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Caley Thistle lose top spot after crashing at home to Arbroath

By Alasdair Fraser

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Caley Thistle Logo
Caley Thistle Logo

Inverness Caley Thistle (0) 0

Arbroath (0) 1

Att 1,909

(Scorer: McKenna 54)

Michael McKenna’s wind-assisted winner lifted Arbroath into third place in the Championship title race on a frustrating night for leaders Caley Thistle.

The 30-year-old’s ninth strike of the season, veering straight into the net on the strong breeze early in the second half, knocked the hosts off top spot on goals for after Kilmarnock’s late winner at Ayr.

McKenna’s moment held a touch of good fortune but set him ahead as the division’s top scorer.

It was a horrible night for football, almost Gayfield-esque, as the stadium observed a minute’s silence for the late, great Walter Smith.

With a battering breeze and sheets of rain behind them, Arbroath certainly looked at home in a bright start.

McKenna sent a shot rising just over inside three minutes and there were uncomfortable moments for the hosts as they toiled to clear their lines.

More messy exchanges followed as players grappled with the elements, but after 14 minutes Manny Duku sped onto a high Tom Walsh ball into the right side of the box and knocked his tight-angled attempt just over the bar.

There was another close call for the home side after 22 minutes when Aaron Doran’s free-kick swirled into the box, but Robbie Deas' slight connection bounced over the bar.

Heavy home pressure followed towards the break, with Walsh heavily involved.

The winger saw one attempt blocked by keeper Derek Gaston, before setting up Doran for a neat turn and curled attempt just over from the edge of the penalty area.

Walsh immediately lifted the crowd as the second period opened with a powerful burst forward, winning a corner. From it, Roddy MacGregor drew a diving save from Gaston from 20 yards.

But it was Arbroath, now against the wind, who took a 54th minute lead.

A Kirk Broadfoot foul on Michael McKenna saw the Arbroath midfielder launch the free-kick in from sharp left of the box.

It caught the breeze wickedly and somehow deceived Ridgers without a defensive or attacking touch as it skimmed in off the underside of the bar.

Ridgers’ reflexes prevented worse damage just a couple of minutes later as Ricky Little smacked a powerful close-range header under the bar, but the home keeper brilliantly tipped over.

It was a ragged and desperate fight to the death, but Arbroath held out to avenge July’s opening day home defeat to the Highlanders.

Inverness Caley Thistle: (4-4-2) - Ridgers 6; Allardice 6, Broadfoot 7, Devine 7, Deas 6; Walsh 7, Welsh 6, MacGregor 6 (McAlear 72, 4), Doran 6 (Gardyne 61, 5); Mackay 6, Duku 6 (Jamieson 61, 5). Subs: C. MacKay, Duffy, Sutherland, McDonald.

Booked: Deas 32

Arbroath: (4-1-3-2) - Gaston 7; Christopher Hamilton 6, Little 7, O’Brien 7, Colin Hamilton 6; Clark 7; Stewart 6 (Gold 82, 3), McKenna 7, Donnelly 6 (Craigen 71, 4); Nouble 6, Dowds 6 (Hillson 71, 4). Subs: Antell, Henderson, Swankie, Linn.

Booked: Craigen 85

Referee: Craig Napier 6

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