Caley Thistle’s 100% start to the season is over but they remain undefeated following their stalemate against Dunfermline.
Despite the blank scoreline there was no shortage of goalmouth action at both ends, however, neither side could find a way through.
Inverness had to withstand some late pressure against their bottom-of-the-table opponents, but held firm to rack up a fifth clean sheet from their opening six games.
The draw is enough to keep Billy Dodds’ men top of the Championship, however the lead was narrowed to just a point following Kilmarnock’s 2-0 victory over Partick Thistle.
There was a stark contrast in the mood of the two camps ahead of kick-off, with pressure increasingly growing on Dunfermline boss Peter Grant, whose side had taken just a solitary point from the opening five games.
The Fifers looked galvanised ahead of the visit of the league leader, however, and they spurned a glorious opportunity to take the lead on just four minutes when Vytas Gaspuitus got his head on a Josh Edwards corner, but glanced his effort inches wide of the far post.
Inverness should have applied their first test to the Pars’ goal moments later when Aaron Doran was released down the left before clipping the ball towards Shane Sutherland in the centre, however, his loose touch allowed the home defence to clear.
Former Caley Thistle goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams denied the Highlanders twice in close succession on the quarter hour mark. Firstly showing quick reactions to block Robbie Deas’ effort with his feet following a free-kick, before doing likewise to deny Shane Sutherland’s follow-up from a narrow angle.
A mix-up in the Caley Jags’ defence nearly presented an opening for the Pars on 21 minutes, with Kirk Broadfoot’s clearance landing to Nikolay Todorov who tried to catch Mark Ridgers off his line, however, the goalkeeper was equal to the low effort.
The game continued to flow from end to end, with Manny Duku getting a glimpse of goal from a Sutherland through ball on 25 minutes, but seeing his effort well blocked by Aaron Comrie.
The Highlanders were dealt a blow on 36 minutes when Sutherland was forced off injured, with Billy Mckay brought on to replace him.
The Pars continued to show threat in flashes, with Kai Kennedy unable to get a strike away following a sublime solo run, while at the other end Broadfoot nodded over from a Tom Walsh corner.
Doran followed Sutherland in going off at half-time, with Cameron Harper introduced in his place. The Fifers enjoyed a promising spell at the start of the second half in which Inverness were pinned back, however, Ridgers’ goal remained untroubled.
Inverness looked to carry their own threat, with Duku nodding over from a deep Deas delivery on 61 minutes.
The Highlanders upped their threat and twice came close on 70 minutes, with Harper’s cross picking out Walsh, who saw a first-time volley deflected inches wide.
Following the resulting corner, Deas teed up Mckay, who whistled a rising strike just past Fon Williams’ post on the turn.
The Pars’ big chance arrived on 76 minutes when Craig Wighton’s cross picked out the head of Todorov with a clear sight of goal, but Ridgers did well to block the former Caley Jags striker’s effort before clutching the ball at the second attempt.
The latter stages brought more goalmouth action at both ends, with Walsh’s free-kick nodded wide by Broadfoot with three minutes remaining.
It was the Pars who came closest to finding a winner, however, with Wighton played through on goal but seeing his effort beaten away by the impressive Ridgers.
DUNFERMLINE (4-2-3-1) – Fon Williams 6; Comrie 7, Watson 7, Gaspuitis 6, Edwards 6; Pybus 5 (Thomas 68), Dorrans 5; Dow 6, O’Hara 5 (Wighton 46), Kennedy 7; Todorov 5 (Cole 83). Subs not used – Mehmet, MacDonald, Allan, Jones.
CALEY THISTLE (4-4-1-1) – Ridgers 7; Carson 7, Broadfoot 6, Devine 7, Deas 6; Doran 5 (Harper 46), MacGregor 6, Allardice 6, Walsh 7; Sutherland 4 (Mckay 36); Duku 6 (Welsh 71). Subs not used – Mackay, Duffy, Harper, Jamieson, McAlear.
Referee – David Munro 5
Attendance – 3,158
Man of the match: David Carson