WHEN Falkirk’s Scott Harrison bundled in Paul Paton’s whipped free-kick at the back post in the 93rd minute at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, sending the previously tortured away support into raptures, it brought to an end a remarkable sequence of results for the home side. Stretching back into March last season, Inverness had gone 25 matches unbeaten in the Championship, a run which included eight draws in their previous nine matches.

The run was under real threat of ending two weeks before, after Queen of the South went 3-0 ahead with less than half an hour remaining.

However, as soon as Jamie McCart pulled one back 10 minutes later it seemed inevitable that Caley would go on to draw level, which they did to complete a remarkable comeback.

It seemed for large parts of the 90 minutes that Saturday’s match would also end in parity. Tom Walsh’s early strike was cancelled out by a Zak Rudden brace – the 18-year-old’s fifth and sixth goals since joining on loan from Rangers – before George Oakley equalised around the hour. So far so Inverness, and with the game entering injury time it again seemed inevitable that the game would end in a draw, but it wasn’t to be.

Despite finding the net twice on the afternoon and conceding three, Caley’s biggest problem this season has been in front of goal – they are the lowest scorers in the top half – and they boast the third best defensive record in the whole division.

A previously settled defence has been disrupted in recent weeks by injuries to their first-choice full-backs, exposing a lack of depth in their side.

Both Shaun Rooney and Carl Tremarco missed the match versus Queens. By then Riccardo Calder, who previously provided cover, had been released, meaning Joe Chalmers and Brad McKay were used as auxiliary full-backs. It’s no surprise, then, that the likes of Andy Stirling had a lot of joy in wide areas.

Rooney, after lasting just 39 minutes versus Edinburgh City in the cup the previous week, returned for Saturday’s defeat, with centre-half Jamie McCart filling in at left-back. Again they looked vulnerable in wide areas. In addition, goalkeeper Mark Ridgers didn’t have one of his better performances.

As impressive as their run was, it papered over the fact that some of the performances had been turgid and defeat has quickly turned an unbeaten 25-game run into one win in 10. Perhaps its conclusion will provide a welcome relief for John Robertson’s men, a weight off their back of sorts.

Winning the league title is now more than likely beyond them, but there’s a core of a decent side at Inverness. Come January, if they can get Tremarco back to full fitness, add some cover in certain areas, as well as more of a goal threat, then a play-off place should be achieved. From there, as we saw with Livingston last season, anything can happen.

Things don’t get any easier in the near future though, as Inverness face two of the top three in their next two league matches.

Montrose show comeback promise in League One

The National:

BEYOND the title race, in which Arbroath show little sign of relinquishing their 10-point lead, League One is shaping up to be an intriguing division. Stenhousemuir may have been slightly cut adrift but above them, just six points separate East Fife in third and Brechin in ninth.

One of the sides that have proved the upward mobility of the league is Montrose. A 3-0 defeat at home to Airdrie in October completed a run of two league wins in their first 10 matches, leaving the Gable Endies bottom of the division.

But three wins in five since has elevated Stewart Petrie’s charges to seventh – just three points off the promotion play-off positions.

Montrose have an interesting mix of a vastly experienced core and a vibrant, youthful attack. The goalkeeper Allan Fleming, pictured above, along with three of the back four and the central midfield two who started at the weekend, are 30-plus and the front four are all 24 or younger.

Saturday’s impressive 2-0 win over East Fife was a product of harrying and hassling the home side while they had possession from the off and taking an early lead through Hearts loanee Euan Henderson.

From then they cleverly managed the game, with their second goal a penalty kick, awarded after one of several second-half counter-attacks as they sat in to protect their league.

Defender hurdles rocky reception

The National:

THERE’S still a long way to go until the appointment of Kevin Rutkiewicz, pictured above, can be deemed a success but it’s been an impressive start for the former St Johnstone defender.

It’s fair to say that Rutkiewicz was neither an expected nor an overwhelmingly popular appointment. So far at Forthbank he has proved his doubters wrong.

After kicking off his first foray into management with a respectable performance in a 1-0 defeat to league leaders Edinburgh City, he has since led Stirling Albion to two wins and two draws in his subsequent four matches. Whatever the reasons for the malaise towards the end of Dave Mackay’s reign, an attitude change has been evident from day one under Rutkiewicz and Saturday’s 5-2 win over Elgin suggests that Stirling will be looking up the table now.

Rutkiewicz got off to the worst possible start at the weekend as his side conceded twice in the first 20 minutes.

From then on, however, the harmony between the players was evident, with Daniel Jardine and Neil MacLaughlin providing support from out wide and the front two of Dylan Mackin – who has now scored three goals in six matches since arriving – and Darren Smith on song and producing goals.