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.