Caley Jags through
We did it! If you thought the first half at Inverness was poor, then step forward the first half from Gayfield. Shockingly poor forty five from both sides as Inverness struggled to get out of their own half into the face of a stiff breeze. On the other hand Arbroath did absolutely nothing either. The second half saw Danny Devine sent off, Shane Sutherland stretchered off and later on Wallace Duffy sent off as we ended the game with nine men. Farcical stuff.
However, we got through to the play off final after a 5-3 penalty shoot out win. Bobby Linn of all players having his spot kick saved by Mark Ridgers and Kirk Broadfoot with the final winning penalty after that save.
After a goalless draw in the first leg, the Caley Jags went to Gayfield to conclude the Premiership play off semi-final. The prize in a winner takes all game was a crack at St Johnstone in a two leg finale to the season and promotion to the Premiership for the victor. Logan Chalmers and Austin Samuels came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first leg in a game of limited opportunities. Who will prevail? All would be revealed around 10:00pm on Friday the 13th.
Billy Mckay was benched for this one after cutting a lone figure in the first leg. Aaron Doran replaced the striker in the starting XI. Arbroath were unchanged from Tuesday night.
A big crowd greeted the teams onto the pitch with similar conditions to the first leg prevalent. Inverness kicked off into the wind and that was the highlight of the first forty-five, apart from Aaron Doran breaking into the box but unable to dig the ball out from under his feet and Scott Stewart firing over the bar from the edge of the box. The only other thing of note was a booking for David Carson . Some things never change.
HALF TIME: 0-0
Billy Mckay replaced Austin Samuels at the interval.
Shane Sutherland got the break of the ball and burst into the edge of the box on the left side but his shot rippled the side netting. Carson shot over the stand minutes later as the visitors pushed forward. Better spell for Inverness and a wee melee in the box saw Arbroath clear the danger.
Out of nothing, Danny Devine was red carded for next to nothing as he challenged for a high ball with Jack Hamilton. What a joke decision that was. Worse was to follow when Shane Sutherland left the field on a stretcher after looking like he has damaged his knee when pulling up.
Hardy dribbled forward into the hosts box after the ninety but as the tackle came in his shot was lifted over the bar.
A flurry of activity round our box in time added on as the nine men tried to hold out for extra time. We did that so on to another thirty minutes.
0-0 after ninety minutes.
Inverness were back up to ten men with Lewis Hyde coming on in extra time.
Mark Ridgers kept Inverness in the game when he blocked an effort from Jack Hamilton as he went one on one with the keeper.
Colin Hamilton went close with a header after Low recycled a corner back into the box, the ball going just the wrong side of the post.
Inverness wasted a free kick and corner just on the break and it was still 0-0 with the final fifteen minutes coming up.
Wallace Duffy was given a dubious second yellow and we were back down to nine men for the final five minutes of extra time and Michael McKenna drifted a shot wide after a corner.
A Nicky Low cross saw Colin Hamilton head across goal and the ball came back off the crossbar as Arbroath went for the jugular, and after yet another corner was cleared, blundering referee Willie Collum ended the tie and it's on to penalties.
FULL TIME (after extra time): 0-0
Penalty Shoot Out
B Mckay ✔️, Hardy ✔️ Welsh ✔️ Harper✔️ Broadfoot ✔️
McKenna ✔️ Low ✔️ Colin Hamilton ✔️ Linn ❌
Inverness through to Play Off Final after 5-3 shoot out win.
Brilliant save from Mark Ridgers
From BBC Sport
Arbroath manager Dick Campbell: "Anybody who knows anything about football knows we were way, way in front. But I've seen it happen in the play-offs. We had 600 passes, they had 300-odd. "We're not ones to feel sorry for ourselves. The whole season has been a fairy tale, it'll be memorable. We were close to immortality. We've got to repeat that next year. Christmas has come early for Inverness tonight I wish them all the best."
Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager Billy Dodds: "It wasn't about us getting through tonight, it was the circumstances we did it in. I have my feelings - I'm just keeping quiet because I'll get myself into trouble. "My boys gave me absolutely everything. We had to work our socks off 🧦 That's the best bunch of boys I've worked with. I would have been proud of every one of them if we lost the penalty shootout tonight."