Inverness Caledonian Thistle 4 - 1 Morton

Inverness C. T. 4 - Rooney (19, 42, 51 pen), Bulvitus (31)
Morton 1 - Paartalu (33)

Att: 3021

Hallowe'en horror show: Caley hat-trick hero Adam Rooney made sure it was a miserable start for newly installed Ton manager James Grady as the Irish striker's treble helped earn his side a comfortable 4-1 victory at the Tulloch Caledonian stadium.

Morton's continuing injury crisis meant that Grady had little choice but to stick with the same team that lost 3-1 at Dunfermline the previous week. The substitutes bench was more indicative of how stretched our playing resources were with the manager forced to include himself, an unfit Ryan Harding and three under-19s in Chris Gordon, Ryan McWilliams and Ryan Kane.

We are, undoubtedly, missing a few very good players but, for me, that is no excuse for this sort of performance. We were truly woeful in every department and probably lucky to escape with a 4-1 scoreline.

The route started in the 19th minute. Stuart Golabek's long ball from the left-back position found a Morton defence in disarray. First Dougie Imrie was unmarked and under little pressure when he knocked the ball back across from the right to Adam Rooney who hooked the ball past Colin Stewart into the bottom corner (pictured, below). This was schoolboy defending.

To compare the second goal to schoolboys would be offensive - to the schoolboys. The Morton defence were fast asleep as Caley took a short corner out on the left. Imrie collected the ball and whipped in a near post cross that Rooney flicked towards goal but Stewart got down well to make the save. However, his parry was very weak and only succeeded in pushing the ball out in front of goal from where Latvian defender Nauris Bulvitis smashed the ball into the roof of the net to make it 2-0. It was only 31 minutes in and some fans had already seen enough. You know what you're watching is bad when fans are willing to chuck it only a half hour into a match they've made a 7 hour round journey to see.

Two minutes later the very same fans might've been ruing their decision to leave as Erik Paartalu skipped past Caley captain Grant Munro and Bulvitus before using the inside of his right foot to place a tidy finish under Ryan Esson in the Inverness goal. To be fair they probably weren't ruing their decision that much as it was fairly obvious to everyone that this was a false dawn and the only team likely to score again was the home side.

The inevitable came three minutes before half-time. Another Golabek long ball found Richie Foran just inside the Ton box. The Irishman was strong enough to hold off Stewart Greacen before passing the ball inside to his compatriot Rooney who side-footed past Stewart for his second of the afternoon. This was another catalogue of errors as Greacen should've maybe done more to prevent Foran from holding him off so easily (although that might be a wee bit harsh on him) while Allan McManus's and Davie MacGregor's poor communication and positioning (particularly McManus's strange decision to come across towards Greacen and Foran) allowed Rooney find a gap between the two of them in which to grab his goal. This goal really was the end and more away fans headed for the exits; the rest remained out of loyalty rather than expectation.

The game was put beyond any reasonable doubt in the 51st minute as Rooney completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot (pictured, below: Rooney steps up). The former Stoke City striker put Stewart the wrong way after MacGregor had blatantly pulled Imrie inside the box. It was a ridiculous foul and given that I could see it from the other end of the stadium one that Davie was never going to get away with. I hate to say this - I've always admired David MacGregor as a person and a dedicated professional athlete and even voted for him as my player of the year in season 2002/03 - but I think MacGregor is starting to become a real liability at left-back. Most of our goals are coming down that side, he lacks pace and is starting to find it difficult to adjust his feet as tricky wingers run at him and twist and turn before delivering the fatal crosses that are costing us dear. His pull on Imrie was a real sign of desperation. I hope that the manager finds a solution to the left-back problem - preferably a natural left-footer - as Davie isn't suited to the position. I'm not sure if that's because he just isn't good enough for first division level or simply due the fact he is right-footed and this means that he is unbalanced when players run at him down his weaker side and / or as a centre-half by trade he is unsure positionally and tactically.

The one bright spot on a bleak afternoon was the introduction of under-19s striker Ryan Kane. The 17-year-old came on with 24 minutes left to play and impressed with his hold up play and general confidence on the ball. Although Grady's inclusion of under-19s like Kane, Jamie Docherty and Chris Gordon has been due to circumstances outwith his control, namely numerous injuries, I am encouraged by his willingness to show a bit of faith in the players he'd managed with McManus and to give youth a chance. He could've decided to throw himself on instead of Kane but didn't. He did do this eventually - and in his nine minutes or so on the pitch he made more of an impact than Brian Wake did in the other eighy one.

Despite this small positive this really was a depressing performance and result. It actually reminded me of a match at the same venue in 2000 when we were hammered 6-2 with a selection of youths and reserves in the team. There's absolutely no doubt that Grady has a real tough job on his hands. He'll need to get his phone book out and get in touch with some friends in the game to pull a few sensational loan signings out of the top drawer or his first season as a manager could end in relegation.

Morton (4-4-2):

1. Stewart - 6
2. MacGregor - 4
3. Monti - 6
4. McManus - 5
5. Greacen - 5
6. Paartalu - 6
7. Finlayson - 6
8. McGuffie - 5
9. Wake - 5 (12. Kane - 66 mins)
10. Weatherson - 6 (16. Grady - 81 mins)
11. McAlister - 5

Unused Subs:

14. Harding
15. Gordon
20. McWilliams

Booked: Paartalu, McManus.

Finlayson Greacen McManus MacGregor
McGuffie Paartalu Monti McAlister
Wake Weatherson

Inverness C.T.: Esson, Tokely, Bulvitis, Munro, Golabek, Proctor, Sanchez, Duncan, Foran (Hayes 63), Rooney (Barrowman 86), Imrie (Cox 80).

Subs Not Used: Stratford, Allison.

Booked: Foran, Duncan.

My man of the match: Adam Rooney (ICT)

Sponsor's man of the match:

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

Match Ticket

Greenock Telegraph - Match Report

The Scottish Sun - Match Report

The Daily Record - Match Report

ictfc.premiumtv.co.uk - Match Report

ictfc.premiumtv.co.uk - Match Reaction (Terry Butcher)

bbc sport - Match Report

caleyjags.com - Pictures

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