Doubles for James Keatings, Miles Storey and Roddy MacGregor get Caley Thistle firing on their return to action in a closed door friendly at Elgin City
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CALEY Thistle may not have played in over six months but they rediscovered their scoring touch in their return to action at Borough Briggs.
Jags beat Elgin City 7-3 in an entertaining contest which thrilled manager John Robertson, who said the long lay-off from football left him unsure of what to expect from his team.
He had six regulars missing due to slight injury concerns, and started the game with four teenagers and former Celtic youngsters Robbie Deas making his debut at centre back.
What Robbo got was plenty goals, with James Keating, Miles Storey and Roddy MacGregor all netting doubles while Nikolay Todorov also netted on a good day for Robbo's attacking players.
The only front man not to be on the scoresheet was summer signing Shane Sutherland against his former club, but he won a penalty and provided two assists.
"To be fair we always get it tough at Elgin," Robertson said. "When I first came back a couple of years ago we got beat 2-0 here, deservedly so.
"This was just a really good, entertaining, open game of football. I thought they were a threat going forward, we were a threat going forward.
"It’s very, very pleasing. I’m just pleased for the players, it’s nice for them to get back out there and do what they do naturally.
"I hadn’t a clue what we were going to get today so to get that kind of performance is fantastic."
Brad McKay, Kevin McHattie, Sean Welsh, James Vincent, David Carson and Aaron Doran weren't risked at Elgin but Vincent, Welsh and Carson should return for Tuesday night's game at Nairn.
Caley Jags took less than four minutes of their comeback match to score, a sublime finish from Keatings who curled high into the net from almost 30 yards.
New signing Scott Allardice quickly settled into the Jags midfield and wasn't far off the mark with a swerving effort from the corner of the box.
Midway through the first half it was 2-0, as Keatings was halted by a late challenge but the ball fell to Todorov on the edge of the box and he calmly swept it beyond keeper Tom McHale.
The visitors, with teenagers Harry Nicolson and Cammy Harper playing as full-backs, switched off on the half hour to allow Elgin's lively striker Kane Hester to weave into the box and beat Mark Ridgers with a low drive to reduce the deficit.
Robertson made three half time changes with Storey adding to the attacking options, Cammy MacKay coming on in goal and Lewis Toshney replacing Danny Devine in central defence.
Mackay was quickly in action, saving superbly from Hester then denying City sub Smart Osadolor moments later.
At the other end a precision through ball by Allardice sent Sutherland scampering clear, looking to send a dagger into the hearts of his former Elgin team-mates until he was unceremoniously dumped to the ground by one of them, captain Euan Spark.
Ref Graham Grainger had no choice but to point to the spot and Keatings clinically fired home the penalty, his last action before being replaced by youngster Lewis Hyde.
Mackay twice saved from Osadolor but could do nothing when Hester seized upon a loose Toshney header and crashed home on 70 minutes - again cutting Jags lead.
This sparked a flood of goals, with Storey racing on to Mackay's kick from hand and producing a deadly finish to make it 4-2 on 75 minutes.
Three minutes later Sutherland worked his way into a great position in the box and should have scored, but his blocked shot fell nicely for MacGregor to tap in.
Back came Elgin from a Russell Dingwall corner nodded in by Stephen Bronsky, making the score 5-3 to the visitors.
Inverness still had plenty to say and on 83 minutes Sutherland worked in strike partner Storey for an almost identical finish to his first.
Before the League 2 hosts could recover, MacGregor cut in from the left and curled a delightful effort into the top corner to complete the scoring.
Teenager MacGregor said after the match: "It’s something I’ve got to try and add to my game a bit more, getting goals and assists and being more a part of the game.
"The first goal, Shane did really well and probably should have scored himself and will be annoyed he never scored, but i was just lucky to tap it home.
"The second one I took it well, coming inside from the left, so I’m happy to get two."
Elgin: McHale; Cooper, Mailer, Bronsky, Spark (Wilson 76), MacBeath (Hay 85), Dingwall, Cameron, O'Keefe (Sopel 70); Peters (Osadolor 46), Hester.
ICT: Ridgers (C Mackay 46); H Nicolson, Devine (Toshney 46), Deas (Harkness 71), Harper (L Nicolson 82); MacGregor, Allardice (Davies 83); Sutherland, Keatings (Hyde 57), MacKay (Fyffe 71); Todorov (Storey 46).
Ref: G Grainger.