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Nine-man Caley Thistle denied unlikely victory against Dundee by late equaliser

Inverness' Scott Allardice is sent off by referee Mike Roncone for a challenge on Charlie Adam.
Inverness' Scott Allardice is sent off by referee Mike Roncone for a challenge on Charlie Adam.

A quite extraordinary, rollercoaster finish saw nine-man Caley Thistle somehow grab a late lead and then lose it rapidly as a dramatic Championship scrap for the play-offs against Dundee ended 1-1.

Red cards for Inverness pair Scott Allardice and Brad Mckay in 64 and 79 minutes had the hosts on the rack and seemed to point to certain Dundee victory.

With remarkable grit, though, the hosts not only dug deep but saw Daniel MacKay race through to fire them ahead with six minutes left.

Numbers told as Lee Ashcroft’s header soon after levelled, but the Dark Blues’ all out siege couldn’t claim the three points.

The share of the spoils left Dundee still a win short of play-off qualification with matches at home to Raith and away to Queen of the South to come.

Inverness, with Hearts away and A|yr at home, now need favours, but the point was crucial in keeping play-off hopes burning brightly.

The hosts made one change from the team narrowly knocked out of the Scottish Cup away to St Mirren, with Shane Sutherland preferred to Miles Storey in the wide right attacking role.

Inverness’ Shane Sutherland (centre) has a shot saved by Dundee goalkeeper Adam Legzdins.

Despite having dropped four valuable points in their previous two matches, the Dens Park visitors came north still knowing victory in Inverness would seal a Premiership play-off spot with two matches to spare.

The big surprise for Dark Blue followers was the presence of striker Jason Cummings on the substitutes’ list, with Jonathan Afolabi earning a start up front.

Former Scotland midfielder Charlie Adams’ big game experience was also kept in reserve for a fourth match running, although he would enter the fray at half-time.

Neil McCann, facing the club that sacked him in October 2018, had promised Dundee would encounter “a very different beast” in Inverness to the side beaten at Dens Park back in March.

The defensive solidity since fostered of late has been coupled with plenty of attacking menace, but Dundee were first to threaten as Jordan McGhee turned and scooped a 12-yard attempt over the bar.

On 10 minutes, though – with influential Hibs loanee Scott Allan warming up in his distribution – the home side’s Daniel MacKay wriggled free from Ashcroft into the left side of the penalty area.

Inverness’ Scott Allardice (L) speaks to the assistant referee after being sent off for a challenge on Charlie Adam.

Trying his luck from a tight angle, the young winger drew a strong near-post save from keeper Adam Legzdins.

It was a tight, aggressively-contested first half, with the home side holding slightly the upper hand.

Dundee were spared by the offside flag on a couple of occasions as Sutherland twice took off behind the defence a fraction of a second too early.

But David Carson saved the home side by sticking a timely foot in to deflect Danny Mullen’s 15 yard attempt over the bar for a corner inside 22 minutes.

Moments later, Nikolay Todorov controlled a fine Robbie Deas cross adeptly and netted, but was flagged offside.

Immediately after, though, Dundee were creaking again as Sutherland struck from a Todorov lay-off, this time drawing a block from Legzdins.

Past the half hour, the visitors mustered a rare sight of goal, but Afolabi’s attempt from distance bounced harmlessly into home keeper Mark Ridgers’ arms.

Six minutes before the break, Scott Allan’s corner from the right found Todorov flashing a header just wide of the keeper’s right hand post.

Veteran Adam replaced Afolabi at the break, with the Dens men eager to get a grip on the game.

Inverness’ Daniel MacKay (L) makes it 1-0 against Dundee.

Adam immediately began to exert an influence as early second half pressure turned on the hosts.

Ridgers had to grasp a Mullen header, but pressure subsided.

Carson’s run on the right then had Sean Welsh whipping a cross from the right of the box just too high for the lurking Todorov.

An ingenious through pass by Scott Allan after 58 minutes flummoxed Dundee and sent defender Robbie Deas clean through.

Unfortunately for the hosts, it was a defender’s finish as Legzdins stepped out to shut him down.

Caley Thistle remained fragile, though, as another phase of frantic play ended with a deft Adam chip nestling on the roof of the net.

Disaster then struck for the home side and midfielder Scott Allardice after 63 minutes as he went late through Adam and took a straight red to add to his earlier yellow.

Allardice had genuine intent to win the ball, but left referee Mike Roncone with no option.

McCann made a double substitution to blood fresh legs, but Dundee substitute Jason Cummings drew a superby low save by Ridgers as the Tayside team began to press their advantage.

Max Anderson was just on the park when Brad Mckay’s high foot persuaded referee Roncone to flash the evening’s second red after 79 minutes.

A minute later, Dundee thought they were across the line.

Cummings pounced with a close-range header after a brilliant free-kick flicked from Adam was flicked on by Liam Fontaine.

Dundee were celebrating wildly, with the goal apparently given, when referee Roncone ran to his far-side linesman and flagged the goal off – much to the away camp’s fury.

Then came another extraordinary twist, with young Daniel MacKay sent racing through on the home keeper to clip home a neat finish.

Dundee swept up the park from the restart, won a corner, which Adam flung in from the right hand flag to the back of the box.

Dundee’s Lee Ashcroft makes it 1-1 to deny Caley Thistle victory.

There Ashcroft thumped in a header for the equaliser.

Desperate defending ensued as the ball fizzed like pinball around the home box in the closing moments before the last whistle.

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