The Highland derby on Friday highlighted the respective moods within the Caley Thistle and Ross County camps.
The Staggies haven’t looked so poor for a while, but that was due to how well Caley Thistle played. They were fantastic in the second half and it was the best performance I’ve seen from them this season.
The progression of Daniel MacKay, who scored the second goal for Neil McCann’s side, sums up Caley Thistle’s season.
He looked nervous at the start of the campaign, but his improvement has been steady and he was a player running at opponents with his head up and chest puffed out on Friday.
The Scottish Cup win feels like a big moment for Inverness. Momentum is clearly with them and I believe they are going to make the play-offs. They have come through a sticky patch and are now the form team in the Championship.
My only disappointment is the number of silly points dropped due to draws from earlier in the season.
Hearts are going to win the league – but only because other clubs haven’t laid a glove on them.
The Jambos are limping over the finish line believing the job is done. In all likelihood it is as the title is within their grasp now, but I would have loved to have seen a team really put some pressure on them.
Caley Thistle could have been that side, but the play-offs are now their focus and they look to be clicking into gear when it matters most.
In Scott Allan, they have got a fantastic matchwinner, a player who is capable of seeing and making that key pass in the final third and someone who could turn out to be their key man in the final weeks of the season.
He has impressed me already and it’s encouraging to see a player come north on loan and really look to knuckle down, improve his fitness and make his time at the Caledonian Stadium a successful one for all concerned.
While it’s all looking rosy at the Highlanders, across the Kessock Bridge I hope Friday’s 3-1 defeat serves as a wake-up call for the Staggies.
I would imagine it was a scary night for County boss John Hughes and he will be spending this week rallying his players for the final five games of the season.
Forget Hampden, the next five matches are those clichéd cup finals for County – and the first one is a vital one at Kilmarnock.
County edged Killie 3-2 in a thriller a few weeks ago, but Tommy Wright’s side seem to be finding some form largely thanks to an excellent return from recent signing Kyle Lafferty.
This weekend’s encounter at Rugby Park has huge significance. Win it and County move four points clear of Killie and potentially five clear of Hamilton Accies. Lose it and they could be bottom of the Premiership depending on how Accies do at St Mirren.
It is shaping up to be a rollercoaster finish for both Highland clubs.
Weight lifted as Dons reach last-16
They remain far from a well-oiled machine, but Aberdeen looked much better in their Scottish Cup win at Dumbarton on Saturday.
Callum Hendry came off the bench to score the goal which sent the Dons through to the last-16 of the competition, but – unlike previous weeks – the Dons struggled to score goals due to the efforts of the Sons goalkeeper Sam Ramsbottom, who made some outstanding saves.
Aberdeen still need to improve their return in front of goal, but Hendry’s vital strike will hopefully feel as if a huge weight has been lifted for the Dons.
Paul Sheerin will be delighted to be handing over the reins to new boss Stephen Glass next week, but he will want to do so on a high by leading the team to victory against St Johnstone this weekend.
Hibs are firmly in control of the race for third spot, but a win in Perth on Saturday could give the Dons hope of catching Jack Ross’s side.
Brora unable to repeat cup heroics
My second cup-tie of the weekend was at Dudgeon Park, where Brora could not quite hit the heights of their display which toppled Hearts as they exited the competition following their extra-time defeat by Stranraer.
Stranraer were the better side in the second half and they deserved their equaliser, but I’m sure Steven MacKay was disappointed to see his side concede a late equaliser when they were so close to another famous win.
Their cup exit leaves Brora waiting for their pyramid play-off against Kelty Hearts. At least Brora have had a couple of games. Kelty‘s last game was against Stranraer on January 9.