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Caley Thistle lacked killer touch in 0-0 draw against Airdrie

Inverness manager Duncan Ferguson is satisfied with a third successive clean sheet as his side remain ninth - but are close to three rivals.

ICT's Billy McKay and Airdrie's Kanayo Megwa.
ICT's Billy McKay and Airdrie's Kanayo Megwa. Image: Paul Byars/SNS Group

Boss Duncan Ferguson hailed his back-line as Caley Thistle’s 0-0 draw with Championship visitors Airdrie just lacked one moment of magic up top.

The result keeps ICT ninth, but just one point behind Queen’s Park, Dunfermline Athletic and Ayr United, while Airdrie are just one point outside the top four.

It also extends Caley Thistle’s winless run at the Caledonian Stadium, with it almost four months since they defeated Ayr here.

However, it means ICT have lost just one of their last seven league matches, albeit four of those fixtures have ended in draws.

Alex Samuel and Airdrie’s Mason Hancock. Image: Paul Byars/SNS Group

Boss – ‘We struggled with final ball’

Ferguson praised his players for throwing everything at the in-form Diamonds, but was left to ponder what might have been.

He said: “No one could question our effort. The boys pushed and pushed.

“We were the better team by a distance, but never created that clear-cut chance to take it.

“We had a couple of moments flashed across the box and we had cut-backs and we never had someone on the end of one, especially in the first half.

“I thought we had some good entries on the left side from Cammy Harper and in the second half Wallace Duffy gets in and we had one cleared off the line from Billy Mckay.

“We played really well, but just struggled with the final pass. When we did get one through from Sammy Lawal to Aribim Pepple, he was just on his heels. Sammy showed a bit of quality.

“I thought we were excellent and it was a completely different performance to Morton last week when we couldn’t string two passes together, yet we got three points (in a 2-0 win).”

Airdrie ‘fouled’ amid counter-attacks

Ferguson admits there was moments of frustration as his side hunted down the winner.

He said: “We were dominant and we pushed hard. Cammy Kerr was outstanding in the middle of the park and Sammy (Lawal) was great in his first game in a long time.

“Our defensive line was very good, but we just never got on the end of some balls. We had a lot of corners and wide free-kicks.

“They kept fouling our counter-attacks. I was going crazy on the touchline. Every time we counter attacked, they fouled our players but never got booked, but it was a good performance.”

Inverness manager Duncan Ferguson. Image: Paul Byars/SNS Group

Livi Lion Lawal in for ICT debut

This was the first of the final nine league fixtures as each one grows in importance.

Including a defeat in the group stages of the Viaplay Cup last July, this was the fifth meeting of the season between Inverness and Airdrie with just one ICT victory on the board to date.

From the side which defeated fourth-placed hosts Morton 2-0 last week, injured midfielder Sean McAllister was replaced by Lawal, in for his debut on loan Livingston.

Airdrie, fresh from their 2-0 midweek victory at Dunfermline, were unchanged.

Rhys McCabe’s team, who won promotion via the play-offs last summer, have designs on doing the same this time, which would be a remarkable feat.

Billy Mckay is challenged by Airdrie player/boss Rhys McCabe. Image: Paul Byars/SNS Group

Neat play without the cutting edge

It was a decent opening from both sides and the first chance of note saw Charlie Telfer testing Mark Ridgers with a drive from distance, which the home goalkeeper held.

From an ICT point of view, Alex Samuel and Mckay were looking lively, with Lawal displaying tidy touches.

Airdrie threatened to cut into the box when Mason Hancock attacked from the left, but Danny Devine was on hand to sweep the ball away.

Cammy Harper drew a save from keeper Josh Rae after slick play once more from Samuel as the hosts upped the tempo.

The final chance before half-time saw Max Anderson’s deflected drive clutched with ease by Rae.

Midfielder Samson Lawal, on his debut, and Airdrie’s Liam McStravick  Image: Paul Byars/SNS Group

Keeper injury as ICT have best of play

Five minutes after the interval, Mckay was a fraction away from opening the scoring when his header was cleared off the line by Kanayo Megwa after Duffy teed the striker up.

Inverness were having the best of the second half and Mckay’s tempting cross on 61 minutes just had too much pace on it for the in-rushing Duffy.

Airdrie keeper Josh Rae darted from his goal as he bravely saved at the feet of the advancing substitute Aribim Pepple.

The Diamonds’ number one was injured in the challenge and was replaced by David Hutton for his first appearance of the campaign.

Inverness seemed the most likely to nick the win and Pepple flashed a shot into the side-netting from another attack down the left flank.

However, time ran out and it means ICT stay in the relegation play-off spot, albeit within striking range of several rivals.

They stay at home next Saturday when Ayr United are the visitors.

Airdrie’s Liam McStravick  and Inverness’ midfielder Samson Lawal. Image:  Paul Byars/SNS Group

Player ratings

CALEY THISTLE (4-4-2): Ridgers 6, Duffy 6, Carragher 7, Devine 6, Savage 6, Kerr 8, Lawal 7, Anderson 7, Harper 6, Billy Mckay 6 (Pepple 68), Samuel 6.

Subs not used: Cammy MacKay (GK), Doran, Samuels, Boyes, Brooks, Ujdur.

AIRDRIEONIANS (4-1-3-2): Rae 6 (Hutton 73), Megwa 6, Watson 6, Fordyce 6, Hancock 7, McCabe 6, Telfer 7, Frizzell 7 (Lyall 73), McStravick 7, McGill 4 (Calum Gallagher 32), Todorov 6.

Subs not used: Taylor-Sinclair, O’Connor, McMaster, Dunlop, Donnell, Gavin Gallagher.

Referee: Calum Scott.

Attendance: 2035.

Man of the match: Cammy Kerr.