Classy Caley cruise past Hibs

Adam Rooney’s second half hat-trick, taking his goal tally for the
season to 13 in all competitions, added to Richie Foran’s
seventh-minute opener as Caley Thistle claimed just their second
home league win of the campaign. Inverness had their cause aided,
however, by a red card being shown to Paul Hanlon just five minutes
after coming on as a substitute at the start of the second half.
Derek Riordan and a Liam Miller penalty twice threatened to give
Hibs a way back into the match, but they were ultimately undone by
Rooney’s clinical finishing, which included a spot-kick. Caley
Thistle made two changes from the side that won 3-1 at Hamilton
Accies last time out. Under the terms of his loan agreement,
Hibernian defender Kevin McCann could not feature, while young
midfielder Gavin Morrison dropped to the bench. In came Lee Cox,
now fully recovered from an ankle injury, while Russell Duncan
returned following a groin problem to anchor the midfield.
Following consecutive SPL victories over Rangers and Motherwell,
Hibs manager Colin Calderwood made one alteration with Colin Nish,
back after an ankle knock, replacing Lithuanian forward Valdas
Trakys. There had barely been a chance worthy of the name when
Caley Thistle forged in front with only seven minutes gone. Foran
worked a neat one-two with fellow Irishman Rooney and striding on
to the return pass he dispatched a low shot past the outstretched
arm of former Inverness goalkeeper Mark Brown from just inside the
box for his first goal of the season. A Hibs response was slow in
coming, although John Rankin, another ex-Caley Thistle player in
the visitors line-up, fired in a low shot that bounced a yard wide
of the post having been set up by Colin Nish. Some sloppy defending
by the home side then led to Hibs creating a couple of chances with
Ryan Esson having to tip Miller’s deep cross on to his own crossbar
and away to safety, before Edwin De Graaf sent a close range effort
wide from eight yards. Hibs, however, had nothing to show for their
flurry of chances and only a wonderful reaction save by Brown
prevented Nick Ross from scoring with a header after Foran’s
miss-hit shot hand bounced kindly into his path. If Brown’s stop
from youngster Ross was good then his second save from Rooney
moments later was even better. From a swift counter attack, Jonny
Hayes excellent cross picked out Rooney who stooped low to get in
an effort that Brown somehow managed to touch on to the crossbar
before the loose ball bounced away to safety. Hibs were struggling
to cope with crosses into their box and Foran may feel he should
have done better than skew an effort into the side netting when he
stole in unmarked ay the back post to get on the end of another
Hayes delivery. In a bid to change his sides fortunes going into
the second half, Calderwood sent on Daniel Galbraith and Hanlon for
De Graaf and Michael Hart respectively. It was a move, however,
that backfired just six minutes after the restart. Duncan’s
inswinging corner caused chaos in the visitors’ defence and Rooney
seemed certain to dispatch the loose ball until Hanlon stopped the
ball on the line with his hand. Referee Steve Conroy was left with
no option but show Hanlon the red card and further misery was
heaped on Hibs when Rooney sent the penalty in to corner, despite
Brown guessing the right way. Rooney then had a chance to add to
his tally, when he collected Duncan’s cross, but his volley on the
turn comfortably cleared the bar. Hibs had been on the backfoot but
they were gifted a way back into the game in the 66th minute.
Hayes’ attempted backpass was woefully short and Riordan was quick
to seize on it, taking it past the onrushing Esson before slotting
it into the empty net. Hopes of a Hibs comeback, however, lasted
four minutes as Hayes went some way to atoning for his error.
Breaking quickly, the winger surged forward before delicately
chipping the ball into the path of Rooney, who kept his composure
to fire a low shot beyond the exposed Brown. But still Hibs were
not finished and once more Caley Thistle were the architects of
their own downfall. Ross Tokely felled Nish inside the area, from
which he was booked, and from the spot Miller remained calm to chip
the ball home from 12 yards in the 78th minute. The response by the
home side yet again, however, was decisive as they restored their
two-goal lead barely two minutes later. Hayes was again the
provider, slipping the ball into the path of Rooney who once more
finished with conviction to complete his hat-trick. It was to prove
the final goal of an eventful match as Caley Thistle did just about
enough to merit the triumph.