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Charlton Athletic 0 Inverness Caley Thistle 1: Butcher jigsaw looks part for season opener

INVERNESS Caley Thistle served notice they are ready to start the season with a bang, rather than last August's whimper after humbling Championship promotion hopefuls Charlton Athletic at The Valley.

For manager Terry Butcher, it was pretty much the perfect send-off to a productive pre-season spent assimilating new faces and racking up 36 goals in nine matches.

Having lost talismanic Andrew Shinnie and the brute presence of Owain Tudur Jones this summer, Butcher and his staff seem to have again successfully combed the lower reaches of the English game for replacements.

Dean Brill, on loan from Luton, and Danny Williams on the left flank looked more than competent additions.

Butcher said: "It was a good performance once we got used to Charlton's system. The shape was good, the work-rate excellent in very hot conditions. When we passed, we passed it quite well.

"I don't think Dean Brill had a lot to do in goal, which was good. Neither of Charlton's two keepers had a lot to do, but we still had good opportunities. I'm pleased with that.

"The understanding is good. The back four have played together a lot this pre-season and it shows.

"They did a great job, too. In midfield, Ross Draper and Liam Polworth were strong in the absence of Richie Foran who had a tweak so didn't travel."

Central defender Josh Meekings, with a striker's finish, was the unlikely match-winning hero for 132 Inverness fans in the 2801 crowd.

With just 11 minutes left, he started the move just outside his own box and just kept going, before spreading an over-hit pass wide right.

It was salvaged by Aaron Doran who swept the ball back in for Meekings to expertly side-foot low into the corner of the net from 12 yards.

The match doubled as testimonial for Charlton's long-serving groundsman Colin Powell, an ex-Valley winger of the 1970s.

For Caley Thistle, though, it was all about the serious business of final preparations for the Premiership opener at home to St Mirren.

Butcher observed: "It is only pre-season and we were rotten against Raith Rovers in the 2-2 draw, but we've done well on our one-day pre-season tour."

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