Inverness Caledonian Thistle scored goals either side of half time to secure a 2-0 win over Ayr United, their first Championship win of 2021.

The wind played a key factor throughout, causing both teams chaos, especially at set pieces. The hosts started the busier, winning two corners within the opening minute of the game. Ayr’s talisman Andre Wright missed out due to an injury picked up in training on Friday and this was evident as United lacked the work rate in the final third that Wright usually brings.

Bohemians v Dundalk - Extra.ie FAI Cup Quarter-Final

Wright was missing. (Photo By Ben McShane/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Just nine minutes in, Ayr were close to taking the lead in bizarre circumstances when goalkeeper Viljami Sinisalo kick bounced narrowly over Inverness crossbar, much to Mark Ridgers’ relief. Inverness didn’t have their first real attempt on goal until the 22nd minute when Shane Sutherland unleashed a shot.

Minutes later it was Ayr who had the ball in the net through Michael Miller after a brilliant cross from Tom Walsh, however, the referee spotted a foul in the box, so the goal was ruled out. A lightning quick counter-attack from Caley would soon lead to the game’s opening goal.

A powering run by Nikolay Todorov saw him pass to Sutherland, who laid off Daniel Mackay to coolly finish low past the goalkeeper. The visitors gained confidence from taking the lead and started to keep possession better.

The visitors kept possession. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

John Robertson’s side doubled their advantage eight minutes into the second half when Todorov’s strike came to Sutherland in the box, who did well to react and fire home.

With 10 minutes remaining, Highland stopper Ridgers pulled off a guilt-edge save to deny Walsh at his near post when it looked like the net was about to bulge. The rain continued lashed down as it turned out to be a dull day for Mark Kerr’s side as the Highland side gathered all three points. Here are three things we learned.

False league positions

Just three weeks ago, an emphatic 4-1 win over Alloa Athletic had Ayr United march up towards the promotion play-off spots in the Championship. Now after back-to-back home defeats, the Honest Men find themselves in the relegation play-off spot, with a five-point cushion over bottom side Alloa.

Dunfermline v Ayr United - Scottish Championship

Quick switch. (Photo by Alan Harvey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

This change in fortune just shows how tight the Scottish Championship is with Ayr and Inverness sitting on 17 points, but one win could easily boost them into the top half again with just 10 points separating second and ninth.

Highland boost

Mackay scored a superb goal from a lightning quick Caley counter attack to make it 1-0 and they had control of the game in stages following this opener.

The Highland outfit might’ve not expected to have 10 shots and nine on target away from home considering their recent form but attackers doing their jobs and getting on the scoresheet is exactly what Inverness need to help fire them up the table.

Heart of Midlothian v Inverness Caledonian Thistle - Betfred Cup Match

A goal for Sutherland. (Photo by Ross Parker/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Ridgers impresses

Inverness goalkeeper Ridgers made a brilliant save to deny Walsh in the last 1o minutes when he looked certain to score for Ayr. The experienced keeper made a raft of good saves throughout the match and was very commanding in his box.

The Highland side picked up their first win of 2021 and are now going into a hectic fixture schedule of six fixtures in 17 days.

NTOF now offers a YouTube channel featuring exclusive interviews, post-match discussion, in-depth debate, and much more – LIKE and SUBSCRIBE and don’t miss any of our videos.

Have something to tell us about this article?