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Wind is the winner as Caley Thistle earn draw away to Championship leaders Arbroath

Arbroath's Jason Thomson (left) tackles Inverness' Tom Walsh at Gayfield.
Arbroath's Jason Thomson (left) tackles Inverness' Tom Walsh at Gayfield.

Caley Thistle began the new year with a hard-fought 0-0 draw away to Championship leaders Arbroath.

The result – at a blustery Gayfield – means Inverness stay three points off top spot.

Dick Campbell’s part-timers have been whipping up a storm of their own by being the halfway front-runners in the second tier and racked up an 11-match unbeaten run ahead of kick-off here.

The wind, especially in the first half, was a challenge for the players, although there were chances at both ends in front of almost 500 permitted home fans due to restrictions.

After today’s results, which saw Raith Rovers and Dunfermline draw 0-0 in Kirkcadly, ICT remain Arbroath’s closest rivals, with Rovers staying third, one point adrift of the Highlanders.

This was ICT’s first fixture since losing 2-1 at home to Hamilton Accies on December 18, which allowed Arbroath to hit pole position.

On Boxing Day, a combination of Covid and injuries forced ICT to have their home match with Partick Thistle postponed.

Then, on Wednesday, their trip to Dunfermline was washed out by a waterlogged pitch, so that will also need to be rearranged.

Arbroath’s midweek home game with Hamilton was also postponed, due to Covid and injuries taking Accies below the acceptable squad numbers.

Duffy is only change for Inverness

Covid issues are largely behind ICT and Dodds made just one change to the team which faced Hamilton, with Wallace Duffy coming in for Reece McAlear.

Injury and perhaps the lingering effects of Covid meant ICT had just five on the bench, including keeper/coach Ryan Esson, who remains registered as a player.

Home boss Campbell was back on the sidelines after testing positive from Covid recently.

They made two changes from the side which convincingly swept Dunfermline away 3-0 on Boxing Day, with David Gold and James Craigen promoted to the starting 11.

On the eve of this game, they brought Livingston striker Jack Hamilton back on loan to the club, with the player hitting eight goals during a spell last season.

Arbroath still have loan stars Joel Nouble from Livi and Anton Dowds from Falkirk leading the line until the middle of the month.

Caley Thistle have a decent record at Gayfield, unbeaten on seven games, and before losing to Accies last month they had won three on the spin, against Queen of the South, Kilmarnock and Morton.

The wind was blowing rough from the start and Gold and Nouble linked up well early on, with July’s match-winner Shane Sutherland alert at the other end.

It was tough for both sides and ICT midfielder Scott Allardice was frustrated further when he was booked for a late challenge on Dowds.

Caley Jags defender Kirk Broadfoot tried his luck from distance, using the wind as an aid, but Derek Gaston was equal to it. Then Allardice forced Gaston to tip the ball over the top when he swerved a shot on target.

Nouble continued to threaten

Arbroath soon enjoyed a good spell and Nouble cut in from the left side and his drive was gathered by Mark Ridgers. There was an immediate response from ICT and Doran flashed a shot just around the far post.

Yet, the hosts had the bit between their teeth and Colin Hamilton found space in the penalty area, but his finish had too much height to test Ridgers.

In the last chance of note before the break, Nouble gathered the ball on the edge of the box and drew a fine stop from Ridgers with a shot from the edge of the box.

Doran had to be replaced on the stroke of half-time when he went off with a knock and replaced by Cameron Harper.

Arbroath pressed early on in the second half, but bodies blocked a McKenna cross and a Thomas O’Brien snap shot.

Inverness’ Aaron Doran comes close with a shot.

Teams pressed for the winner

The Angus team were having the best of the play and almost took the lead on 58 minutes when a smart Nouble pass picked out Craigen 10 yards out and he slid a low effort inches beyond the right post.

Ten minutes later, it was Inverness cursing their luck as a Tom Walsh cut-back was collected by David Carson and his searing 20-yarder skimmed the left post before going out for a goal-kick.

Arbroath had the ball in the net moments later when sub Jack Hamilton lashed the ball past Ridgers – but the offside flag denied him late glory.

That was as close as there was to a winner and it remained as you were at full-time within the top three.

Inverness return to the Caledonian Stadium on Saturday when promotion contenders Raith Rovers head north, while Arbroath travel to Ayr United.


ARBROATH (4-1-3-2) – Gaston 6, Thomson 6, Colin Hamilton 6, Little 6, O’Brien 6, Chris Hamilton 6, Gold 7 (Jack Hamilton 69), McKenna 6, Dowds 6 (Hilson 82), Nouble 7, Craigen 6 (Linn 79). Subs not used: Antell (GK), Low, Swankie, Donnelly.

CALEY THISTLE (4-5-1) – Ridgers 6, Duffy 6 (Hyde 85), Deas 6, Devine 6, Carson 6, Mckay 6 (Duku 76), Doran (Harper 45), Sutherland 6, Walsh 6, Broadfoot 6, Allardice. Subs not used: Esson (GK), Nicolson.

REFEREE: Colin Steven.


MAN OF THE MATCH: Joel Nouble.