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Football: BULLY BOYS WENT CRAIOVA THE TOP; FRIENDLIES.

Byline: ALASDAIR FRASER at Stadio Sandro Pertini

STUNNED Inverness star Ian Black last night admitted he had NEVER seen a side cheat as much as Romanian con-artists Universitat Craiova.

The East Europeans' shameful antics soured Caley Thistle's friendly win yesterday as they slammed into tackles, hassled the referee and dived to the deck any time a Scottish player went near them.

One thug saw red for an assault on Dean McDonald but the Romanians had the cheek to sneak on another player moments later to make it 11-a-side again.

Black was appalled by their attitude and is glad he doesn't have to face such skullduggery on a weekly basis.

He said: "You can talk about cheating but I've never seen anything like that - especially in a friendly.

"It's a learning curve playing against foreigners. They got a few things past the referee but he eventually cottoned on "There were some bad challenges but we managed not to react and it couldn't take anything away from a really successful tour."

Goals from Garry Wood and McDonald sealed a second win in Tuscany for the Highlanders but boss Charlie Christie admitted Craiova's dirty tricks ruined the day.

He said: "That was something we haven't encountered as a club and it sums up the mentality of some European teams.

"They went to ground easily and played the referee. It's just not in the Scottish mentality to carry on like that. We were concerned for Dean when they came through the back of him twice but he's all right.

"The roasting heat and hard surface made it extra difficult but we dominated the game and didn't get the rewards for that."

Inverness had easily beaten a young Qatar international team 2-0 in the first outing of their week-long stay in Italy.

But this game was a different story and turned out to be an ugly battle.

Given Caley Thistle's ambitions of tapping into the Romanian market for players, Craiova offered a valuable insight.

And Christie will be staying well clear if all the players from that country behave as badly.

Craiova tried to influence the referee by screaming at the slightest of tackles and hitting the deck regularly.

But that didn't put off youngster Guy Kerr who started in central defence alongside new skipper Grant Munro.

Kerr impressed as did fellow youngsters Zander Sutherland, with his trickery on the right, and striker Wood who netted the opener.

But the main stand-outs before the break were the marauding Ross Tokely and Graham Bayne who was winning all his battles up front.

John Rankin, Bayne and Roy McBain had all missed chances by the time Caley Thistle turned the screw.

A stunning low Sutherland strike drew an excellent save from the Romanian keeper after 37 minutes.

But three minutes later the deadlock was broken as Wood angled a header home from Rankin's corner.

Inverness hit the second two minutes after the break when McDonald showed great poise to fire home.

Craiova then went down to 10 men after one of their players scythed down McDonald in 76 minutes.

The game soon became a farce as the Romanians slipped a replacement on to the field - without the ref noticing.

One of their coaches also had to be ordered from the pitch before Bogdan Piko struck an ill-deserved consolation.

team sheet

ICT: Fraser, Tokely, Kerr (Duncan 46), Munro, Hastings (A MacDonald 46), Sutherland (Wilson 46), Cowie (Wyness 46), McBain (Black 46), Rankin (Hart 46), Wood (D McDonald 46), Bayne (McAllister 60).

CAPTION(S):

No McBain, no gain: Roy McBain gets stuck in against Uni Craiova; First foot: John Rankin gets in first to make a tackle as ICT take control
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 15, 2007
Words:612
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