Butcher: Pepper worth his salt

BY foxsports • September 23, 2012

Inverness boss Terry Butcher heaped praise on 18-year old Conor Pepper after the youngster started his side's two-goal comeback against Hibs.

The hosts had dominated the first half on Saturday, knowing a win would put them top of the Scottish Premier League.

Eoin Doyle opened the scoring after forcing home at the second attempt before David Wotherspoon's 25-yard half-volley put Hibs in a commanding position.

Pepper brought his side back into the match against the run of play - after dispossessing Alan Maybury the attacker confidently drove his shot in off the far post.

The fightback was completed by Richie Foran's late, close range equaliser - but Pepper's goal changed the game.

Hibs were visibly rattled by the strike and lucky not to concede again before half-time.

They settled down in the second half but there was a nervousness that was not there in the opening 40 minutes and they did not regain the momentum they had before the Irishman's strike.

Butcher said: "For me, what was great today was Pepper scoring the goal.

"He's the one that gave us the lifeline, on his full debut. He's a fantastic kid. He's chased a lost cause and got a goal, and a fantastic finish.

"He's been fantastic for us; he's now scored two goals in Edinburgh, set up Ross Draper to score against Celtic as well.

"He's got energy, and he's exciting, and we felt like putting him in today because he might give us something."

Hibs manager Pat Fenlon had similar individual praise for David Wotherspoon, who put his side 2-0 up with a tremendous goal on 32 minutes.

Granted too much space by the Inverness defence, the Scotland Under-21 international midfielder looped an unstoppable effort that dropped into the top corner of the net, leaving Inverness goalkeeper Ryan Esson rooted to the spot.

As well as the strike Fenlon was pleased with the overall performance of Wotherspoon, who is beginning to replicate some of the form he showed when he initially broke into the first team at Easter Road.

"He's got great ability and real talent," said Fenlon. "He was a bit low on confidence when I came in but we've worked on that.

"He worked hard in pre-season and I think you can see today that his confidence has come back to him.

"His passing was assured and he was able to ping balls around the pitch.

"I'm delighted for him, it was a fantastic strike, but overall I thought his performance was very good. David is one that's improving every week."

The same could be said about Hibs. Some of their football in the first half was excellent and they have already came a long way from the team that was often booed off the Easter Road in the past two seasons.

Fenlon added: "We've got to get used to winning matches so that when you get beaten or have a bad result you can take it on the chin, move on and not be too negative about it.

"I couldn't come in and have a pop at people because they've played quite well, we just couldn't get the break on the day."