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Ridgers wonder save in Highland derby goes viral

By Alasdair Fraser

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Mark Ridgers pulling off a superb save against Billy Mckay. Picture: Ken Macpherson
Mark Ridgers pulling off a superb save against Billy Mckay. Picture: Ken Macpherson

MARK RIDGERS admits he has been overwhelmed by a viral social media reaction to his wonderful Highland derby save.

But the Inverness Caley Thistle goalkeeper is confident his best moments lie ahead after finally starting to build up a weight of first team experience at the age of 28.

Ridgers provided an astonishing highlight to the 2-2 draw with Ross County, shifting his weight brilliantly to make a gravity-defying, one-handed stop from Billy Mckay’s header.

Club footage confirmed it as a truly breathtaking save and one now watched by great legions of YouTube viewers around the world.

A touch bashful in spotlight, the Merkinch lad was nonetheless happy to take the plaudits ahead of today’s trip to face former club Partick Thistle.

He said: “I am proud of it. I don’t like blowing my own trumpet, but it was a good save and, at the time – with us 2-1 ahead – it was an important save.

“I think the disappointment was we couldn’t hold on to win because that would have made it all the more special, but it’s good to get a bit of credit for something I’ve done.

“It’s nice to be appreciated in the way people have spoken about it. I’ll certainly be putting that in my highlights DVD!

“It’s nice. Very rarely does a goalkeeper get that sort of exposure, especially in our league and I’ve had a lot of good messages from fans from other teams on social media.”

Ridgers has long been viewed as a goalkeeping talent, since joining Hearts from Ross County’s youth ranks 11 years ago.

But loans spells at clubs like East Fife and Airdrie brought only brief spells in the first team spotlight before an ultimately frustrating spell at St Mirren.

Before returning to Scotland with today’s hosts in January 2017, Ridgers enjoyed a USA adventure with Orlando’s B team.

Caley Thistle in the last 15 months, though, has provided the longest sustained spell of first team action of his career – and he feels his best years lie ahead.

Ridgers said: “When I came to the club I hadn’t played much. I played two games in six months when I went to Partick after I came back from America.

“I hadn’t had that game time but once I started playing, it took me a little while to get going.

“After that spell where I missed two or three games, I came back in and I just knew I had to give my head a wee shake, and get my standards up to where I know I’m capable of getting.

“From then, even going into this season, I have really enjoyed my football.

“One thing is for sure – I know I’m playing well. That’s me giving myself a bit of credit, because you just know you feel confident.

“When things come at me, I just feel I’m going to save these shots. Yes, it’s disappointing to lose goals but you can’t save everything. I’m happy with the way I’m playing.

“This is the most games I have played consecutively for any club. When I was younger, I had a little loan spell here or there.

“When I was 18 I was at East Fife for a couple of games, then I was at Airdrie for a full season which was massive learning in terms of competitive football.

“I’m only 28, but I am a wee bit of a late-starter and I feel I could still play for another 10 years. That’s one thing I want to do.

“I’ve been able to start playing regularly now, and be more mature in terms of learning the game.”

Caley Thistle have drawn seven games in a row and nine from 12, but Ridgers stressed confidence was high on the back of a record-breaking 23 game unbeaten league run.

He added: “Especially coming off the performances like the derby game on Saturday, we can take a lot from that. We have to go to Firhill and be positive again.

“They are struggling a little bit but they will be looking for a result to turn their season around, as we are looking for a result to get back on the winning run.”

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