, Billy Dodds took his team back to Cappielow looking for the victory to keep them ahead of four close chasers.

First half goals from Aaron Doran, Shane Sutherland and Billy Mckay put the visitors in control in monsoon conditions. A Gozie Ugwo penalty just before half-time offered hope to the hosts.

Reece McAlear is overjoyed by hitting his first ICT goal at Morton.

McAlear’s rasping strike early in the second half, his first since joining on loan from Norwich, increased the lead for the visitors before Sutherland netted his second to round off the scoring.

There was still time for substitute Lewis Jamieson, on loan from St Mirren, to lash home a sixth goal to compound the home side’s misery.

Facilities row took over build-up

The build-up to this league game was cranked up by ICT head coach Billy Dodds saying his team would pull out of the fixture should the sub-standard conditions they faced in midweek not to resolved.

A failed generator led to freezing conditions and pitch darkness for the coaching, medical and playing staff and Dodds pulled no punches.

Thankfully, Morton fixed the issues, as they said they would, and placed the visitors in the gym facilities at the other end of the ground.

The gym at Cappielow used by ICT on Saturday.

Despite their cup heroics the other night under the guidance of interim manager and football academy chief Derek Anderson, the hosts began the day in a three-way tie at the foot of the table with Dunfermline Athletic and Queen of the South.

Anderson said in the wake of their third-round shoot-out triumph, he’d have picked three points ahead of cup progression, which has landed them a tie at Premiership Motherwell next month.

Early goal set ICT on their way

Dodds, who demanding an improvement in performance levels, was forced into two changes due to injury, with Roddy MacGregor and Sean Welsh sidelined and replaced by McAlear and Tom Walsh.

Morton made no substitutions in the cup replay and kept the same 11 for this one.

In league terms, ICT were going into this encounter on the back of a stirring 1-0 table-topping win eight days ago against Kilmarnock.

With the rain driving down, Inverness settled better and Mckay and McAlear went close early on, with Gary Oliver looking lively for Ton.

Then, from nowhere, ICT got their noses in front on 15 minutes when a dipping cross (or shot) swerved towards the far post from Doran. The ball bounced off keeper Jack Hamilton before crossing the goal-line.

Inverness had the bit between their teeth and only a timely block from Lithgow prevented Mckay from connected with a cross from Sutherland.

ICT doubled their lead on 33 minutes when Mckay surged into the box, his effort was blocked by Hamilton, but fell kindly for Sutherland who tucked it away.

The killer touch which has been missing from some ICT displays when on top was on show here and they made it 3-0 on 35 minutes.

On-loan Norwich midfielder McAlear picked out Mckay with a neat pass and the striker bagged his 11th goal of the season with a composed finish in off the post.

Just seconds before the break, Morton got back into the match after Gavin Reilly was brought down in the box, seemingly by McAlear and a penalty was awarded by referee John Beaton.

After David Carson was booked for protesting, Ugwu kept his cool before tucking his spot-kick past Ridgers.

Lethal strikes add to glee for ICT

That reply could have made life tricky for Caley Thistle, but a screamer from McAlear from 25 yards flew into the net to restore their three-goal advantage on 52 minutes.

It was McAlear’s first goal in Inverness colours and what a way to open his account.

The fifth goal arrived on the hour mark when Sutherland netted his second of the day with a sublime finish from close range.

The visitors looked like scoring at will, with their place at the top secure and Morton plunging to bottom spot.

They added a sixth goal on 78 minutes when Jamieson, who had just replaced Sutherland, cut inside the box and steered a low drive past Hamilton into the net.

 

Caley Thistle’s next game is at home to Hamilton Accies in the league next Saturday, while Morton’s target of pulling clear of danger will continue away to Arbroath.

HOW THEY LINED UP –

MORTON (4-4-2) – Hamilton 5, Strapp 5, Oliver 6, Muirhead 6 (McGregor 68), Lyon 6 Easdale 81), Ugwu 6, Reilly 6 (Blues 56), Russell 6, Hynes 6, Oksanen 6, Lithgow 5.  Subs not used: Ledger, Jacobs, McGrattan, King.

CALEY THISTLE (4-4-1-1) – Ridgers 6, Deas 6, Devine 6, Carson 6, Mckay 7 (Duku 66), Doran 6 (Harper 58), Sutherland 7 (Jamieson 75), Walsh 6, Broadfoot 6, Allardice 6, McAlear 7. Subs not used: Mackay, Duffy, McDonald.

Referee: John Beaton.

Attendance: 1192.

Man of the match: Billy Mckay.

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