If you'd offered me a draw before the game I'd probably have taken it. Caley Thistle are storming along and had the new manager effect, so it was always going to be difficult. However, while we struggled in the second half we were by far the better team in the first. We created plenty of chances and should probably have taken at least one. When we do that you always fear we're going to be made to pay, but thankfully for once we weren’t. Caley Thistle were much better after the break but, aside from hitting the post, didn't create too many clear cut chances.
Unsurprisingly, we went with the same team that started off so well last week - Paul McGowan fit enough to ensure we didn't need to bring Thomas Reilly or Gary Harkins into the side. Also unsurprising was the fact Caley Thistle went with the same team that started their last league game against St Johnstone, Richie Foran returning after missing last week's Scottish Cup game. Aside from that it was as you were for John Hughes' first game in charge, with the very real dangers of Billy McKay and Aaron Doran leading the charge.
Calley Thistle bossed things early on with lots of slick passing and a worrying ability to open up our defence, although they then failed to do anything constructive with it. Instead, we should arguably have been ahead with our first meaningful attack as Conor Newton helped the ball on his way to Jason Naismith. I'm not sure if he was trying to shoot or cross from out wide but keeper Dean Brill couldn't hold it, however Sean Kelly and Steven Thompson were both out of luck as they tried to put the free ball into the net - Brill eventually ending the danger by stopping a Thompson shot. Shortly after Carl Tremarco was booked for a tackle on Naismith, the yellow card perhaps a bit harsh.
Caley Thistle escaped a penalty shout when Marc McAusland's header hit one of their players - possibly on the arm - on its way behind, the follow up corner then resulting in Newton's shot being blocked on the line after Thompson had knocked it back into the six yard box. Darren McGregor headed wide from McLean's next corner as we began to string some nice moves together, Newton releasing McGowan who got the better of his man before setting up Thompson only for the striker to see his shot tipped onto the post by Brill. Next time he was needed to keep out McLean's fine free-kick after a foul on McGowan and when the corner came in McAusland could only head over.
So, Saints on top but not making their chances count. You know what happens now don't you? And it probably should have happened when we gave Doran a bit too much space but he produced a poor shot that went wide. McGowan was a bit closer with his shot after Newton's pass before Ross Draper went closer still, robbing Jim Goodwin before sending a low shot into the advertising hoardings. It was poor stuff from Goodwin and something that has been a bit too evident in recent weeks. A Thompson header was easily dealt with by Brill before McLean was chopped down by Gary Warren. The visiting defender was booked, as was McGowan for rather foolishly getting involved in some afters.
We really needed to make our dominance count and another chance came minutes into the second half, Thompson opting to go himself rather than passing. It was the wrong option and he was always unlikely to hit the target after taking the ball a yard or two from the byline. Kello saved easily from Doran after we'd been opened up a bit too easily and next time Marley Watkins was well off target as Caley Thistle stepped things up. We just couldn't get the ball and a long punt forward was knocked down by McKay but thankfully Doran duffed it well wide. A free-kick gave us a chance but McAusland's header from McLean's delivery was always going over.
The game seemed to die a death a bit after that with little of note happening in the final third. When things started to happen again it was worryingly near our own goal. Kello had no problem with McKay's header but had no chance with one from Watkins, no doubt somewhat relieved to see it thump off the post and bounce to safety. It was Caley Thistle's best chance and should probably have ended in a goal. It was certainly better than efforts from Newton and Goodwin that were miles wide. We were struggling in the middle of the park and needed to change things. We duly did - although taking off McGowan wasn't exactly what I had in mind! With a little over 10 minutes left he was replaced by Gary Harkins. Can only it was a precaution due to last week's injury and today's yellow card.
It seemed to give us a bit of life - Harkins almost finding Newton with a cross before McLean's corner missed everyone and curled just past the post. We had a scare when Kello looked to spill the ball then gathered it and that was your lot. Better than the scoreline suggests and another game unbeaten, which is good, but we could do with getting back to winning ways on Tuesday night.
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