One down, two to go.
Inverness booked their place in the next stage of the play-offs after a rather uncomfortable 1-1 draw with Ayr United. As expected Ayr came out of the blocks flying and deservedly took the lead through Luke McCowan in the 19th minute. It took until the 79th minute before we eased the pain on the supporters when Coll Donaldson claimed he got a touch on Liam Polworth's inviting free kick into the danger area. It mattered not who scored it, but it was a crucial goal that scuppered Ayr's hopes of taking the tie into extra time.
Inverness will now play Dundee United on Tuesday night, the return at Tannadice on the Friday night. St Mirren are in pole position to be the Premiership fall guys unless Accies blow a four point lead going into the final two games, Dundee already relegated.
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A noisy crowd in the away end met the teams as they came out on a sunny afternoon at the Caledonian Stadium. Carl Tremarco was still injured and Kevin McHattie started again in a familiar looking side for this crucial second leg tie. Ian McCall had Luke McCowan on from the start and Robbie Crawford was deemed fit enough to take his place in the side. Michael Moffat was on the bench for the Honest Men and top scorer Lawrence Shankland would be the man to keep an eye on.
Around 2500 watched this one and Ayr started brightly without causing too much concern.
However, it was Jordan White who had the first couple of attempts. The first was blocked by Ross Doohan in the visitors goal after White was fed through on the right side, Doohan blocking as White tried to dink the ball behind him. The second effort was a shot on the turn from the edge of the box which the keeper gathered with ease.
From that save, Ayr took the lead when a crossfield pass from Shankland found Declan McDaid scampering down the right flank. His cross took a slight deflection off Jamie McCart's leg but it still found McCowan sprinting across the box to fire high into the net from six yards.
Ayr were looking slick at this point and their passing game was outdoing the stifled approach from Inverness who looked a little edgy in the opening half.
White saw an effort saved and Robbie Crawford could have done better than shoot wide at the other end. As Inverness upped the pace heading to wards the break Aaron Doran shot wide and they ended the half on top, but a goal behind on the day.
Half Time 0-1
Inverness were dealt a blow ten minutes into the second half as Tom Walsh left the field feeling his hamstring to be replaced by Anthony McDonald.
McDaid shot wide as Ayr looked to level the aggregate score and Mark Ridgers had to look smart to deny a header from Skankland. McDaid and Crawford were next to go wide as Inverness restricted the visitors to trying speculative efforts, but it was an uneasy spell for the hosts.
We began to get to grips with the game and Jamie McCart headed wide and a couple of minutes later we were level. Aaron Doran was fouled some thirty yards from goal wide on the left. Liam Polworth curled an inviting ball into the mix and White and Coll Donaldson were left unmarked as they both rose for the ball. There was little doubt where the ball ended up, but Donaldson claimed he touched it with his hair and the relief in the stands was instant as Coll took the plaudits from the North Stand, his first goal this season.
Ayr almost went in front again just two minutes later as Andy Murdoch unleashed a thumping shot from outside the box but Ridgers was equal to it.
Time was now running out for United to take the game to extra time and their frustration showed as they picked up a couple of late bookings as Inverness looked more assured towards the end of a game they had struggled to control for long spells.
Not a classic by any manner or means, but that vital 3-1 win at Somerset Park set Inverness up and enabled them to take it easier than they might have done had the match been all square.
Great contributions from MotM Coll Donaldson with his partner Jamie McCart also playing well as we defended in depth at times. Aaron Doran was the pick of the forwards as he twisted and turned his way down the wing and Jordan White showed his worth once more, using his power and height to good effect.
All in, not a great spectacle, and Ian McCall seems a bit miffed that his side were the best team over the two legs. I've got news for you Ian, Inverness play Dundee United on Tuesday night and Ayr United's wonderful season has ended.
So Caledonian Stadium on Tuesday night and Tannadice on Friday night. A schedule John Robertson has voiced his concerns over preferring the option of Wednesday and Sunday. The winners will play St Mirren or Hamilton who meet on Monday night and that could decide who is in the play-off final.
Here's the managers speaking to BBC Sport
Inverness manager John Robertson: "It's a strange situation defending a two-goal lead at home - it's awkward. The players weren't sure whether to go for it or to sit back and we were a bit safe. I thought we looked very nervous in the first 15-20 minutes. Ayr got a beautifully-worked goal and that woke us up a bit. These matches are done over 180 minutes and we've come through it."
Ayr manager Ian McCall: "I'm very disappointed. I'm very proud of the players and what they've put in over two years and a lot of them will be leaving us for bigger clubs. I thought we were the better team in both games in terms of playing football and passing the ball but ultimately theses games are about getting through.
Not the best performance ever, but this was all about getting through to the next round of the play-off and so far it's mission accomplished with more difficult games to come. Good backing for the Ayr players must have given them a lift when they came on to the park and the moved the ball around better with Inverness looking edgy trying to protect that two goal cushion. Anyway, job done so far.
Here's the goals from yesterdays game. No doubt about the Ayr scorer, but difficult to see who got the final touch although Donaldson is claiming the Inverness goal.