Ross County secured a dramatic late Highland derby victory over Caley Thistle, with Ross Stewart’s goal ensuring a 2-1 victory which extends their lead at the top of the Championship.
The Staggies took an early lead through former Inverness forward Billy Mckay however Caley Jags responded well, with Jordan White heading the visitors level before the interval.
Inverness were on top throughout much of the second half, however Stewart’s late header secured the points for the Dingwall men. Both sides ended the game with 10 men, with Brian Graham and Shaun Rooney both sent off following a late altercation.
Ayr United’s draw against Queen of the South means County are now three points clear at the top of the table, with Inverness remaining fourth.
Stuart Kettlewell and Steven Ferguson made two changes from the side which steered the Staggies to the top of the table by defeating Partick Thistle 2-0 the previous weekend. County were dealt a blow with on-form winger Josh Mullin ruled out through a hamstring injury, however Michael Gardyne was fit again to replace him. Callum Morris also returned from injury in place of Tom Grivosti.
Caley Jags were also dealt an injury blow, with attacker George Oakley ruled out through injury and replaced by Jordan White.
It was County who were first to threaten inside four minutes, with Gardyne’s effort deflected into the path of former Caley Jags attacker Billy Mckay whose shot on the turn was comfortably held by Mark Ridgers.
Inverness also showed early danger, with Jordan White narrowly failing to connect with Tom Walsh’s driven cross, before Liam Polworth saw a shot well cut out by Scott Fox.
County took the lead on 16 minutes however, with Ross Draper swivelling after receiving Stelios Demetriou’s excellent pass before seeing a shot superbly saved by Mark Ridgers, however the Caley Jags goalkeeper could do little to prevent Mckay rattling home the rebound.
Inverness responded well to the setback, with Scott Fox required to make a fine double save to thwart Aaron Doran’s shot and White’s header.
Caley Jags did pull level on 31 minutes however, with Walsh’s corner picking out White who sent a thumping header past Fox from close range.
The Staggies could have regained their advantage within 60 seconds, however this time it was Ridgers on hand to make a fine fingertip save to divert Draper’s effort over the bar.
White came close to doubling Caley Jags’ advantage just after the break when his header from a Walsh delivery forced a fine save from Fox, who also comfortably saved a long-range Doran effort.
The visitors continued to threaten, with Walsh twice coming close, firstly seeing a near post effort tipped over by Fox before volleying wide from Jamie McCart’s delivery.
Stewart came close when he nodded over Don Cowie’s delivery, however the attacker was on hand to guide home Draper’s cross five minutes from time to the delight of the home supporters.
An ugly late exchange saw Graham and Rooney both dismissed by Dallas, with County holding on for the points.