Friday, October 05, 2012

SPL: Inverness v Ross County

As one derby door closes, so another opens.

A Highland derby in the SPL for the first time.

Scottish football is dull, parochial, stagnating. Often it is.

But tonight offers something more positive.

A game that represents a geographic expansion that those with power in the central belt long resisted, it's about two clubs making steady rather than spectacular progress through the leagues and it shows that opening the league structure to new blood can result in different clubs being successfully integrated into the game. A game that is a sell out, despite the TV coverage and the Friday night kick off time.

Despite even ESPN's promotional dip into stereotypes.

These are good things at time when we're too often browbeaten by the bad things.

Of course it might still be dull, this remains the SPL.

But perhaps even fears of dullness should be allayed: both teams come into tonight's game after scoring four goals last weekend, Inverness beating Dundee United 4-0 and Ross County scoring four but conceding five to St Mirren.

A strange one that for County. As they carried their unbeaten league run into the opening SPL fixtures they looked like they'd be nothing if not resolute.

Now, after 40 games undefeated, they've lost two on the bounce and couldn't even salvage a point after scoring four goals.

A freak result? Or a sign that they're experiencing delayed issues in acclimatising to the top flight.

They might find comfort in the familiar tonight. Many Ross County players are veterans of lower league derbies, four of them have crossed the divide from Inverness.

Inverness started slowly - the goal fest against United was their first win - but have shown glimpses of their own stubborness.

They came from two behind to get a point at Tynecastle and repeated the trick a couple of weeks ago away to Hibs. In that game they were inspired by a commanding Richie Foran, who followed that up with a couple of goals against United.

Foran looks the man most likely for me - and for the bookies giving 5/1 on him to be the first goalscorer.

The form of the last two weeks justifies Inverness being favourites at 5/4 to win.

They rocked Hibs as they came from behind and left United in their wake. Ross County were always going to lose at some point and they encountered St Johnstone just as the Saint began to enjoy their September resurgence.

A 5-4 defeat is never a good thing though. So County are 11/5 to win, the same price as the draw.

The league table has the two sides clubs locked together. Eight points each and the same -1 goal difference.

Ladbrokes Game On!Close, but that represents a mini revival for Inverness and a mini stumble for County.

Over the course of the season Inverness have looked more capable of scoring and more capable of conceding.

When you've just won 4-0 and your opponents have just lost 5-4, you're probably untroubled by longer term trends.

Where are we tonight?

I still like the look of that Richie Foran 5/1 first goalscorer bet.

But I also quite fancy a draw.

So a half time/full time flutter.

Inverness ahead at half time, Ross County to get the draw by full time: home/draw offers 14/1.

All odds from Ladbrokes

Always remembering