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CHARLIE CHRISTIE: Club legend says Saturday’s clash against Queen’s Park in Glasgow could be Caley Thistle most important trip to Hampden ever

By Charlie Christie

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In his latest column for the Inverness Courier, Charlie Christie looks at how Caley Thistle’s clash against Queen’s Park could be among their most important ever at Hampden.

Caley Thistle play Queen's Park on Saturday
Caley Thistle play Queen's Park on Saturday

Inverness Caledonian Thistle have enjoyed some quite incredible trips to Hampden Park in our 30-year history but I’m not sure there’s been many of our matches at the national stadium quite as important as Saturday’s one - certainly not on league duty.

After last Saturday’s much needed win at a wind-swept Caledonian stadium put an end to our horrendous run of home form, we are within touching distance of those teams above us in the table, but Saturday’s game could prove pivotal in our battle to stay in the Championship.

Queens come into the game on the back of two defeats and they have been hugely inconsistent for much of their league campaign. They won the last meeting between the sides in Inverness in February in a game that could have gone either way but, like us, have struggled to put together a decent run of results since then.

Unlike the recent Scotland internationals where Hampden is full to the rafters the stadium on Saturday will feel empty and open and this can often give the game a very different feeling.

We performed exceptionally well there in early December to come away with a 4-1 win, but our starting eleven tomorrow will be very different from the one that day.

The first goal could be crucial given the importance of the match and ICT need a big performance. Whilst Arbroath are guaranteed to be in League One next season it does not bear thinking about that we might have to go through the pain of the play-offs to avoid joining them.

Although sadly becoming the norm these days it was still hugely frustrating that the main post match talking points from a quite enthralling Old Firm derby last Sunday were VAR and the officiating of the match both on and off the pitch.

In years gone by the match would have been held up as a terrific spectacle for the much- maligned game north of the border as our two top clubs went toe to toe in one of the best Glasgow derbies in recent times.

A quite sensational opening goal after 21 seconds led to Celtic dominating the first half as they pressed Rangers high up the pitch causing all sorts of problems for the home side and when Matt O’Riley’s sublime penalty made it 2-0 to the current champions Philipe Clement’s team look dead and buried.

The Ibrox crowd were not slow in showing their displeasure at the half-time whistle, but they must have been delighted with the response from their players and when Marcus Tavernier’s expertly taken penalty reduced the deficit after 55 minutes the match had well and truly swung in their favour.

Celtic did manage to stem the tide for a period but when Rangers equalised late on it looked like they might go on to win but a minute later on-loan Adam Idah restored the away team’s advantage, and it looked as if Brendan Rodgers side had taken a mammoth step towards the title.

However, Rabbi Matondo had other ideas and his excellent curling strike meant honours ended even – a result most would agree was the fairest one.

I thoroughly enjoyed the game as it swung first one way then the other and it keeps the title race going right to the wire. In a game watched by millions worldwide it showed that Scottish football can still serve up classics which can only be good for our game.

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