Published: 19/07/2014 16:38 - Updated: 19/07/2014 16:53

Christie fires Caley Thistle to victory at Raith Rovers

Written byPaul Chalk

Caley Thistle's Ryan Christie hit the winner at Raith Rovers.
Caley Thistle's Ryan Christie hit the winner at Raith Rovers.

RYAN Christie struck late as Caley Thistle defeated Scottish Championship hosts Raith Rovers 1-0 at Starks Park on Saturday.

ICT went into this friendly one the back of wins at Highland League sides Clach, Forres Mechanics and Brora Rangers.

Challenge Cup holders Rovers had held Scottish Cup winners St Johnstone at home last weekend, but were soundly beaten 4-0 by visitors York City.

The first 15 minutes passed without too much threat in either box, but the Highlanders had the bulk of the play without drawing a save of note from new signing Kevin Cuthbert.

It was a dreary, wet, afternoon in Fife, but the pitch was in terrific condition as the teams played the ball on the deck as much as they could.

The hosts were almost 1-0 after 20 minutes when ex-Ross County midfielder Martin Scott sprayed the ball wide to Mark Stewart and his cross from the right was hammered off the bar by former Hearts forward Christian Nade, with Dean Brill rooted to the spot.

At the other end, Caley Thistle then carved open an opportunity when Greg Tansey picked up a slack pass on the halfway line and superbly played in Billy Mckay, who fired inches beyond the right post.

In the next attack, Danny Willliams saw his 20-yarder turned wide by Cuthbert after picking his spot.

ICT were enjoying a good spell midway through the first half and Gary Warren headed over the bar from one of their many corners.

Lewis Vaughan, on the half hour mark, was found by Nade for Raith, but the drive and not enough power to fully test Brill who held it.

James Vincent, a penalty scorer at Brora on Wednesday, then steered a shot wide after Mckay lined him up when found by a fine searching ball from Ross Draper.

A few minutes before the break, a swift Rovers attack finished when Brill beat clear an angled drive from Rory McKeown, who found space to cut in from the left.

Inverness CT boss John Hughes made five substitutions at the start of the second half, with Ryan Esson, Aaron Doran, Ryan Christie, Liam Polworth and Nick Ross replacing Brill, Draper, Williams, Vincent and Watkins.

The first chance of the half fell to Nade, but Esson was equal to it as he pushed clear his angled effort.

Graeme Shinnie then went on a surging run for Caley Thistle, but his deflected shot flashed wide of the right post.

Nade again popped up in the penalty box for Raith, this time his header was off target when he connected with a Stewart delivery.

On the hour mark, Christie found Doran at the edge of the box, but his swerving shot had too much height to trouble Cuthbert.

Nade was a constant threat for Raith and, on 65 minutes, his shot on the turn was pushed clear by the alert Esson.

For the visitors, Christie showed plenty on confidence to burst forward, but his drive was gathered with ease by Cuthbert.

Ex-Celtic and Dundee wide man Ryan Conroy whipped in a terrific cross with 15 minites to go for Raith, but Scott nodded over the bar from 12 yards.

The deadlock was finally broken with seven minutes remaining when Christie swept home from close range a cross from Shinnie.

It was a cool finish as the youngster showed his cutting edge and good positioning.

This was enough to keep the winning run going ahead of Wednesday's trip to Banff to take on Deveronvale.

Raith Rovers: Cuthbert, Thomson, McKeown, Watson, Perry, Fox (Callaghan 84), Stewart (Anderson 63), Scott (Matthews 89), Nade, Vaughan (Elliot 63), Conroy. Subs not used: Ellis, Bates, Robertson, Laidlaw (GK), McGurn (GK).

Inverness CT: Brill (Esson 46), Raven (Baptie 73), Warren, Meekings, Shinnie, Draper (Doran 46), Tansey (Brown 73), Watkins (Ross 46), Williams (Christie 46), Vincent (Polworth), Mckay.

Referee: Stephen Finnie.

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