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Billy Dodds insists Caley Thistle’s display against Raith Rovers deserved better following late defeat

Inverness have now gone on a run of nine matches without a victory, but Dodds took encouragement from his side's display against the Fifers.

Billy Dodds. Image: SNS
Billy Dodds. Image: SNS

Caley Thistle’s poor start to the Championship campaign continued – but Billy Dodds felt there was a marked improvement in his side’s performance against Raith Rovers.

Inverness were firmly on track for a point at Stark’s Park, until Raith substitute Jamie Gullan found the top corner with a piledriver from outside the box three minutes before the end.

It was a cruel late twist which typified Caley Jags’ recent fortunes, on a day in which a share of the points would have been just reward for their efforts.

The result extends their winless run to nine matches, keeping them two points adrift at the foot of the Championship table after five matches.

Jamie Gullan celebrates his winner against Caley Thistle. Image: SNS

It also ends their remarkable run of form against the Kirkcaldy outfit, who triumphed within 90 minutes in the fixture for the first time since October 2000.

Dodds acknowledges the frustration of Caley Thistle’s supporters following the long wait for a win, stretching back to July 15 against Bonnyrigg Rose in the Viaplay Cup.

‘Players gave me everything’

The Caley Jags boss says the manner of his side’s display in Fife gives him encouragement his players are giving their all in an effort to turn the poor form around.

He said: “I was gutted for them. I know we are on a losing run, but sometimes when you get it right, and you deserve so much more out of the game, it’s cruel.

“I have been there at both sides of it.

“We could have had two or three goals in the first half, with the game out of sight, but their goalkeeper kept them in it.

Danny Devine sees his goal chalked off against Raith Rovers. Image: SNS

“You just fear when you are not taking your chances, they will get you with one. That’s what happened.

“I feel for the boys – everybody will say ‘they have been beaten again, they are not performing.’

“They did well. They gave me everything discipline-wise and looked dangerous. We could have been more clinical.

“I told them after the game – if they keep giving me that we will be fine. We will win games in this division, we have just had a bad start.

“We need to turn it around but I cannot fault them. They cannot let their standards drop now.”

Dodds reverted to a team selection that far more closely resembled full strength, having made eight changes for the previous weekend’s SPFL Trust Trophy defeat to Arbroath. 

It was the same number of changes from that day’s starting line-up, which meant only Morgan Boyes, Luis Longstaff and teenager Robbie Thompson kept their places.

Robbie Thompson in action against Raith Rovers. Image: SNS

There were returns for experienced campaigners such as Billy Mckay, David Carson and Danny Devine who were rested last week.

Rovers made a positive start, with Sam Stanton a particularly lively presence.
Inverness’ first attempt came through Cameron Harper, who drilled a low effort well wide of the post from the edge of the box.

Inverness took control of first half

Nathan Shaw was next to threaten on 19 minutes when Longstaff’s effort was blocked into his path, but his strike did not have enough power to trouble Kevin Dabrowski.

Skipper Devine had the ball in the net when he nodded home a Charlie Gilmour free-kick five minutes later, only to be flagged for offside.

It was a strong spell of pressure for Caley Jags, with Gilmour and Max Anderson both forcing saves from Dabrowski with powerful efforts.

Morgan Boyes in action against Raith Rovers. Image: SNS

At the other end, Rovers’ first meaningful attempt came when Stanton skipped past Carson before trundling an effort just wide.

Inverness spurned the best chance of the first half on 36 minutes when Shaw’s corner picked out Boyes unmarked at the far post, but he could only steer his header straight at Dabrowski.

It was a first half which the visitors had very much had the better of, but it was a scrappier affair after the break.

Mark Ridgers was forced to make a fine save from Lewis Vaughan, while at the other end Keith Bray and Shaw were both inches away from connecting with a Mckay cutback.

Gullan introduction the decisive moment

The introduction of Gullan proved to be decisive in Raith’s favour with the striker finding the net within just two minutes of his arrival on the field.

After a corner was cleared to Gullan on the edge of the box, he weaved on to his left foot before hammering a strike past Ridgers at his near post.

Jamie Gullan nets the winner for Raith Rovers against Caley Thistle. Image: SNS

There was still time for Inverness to threaten for a late leveller, with Adam Brooks heading straight at Dabrowski after being picked out by Carson’s cross.

The win moved Raith to the top of the table, with Dundee United next up for Caley Jags in a return to home action next week.

Player Ratings

RAITH ROVERS (4-2-3-1): Dabrowksi 7; Millen 6, Watson 6, Murray 6, Dick 6; Byrne 6, Brown 6; Vaughan 6 (Mullin 64), Stanton 7 (Gullan 85), Smith 6 (Easton 64); Hamilton 6.

Subs not used: McNeil, Connolly, Arnott, Hannah, Masson.

CALEY THISTLE (4-2-3-1): Ridgers 6; Carson 6, Devine 7, Boyes 7, Harper 6; Gilmour 7 (Brooks 88), Anderson 7; Longstaff 7, Thompson 7 (Bray 70), Shaw 6; Mckay 6 (Samuels 82).

Subs not used: Mackay, Delaney, Doran, Davidson, Hyde.

Referee: Chris Graham
Attendance: 2,846
Star Man: Robbie Thompson