Cinch SPFL Championship
Friday 29th April 2022
at Caledonian Stadium, Inverness, kick off 7.45pm
Inverness CT 4-0 Hamilton Academical
By Austin Benson
The 2021/22 cinch Championship campaign drew to a close away from home against Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Stuart Taylor’s men made the long trip to Caledonian Stadium, looking to finish this season on a high.
Accies went into the fixture with an unbeaten record against Billy Dodds’ Inverness side throughout 2021/22, winning twice and drawing once. Last time out in Inverness, David Moyo and Andy Winter’s late strikes turned a one-goal deficit around to defeat Caley.
Inverness kicked off tonight’s game looking to earn two wins in two after their hard fought 1-0 victory away against Greenock Morton.
Billy Dodds’ men found themselves 1-0 up on the 3rd minute, as Tom Walsh bared down on Accies’ box along the right flank to drill a low effort past ‘keeper Fulton towards his far post.
Reegan Mimnaugh’s midfield tenacity was evident early on, as he launched a last-ditch tackle inside his own box to prevent Joe Hardy from driving further down the left-hand side.
Caley Thistle pressed Stuart Taylor’s side relentlessly in these initial stages, looking to capitalise further on a slow start from Accies.
Mihai Popescu’s progressive passes from deep towards the right flank encouraged Josh Mullin to run with pace at Inverness’ defence, and look for options inside the Caley box. Mullin’s early cross would be deflected out for Accies first corner in the 11th minute. Lewis Smith’s delivery found Popescu at Inverness near post, with the Romanian heading just wide of goal in the 12th minute.
Accies pressed Inverness further in search of an equaliser, as David Moyo’s smart through ball ahead of the ICT defence looked to find overlapping Ellis Brown, however David Carson’s challenge managed to beat the Englishman to the ball as Accies got a throw-in.
Inverness started to overload Accies in midfield, as Steve Lawson’s challenge on Lewis Hyde saw the ball arrive at Tom Walsh’s right foot to slice a pass across Accies’ defence and find Shane Sutherland, who pounced on Walsh’s layoff to extend Inverness’ advantage, firing into Fulton’s far corner in the 14th minute.
Lewis Smith breathed some life into Accies’ attacking efforts, as he cut inside from the right flank to let off a left-footed effort which curled towards Caley’s far post, however ‘keeper Ridgers launched an athletic dive to parry away his shot in the 19th minute.
Accies’ defence would be put under further scrutiny by Inverness’ attackers also, as Shane Sutherland’s visionary ball from deep found Tom Walsh inside Accies’ box on the left-hand side ahead of Mullin and Popescu to guide his finessed strike home in the 21st minute. This goal would be Tom Walsh’s second of the night.
Inverness made the first substitution as the half-hour mark approached, with Sean Welsh arriving for an injured Wallace Duffy in the 25th minute.
Billy Dodds’ men refused to let up against Hamilton, as Joe Hardy was on hand inside the box to capitalise on Walsh’s cutback for a tap-in goal on the 27-minute mark.
Ellis Brown made way for Brian Easton soon after, as Stuart Taylor looked to bolster Accies’ defence ahead of another hour left in the game. Accies reverted to a back-five, as the team looked to brave Inverness’ storm.
Mihai Popescu was booked in the 35th minute for dissent as tempers flared, however Accies managed to see out the rest of the first half with minimal hassle.
Accies kicked off the second half eager to produce a tight, organised display, as Ronan Hughes entered the fray for Reegan Mimnaugh at half time to bolster the midfield. Caley Thistle ‘keeper Mark Ridgers would be replaced by Cameron MacKay to play out the second half. Austin Samuels arrived for Billy McKay at half time also, as Billy Dodds’ men looked to push on for more.
However, it was Accies who had the first chance of the second 45, as David Moyo’s half-volley would be claimed by MacKay in the 48th minute. Stuart Taylor’s side did not look to remain complacent, even despite the significant deficit, as Inverness were unable to break down Accies’ defence within the opening 20 minutes.
Mihai Popescu’s ambitious drives into Inverness’ half yielded Accies plenty of attacking opportunities, as his long-range effort would be parried out for an Accies corner in the 56th minute. Josh Mullin’s aerial delivery would be cleared at the near post afterwards, as Inverness looked to slow Accies’ momentum through tactical switches.
Brian Easton entered the book for Accies before the hour mark for dissent, as Robbie Deas left for Reece McAlear soon after in the 58th minute.
Stuart Taylor’s men were vastly improved in the second half, as the arrival of Brian Easton earlier proved pivotal in shoring up Accies’ defence. Easton commanded his teammates and managed to maintain a compact shape against Inverness’ dynamic attackers.
Billy Dodds made further use of his bench, with goal scorer Shane Sutherland leaving the pitch for Logan Chalmers in the 64th minute, as Inverness started to edge their way back into this game. Austin Samuels had a massive opportunity for Inverness in the 66th minute, however his effort from inside Accies’ box glanced wide of Fulton’s goal.
Accies made their third substitution in the 72nd minute, as Lewis Spence made way for Andy Winter. David Moyo would find Winter at Inverness’ near post with a lofted flick, as he smashed a half-volley past MacKay in the 75th minute. However, Accies’ consolation goal would not stand as play was called back for a Moyo foul in the buildup.
Hamilton’s last chance arrived thanks to Dan O’Reilly’s headed flick on from Mullin’s corner delivery in the 85th minute, however the Irishman’s effort was saved comfortably by MacKay.
Adam McGowan arrived for David Moyo on 90’, as Stuart Taylor looked to add youthful exuberance to his side before the final whistle.
Accies finished their 2021/22 cinch Championship campaign with a 4-0 defeat at the hands of promotion contenders Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Stuart Taylor looks ahead to a pre-season campaign ahead of the 22/23 season’s start in July, with a return to the cinch Premiership being Accies’ top priority.
Accies; Fulton, Popescu (C), L. Smith, Spence (Winter 72’), Mullin, Mimnaugh (Hughes 45’), Moyo (McGowan 90’), Lawson, Shiels, Brown (Easton 28’), O’Reilly
Unused Accies subs; J. Smith, McGinn, Newbury
Inverness CT; Ridgers (MacKay 46’), Duffy, Harper, Deas (McAlear 58’), Carson, McKay (C) (Samuels 46’), Sutherland (Chalmers 64’), MacGregor, Walsh (Duffy 25’), Hardy, Hyde
Unused Inverness CT subs; N/A
Referee: Graham Grainger, AR1 Andy McWilliam, AR2 Lee Robertson, Observer Iain Baines