Caley Thistle claimed a creditable 1-1 draw at Queen of the South to maintain an excellent late season run at Palmerston Park.
The Highland club continued their revival under interim manager Neil McCann as Nikolay Todorov cancelled out Aidan Fitzpatrick’s second half strike to extend Caley Jags’ unbeaten run to eight games.
The Bulgarian attacker claimed his 10th goal of the campaign and fifth in four games to ensure the Highland club remain in Championship play-off contention.
McCann saw no need to tinker with his team after a thumping 4-1 win at Morton and named exactly the same starting line-up.
On-loan Hibs attacking midfielder Scott Allan immediately showed his composure and began to orchestrate every Inverness attack.
First, he rifled in an effort after a swift counter from Miles Storey on the left, but Queen of the South goalkeeper Rohan Ferguson collected easily after just two minutes.
Then Allan volleyed off target as the Doonhamers defence seemed intent on presenting the 29-year-old with the ball in dangerous positions.
In between, Doonhammers forward Connor Shields tested Mark Ridgers in the Inverness goal with a well struck shot in an opening which promised much.
A sluggish period of inactivity offered nothing until Caley Thistle midfielder Roddy MacGregor was issued a yellow card for a late challenge on Dapo Mebude on 26 minutes.
Inverness had Ridgers to thank for keeping the score blank as he made a superb diving save to his right to deny Queen of the South central defender Rhys Breen from Rhys McCabe’s free-kick just a minute later.
Ridgers watched carefully before gathering a tame effort from Queen of the South midfielder Isaiah Jones before Caley Jags broke swiftly and created a decent opportunity.
Winger Daniel MacKay swung in from the right flank and Allan connected, yet his header fell straight into Ferguson’s arms.
Inverness finished the half stronger, Storey cutting in from the left and curling goal bound only for Ferguson to powerfully punch clear.
Caley Jags also had a penalty claim when Willie Gibson looked to have blocked Todorov’s header with his arm but referee Grant Irvine was unconvinced.
Queen of the South edged the early stages of the second period, McCabe testing Ridgers with a low, searching shot six minutes after the break.
McCann cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines and replaced Roddy MacGregor with James Vincent in midfield.
Storey and MacKay switched flanks and the latter curled into the empty terracing with a right foot shot. Allan then went close after Storey and Vincent both played a part in the build up.
🗣️ Neil McCann gives his thoughts following this afternoon's 1-1 draw with Queen of the South pic.twitter.com/1YwUZiJgES
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) April 10, 2021
The stalemate was broken when Queen of the South substitute Aidan Fitzpatrick raced through to collect Mebude’s through ball and sweep beyond Ridgers on 65 minutes.
Yet it only took Caley Thistle two minutes to respond. Storey sent in a deep cross from the right and Todorov rose to nod past Ferguson from close range at the back post.
Storey continued to threaten and was denied by Ferguson after driving in a powerful low effort.
In an end to end finale the Caley Jags probed for a winner but replacement Shane Sutherland could not direct his shot past Ferguson after a great run and cross from Storey.
The point gained could prove invaluable with just three games of the campaign – at home against Dundee and Ayr and away at Hearts – remaining.