Aaron Doran is adamant Caley Thistle will shrug off their midweek loss at Queen of the South and secure third spot in the Championship in Greenock on Saturday.
The 30-year-old midfielder has been in dazzling form of late, helping Inverness catch fire at the right time, as Billy Dodds’ team racked up a five-game unbeaten run.
That upward surge came to an end unexpectedly on Tuesday when they blew the chance of putting the seal on third place when the division’s basement side scored a 2-1 win to keep their slim survival chances alive.
Third-placed Inverness face Morton at Cappielow on Saturday before hosting Hamilton next Friday to round off their regular season.
Then will come the play-off quarter-final on May 3 and May 6, which looks like being against Partick Thistle, who are four points behind them.
Victory is the only aim for Doran
Doran was gutted by the set-back against Queens as he was determined to help ICT go on an unbeaten run until the end of the season.
The Caley Jags were knocked out of the Scottish Cup on penalties to Morton in December, just a few days before they returned to dish out a 6-1 thumping.
And Doran knows they will have to be at their best to achieve a win against the Ton.
He said: “Morton have picked up a lot since Dougie Imrie has gone in there. It will be another tough game for us.
“We’re going there for the win to secure third place with a game to spare. We’re still confident – we’re a good team.
“We’re looking at the bigger picture now, to try and get back to the Premiership. A few of the lads have played there and it’s a great experience where you play in some massive games.
“That’s where we all want to be next season and we will push as hard as we can to get there, for the team and for our fans.”
Doran vital within recent ICT revival
Doran has played and impressed in the top-flight and is desperate to help the Highlanders get back there next term.
He’s been a key figure lately, setting up a number of goals, including for Billy Mckay against Kilmarnock last week.
He said: “I was a bit disappointed not to have contributed more on Tuesday, but I have been happy with assisting and creating chances recently.
“We’ll regroup and train well and push again on Saturday at Morton.”
Defensive errors led to Queens’ goals
First-half goals from Josh Todd and defender Euan East came either side of a cracking leveller from Logan Chalmers as Queen of the South earned the victory to avoid the drop on Tuesday.
The Doonhamers need wins now against Ayr and Dunfermline to have any chance of pulling off the great escape.
And Dubliner Doran, who joined Inverness under Terry Butcher in 2011, felt ICT’s second-half display let them down.
🗣 Head Coach Billy Dodds gives his thoughts following tonight’s game against Queen of the South https://t.co/1YJIfHsmsY
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) April 19, 2022
He added: “We were disappointed to come in 2-1 down at half-time.
“They started off well and they are fighting for their lives. We expected that. We settled down and scored a good equaliser, but two defensive mistakes cost us.
“In the second half, we were not great and didn’t play the way we did in the first half. We didn’t get the ball down and were all over the place to be honest.
“That’s not what we wanted. We wanted to keep the momentum going towards the play-offs.
“The lads are deflated because we did want to extend our unbeaten run, but we will pick it up on Saturday and try to get the wins we want to take us into the play-offs.
“Personally, I wanted to go down there and get another win.
“You saw last season what happened with Dundee when they got momentum at the end of the season.
“Our second half at Queen of the South wasn’t good enough. We didn’t create enough. All round, we weren’t good enough.”