Inverness defeated by Saints in six-goal thriller

Caley Thistle forward John Baird.

Caley Thistle were defeated 4-2 by St Mirren in a thrilling Championship encounter at Paisley.

Inverness had trailed 1-0 at half-time following Lewis Morgan’s deflected goal for the hosts, however they showed a fine response after the break and deservedly levelled through John Baird.

Caley Jags were forced to equalise for a second time through Liam Polworth, after Saints had regained the lead through Gavin Reilly, but long-range strikes from Cammy Smith and Ian McShane made sure of the points for Jack Ross’ men, who are now top of the table.

Caley Thistle made one change from the side that defeated Aberdeen Colts 4-2 in the IRN-BRU Cup the previous week, with skipper Gary Warren returning from an ankle injury to replace Coll Donaldson.

The visitors had the ball in the net just 80 seconds in when a fine move on the break saw Iain Vigurs release Riccardo Calder, who squared for John Baird, however the attacker strayed into an offside position before tapping into the empty net at the far post.

Inverness threatened again when Liam Polworth saw his corner nodded over by Brad McKay on 11 minutes, however Saints began to create problems, with Lewis Morgan’s free-kick deflected over and Stephen McGinn’s long-range strike forcing a fingertip save from Mark Ridgers.

Saints continued to show promise, with Cammy Smith seeing a shot blocked behind for a corner, however the home side took a fortuitous lead on 31 minutes when Gavin Reilly set up Morgan to drive at goal, with the attacker’s shot taking a wicked deflection off Brad McKay to deceive Mark Ridgers.

Moran came close to another goal moments later when he saw his shot impressively tipped wide of the post by Ridgers, however Inverness looked keen to respond before the break, with Charlie Trafford’s delivery just evading the near post run of Baird.

Caley Jags started the second-half brightly, with Polworth inches from a leveller with a low strike after cutting in from the left flank, before Baird flashed a shot wide from the edge of the box.

Baird came close again moments later from a header that was saved by Craig Samson, before eventually being scrambled behind for a corner.

Inverness spurned a great chance to equalise on the hour mark when substitute Connor Bell dummied Baird’s flick to release Polworth through on goal, but with only Samson to beat he shot straight at the goalkeeper who blocked it with his legs.

It nearly proved costly, as Saints broke immediately, Ridgers saving from Morgan before Cammy Smith struck the rebound over.

Caley Jags did force an equaliser within 60 seconds though, with Baird released by an excellent pass from Polworth, before drilling powerfully past Samson to pull it all square.

Parity lasted just two minutes however, with Saints scrappily regaining the lead when Ian McShane’s cross from the right was headed goalwards by Gregor Buchanan, and although Ridgers got a strong hand to the effort, the ball rolled along the goal-line for Reilly to stab home.

Inverness levelled for a second time on 69 minutes however, when the ball ricocheted off Saints defender Gary Irvine to release Polworth, and this time he made no mistake, rounding Samson before rolling into the empty net.

Saints hit the post through Mogan’s powerful strike but they virtually secured all three points with two goals in the space of a minute. Saints’ third goal came on 72 minutes, when Joe Chalmers initially made a superb tackle to deny Reilly, however the loose ball broke for Smith to rifle a strike past Ridgers from 25 yards and into the bottom corner.

The Buddies netted an even better goal 60 seconds later, when the ball broke for McShane to thump a venomous effort past Ridgers from a similar distance to seal the win.