200 up for Roy
This was billed as a top six showdown and it was Caley Thistle who took the points. The victory was a narrow one but the margin could easily have been greater.
For Motherwell it was a disaster; defeat, a red card and two key players injured. Heavy rain left the pitch soggy but referee Brian Cassidy, on his first and last SPL appearance in the middle before retirement, deemed it playable.
Craig Brewster rotated the squad and brought in Bryan Prunty instead of himself. Roy McBain made his 200th appearance. For Gordon Marshall it was a night to forget although it did start well when he turned a curling Barry Wilson shot for a corner in 13 minutes. Four minutes later he spilled a seemingly easy ball and it was booted clear by a defender.
In 22 minutes Stuart Golabek slid a measured pass to Prunty down the left and Marshall came well out of his goal to block the strikers path. Prunty rolled the ball past the keeper to Graham Bayne six yards out and he touched it home for his seventh and easiest goal of the season. Two minutes later Prunty was through on Marshall and he chipped it past the keeper with the intention of racing on and netting. The goal was virtually certain but Marshall chose to take Prunty out of play just outside the box. The inevitable red card was brandished and Terry Butcher was forced to sacrifice Shaun Fagan for reserve keeper Barry-John Corr.
Injuries to Scott McDonald and Kevin McBride meant that Butcher had used all three substitutes by the 37th minute. The ten men dug in and Caley Thistle failed to add to their tally.
Half Time: 1-0
Just after the break a poor clearance fell to Wilson but his angled shot sailed wide. The pattern of ICT pressure continued for most of the match and Motherwell never threatened until the closing stages.
In 71 minutes Bayne hit low and wide then six minutes later another chance fell to Wilson. He sent in a shot from just outside the area and the home crowd rose to salute goal number two; in the end it grazed the post and went harmlessly wide.
In the last ten minutes Motherwell could easily have equalised. In 84 minutes Mark Brown had to be alert when an awkward ball came into his area bound for David Clarkson. Brown caught it well then, in the final minute, a free kick from Steve Hammell dipped wickedly and Brown tipped it over. The final action saw a Jim Paterson shot blocked by the home defence.
Full Time: 1-0
The top six places will be decided on Saturday. ICT have to win against Dundee, Kilmarnock have to beat Motherwell and a four goal gap has to be bridged. A tall order but for the Inverness camp it is fantastic just to be in the race.
Inverness CT: 1 (Bayne 20)
Team: Brown, Tokely, Dods, Munro, Golabek, Hart, Black, McBain (Duncan 62),
Wilson (Proctor 87), Bayne (Fatai 78), Prunty.
Subs Not Used: Fraser, McCaffrey, Hastings, Fox - Booked: Black (86)
Team: Marshall, Paul Quinn, Craigan, Partridge, Hammell, McBride (Kerr 36), Leitch,
Fagan (Corr 24), Paterson, Scott McDonald (Clarkson 16), Hamilton.
Subs Not Used: Britton, Foran, Kinniburgh, Fitzpatrick
Booked: Partridge (70), Hamilton (84), Craigan (86) - Sent Off: Marshall (23).
Attendance: 3,746 - Referee: Brian Cassidy