Butcher reflects on 'incredible' spell

  • Last Updated: December 30 2012, 17:33 GMT

Inverness manager Terry Butcher reflected on an "incredible" second half of 2012 after ending the year with a goalless draw at St Johnstone - the first time his team have failed to score this season.

Terry Butcher: Happy man
Terry Butcher: Happy man

The point extended Caley Thistle's unbeaten run to nine games and left them six points off Clydesdale Bank Premier League leaders Celtic.

Only the champions and Motherwell have beaten Inverness, who have cup ties against Hearts and Kilmarnock to look forward to in the opening weeks of next year.

Inverness last failed to find the net in a draw against Dunfermline in May, which secured their SPL status.

The Highlanders will have no such relegation worries this season and Butcher was happy with the way his side battled for a point despite seeing their goalscoring record come to a halt after a game where both sides cancelled each other out despite plenty of effort going forward.

Butcher, whose side face Ross County away on Wednesday, said: "It keeps us in second place and after 26 matches we have only lost three games. That's incredible in itself.

"If you had said that in July I would have said 'no chance'. This is all beyond our wildest dreams.

"Someone said the treble is still on. I said 'fine, whatever you are drinking, I'll have a bucketload of that'.

"I just think it's a good point for us. We also got a clean sheet and it's a hard-fought point.

"We haven't played with the fluency we can do because we weren't allowed to - St Johnstone got in our faces and made it difficult for us.

"They are a strong side, a big side and they play some decent football.

"They got through us on quite a few occasions in the second half but the back four held firm.

"Matthew Cooper is only 18 and I thought he had an excellent game. We put on two 18-year-olds, Conor Pepper and Phil Roberts, and Nick Ross, who hasn't played for four months.

"It's been a tremendous squad effort to get to where we are and we are there and fighting tooth and nail to stay there and enjoy it as well."

Inverness did not look like losing their goals record in the opening stages when Billy McKay and Andrew Shinnie both had one-on-ones, although neither were straightforward.

McKay curled just wide from a tight angle and Shinnie was quickly closed down by Alan Mannus after taking the ball past two players.

Gregory Tade had a similar chance saved for the hosts, who also saw David McCracken's header cleared off the line.

St Johnstone manager Steve Lomas was happy to end Caley Thistle's goalscoring record but demanded his side start Wednesday's visit of Dundee in more competent fashion.

Lomas said: "We didn't start great and Inverness nearly took advantage, it was a great save from Mannus.

"We spoke about that before the game, that we needed to start quicker than we did against Hearts and Dundee United and unfortunately we didn't do.

"The next game is huge for us, we want to sign off with a home win before the break.

"We have to recover right and look at the players, we were looking tired in the last 10-15 minutes."

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