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Caley Thistle stars dug deep for injured trio, says head coach Billy Dodds after play-off semi-final triumph

Inverness manager Billy Dodds celebrates after the penalty shoot-out win at Arbroath.
Inverness manager Billy Dodds celebrates after the penalty shoot-out win at Arbroath.

Shell-shocked boss Billy Dodds insists Caley Thistle’s heroic Premiership play-off triumph at Arbroath was for a trio of injured stars.

With the second leg of the semi-final at Gayfield set at 0-0 between the Championship’s second and third-placed finishers, the game changed from midway through the second half.

Referee Willie Collum sent off defender Danny Devine for a hotly-debated last-man challenge.

Late on, ICT striker Shane Sutherland was stretchered off with a leg injury, but – having stopped the match three times already to make subs –  Inverness had to hope they’d reach extra-time to replace him.

They were down to nine men before defender Kirk Broadfoot needed treatment on the sidelines, too, taking them down to eight.

Somehow, they made it it extra-time and Lewis Hyde replaced Sutherland, but more drama followed when full-back Wallace Duffy was sent off for a second bookable offence, again causing anger in the away ranks.

Justice was seen to be done as a heroic effort from ICT saw them go all the way to penalties and win 5-3, with Broadfoot netting the decider.

Caley Thistle head coach Billy Dodds celebrates with the ICT fans.

That sets up Caley Thistle against the Premiership’s 11th-placed finishers St Johnstone, with the first leg of the final on Friday and the return in Perth next Monday.

Head coach Dodds explained the triumph was for sidelined duo Roddy MacGregor and Tom Walsh, and Sutherland, who looked in pain after appearing to hurt his knee while running.

Dodds said: “Shane’s injury looks a bad one.

“I’m delighted we’ve done it for Roddy, Tom and Shane. It was an incredible win through all sorts of adversities.

“I have never come through a game like that. My players felt it – they felt hard done by.

“If you want to win a game and do it the hard way, you come to Arbroath in front of 5,000 and go down to eight men at one stage and still win. I don’t have any more words to describe my pride for them.”

‘Blockbuster’ lies in store for final

Dodds, who didn’t want to talk about ref Collum after the dust settled on Friday, is now ready for a shot at Saints as they target a return to the top-flight after five years out of it.

He added: “If Friday is not going to set us up for a blockbuster, I don’t know what is.

“We have momentum and we have spirit, desire and quality to be a major threat.”

Loss hurts Arbroath boss Campbell

Arbroath manager Dick Campbell, meanwhile, felt raw after losing out in the way they did and felt his part-time stars, who were Championship runners-up, deserved to be facing St Johnstone.

He said: “Statistically, we were so far ahead of Inverness. Inverness only had one shot in the first half.

“They defended resolutely. They threw themselves at everything. But I have no complaints. To play 120 minutes at home and not score a goal, I have no complaints.

Arbroath boss Dick Campbell led his part-time aces to second spot in the Championship.

“We had 600 passes. They had 350. But that means nothing to me. We did not score any goals. That is what matters.

“I would never slag my players. We went about our job right.

“I thought they deserved to be in the play-off final. They will be pig sick. I can’t believe we were beat.

“Penalty kicks is fine, but I can’t believe it went to penalty kicks.”

Campbell gutted for legend Linn

Arbroath legend Bobby Linn’s spot-kick was saved by Mark Ridgers in the shoot-out before Kirk Broadfoot sealed the win for ICT. That added to the agony for Campbell.

He added: “Inverness got every break. But they threw themselves in front of everything.

“But the saddest thing in football is penalty kicks. And of course the man to miss it, Bobby Linn – it’s quite ironic it is his testimonial season.

“But he will come back – 37 and he will come back. There is no one with more enthusiasm for the game than him out there.

“I am gutted for everyone connected to the club, but also very proud.”

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