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Caley Thistle goal hero Austin Samuels has eyes on Premiership prize after sinking Partick Thistle

Caley Thistle's play-off goal hero, striker Austin Samuels.
Caley Thistle's play-off goal hero, striker Austin Samuels.

Play-off double match-winner Austin Samuels is confident he can continue his scoring streak as Caley Thistle stand four matches away from a Premiership return.

The 21-year-old winter window capture from Wolves has been finding his feet in the Highlands, but showed a glimpse of what he can do with a cracking finish for his first ICT goal against Dunfermline Athletic in March. 

The striker, who spent the first half of this season on loan at Aberdeen, was the hero for Inverness in last week’s Premiership play-off quarter-finals as he hit the winners in both legs.

He steered home the clincher at Firhill last Tuesday when a fabulous cross from in-form Shane Sutherland was buried in the box for a 2-1 comeback victory. 

On Friday, again from a Sutherland assist, he showed nerves of steel when put through to guide the ball past Jamie Sneddon for the only goal of the tie. 

The prize is a double-header semi-final against Championship runners-up Arbroath, starting on Tuesday at the Caledonian Stadium.

Slick pitch and perfect pass for goal

Samuels felt the top-class surface of their home pitch played a massive part in the way he knocked away the winner against the Jags on Friday.

He said: “Shane assisted with both my goals against Partick Thistle. Those are the kind of top passes I like. A through-ball where I am playing off the shoulder.

Austin Samuels celebrates his winner for ICT against Partick Thistle on Friday evening.

“I had a chance like that away to Morton recently, but their pitch was drier. Had I taken the same touch I took at against Partick at Morton then the chance would have gone because of the pitch. But those are the type of chances I thrive off.”

Austin powers home the winner

Boss Billy Dodds said of Samuels’ winner on Friday: “When Austin was put through, I knew he had a strike on him. I knew he was going to lace it, to go for power.

“It was a great finish and it took away the early nerves.”

The forward insists it really was all about power on his favoured foot.

He added: “I feel alright on my left foot, so I was confident when I was going through. I hit it with power to beat the keeper.”

Samuels didn’t hit the net during his short stint with Aberdeen, but given the way he’s settling in at Inverness, he feels ready to help ICT make history by becoming the first third-placed Championship finishers to go all the way to the top-flight.

He said: “It feels really good to reach the semi-finals and it shows all our hard work is paying off. Hopefully we can go on from there. To reach the Premiership would be amazing.

Austin Samuels buried two chances laid on by fellow forward Shane Sutherland against Partick Thistle.

“It is good to finally start scoring some goals. They’re important goals and they always mean a lot more, so I am happy.

“For me, it would be great to get back to the Premiership and play against top sides.

“It was tough when the results were poor when I joined, but we got there in the end. We stayed resilient and kept the faith.”

Momentum carrying ICT into semis

While Inverness have played two high-pressure matches against Partick, Dick Campbell’s Arbroath have had a well-earned rest.

Their last match was a 3-0 home win against Morton, but as to who benefits best, Samuels said time will tell.

Caley Thistle players celebrate Austin Samuels’ first half goal.

He added: “We have good momentum and we have to keep going. Whether the break helps Arbroath or not, I’m not sure.

“But we’ve been in really good form and we will just have to wait and see how the games go this week.”

Playing for fun as well as prizes

Samuels is playing with a spring in his step, boosted by his goals. That’s in tune with the team overall, who have won eight of their last 10 matches, and he admits it’s a great feeling.

He said: “When you’re winning games, the team are playing well and you’re scoring goals, it is always the best feeling – that’s why you play football.”

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