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Dominant Inverness Caledonian Thistle Women get back on track in the Championship North with Grampian demolition in stadium debut

By Andrew Henderson

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Inverness Caledonian Thistle 12 (A. Ross x2, Deans, Gordon x2, Brady, Mackenzie x3, Scott, Macrae, Arrowsmith)

Grampian 2 (Riddell, Reid)

Inverness Caledonian Thistle sent out a reminder of their quality to their Championship North title rivals, picking up a one-sided victory over Grampian in their first ever match at the Caledonian Stadium

Inverness Caledonian Thistle were looking to bounce back from back-to-back defeats, including a second round exit in the Championship Cup last time out after a 4–3 defeat to Falkirk.

Grampian, meanwhile, also went out of the cup losing 3–0 to Edinburgh Caledonia, but had won 6–3 against Buchan in their previous league outing.

If Karen Mason's squad were low on confidence, though, you would never have known it as they got off to a brilliant start.

With just five minutes on the clock Tina Kelly found bags of space to run into down the left wing, and she managed to pick out Abbey Ross in the middle who was left with a simple finish to open the scoring.

10 minutes later it was two, with Ross giving herself an early chance of a hat trick.

There was a nervous wait to see if it crossed the line though, as after being played through one-on-one she chipped Grampian goalkeeper Melanie Dalgarno and hit the post – only for the spin to take it over the line and into the net.

It really was one-way traffic as Natalie Bodiam constantly had the beating of her marker for pace on the right wing, and she used that speed to get a cross in that took a deflection off Dalgarno but fell kindly to Hannah Gordon on the right side of the box, and she perhaps rushed her effort, only hitting the side netting.

Gordon again had the chance to chip into the net only to miss the target, while Kelly hit a free kick straight at Dalgarno – who also made a couple of saves to deny Abbey Ross a third goal.

Caley Thistle's third would come in the 26 minute though with a solo effort from captain Kirsty Deans.

Kirsty Deans ran the show in the middle of the park for ICT. Picture: James Mackenzie
Kirsty Deans ran the show in the middle of the park for ICT. Picture: James Mackenzie

All afternoon she looked braver than her opposite numbers in the middle of the park, willing to get on the ball and make things happen, and that was the case here as she thought she had given the ball away but won it back and charged through the middle, eventually going around Dalgarno and rolling into an empty net.

If Grampian were showing any threat, it was on the counter attack with Inverness over-committing at the other end of the park, but they will feel they should have had one back before the half-hour mark.

Nicola Ross played what should have been a simple backpass to her own goalkeeper Kim Jappy, who had to rush out to make sure a Grampian player did not intercept.

However, Jappy could only pick out Rhianna Law, whose shot had beaten Jappy before Alex Andrews got back to make the block.

Gordon then came to the forefront of ICT's attack, first going close with a header before getting on the scoresheet twice.

For the first, credit has to be given to Bodiam for keeping a wild Jana Brady shot alive before beating her marker and squaring it for Gordon to finish.

Her second came from a corner after Dalgarno had made a good save to deny Deans, but punched the set-piece straight into the air where Gordon was waiting to head in.

Becky Dingwall was needed to ensure Caley Thistle's clean sheet lasted at least until half time, putting in an important block to deny Law, but the scoring was not over for the first half.

Right on the brink of half time, Gordon took possession from an Inverness throw in, and while Grampian stopped believing she had been fouled Gordon kept playing, feeding Brady through the middle where, one-on-one, she made no mistake.

The Caley Jags began the second half right where they finished the first – on the front foot.

Grampian had made a triple change at the interval to try and add some pace to their backline, but Bodiam was still causing issues, and Gordon once again went close with a head from a free kick that was allowed to bounce inside the Grampian box.

A nice interchange between Gordon and Deans five minutes after the restart saw ICT's skipper advance into the box, but she was denied by a good Dalgarno save.

Gordon's chances of a hat trick were ended soon after though when she picked up an injury, and Mason took the opportunity to bring Abbey Ross off too – also taking her out of contention for a third goal – with Kayleigh Mackenzie and Lorna Macrae coming on.

It did not take the two fresh players to link up and make a difference, with Macrae flicking the ball into the path of Mackenzie two minutes later to score a seventh for Inverness.

Kayleigh Mackenzie came off the bench to get on the scoresheet. Picture: James Mackenzie
Kayleigh Mackenzie came off the bench to get on the scoresheet. Picture: James Mackenzie

From there it almost looked as though Caley Thistle took their foot off the gas, and Samantha McDonald went close to getting Grampian on the scoresheet.

That may only have served as a wake up call for Invenress though, because in the 70th minute Julia Scott picked out the top corner with a brilliant finish from the left to make it eight, and Lorna Macrae quickly put them on cloud nine by using her pace to get to the ball first and chip over Dalgarno.

Jappy was still needed to concentrate, denying McDonald who had taken a long range effort, but the result was already far beyond doubt.

Really, the only question left was how many goals ICT would end up with, and they hit double figures through Mackenzie after a great first touch to control Scott's cross before turning and finding the net.

Grampian did manage a consolation with just over 10 minutes left to play as Vikki Riddell fired an effort out of Jappy's reach and into the top corner.

Normal service resumed thereafter though, and Dalgarno was needed to make a save low to her right to prevent Scott restoring the double digit advantage.

Deans went close to heading in an 11th after a well-worked corner between Scott and Charlotte Arrowsmith, only to see her effort bounce back off the post.

Grampian would get another consolation with the clock ticking down though, with Carole Reid managing to beat Jappy to get on the scoresheet.

Once again, though, Inverness would come back strongly, this time through Macrae's run from the left. She cut inside and Dalgarno needed a strong hand to stop her scoring, but could do nothing about Arrowsmith following it up with a tap in.

Another goal was still to come, and it would be a bit of class to wrap up the scoring. Arrowsmith hit an early cross into the middle, beautifully picking out Mackenzie who converted with a deft finish for her hat trick.

It was a performance fitting a day that Caley Thistle's squad will never forget, playing at the Caledonian Stadium for the first time, and they will take plenty of confidence from it going into next weekend's trip to Dunfermline.

ICT: 1. Kim Jappy, 2. Rachael Gillies, 6. Jana Brady, 7. Kirsty Deans, 24. Abbey Ross, 9. Hannah Gordon, 11. Natalie Bodiam, 14. Becky Dingwall, 17. Nicola Ross, 21. Tina Kelly, 8. Alex Andrews.

Substitutes: 3. Julia Scott, 5. Kayleigh Mackenzie, 12. Lisa McKenzie, 20. Charlotte Arrowsmith, 25. Lorna Macrae.

Grampian: 1. Melanie Dalgarno, 2. Kirsty Mcbain, 12. Chloe Lister, 4. Lyndsey Day, 13. Amy Cappleman, 26. Emily Reid, 8. Michelle Turnbull, 9. Tegan McDougall, 7. Courtney Shirran, 77. Rhianna Law, 30. Samantha McDonald.

Substitutes: 18. Chloe Irvine, 23. Ailsa Harper, 20. Nicole Maclean, 22. Karolina Tur, 19. Hayley Morris, 15. Carole Reid, 10. Vikki Riddell.

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