Billy Dodds had mixed feelings after seeing his Caley Thistle side hit back against 10 men to snatch a 1-1 draw at Raith Rovers.
With the scores locked at 0-0 in this second v first Championship tussle, Rovers midfielder Ross Matthews was sent off for a reckless foul on Billy Mckay, a decision which angered the hosts.
A fine strike from Aidan Connolly put Rovers ahead in the second half, but ICT captain Sean Welsh levelled with 11 minutes left to secure a point.
It means the Highlanders are now three points clear of Kilmarnock. Had Rovers won, they would have moved second and to within two points of the Caley Jags.
‘Soft goal’ let Rovers get ahead
Head coach Dodds felt his team didn’t make the best of playing the second half with a one-man advantage.
He said: “Before the game, this would have been a decent result. During the game, I’m a wee bit disappointed.
“I’m not angry, but we lost a soft goal. I know every manager will look at goals they concede, but we want width when they are down to 10 men, but they nicked the ball, break on us and scored.
“When then needed to show the (right) mentality. There were stages of the game where I was disappointed we didn’t take three points, but afterwards, I’d say a draw is a fair result because we showed that mental strength. Had we scored first, I thought we would have won the game.
“I told the players at half-time not to force it and play with width. Make the pitch big and don’t switch off. We controlled it, as we should, against 10 men, but we lost a soft goal. It was an opportunity missed against 10 men.”
Dodds was in no doubt Matthews deserved to walk for his foul on Mckay.
He added: “I thought it was a red card. I know the Raith fans were giving the referee (Colin Steven) a bit of a hard time, but I was 15-20 yards from it and I thought it was red at the time and again when I watched it back on the video. It was an out-of-control high tackle. I don’t think there can be any complaints.”
McGlynn proud of battling Rovers
Rovers manager John McGlynn, who had yet to have a detailed look at the red card when he spoke to the press, said: “Credit to the players for their work-rate, their spirit and their organisation for making themselves hard to beat, yet at the same time have a threat going forward.
“Dario (Zanatta) has done magnificently well for the goal and it was a great finish from Aidan Connolly. Dario had a long way to go to get to the byline and cut it back for Aidan to get there and finish it.
“We were very disciplined, but their goal was very similar to ours in that Michael Gardyne got to the byline, but I don’t think the ball was meant for Sean Welsh. There might have been a misplaced pass and it found its way to him and he has the whole goal to shoot at.
“All in all, playing almost 50 minutes with 10 men against the league leaders then you have to be happy with a point, even though Dario had a really good chance towards the end which would have been the icing on the cake for us.”
Of Matthews’ sending off, he added: “I have only seen it from a wide angle, which means you’re not getting a close-up.
“From what I could see, it looked like an honest attempt to play the ball, but I will be having a closer angle before deciding whether to appeal it.”
ICT host Arbroath in the league this Tuesday, while Raith Rovers face local rivals Dunfermline Athletic.