Football: KINGS OF SCOTLAND; INVERNESS CT 0 HEARTS 1 Hearts Struggled to Put Two Passes Together, Hardly Created Any Chances and Their Best Players Were Defenders but They Look Like
Byline: By Gary Ralston
THE history books tell us the last battle to take place on British soil was at Culloden Moor,on the outskirts of Inverness, in 1746They should rewrite that chapter to chronicle events five miles down the road at the Caley Thistle Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
If Flora MacDonald had dropped anchor outside the ground at any point during 90 of the most turgid minutes Scottish football is likely to see this season, the population of Skye would be boosted this morning by the 6704 who paid to watch this dreadful spectacle.
Hearts departed Inverness on Saturday night with all the speed of Jacobite leader Bonnie Prince Charlie, but at least George Burley's side left town with a result.
The Jambos struggled to string two passes together, barely created any chances of note and their best players were all in defence.
Tell you what,they don't half have the look of champions.
Too often title wins are based on dodgy pretences - last season, for example, when Rangers were judged to have won it in the last two minutes of the campaign.
That is true to an extent, but without 1-0 wins at Kilmarnock, 2-1 victories at Dunfermline and 3-2 defeats of Motherwell, the last day of the season would have been rendered meaningless in the first place.
So it is with the Jambos and their fans who, if they win the title, will look back warmly at 4-0 defeats of Hibs, 4-1 wins over Livingston and 4-2 victories at Rugby Park. This slender win will be long forgotten by most when it should be embraced as the day the Jambos proved they can grind out the same three points that will beup for grabs when Rangers visit Tynecastle on Saturday lunchtime.
It is also worth noting this was the fourth win of the season away from home for the Tynecastle club, equalling their record for the whole of last term.
It would be churlish to linger too long on any shortcomings in Hearts' display when they had scored 19 goals in their first six matches of the season, particularly on a day in which the wind and rain whipped around the ground with such ferocity as to make Arbroath's Gayfield resemble the Spanish Costas in high season.
Let's face it, even Paula Radcliffe has been caught short over 26 miles, so why should Hearts be overly criticised when they produce something similar in the course of their own marathon campaign?
Suffice to say they won the game as a result of a smashing turn and left-foot shot by Rudi Skacel - who else? - on 28 minutes after dominating the opening stages.
Skacel is now chasing Mark Viduka's record of scoring in 10 consecutive SPL matches after making it a goal-a-game as his side celebrated a magnificent seven league wins on the trot.
Shamefully, there were no other meaningful efforts on target for the remainder of the match, though Grant Munro did watch a header bounce off the base of the post four minutes from the break.
The ball broke to Darren Dods and although his shot looked as if it would sneak in at the back post,Craig Dargo nudged it over the line just to make sure and was promptly ruled offside.
It was that sort of day and ref Mike McCurry was as off-form as most of the players, failing to send off Munro in the opening minutes when he hauled down Roman Bednar at the edge of the box as the Czech striker bore down on goal.
Surprisingly, the Caley Thistle defender wasn't even booked and team-mate Ian Black was quite fortunate to only be shown a yellow for a shocking lunge at Julien Brellier five minutes before half-time.
However, neither side could muster much enthusiasm for a gripe at officials afterwards, appreciating their own shortcomings were much greater than the gaffes of the whistle-happy ref.
Burley said: "Overall, that was our worst attacking performance of the season but it's a team game and our workrate and organisation were good. …