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Inverness Caledonian Thistle 4 Morton 0: Blackout and then the whitewash

THEY couldn't muster a manager between them and by half-time Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Morton began to wonder if they even had a match.

Rudderless or not, though, it took more than a power failure to dim the hosts' current streak of form.

A half-time blackout and 45-minute wait to restore the lights only seemed to re-energise Inverness who had laboured to a 1-0 lead through a Nick Ross penalty just before the break. But a second-half resurgence -after the game was two minutes from being abandoned - ensured the Highlanders' campaign still blazes brightly on three domestic fronts.

For Duncan Shearer, caretaker manager for a second match, there was relief at an ultimately comfortable victory. He fully expects to shake hands with whoever replaces Terry Butcher in the next few days.

"I'm sure they are well down the line to getting the new man in next week and I'll be quite happy to hand over," said the former Aberdeen and Scotland striker.

"I was a bit concerned over the amount of time it took to get the lights back on. It had gone on that long we were resigned to getting changed and going home.

"After the first half, that wouldn't have troubled me too much. I wouldn't have liked to sign off with a defeat and us out of the Scottish Cup."

Whoever succeeds Butcher this week will have a Scottish Cup fifth-round tie, a League Cup semi-final place and a second-top spot in the league to build upon.

The club are understood to have whittled down their shortlist to just two candidates, one of whom is believed to be Alloa manager Paul Hartley. A board decision is expected early this week.

The departure of Butcher and assistant Maurice Malpas, though, has hardly dimmed Inverness's form. Victory over the Championship strugglers made it a run of five straight wins since league hiccups against St Johnstone and Partick Thistle.

Shearer made one enforced change, with captain Richie Foran replaced by young Liam Polworth, earning a second start.

Morton's recent sacking of Allan Moore left former Scotland international David Hopkin with their stand-in responsibilities.

As home passes went astray in a sloppy start, one misplaced ball from Ross Draper set Nacho Novo free for a snapshot goalkeeper Dean Brill tipped over his bar.

There was no doubting home superiority, though, and a Billy McKay screamer was diverted for a corner by the heavily-worked Nicolas Caraux on the half- hour. Minutes later Caraux also produced a quite brilliant block from a McKay overhead kick.

With half-time approaching Morton finally cracked. Craig Reid was booked for bringing Draper crashing in the box and Ross rocketed home the spot-kick. The power failure aside, it didn't take the home side long to put Morton on the back foot. An Aaron Doran corner should have created a killer second goal 10 minutes in, with the outstretched leg of Draper striking the post close-in. Ross then flashed another attempt just over the bar.

The game was far from won, and a reminder came as Dougie Imrie's excellent free-kick curled in perfectly for a crisp Novo finish only for it to be flagged offside. But the clincher came in the 71st minute as Marley Watkins' measured cross was met by a looping McKay header.

The only risk from there was another blackout, but Morton's prayers weren't to be answered. McKay added the final blow - his 13th goal of the season - with a neat finish in the final minute and then Doran struck again from the spot after sub Toby Agdestein was felled in the box.

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