Midfielder Ross Draper was the hero for Caley Thistle as his header in the final minute of extra time gave Inverness victory against 10-man Dundee United at Caledonian Stadium last night.
With the match set for penalties Draper rose to head Danny Williams’s cross in off the crossbar to give the Highlanders victory.
Caley Jags were forced into extra time despite United playing most of the match with 10 men.
Keith Watson struck early on for United, who had Nadir Ciftci sent off. Gary Warren levelled in the second half.
With Friday night’s game null and void following the abandonment due to floodlight failure, left back Carl Tremarco and midfielder Marley Watkins made their debuts for Inverness as manager Terry Butcher named the starting 11 who played the first 45 minutes of the Highland derby.
United manager Jackie McNamara made three changes to the team which beat St Mirren 4-0 at Tannadice on Saturday.
John Souttar and Mark Wilson missed out for United with Brian Graham dropping to the bench.
Stuart Armstrong, Keith Watson and captain Sean Dillon took their place in the starting line-up. David Goodwillie and Morgaro Gomis were also on the bench for the Tangerines. With a place in the semi-finals at stake the opening exchanges were frantic and end to end with Aaron Doran testing United goalkeeper Radoslaw Cierzniak with a low drive from 18 yards before Andy Robertson flashed a shot wide from 25 yards for the visitors.
United drew first blood in stunning fashion in the fifth minute as Ryan Gauld went on a run before switching play to Keith Watson, who beat Dean Brill with a stunning shot from the edge of the box.
United were unrecognisable from the team which surrendered in meek fashion at home to Caley Jags in August. But it was Caley Jags who carried the bigger threat, with Doran, in particular, playing a key role.
The midfielder tested Cierzniak again with a low drive before firing wide with another long range chance.
The United goalkeeper was expected to deal with the shots which came towards him in the first 25 minutes but he had to be at his best to deny McKay from heading an equaliser, blocking the effort on the line after Tremarco had curled in a superb ball from the left.
United, though, were always a threat on the counter and Caley Jags defender Gary Warren became the first booking of the night after he stopped Gary Mackay-Steven.
As the first half drew to a close the pressure intensified towards the United goal with Cierzniak called into action again as he dived full stretch to his right to palm a Nick Ross drive past the post before a goalmouth scramble from the resulting corner.
Tempers rose as the challenges flew in before bedlam ensued five minutes before the interval.
Mackay-Steven fell on the touchline in front of Caley Jags manager Butcher following an altercation with Tremarco, who was quick to let the United player know what he thought about his fall. The incident sparked a melee which involved both management teams and players and by the time the dust had settled United attacker Nadir Ciftci was sent off, while team-mates Gavin Gunning and Paul Paton were booked.
Tremarco was also yellow-carded with Butcher and United coach Darren Jackson sent to the stand. Mackay-Steven also found himself in the referee’s notebook for a foul as the first half ended in ugly fashion. Mackay-Steven’s booking was his last involvement in the game as United manager McNamara made two changes at half-time with Stewart Armstong withdrawn with Mackay-Steven. Brian Graham and Morgaro Gomis replaced them.
Any hope of the break allowing both teams to calm down was quickly dashed as United captain Dillon and John Rankin joined the growing list of yellow cards, Rankin’s booking coming for a foul on Watkins. From the resulting free-kick, Graeme Shinnie whipped the ball in for Warren to bullet home a header for the equaliser.
The scene was set then for Inverness to push for a winner and Cierzniak did just enough to put McKay off as the Caley Jags forward stretched to meet Doran’s cross.
The pressure was increasing at the same rate as the bookings count with Andrew Robertson becoming United booking number six for dissent.
With time running out Inverness had a penalty claim turned down. Caley Jags captain Foran was felled by Dillon. Both claims were turned down with both players booked for protesting too much.
There was little of note in extra time before Draper’s winner, other than Gomis and Graham taking the bookings count to 12.
CALEY THISTLE – Brill, Shinnie, Warren, Meekings, Tremarco (Polworth 107), Watkins (Williams 85), Ross (Agdestein 100), Draper, Foran, Doran, McKay.
DUNDEE UNITED – Cierzniak, Watson, Dillon, Gunning, Robertson (Butcher 80), Paton, Rankin, Gauld, Armstrong (Gomis 46), Mackay-Steven (Graham 46), Ciftci.
Referee – Kevin Clancy.