Inverness CT V Motherwell at Tulloch Caledonian Stadium : Match Preview

03 May 2013 09:31
Inverness CT V Motherwell - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Draper calm over European chase

Inverness midfielder Ross Draper insists there is no panic after St Johnstone and Ross County increased the pressure in the race for a European place.

Caley Thistle head the way to join Motherwell and William Hill Scottish Cup finalists Hibernian in the Europa League but their lead in the race for third was cut to one point when they fell to a 1-0 defeat at St Johnstone last weekend.

Ross County's victory over Dundee United the previous night had cut the gap to two points and Inverness face their Highland rivals on the final day of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League season.

Caley Thistle have two home games before them, starting with in-form Motherwell on Saturday.

Draper is confident they can handle the pressure of the three-horse race for Europe.

The Englishman said: "We knew at the split we had five tough games. We knew it wasn't going to be decided over the first two games when we know going to Celtic is tough and St Johnstone are doing well at the moment.

"We saw the next three games as the games we were expecting to pick points up. We are not panicking that the others have closed the gap.

"Everyone has to play each other and I think you will see in the next few weeks hopefully we can pick up some points and increase that gap.

"We have got three games where we don't have to travel. We know we can match anyone at home.

"We back ourselves to get over that finishing line and finish the season off as what we deserve, really."

Caley Thistle have taken points against every team but Motherwell this season and their games against the Lanarkshire side have been the difference between the teams in the league.

Motherwell lead Inverness by nine points and 12 goals - the same number they have put past Terry Butcher's side in three matches.

Draper said: "They are a terrific side but for some reason they have done especially well against us.

"It's a game we need a lot of preparation for. We have been planning to stop that and see where their main threat is and where we have gone wrong in recent games.

"We know we have to be on our game and put them under pressure to get anything."

Right-back David Raven is suspended for the clash with Motherwell after being sent off in last week's defeat by St Johnstone.

Manager Stuart McCall is delighted to see others share his appreciation of his team's performances as a week of accolades continued at Motherwell.

Henrik Ojamaa was named Clydesdale Bank Premier League player of the month for April, days after McCall was shortlisted for the PFA Scotland manager of the year award.

Goalkeeper Darren Randolph, for the second year running, was named in the PFA Scotland team of the year alongside Shaun Hutchinson, Nicky Law and Michael Higdon, who is hoping to scoop the player of the year award on Sunday night.

Motherwell secured their Europa League place with a 3-1 victory over Celtic on Sunday and they will guarantee second place at Inverness if they extend their eight-match unbeaten run.

Motherwell have scored 15 goals in five games and McCall admits he has been watching in admiration rather than suffering the anxiety managers normally experience on the touchline.

"We have managed to win six and draw two of the last eight," he said. "We have scored some terrific goals. With some of the play, I wish there were a couple more months of the season.

"We have got targets, individuals have targets as well. We want to get another three points to beat our tally from last season (62). The lads are enjoying it.

"Managers aren't supposed to enjoy it, but the 2-2 draw with St Mirren was a great game, the Dundee United game when you have a three-goal cushion and then two-goal, you can enjoy it a bit more.

"People talk about the SPL dying and maybe that's because of the crowds, the crowds are certainly going down. But from what I've seen, certainly from the lads at Motherwell, the entertainment value and quality has been far better than last season.

"Some of the goals and play has been terrific to watch - and sometimes you get a little bit relaxed and start enjoying it. And that's what football is about.

"As a manager, player and football team, the first priority is to win games. But if you can do it putting smiles on people's faces and make it a product that they want to come back to and bring their friends, I think from a players' point of view they couldn't have done any more this season."

Motherwell again have a full squad against Inverness.

Source: PA