Promotion-chasing Caley Thistle suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat at Queen of the South – a result which prevented relegation for the hosts, tonight at least.
Josh Todd shot Queens ahead early on before Logan Chalmers rifled home a searing leveller.
Euan East put the Dumfries team ahead once more just before the break, much to the delight of the Palmerston crowd.
The Dumfries side had the best of the second half, but there was no further breakthrough as they scored their first home win in this fixture for 18 years.
Despite the defeat, the Caley Jags remain four points clear of Partick Thistle in third spot, with two matches of the regular season to go before they embark on the play-offs.
The rock-bottom Doonhamers required a win to at least keep their slim survival battle going into Saturday’s clash with ninth-placed Ayr United.
Inverness arrived in Dumfries on the back of a five-game unbeaten run, boosted by their stirring 2-1 comeback victory over leaders Kilmarnock on Friday.
That gutsy display ensured ICT will compete in the play-offs, starting on May 3, most likely against Partick Thistle.
Caley Jags head coach made three changes, with David Carson, Aaron Doran and Joe Hardy coming in for Kirk Broadfoot, Austin Samuels and top scorer Billy Mckay.
Home player/manager Willie Gibson, whose luckless side lost 5-1 at Arbroath on Saturday, made four changes, with Alex Cooper, Harry Cochrane, Josh Todd and Ruben Soares Junior all handed starts.
Todd makes early breakthrough
The Caley Jags were unbeaten against their opponents this season, winning twice and drawing once.
Palmerston has also been a happy hunting ground for them, with their last loss on this venue being 11 games ago in February 2004.
The home fans didn’t have long to wait to see their side take the lead. A cutting-edge break through the middle ended with Soares Junior setting up Todd and he buried the ball past keeper Mark Ridgers.
Darragh O’Connor ensured his side stayed in front moments later with a fine sliding challenge to deny Doran, who prepared to go for goal after Hardy picked him out.
However, it was level on 17 minutes when Chalmers netted his fifth goal in as many games when he steered a shot high into the top-left corner after he beat two defenders to create space. He’s scoring big goals – and attractive ones at that.
It was nip and tuck for a long spell after that until East popped up to lash home a second for Queens after the visitors failed to mop up a Calvin McGrory free-kick into the box.
Strong start to second half by Queens
It was a rousing welcome back on to the pitch for Queen of the South for the second half as their supporters urged them to keep their survival bid alive.
Their players had confidence on the ball, with the scoreline giving them belief they could get the win.
Ridgers came to the rescue for Inverness when he beat Soares Junior to the ball as the striker raced in to meet a cross from Lee Connelly. Appeals for a foul by the goalkeeper were waved clear.
Cameron was next to threaten as his header flashed over the top then ICT captain Sean Welsh intercepted a ball into the box for Soares Junior as they pressed for a third.
On 63 minutes, Dodds pitched Mckay into the action, along with Austin Samuels and Cameron Harper in place of Hardy, Shane Sutherland and Robbie Deas in a bid to salvage a result.
Soon after, Tom Walsh and Roddy MacGregor were introduced for Doran and Welsh, but there was to be no way back for Inverness in a game watched by Partick boss Ian McCall.
ICT defender Danny Devine crashed into the post in the final moments as he cleared a Soares Junior effort off the line as Queens targeted a killer third.
Inverness are on the road again on Saturday when they go to Dougie Imrie’s Morton, who are seventh, while Ayr are Queens’ visitors for a massive match at the bottom.
HOW THEY LINED UP
QUEEN OF THE SOUTH (4-4-2) – Rae 6, O’Connor 6, Cooper 6, Cochrane 6, Todd 7, Connelly 6 (Paton 84), McGrory 6 (Gordon 78), East 6, Cameron 7, Gibson 6, Soares-Junior 6. Subs not used: Cowie (GK), Roy, Debayo, Joseph, McKechnie, Nditi, Folarin.
CALEY THISTLE (4-2-3-1) – Ridgers 6, Duffy 6, Welsh 6 (MacGregor 77), Deas 6 (Harper 63), Devine 6, Carson 6, Doran 6 (Walsh 72), Sutherland 6 (Samuels 63), Chalmers 7, Hardy 6 (Mckay 63), McAlear 6. Subs not used: Mackay (GK), Hyde.
Referee – Matthew MacDermid.
Attendance – 631.
Man of the match – Innes Cameron.