Victory but no progress is hard lesson for Caley Jags

Caley Thistle forward John Baird.

Victory for Caley Thistle at Forfar on Saturday, but no place in the second round of the Betfred Cup as group winners Falkirk secured their place with a 3-0 win at Brechin City.

The home side took the lead just after the break after Caley Thistle’s Liam Polworth had missed a penalty following a foul by Jamie Bain, but two goals in a minute put Inverness in the driving seat for all three points.

Caley Thistle manager John Robertson was pleased with the win and while disapppinted not to progress, he knows the Championship campaign is all-important.

He said: “In the first half we were quite comfortable, although the missed penalty summed up our frustrations.

“We were annoyed at half-time and there were a couple of strange decisions, including the free kick that lead to Forfar’s goal.

“But we got a quickfire double and even had three or four chances to finish it, but the failure to take those chances allowed Forfar to throw everything at us.

“We won but we have to improve. We knew today we weren’t going to get through to the second round, we knew we would have needed nine points as the game against Falkirk which we lost at home was always going to be the pivotal match.

“We have won three out of the four games. We will improve as we go on but we need to be ready for Saturday.

“It was four games for the team to get to know each other and improve our fitness. But ultimately we failed in our target of qualifying for the knockout stages.”

Inverness had the first opportunity of match five minutes in when George Oakley shot straight into Forfar goalkeeper Marc McCallum’s arms.

Forfar’s Eddie Malone shot over the bar from a Mark Millar lay off while Riccardo Calder failed to threaten McCallum with his effort at the other end.

Forfar attacker Ousman See had his shot blocked, but the visitors had a great chance to go ahead in the 31st minute when Bain committed a foul inside the box.

Polworth stepped up to take the spot kick, but could not beat the goalkeeper with McCallum diving to deny the midfielder.

The Loons took the lead just three minutes after the break when David Cox’s cross found Jim Lister and after his shot was parried, Marc Scott nodded in from a yard out.

Within six minutes of going behind, Inverness were ahead. They levelled when Oakley scored from 25 yards after a poor clearance, then just 60 seconds later John Baird scored from close range.

Still the chances came and Polworth forced an impressive stop from McCallum before Michael Travis cleared an Oakley shot off the line.

Forfar tried to rally and See set up Malone who shot inches over the bar from just inside the box as the Loons pressed for a leveller which would not come.

Forfar assistant manager Stuart Balmer said: “It was a difficult game for us coming off the back of playing Falkirk in midweek.

“It was useful for us, playing against a former Premiership team.”