Former Caley Thistle and Arbroath forward Graham Bayne insists Gayfield should hold no fears for the Highlanders as they prepare for their Premiership play-off second leg there on Friday.
The teams are locked at 0-0 after Tuesday’s first leg, with St Johnstone the most likely finalists waiting for them on May 20 and 23.
Bayne played for Arbroath at the start and end of his playing career and enjoyed four sparkling years in Inverness colours from 2004.
The 42-year-old, who joined ICT from Ross County, starred for the Highlanders during their first stint in the top-flight.
Now the club aim to gain top-level promotion for a third time after dropping back down a level twice, most recently in 2017.
Arbroath, the part-time big-hitters, are riding on the crest of a wave under Dick Campbell and are in confident mood following Tuesday’s result in Inverness.
With Inverness the only Championship side to beat them on their own patch all season, on July 31, the size of the task is clear.
However, ICT have lost just one game in 11, with eight wins throughout their current hot streak.
The Angus club’s remarkable home form in particular will make them many folks’ favourites to progress.
While Bayne knows few grounds offer such challenging conditions at times, he expects Billy Dodds’ team to handle it.
He said: “From experience, you play and learn how to deal with the conditions down there. I remember playing in games where the wind was blowing waves over the wall when Bobby Linn got soaked when he was taking a corner.
“That’s what can happen at Gayfield, but it’s nothing that Caley Thistle won’t expect.
“They’ve played there twice this season and several of their players would have played there in the past.
“It is not a trip into the unknown. The Caledonian Stadium was windy on Tuesday as well, so they’re used to it. That stadium can be a bit of a wind tunnel, too.
“Conditions always play a part in how it affects the pitch or heavy wind or rain during games. They just need to prepare as they always do as it won’t be anything that catches them out.”
Scotland ‘rooting for’ Arbroath
Bayne knows there’s a widespread appetite for Arbroath, the highest-ranked part-timers in Scotland, to complete a stunning promotion to the Premiership and casts them in a role Inverness used to enjoy when they were first a club on the rise.
He said: “There might be a bit of expectancy on Arbroath because of the season they have had. They have really punched above their weight.
🔜 With it all level after last night's first leg, we travel to Gayfield for the second-leg this Friday
🎟️ Tickets for Friday's game available from https://t.co/xba7FwOCyB
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) May 11, 2022
“You can see how good their players are. I like Chris Hamilton. He was outstanding in the first half at Inverness in terms of his attitude and drive – he sums up Arbroath.
“What is unfortunate for Caley Thistle is the whole country is almost rooting for Arbroath, because of their story and all the publicity.
“You know what, Caley Thistle have been in that situation as well where they were steaming through the leagues and people were rooting for them to be their other team, like people are right now for Arbroath.
“They know what it’s like, so they know what to expect. Let’s hope we get a good game.
“It looks like the winners will play St Johnstone in the final, so it’s a really good opportunity.”
All to play for on Friday!
Be there! Let’s get the biggest crowd of the season!https://t.co/sX1sRoFXWG
— Arbroath FC (@ArbroathFC) May 10, 2022
Semi-final on a knife-edge – Bayne
Arbroath perhaps edged the first half on Tuesday, while ICT took over in the second.
Bayne feels one key moment might decide the tie.
He added: “(Arbroath goalkeeper) Derek Gaston had a great save from Austin Samuels after a great ball through from Sean Welsh and we will see whether that makes the difference.
“It looked like the first leg of a play-off on Tuesday – nobody wanted to open up and lose it in the first game.
“It was like they wanted to be in the position to win it in the second leg. I expect Friday will be another tight affair and hopefully someone produces quality to make a difference.”