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Inverness Athletic aim to cut out errors to upset in-form St Duthus in cup opener

Jason Golabek.
Jason Golabek.

Inverness Athletic boss Jason Golabek insists his improving side will give it their best shot as they aim to halt in-form St Duthus in the North Caledonian Cup opener.

All of last week’s ties were postponed due to the stormy weather in the north, so it’s a case of going again for Inverness against the Saints on Saturday at Fort George.

The Tain team are unbeaten in six outings and are only now one point behind fifth-placed Halkirk in the North Caledonian League, albeit having played two matches more.

Inverness remain at the foot of the table, but in their last three fixtures have drawn against current champions Golspie Sutherland and Alness United and only been edged out 2-1 by title-chasing Invergordon.

Now the teams are looking forward to getting this cup competition off and running with a win.

Sore scores so far against Saints

St Duthus have beaten Athletic 4-2 and 4-1 in the league this season, although Golabek insists the scorelines were harsh on his players.

He said: “It would be nice to get a wee run in the cup. We have not had a lot of luck against St Duthus this season, so we’re hoping to do better on Saturday and we’ll give it our best shot.

“In the first game against them, we didn’t get started quickly enough. We fell behind then got back into it and, on another day, could have come away with a draw.

“In the return game, again we conceded sloppy goals, but I still didn’t think there was too much between the teams.

“St Duthus are on a good run of form, picking up plenty of points and scoring goals, but we have come off the back of a good draw with Golspie with 10 men and we were unlucky against Invergordon, which is another one we should have taken something from.

“We’re certainly not lacking confidence at the moment. It’s fine margins and slight errors costing us. We’re playing good football, but just not putting teams away at the moment.”

Friendly rivals go head to head

And Golabek, who should have a strong player pool to pick from, is relishing facing up to opposing coach, Alan Geegan, who he knows well.

St Duthus manager Alan Geegan.

He added: “St Duthus are a strong, experienced team. They have a good manager in Alan Geegan, who I grew up with in Dalneigh and know from the summer football and playing over the years.

“I know him well. He’s a great guy and a really good manager and coach who has got his team playing well. We know we’re up against it, but we’ll be ready.

“Cups are a bonus. We’re obviously not expected to win the league, but in these one-off games in the cup, you don’t know what can happen.

“If we can get off to a good start, you never know where it can take us.”

Fort George switch is working well

The Inverness Athletic boss is grateful to Scottish Championship club Caley Thistle for letting them play their home matches at their training base of Fort George, having earlier used Ardersier.

He said: “Caley Thistle have been kind enough to let us use their surface, which is fantastic to play football on.

“We enjoyed the first game there against Golspie, so fingers crossed we can play well again on Saturday against St Duthus.”

Inverness Athletic manager Jason Golabek.

Looking forward to cup-tie action

Golabek felt the call-off last weekend was the right call and is keeping his fingers crossed for the tie to go ahead this time.

He said: “We got the news late on Friday night, but it was the right thing to do. It would not have been enjoyable for anyone playing in those conditions.

“We’re hoping we can get going again on Saturday, although the forecast doesn’t look great. We’re just wanting to get games played now because we’re not too far away from the end of the season.”

Teams set for cup and league action

The other first round ties this Saturday are Halkirk against holders Invergordon and Bonar Bridge at home to Thurso.

There is also a quarter-final scheduled for Saturday between big-hitters Golspie and Loch Ness, while in the league Alness United host Orkney in a rescheduled fixture.

Tuesday’s Thurso v Halkirk United match was called off due to high winds, so the fixture has been rescheduled for next Tuesday, with an 8pm kick-off.