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Page last updated at 22:15 GMT, Tuesday, 30 March 2010 23:15 UK

Inverness CT 3-0 Ross County

By Charles Bannerman at the Caledonian Stadium

Richie Foran scored Inverness Caley's opener
Foran's deflected free-kick put Caley on the road to victory

Inverness moved four points clear at the top of the First Division with a Highland derby win which nearly fell foul of the gale-force winds.

The game turned on a controversial red card for Alex Keddie which led to Richie Foran's deflected opener from the resulting free-kick in 14 minutes.

Just two minutes later, Eric Odhiambo volleyed home Johnny Hayes' ball from the right to make it two.

A searing run from the halfway line earned Hayes Inverness Caley's third.

Inverness failed to further their one-man advantage in a much less frantic second half but were able to cash in on Dundee's defeat by Dunfermline.

In just a week, Caley Thistle have converted a four-point deficit in this league to a lead of the same magnitude, with six games remaining.

An hour and a half before kick-off, referee Scott MacDonald thought long and hard about whether the game should go ahead in view of the very strong winds sweeping in from the Beauly Firth.

However, he decided to let play start in front of 5,411 fans, but warned that an abandonment might prove necessary.

In the end the players coped with the difficult conditions, albeit never mastering them.

Caley Thistle began the game more brightly and Foran pulled a great save from Michael McGovern from a tight angle on the right.

Then came the incident where Keddie looked to have won the ball from Foran with a well-judged tackle but was shown a red card.

Foran scored with the 19-yard free-kick which took a hefty deflection off the wall.

County manager Derek Adams, after viewing video evidence, pledged immediately after the match to appeal the red card.

Just two minutes later Hayes set up Odhiambo who neatly stepped in to net Inverness's second with a close-range volley and there were few more serious attacks until they added a third.

On that occasion Lee Cox did well to win possession in the middle of the park and find Hayes, who produced electric pace in a 30-yard run completed by a solid 20-yard finish.

Despite the long-term one-man deficit, County never gave up.

In a period of second-half pressure by the 10 men, Steven Craig shot over from 15 yards while at the other end Cox had a 20-yard shot brilliantly saved by Michael McGovern.

Twenty-goal striker Adam Rooney also ran through but lifted the ball on to the top of the net.

This result extends Caley Thistle's unbeaten run to 15 games.

Inverness manager Terry Butcher: "To come out with six points from these last two games certainly shows me that the lads want to do it.

"There's certainly enough ability there to do it and there's certainly enough spirit and grit now, and hunger and desire.

"We've got to keep everybody's feet on the ground now and make sure they don't get carried away because you can come unstuck.

"I'm not too sure if it was a red card. But it was a double whammy for us because Richie scored from the free-kick.

"Ross County had their pride to play for which they did and I thought they really stuck to their guns and stuck to their task for their manager in the second half despite going down to 10 men."

Ross County manager Derek Adams: "The red card was very early in the game and it changed the flow of the game.

"It's a big decision in a big game but we'll appeal it and we'll move on. We were told it was a two-footed challenge. It wasn't that, so we'll have to appeal.

"It was a difficult night for us in the end, being down to 10 men.

"I didn't think the game should have been played. We saw the ball go out a number of times because of the wind but we're not going to complain. The game was played and that was the decision."

Inverness CT: Esson, Proctor, Tokely, Munro, Golabek, Cox, Odhiambo (Sanchez 71), Duncan, Foran, Rooney (Eagle 83), Hayes (Stratford 87).
Subs Not Used: Allison, Bulvitis.

Booked: Hayes, Rooney.

Goals: Foran 14, Odhiambo 16, Hayes 40.

Ross County: McGovern, Miller, Morrison, Scott, Boyd, Keddie, Gardyne (Craig 53), Kettlewell (Watt 50), Di Giacomo, Brittain, Vigurs (Smith 84).
Subs Not Used: Malin, Barrowman.

Sent Off: Keddie (13). Booked: Craig.

Att: 5,411

Ref: S MacDonald

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see also
Butcher wants to keep feet on ground
30 Mar 10 |  Scotland

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