Caley Thistle boss Billy Dodds praised the performance of returning goalkeeper Mark Ridgers in Monday’s 6-1 win against Cove Rangers.
The Inverness head coach was delighted to see his experienced shot-stopper pull off several saves to keep their lively visitors from Aberdeen adding to their lead or giving themselves hope as the game was cruising in the hosts’ favour.
The biggest ICT victory of the season ended an eight-match winless Championship run and moves them back to within four points of fourth-placed duo Morton and Partick Thistle.
Ridgers, 32, made his first league start since October 28 – when he was subbed at half-time in a 4-0 defeat at Morton with the score 3-0 at the midway point.
Dodds and Ridgers discussed the decision the following Monday, with Cammy MacKay taking his place in the side.
Ridgers offered ‘calming influence’
He stressed, however, MacKay has not been at fault for recent results, which also included a 1-0 loss against Dundee, but felt Ridgers was the right man to face Cove this week.
He said: “I have said before, I’m lucky because we’ve got two good goalkeepers.
“I just felt, with the goals we were losing, none of them were Cammy MacKay’s fault, but we just needed an experienced head.
“Mark has been a model pro. He had to take it (the decision) on the chin. He knew I wasn’t happy, but he came in and made a couple of great saves in the second half. Mark brings that calming influence.
“I didn’t think it was fair on Cammy to keep him in at the moment when we’ve been losing goals.
“Ryan Barrett has gone back down south and we had young lads on our back four, which probably wasn’t fair on Cammy. Monday was a time for experience, but we do have two good keepers here.”
Welsh plays key role in comeback
Skipper Sean Welsh’s pin-point free-kicks lined up hat-trick star Billy Mckay for the first Inverness goal and Danny Devine for the second and Dodds was delighted with the influence of the midfielder.
He said: “I watched the equaliser back at half-time and Sean put in a great ball and Billy’s movement was great. That gave us the springboard.
“Welshy was great against Cove and played a real captain’s role.
“Although I’m talking about individuals, I felt it was a collective performance once we got our confidence back and once we overcame those doubts we had – we handled it brilliantly.
“When we got the goals, everyone wanted the ball and wanted to play. I thought we played some great football on Monday, but it also showed how much our confidence was lacking.
“That’s what (poor) results do, but everyone wanted the ball and we also got our young lads on, which was great. We showed togetherness to get through the game at the right periods whereby they could go and enjoy it.”
Strong debut for winger Henderson
Dodds has brought St Mirren winger Jay Henderson in on loan until the end of the season and is hopeful of adding at least one more new recruit, with short-term right-back Ryan Barrett having moved on.
The ICT manager was thrilled by the energetic, incisive, display from the Buddies’ starlet, who he’s landed at the second attempt.
He added: “Jay looked as if he was enjoying his football. I told him that’s all I wanted him to do.
“We missed out on him before when I thought we had him last season and I know what he can bring.
“He was enjoying it and I was absolutely buzzing with his performance, but he is a young lad and I don’t want to put too much on him. He has real quality and we’re lucky to have him.”
Confidence high for visit to Arbroath
Saturday’s hosts Arbroath pulled off a shock result on Monday when they knocked local rivals Dundee off top spot with a 4-2 win at Dens Park.
Dodds expects a testing 90 minutes against Dick Campbell’s second-bottom team, but says they travel with renewed belief they can get a win to haul them closer to mid-table.
He said: “My team have got their confidence back – but you can quickly lose it again.
“Arbroath is a hard game. They are near the bottom and they are going to battle. They are scrapping for everything.
“Gayfield is a tough place to go, as we’ve seen before, but Monday’s performance can only be good for going to a place like Arbroath and I’d expect us to go with confidence and get a result.
“All I’ve said is we just wanted to hang in there, because if we can do that by putting points on the board, we’re a team, once I get healthy competition and players back, that can go places – but this really is only a start. We have to build on Monday’s result and performance.”