The team may have lost out on the bonus point in the Highland capital, but manager Jim McIntyre believes the display was the most important factor as we rounded off our Premier Sports Cup campaign with a spirited draw.
Caley Thistle will be among the favourites to clinch promotion in the coming season; holding them, and matching them for much of the game, was hugely pleasing for the boss:
“I thought we showed a really good reaction to the Kelty performance. It was a big test for our lads, but they showed real determination.
“It would have been easy to let the heads go down after conceding the early goal, but we stuck at it, and Mitch gets a great goal; it was a brilliant finish.
“We created other opportunities against a right good side, and while it was disappointing to lose the penalty shoot-out, for me today was about the performance, and every one of them, to a man, gave me that.”
It is less than six weeks since Jim took over as Cove Rangers manager, and he says he has learned a lot about his players both in training and in the matches played:
“We’ve got a good group, a conscientious group, and they’re an honest bunch. They held their hands up after the Kelty game and they bounced back in a really positive way today.
“I know exactly what we’ve got in the dressing room, I know what we need to try and add, and that’ll be ongoing because we’re still way short in terms of personnel, but we should have Jamie Masson back next week, and I’m hoping Blair Yule isn’t far away either, which will be great, because you can see we need options.”
One position the manager has good cover in is in goal. Kyle Gourlay has started three of the four cup-ties ahead of Stuart McKenzie, and he put in an impressive performance against Inverness:
“He pulled off some good saves today. We have two very good goalkeepers, which I’m delighted with, and Kyle did very well.”
Gourlay himself is delighted to be getting the nod right now, but knows he can’t take anything for granted:
“Not at all! Me and Stuart have got a really good connection, we’re good friends and we work each other really hard in training. Whichever one of us plays, the other will be right behind pushing them all the way.
“Overall, it was a good run out for the boys, and once we got going in the second half that was more like us. We looked more of a solid unit and we created plenty chances.”
The club makes its cinch Championship debut next Saturday against Raith Rovers, which has always been the number one target for the manager, but he believes it’s going to be a couple of months yet before any accurate assessments can be made of how we are going to fare:
“You really get a feel for the league once you’ve played everyone, and you’re through those first nine games, then you see how you’ve done, where your squad is at. But we got a hint today, we’ve faced a really good side and we went toe-to-toe with them. That was pleasing.”
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