I believed Saturday’s fixture with Inverness was always going to be a difficult match for the players and this certainly proved to be the case. Caley boss Terry Butcher has instilled a never-say-die attitude within his club and that is an attribute that can only be admired. Butcher is working with one of the smallest budgets in the SPL every year where every point is precious.
Pat Fenlon will be disappointed at losing a two-goal advantage but on some occasions you have to offer credit to your opponents where it’s due. However, we are still not closing games out and had we managed to nick a third goal in the weekend’s encounter, we would now be sitting proudly at the top of the table.
Keeping possession of the ball is critical when sitting on such a narrow lead and this often proves to be the difference between victory and defeat. Directing the blame at the defence and goalkeeper has always been a real bugbear of mine, as this area of the side can only keep the opposing attacking players at bay for so long. However, I feel victory over Kilmarnock the previous week still showed we are not quite the finished article yet defensively, but hopefully through time this aspect of our game will improve.
The manager will be delighted that Eoin Doyle managed to find the back of the net on Saturday. With Leigh Griffiths missing the game through injury, it was important Doyle stepped up to the plate and he took his chance with a neat finish. We have been heavily relying on Griffiths in recent weeks to provide the goals up top, a job he has duly taken on, but there has to be a goal threat from other members of the squad. I think this result once again showed the inconsistency flying around the league at the moment, but we must take heart from the knowledge that we remain undefeated at home this season.
The players will have been feeling hugely deflated at not picking up the three points against the Highlanders, but it is important we remain focused and concentrate on one game at a time. It would be such a disappointment to lose our concentration and undo all the positivity that has so far been achieved this season. More ups and downs are sure to follow, but keeping confidence levels at a peak will stand us in good stead.
I think any supporter has a desire to see their club unearth a young star in the side. It is impossible to assess what a player’s capabilities are unless you provide them with some valuable game time and a chance to compete. Good experienced pros are always a necessity within any side but the energy and determination of youth cannot be forgotten.
Looking at the manager’s introduction of teenagers Ross Caldwell and Danny Handling, for example, is a huge positive for the future. The query I have always had is does the experience of playing at junior venues for the under-19s squad inspire you to go on and become part of the first-team squad? I would like to think many can draw inspiration from these kinds of games where the chance to ensure a long-term future at the club is firmly on the horizon. Nevertheless, it’s simply part and parcel of bedding in as a full-time pro.
As the season progresses, it would be great to see more of these players get a run in the side and a chance to show their attributes and worth to the team. We have had the pleasure of seeing some great players come through the club’s youth system which is a great testimony to all those working tirelessly behind the scenes.
We travel to Pittodrie next for Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off against an Aberdeen side which has so far been unpredictable to say the least. However, Pittodrie is another venue which is always difficult to come away with a victory, but we should head there in good spirits and look to take all three points back down the road with us.