Dundee United would inflict further woe on cash strapped Inverness after a close encounter of the third kind. A Nicky Clark penalty was sufficient to swing the game towards United with Inverness just failing to get back on level terms.
John Robertson would rest Carl Tremarco and Aaron Doran, although Jamie McCart made the bench, but Tom Walsh and Anthony McDonald were out injured.
United kicked off with over 4700 watching and immediately put Inverness onto the back foot creating three or four openings inside the first ten minutes. Peter Pawlett and Charlie Seaman narrowly missing the target from great positions inside the box and Nicky Clark heading tamely wide.
Kevin McHattie was booked in the 17th minute as the Inverness defence came under sustained pressure.
It took Inverness half an hour to fashion out a decent opportunity and Shaun Rooney headed over. Nathan Austin then drove into the box but his shot had the sting taken out of it and Ben Siegrist gathered. Coll Donaldson followed that up by heading over from close range as we began to threaten the home defence.
Pawlett was the Arabs danger man as he drove forward and at the other end a Connolly error almost led to Austin getting in on goal.
It was Pawlett that was causing most problems for the visitors, but at the break it was all square.
There were no changes at the start of the second half as Liam Polworth kicked off.
United were first to try after the break but Ridgers easily mopped up an effort from Clark. Inverness responded with Polworth firing over from outside the box and Austin almost flicked on to White, but United got it clear. Harkes had to clear one away from the line after some confusion in the Arabs ranks.
Inverness were having a good spell and a Rooney cross was headed over by Austin................ However, It's the kiss of death and United get a penalty awarded after Coll Donaldson tripped Nicky Clark in the box, Clark converting from the spot.
Three minutes later, the problematic Pawlett became a problem for United as he was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Charlie Trafford shot just wide from outside the box as we looked to get back on level terms and an Austin header and a Chalmers shot had to be saved by Siegrist.
Plenty of Caley Jags pressure in the final ten minutes with United down to ten men and the last fling is Daniel Mackay replacing Joe Chalmers as the clock ticked past ninety minutes.
Safranko passed on a great chance to seal the points at the end but he blazed the ball over the bar and Donaldson saw a deflected effort tipped over, but it was too little too late as United held on for all three points.
After tonights results, Dunfermline closed the gap to two points behind Inverness after a 3-0 win over Partick Thistle, Morton a further point behind after they beat Queen of the South and Ross County stretched their lead at the top by beating Ayr United thanks to a Billy Mckay hat-trick.
Stirling Observer observed thus on CTO:-
Entertaining game for one we didn't manage to score. Took a while to settle to the diamond midfield and Utd could have been out of sight. Gradually worked our way into the game and were arguably on top despite not creating much.
Second half was really open and end to end. They were on top for a spell when they won the pen. I would have said it was a fair award. Coll lunged in to block the shot but took the players legs before the ball. Mchattie took an awful touch to draw Pawlett into a rash challenge for his second booking. This killed the game as our lack of creativity against there solid unit meant the classic sit deep and let us punt it. Coll's last second deflected shot was the closest I think we got, but Safranko did miss a great chance late on.
Speaking to BBC Sport the managers had this to say:-
Dundee United head coach Robbie Neilson: "I thought the first half we played well but couldn't get the ball over the line.
"It's massive for us. It takes us a step further and now second in the league."
Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager John Robertson: "I'm disappointed. I thought United started very well. Coming down the slope, they got at us with good chances, but then we settled.
"We changed our system a bit tonight by playing a diamond in there just to upset them."
Action from Tannadice..............