March 16, 2013
Caley up to third after win
Billy McKay's controversial penalty secured Inverness a 2-1 home win against Highland rivals Ross County, lifting them above the Staggies into third place in the table.
The Northern Ireland striker's 24th goal of the campaign ended County's 11-game unbeaten run and has all but ensured Inverness will have their first ever top-six SPL finish.
McKay netted the winner in the 59th minute after referee Iain Brines pointed to the spot when Charlie Taylor went down, but there were strong suggestions the full-back was making a meal of it.
It came after Andrew Shinnie's close-range opener in five minutes for Caley Thistle was cancelled out by a magnificent 30-yard strike from County's Paul Lawson.
The defeat leaves County fourth, two points behind Inverness.
In stark contrast to the goalless draw between the sides in Dingwall two weeks ago, this game was full of drama.
Caley captain Richie Foran returned for the hosts but County skipper Richard Brittain was left out of their squad.
Foran replaced the suspended Graeme Shinnie in the only change to Inverness' team from the line-up which drew 1-1 at Dundee last Saturday.
Brittain was suspended from County's dramatic 3-2 win at home to Celtic seven days ago. Ivan Sproule was the only change to the Staggies side, coming in for Martin Scott.
County goalkeeper Michael Fraser was called into action early, turning a McKay shot wide, but he was powerless to stop Andrew Shinnie from putting Inverness in front in the fifth minute from the resultant set-piece.
Taylor swung in the corner, which was flicked on by Foran and with Fraser and his defence failing to deal with it, Shinnie turned home during a goalline scramble.
McKay might have added a second after turning well to find space in the box, but he curled his shot wide.
Aaron Doran was next to fire off-target for Inverness when McKay set him up on the edge of the box.
It proved costly as County stunned the hosts with a magnificent equaliser from Lawson in the 35th minute.
The midfielder's 30-yard strike beat full-stretch Inverness goalkeeper Ryan Esson, after Iain Vigurs rolled a free-kick into his path.
Grant Munro was inches away from putting County in front moments later when he produced a powerful header as he connected with a Lawson free-kick.
With the ball out of play, Esson was replaced by Antonio Reguero. It appeared as if the Inverness number one had suffered a recurrence of a groin injury which saw him sidelined earlier this season.
Four minutes after the restart County were rocked by injury with Sproule replaced by last weekend's goal hero Steffen Wohlfarth.
Andrew Shinnie had a shot deflected wide and Vigurs fired a volley off-target as both sides showed intent in an end-to-end spell.
The advantage swung back in the hosts' favour when McKay put them back in front after Mihael Kovacevic felled Taylor in the box.
County manager Derek Adams chose to go all-out attack in the last 10 minutes by replacing central defender Munro with striker Gary Glen.
Sam Morrow had two late headed chances but the Inverness defence stood firm to claim the Highland bragging rights.
|Inverness Caledonian Thistle||Ross County|
|1 Ryan Esson||1 Michael Fraser|
|5 Gary Warren||4 Grant Munro|
|2 David Raven||5 Scott Boyd|
|28 Charlie Taylor||22 Michael Kovacevic|
|14 Josh Meekings||18 Evangelos Ikonomou|
|4 Owain Tudur-Jones||7 Stuart Kettlewell|
|10 Andrew Shinnie||8 Paul Lawson|
|8 Ross Draper||11 Iain Vigurs|
|9 Richie Foran||12 Rocco Quinn|
|17 Aaron Doran||16 Ivan Sproule|
|7 William McKay||17 Sam Morrow|
|12 Antonio Reguero||Sean McCarthy 28|
|27 Daniel Devine||Andrew Hainault 13|
|11 Nick Ross||Archibald Macphee 23|
|21 Liam Polworth||Ross Stevens 24|
|26 Jordon Gibbons||Alex Cooper 21|
|22 Conor Pepper||Gary Glen 20|
|18 Shane Sutherland||Steffen Wohlfarth 15|
|Antonio Reguero for Ryan Esson (41)||Steffen Wohlfarth for Ivan Sproule (49)|
|Nick Ross for Andrew Shinnie (79)||Alex Cooper for Stuart Kettlewell (72)|
|Gary Glen for Grant Munro (82)|
|Stuart Kettlewell (70)|
|Paul Lawson (80)|
|Iain Vigurs (83)|
|· Squads: Inverness Caledonian Thistle | Ross County|