Ross County extended their lead at the top of the Championship to five points thanks to a 2-1 Highland derby victory at Caledonian Stadium.
Josh Mullin saw his stunning early opener cancelled out by Carl Tremarco, however Andy Boyle’s goal before the interval proved to be the winner, with Inverness playing the full second half with 10 men following Charlie Trafford’s dismissal just before half time.
The result means County now have a healthy advantage over second placed Dundee United – who they meet at Dingwall on Friday – with a game in hand still to play over Robbie Neilson’s side.
Inverness made one change from the side which drew 0-0 against Falkirk on Saturday, with winger Tom Walsh restored in place of Kevin McHattie.
County made five changes from the side which went down 1-0 to Alloa Athletic, with Michael Gardyne and Keith Watson missing out through injury, while Lewis Spence, Brian Graham and Don Cowie also dropped to the bench. Daniel Armstrong came in for his first league start, while Sean Kelly, Declan McManus, Ross Stewart and Ross Draper were also included.
The visitors threatened in the early stages when Armstrong set up McManus for a header with a delivery from the right, with his effort hacked off the line by Jamie McCart before Mullin lashed over from close range.
County took the lead in stunning fashion on eight minutes however, with Mullin rifling home a low drive from 25 yards after being picked out by Jamie Lindsay.
Inverness had the perfect chance to level on 21 minutes when Liam Polworth’s threaded ball sent Jordan White through on goal, with his progress halted by Scott Fox inside the box. White was unable to beat Fox from 12 yards however, with the goalkeeper making a fine save low to his right to thwart Caley Jags’ leading scorer.
Inverness took less than three minutes to claw back level however, with Joe Chalmers’ corner knocked across goal by White, setting up Tremarco to bullet home a header off the crossbar from close range.
County regained the advantage on 34 minutes, with Mark Ridgers failing to cut out Mullin’s corner, with the ball landing for Draper to rifle a shot goalwards which was diverted home on the goal line by Boyle.
Inverness’ task was made all the more difficult on the stroke of half time when Trafford was dismissed for a second yellow card for a challenge on Lindsay.
Inverness looked to respond after the break, with Brad Mckay nodding wide from Polworth’s free kick, however it was County who came closest to adding to the scoresheet when Lindsay’s header came back off the crossbar.
County held on for the crucial win, which gives them the ideal chance to all but secure the Championship title on Friday.