CALEY Thistle concluded their “Highland tour” with a comfortable 3-0 win at Deveronvale on Wednesday night.
John Hughes’ side, who fielded an impressive, energetic, midfield trialist, will face English League One opponents Fleetwood Town on Sunday before heading to English Championship hosts Birmingham City six days later.
Wins at Clach, Forres Mechanics, Elgin City and Brora Rangers, mixed in with a narrow victory at Scottish Championship side Raith Rovers, has sharpened the Highlanders up for the first game which really matters in terms of results – Hamilton away on Saturday, August 9.
With Richie Foran sidelined with a knee injury, Marley Watkins continued to be the main support to top striker Billy Mckay.
The trialist, who was not named by Hughes, played in a central midfield berth alongside James Vincent and should feature at home to Graham Alexander’s Fleetwood at the weekend.
Ryan Christie, who scored the only goal at Kirkcaldy on Saturday, went close with an early header as ICT settled swiftly in Banff.
Defender Josh Meekings had to be replaced as soon as 18 minutes after picking up a knock and was replaced by Danny Williams.
Vale keeper Darren McConnachie saved from an low Aaron Doran free-kick before holding on to a chipped effort from livewire Christie.
Deveronvale almost got in on 33 minutes when their trialist striker played in Martin Charlesworth, but his shot flew over the top from 10 yards.
Liam Polworth then cracked a shot goalwards for Caley Thistle from fully 25 yards, but the ball hit the inside of the post before spinning out for a corner following a deflection.
McConnachie was on hand to push clear another Christie effort and, from the corner, the ball broke to Polworth, whose cross was unluckily knocked into his own net by Vale new man Brian Bell.
Eight minutes into the second half, the Banff team almost drew level, but Ricky Wardrop sliced a shot wide after being set up by Graeme Rodger.
Christie’s excellent efforts soon paid off for the Scottish Premiership side when he exchanged passes with Nick Ross before finishing in style.
The icing on the cake for ICT came when Northern Ireland international Mckay scored in the closing moments to seal a 3-0 victory.