Caley Thistle head coach Billy Dodds wants his players to prepare for a determined Partick Thistle to come flying at them on Friday night.
After his Highlanders struck back from a goal down to win 2-1 against the Glasgow Jags in the Premiership play-off quarter-final first leg, it boils down to what happens in Friday’s part two.
Dodds was thrilled to see Austin Samuels hit the winner late on after Shane Sutherland cancelled out a second half opener from Robbie Crawford in this fourth v third showdown in Glasgow.
He said: “It is only half-time. We want the players to focus and realise what is at stake. We have to have the same effort and not give away cheap goals.
“Thistle will come and have a go. I would in the same situation. It is a big result for us and we just need to ensure we focus.
“Hopefully we can catch them and get the tie killed off. It is a great result for us.
“We have been coming back like this in big games, such as when we were 2-1 down at Raith Rovers and won 3-2 with a few minutes to go.
“My players have character, desire and determination – all you need in football – to turn it around. I believed in them and in the first half we pretty much matched one another up.”
Young Lewis Hyde replaced winger Tom Walsh, but was sacrificed after Partick took the lead. His replacement was Samuels, who got the winner.
Dodds insists they had to go for broke to try and turn the tie.
He added: “When they got the goal, we had a little switch and went 4-4-2 and it paid off.
“I thought it was an even game. We had spells, but so did Thistle. We pushed them back once we equalised.
“We perhaps shaded the second half and were the team looking the most likely to win, but it was an even, hard-fought game. Plenty to play for.”
Dodds confirmed a knee knock put paid to Walsh’s night in less than 20 minutes when he broke into the box.
He added: “Tom Walsh is going for a scan and it’s not looking great. We will assess him and see how he is. He says someone kicked through the back of him when he went to get the ball.
“He thought it was a penalty and Logan Chalmers had one where it could have been a stonewall penalty as well. Logan has to go down, but he stayed up and you don’t get it. No complaints as the ref was fine tonight.”
Kick-off in Friday’s return leg at the Caledonian Stadium is 7.45pm, with league runners-up Arbroath facing the winners next Tuesday and Friday, with Gayfield the latter venue.