Billy Mckay earns Caley Thistle 2-2 draw with Raith Rovers
Billy Mckay took a point from Caley Thistle in an entertaining battle with Raith Rovers at Stark’s Park.
Jamie Gullan hit the bar early with a header and had saved a penalty after being hit by goalkeeper Mark Ridgers.
Inverness offered nothing in the offensive sense ahead of Lewis Vaughan’s opener, where he caught a poor clearance to fire past Mark Ridgers from 25 yards.
After a poor first-half performance, Caley Thistle was level after four minutes of the second half when Billy Mckay replaced Jay Henderson and he shot deep into the bottom corner.
Raith restored his advantage after an hour with a well-placed punch from Aidan Connolly, but Mckay was the man on hand to save some of the loot.
While Raith’s front three were sometimes a joy to watch, the Caley Jags allowed far too much freedom for their opponents.
They spent most of the first half in their own territory, demanding pressure from a lively home side.
The movement from Vaughan, Dylan Easton and Connolly was constant and they pushed high in the park to prevent Inverness from coming out.
But Scott Brown and Brad Spencer won the battle in midfield and Billy Dodds’ side screamed for an out ball. It wasn’t like taking it to Mckay.
Their equalization and the amount of control they had in the game was all too short and they were guilty of keeping Connolly apart for the second.
Mckay’s exploits could ensure they left the game with something for their efforts, but they cannot afford to be so passive when they have ambitions to take on a promotion challenge.
Rely on old heads
The backbone of the Caley Thistle team is packed with experience.
Ridgers, Danny Devine, Sean Welsh, Aaron Doran and Mckay are all over 30 and have top notch experience.
Devine, Doran and Mckay have been big parts of Inverness’s happy days in the Premiership, while Ridgers and Welsh have been reliable figures at the club since relegation.
It is no coincidence that the results have improved since the turn of the year when all five were out in the park together.
Here Doran and Mckay effectively linked further up the park and Welsh recycled possession well. It was a mistake by Devine that led to the first goal where Vaughan’s shot left Ridgers flat-footed.
But it was a clever play from Mckay that got Henderson level and when they needed him most to salvage a point, he duly delivered in the final 10 minutes.
Continuation/End of Stark’s Park Hoodoo
Prior to Saturday afternoon, Raith’s last home win was against Caley Thistle in August 2000.
Admittedly, the two sides hadn’t played in the same league for about half that time, but it was still a remarkable statistic to go so long without a home win against a particular side.
It had looked like Raith would end that run after being the better team at Stark’s Park, but Mckay’s header dashed those hopes.
The strip goes on.
RAITH ROVERS (4-2-3-1) – MacDonald 6; Millen 6, Lang 7, Nolan 6, Dick 6, Spencer 6, Brown 6, Connolly 7, Easton 7 (Stanton 77), Vaughan 8 (McBride 87), Gullan 6 (Akio 71). Subs not used – McNeil, Ngwenya, McGill, Mitchell, Masson, Frederiksen.
KALEYTHISTLE (4-4-1-1) – piler 6; Carson 6, Devine 5, Duffy 5, Delaney 6 (Harper 80), Henderson 7 (Nicolson 87), Welsh 6, Hyde 5 (Allardice 65), D MacKay 6 (Shaw 65), Doran 6 (Boyd 80), Mckay 7 Subs not used – C. Mackay, Thompson, Cairns, Strachan.
Referee – Scott Lambie 6.
Lewis Vaughan – The Raith talisman, who scored one goal and created another, looks back on his creative best as the number 10.
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[Billy Mckay earns Caley Thistle 2-2 draw with Raith Rovers]