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Duncan Ferguson overjoyed to win first game in charge of Caley Thistle

Inverness get their first Championship victory of the season after a five-goal thriller at Gayfield.

Duncan Ferguson celebrates with his arms in the air
Duncan Ferguson savours the 3-2 win at Arbroath with the Inverness fans. Images: SNS

New Caley Thistle manager Duncan Ferguson was thrilled to deliver a 3-2 Championship win for the fans on his dug-out debut at Arbroath – a result which takes ICT off the foot of the table.

Ferguson, who took over the hotseat this week, was on cloud nine after seeing Inverness score the result they needed to move above Morton and into ninth position.

Luis Longstaff got the ball rolling with an early opener and Aaron Doran made it 2-0 after ICT resisted a bit of a home improvement.

Billy Mckay’s looped goal early in the second half looked to have put this match to bed.

However, Scott Stewart pulled one back before Michael McKenna slotted home a second goal to ramp up the tension for the visitors.

Inverness rode out the storm and posted their first league win of the season – and their first victory since beating Bonnyrigg Rose in the Viaplay Cup group stages in mid-July.

Ferguson spoke with delight afterwards, elated that he was able to celebrate the victory with the supporters who travelled to Angus in decent numbers.

He said: “I am enthusiastic and know how much these fans are committed to the football club.

Inverness manager Duncan Ferguson on the sidelines at Gayfield.

“They spend a lot of money and they travel up and down the country and this is the first time they have seen a league victory this season.

“It was quite emotional for me because it is never easy to win a game of football. To deliver three points for them was a great moment for me and for the team.

“Believe me, it was the team who get the three points. I never headed a ball or scored a goal. I just set them up and pushed them as hard as I possibly could.”

One goal can change a game – boss

Ferguson insists he never thought for a moment, even at 3-0, that the match was over – and so it proved.

He added: “I have a lot of experience – I am not a trainee coach. I have been through it all. It is never over.

“If we got the fourth goal then we’d be sitting a lot more comfortable. It only takes one goal. All of a sudden, your heart sinks. You know what’s coming.

“It’s never over until the referee’s whistle. I wasn’t sure how long he was going to play.

“It’s my first game and I wanted to make sure I was calm. Although we were 3-0 up, I knew Arbroath would come back. That’s why they are in the position they are in.”

Arbroath were on a high in third spot

Arbroath went into this tussle third in the league and on the back of five straight victories in all competitions including a 4-2 win over Billy Dodds’ much-changed ICT side in the SPFL Trust Trophy.

Inverness, who were unchanged from the team which lost 1-0 late on to Dundee United a week ago, were backed by a vocal support.

Australian defender Nikola Ujdur, on his second outing for the club, tested home goalkeeper Derek Gaston with a shot from distance early on as they began on the front foot.

Inverness manager Duncan Ferguson giving his pre-match thoughts on BBC Scotland.

The Caley Jags got their noses in front on 10 minutes. Udjur met a decent ball into the box, Gaston blocked it, but Longstaff raced in to deliver the touch to nudge it over the goal-line.

Arbroath were a little slack at times and it almost led to a second goal on 19 minutes when Nathan Shaw found space on the left, whipped it on for Billy Mckay, whose effort was too weak to get the better of Gaston.

The hosts were soon finding their feet though, with moves down the left flank looking like their most likely route through, mainly thanks to ex-Ross County star Ryan Dow and Scott Stewart.

Doran slid in to give ICT a 2-0 lead

A swift, deadly attack, however on 31 minutes cut Arbroath open for number two.

Cammy Harper swept the ball on for Longstaff and the first scorer turned provider for Doran to slide in and tuck his shot into the net beyond Gaston.

Three minutes into the second half, the match looked to be wrapped up by ICT’s record scorer Billy Mckay, who coolly hooked a high shot over Gaston after he collected a clearance from his own keeper Mark Ridgers.

This was his 103rd ICT goal and his first since breaking that record earlier in the season against Airdrie in the Viaplay Cup.

Inverness had only scored three league goals in six games before this afternoon.

Billy Mckay scores to make it 3-0 after hooking home a high clearance from goalkeeper Mark Ridgers.

Swift double offered Arbroath hope

However, Arbroath denied ICT their first clean sheet of the season when Stewart went in for the ball with Ujdur and watched his connection fly high into the net past Ridgers.

McKenna rounded off a move with pace with 10 minutes to go when he calmly slotted low past Ridgers before celebrating with his fans, who surely sensed the chance was on for a draw.

Thankfully for the Caley Jags, their players stood firm and Ferguson and his team shared the moment with the fans after the final whistle.

Aaron Doran (left) celebrates after giving Inverness a 2-0 advantage.

Player ratings

ARBROATH (4-2-3-1): Gaston 6, Steele 6, Little 6, O’Brien 6, Stewart 6, Slater 6, Gold 6, Dow 7 (Stowe 63), McKenna 6, Hylton 7 (Dunnwald-Turan 86), Bird 6 (McIntosh 63). Subs not used – Adams (GK), Jacobs, Stowe, Norey, Balde. Lyon, Hamilton.

CALEY THISTLE (4-4-2): Ridgers 6, Carson 6, Ujdur 7, Boyes 6, Harper 6, Longstaff 8 (Davidson 75), Gilmour 6, Anderson 6, Shaw 6, Doran 6 (Samuels 55), Billy Mckay 6 (Delaney 64). Subs not used – Cammy Mackay (GK), Hyde, Lodovica, Brooks, Bray, Thompson.

Referee: Don Robertson.

Attendance: 1723.

Man of the match: Luis Longstaff.