Caley Thistle’s pursuit of Dundee United looks increasingly forlorn after they lost ground on the Championship leaders following defeat at Partick.
Ian McCall’s side beat Inverness for the second time this season in a thrilling 90 minutes at Firhill.
For the neutral, it was a fantastic spectacle on a bitterly cold and wet afternoon but that was of scant consolation to the Inverness boss whose side now trail the Arabs by 13 points.
John Robertson said: “I’m disappointed with the scoreline. I felt we were the better side in the first half. Thistle’s first goal was a terrific ball through and a really good finish but we felt hard-done by.
“We rallied and got the equaliser, and I felt we were getting on top again but the second goal was a real blow. It was a nothing ball in the box, we didn’t react to it and suddenly we were behind again.
“We kept at it but we were caught on the break as at 2-1 it was the perfect game plan for Partick. We finished the game 2-5-3 and in the last 10 minutes it could just as easily have gone 2-2 as 3-1.
“The final goal is irrelevant as we pushed everyone forward but it comes back to the same thing I’ve been saying in recent weeks – you have to be clinical in both boxes and we weren’t.”
Partick started brightly but it was Inverness who created the first real chance of the game as Aaron Doran’s superb diagonal ball sent David Carson clear down the right wing and the midfielder picked out Miles Storey but the former Jags man saw his shot saved by Scott Fox in the home goal.
Partick responded with a Reece Cole free kick which Mark Ridgers did well to tip over and from the resulting corner Steven Saunders saw his header saved by the Inverness goalkeeper.
This game was more like basketball than football as each side took it in turn to race towards the opposition goal and the chances flowed thick and fast in an exciting start.
Ridgers saved from Cole again while Jordan White just failed to direct his header on target for Inverness as both teams committed men forward in search of an opener.
There was a contentious incident in the 35th minute when Inverness striker White went to ground in the box after appearing to be nudged by Partick captain Thomas O’Ware but referee Steven McLean deemed the Caley Jags attacker guilty of simulation and showed the striker a yellow card.
Inverness boss Robertson was less than impressed by the decision and he too found himself being cautioned for his protestations.
The sense of injustice fuelled Inverness and they took control of proceedings before the break.
Fox was called into action at the start of the second half as he dived to his right to palm away Shaun Rooney’s powerful angled drive. But with the visitors threatening to carry on where they left off before the break Partick promptly broke the deadlock when a long ball from Cole sent Alex Jones clear and he fired past Ridgers.
Partick were buoyant after breaking the deadlock but their joy at opening the scoring did not last long as Inverness soon restored parity.
James Keatings got the goal, spectacularly hooking a Doran corner over his shoulder with his back to goal to make it 1-1.
Remarkably, from an opening 45 minutes where neither side could score, a third goal in 16 minutes followed and it was the home side which got it.
It came from another corner with Cole’s delivery reaching Kenny Miller.
His header down sparked bedlam in the penalty area.
But Steven Saunders got the final touch to fire through a crowded six yard box and restore Partick’s lead.
Inverness bombarded Partick in a thrilling finale but as the visitors’ desperation grew in pursuit of an equaliser Partick caught them on the break when substitute Gary Harkins sent Dario Zanatta clear on goal.
Ridgers blocked the ball as Zanatta chased after it but could not hold it and Zanatta coolly slotted home the third from a tight angle to secure the points for McCall’s team.