Inverness Caledonian Thistle 3 Hibernian 0

Last updated : 21 January 2007 By Footymad Previewer
Inverness Caley Thistle's impressive home form continued on Sunday when a blistering first-half display ended in a rousing 3-0 win over Hibernian.

This was the Hibees' third match in six days and their steady improvement, using a scattering of excellent young talent, saw them start just six points off that coveted second spot which secures Champions League football.

The hosts too are edging their way up the top-flight and have their sights set on catching Kilmarnock and Falkirk in the upper half.

Goalkeeper Mike Fraser went between the sticks and was keen to grab his chance after Mark Brown's shock midweek move to champions Celtic, while Finn Markus Paatelainen was on hand to make his debut from the bench after his switch last week from Cowdenbeath.

The Easter Road men were without sidelined Chris Killen and Merouane Zemmama for this trip to a ground where they had failed to score in all their previous SPL visits.

Caley Thistle soaked up early pressure from Hibs before home midfielder Barry Wilson almost forced home a cross from John Rankin.

Then Wilson hit another shot, which keeper Andrew McNeil spilled and Craig Dargo knocked it wide.

The Capital side looked threatening on the break but the better chances were falling to Inverness and Rankin ran on to a Ross Tokely assist but shot over from 16 yards.

The Highlanders stole into the lead when Chris Hogg was robbed by Dennis Wyness and he teed up Dargo, who stroked the ball past McNeil.

This was the perfect start for Inverness, who expected a Hibs fightback in response.

Inverness soon dominated though and the lead was doubled on 29 minutes when Roy McBain shot high into the net after Wyness passed short to him and he did the rest from 20 yards.

Matters just got better for Inverness when Rankin fed the ball wide to Wilson, who terrifically chipped the keeper from distance for a 3-0 advantage just before the break.

Hibs rang the changes for the start of the second half, showing manager John Collins' anger with Ivan Sproule, Steven Fletcher and Lewis Stevenson replacing Kevin Thomson, Guillaume Beuzelin and Ross Campbell.

And a great run from Fletcher spelled danger as he slipped the ball on to Sproule, but Fraser got down well to gather.

Fraser was then equal to an accurate, but weak free-kick from Michael Stewart as Hibs searched for a lifeline.

Inverness suffered a 72nd minute blow when Dargo had to go off with a dislocated shoulder and Graham Bayne took his place.

However, Caley Thistle ran out deserved victors in this encounter.