Billy Dodds labelled defender Danny Devine’s red card one of the worst decisions he’s seen in the game.
The Inverness head coach was stunned by referee Willie Collum sending off the Northern Irishman for what he deemed to be a last-man challenge on Arbroath’s Jack Hamilton.
It was a moment widely criticised at the time and since, but ICT, who also had Wallace Duffy sent off in that play-off quarter-final, made it through on penalties.
They host St Johnstone in the first leg of the final on Friday before heading to Perth for its conclusion on Monday.
However, adding salt to the wounds, the Scottish FA backed this weekend’s cup final whistler Collum and threw out Caley Thistle’s appeal on Wednesday, meaning Devine sits out the home clash.
Failed appeal was shock for Dodds
Former Scotland, Aberdeen and Rangers striker Dodds has been in the sport for decades, but this latest incident was a new low as far as he’s concerned.
He said: “We haven’t been helped by the red cards. I was speechless and you could have knocked me over with a feather.
“I’m disgusted with the decision and it was one of the worst I have ever seen.
“The Scottish FA said that Danny was denying a clear and obvious opportunity. Yes, there was some contact, but the ball is two thirds of the way through its journey to (goalkeeper) Mark Ridgers.
“There’s no way anyone can look at it and say Jack Hamilton is definitely getting the ball and scoring.
“We are where we are and we have to be ready for it.”
Knee injury puts Sutherland out
As well as missing Devine, they will be without injured trio Roddy MacGregor, Tom Walsh and Shane Sutherland.
Striker Sutherland crashed to the floor deep into the second leg at Arbroath and he faces months on the sidelines with a serious knee injury.
Dodds backs the 12-goal forward to bounce back from this hammer-blow.
He said: “It’s a cruciate ligament injury. Shane had one before on his other knee, so he knows how to recover from it.
“He knows he has a long road ahead but he is in a good place mentally to do it.
“Shane is a fit lad and hopefully we will have him back sooner rather than later.”
Five out – but Dodds remains calm
With Duffy missing through suspension, it means five players are watching on and the Inverness boss feels for the group, but backs their replacements to step up against the Saints.
He added: “I’m gutted for all the boys who are missing it.
“Roddy MacGregor has been a huge player for us and we miss his energy. Tom Walsh was coming onto a game.
“I’m gutted for Shane but he’s a strong-minded boy and it would stand him in good stead.
“I would have liked him in the team and to lose him is a big blow.
“We have players who can come in and make the difference and get us where we want to be.
“You can say to the players about doing it for the boys who are missing out.
“They have slaved their guts out and picked up injuries and been big players.
“There would be nothing better than to get to the Premiership and that’s what we want.”
Players closing in on new contracts
Dodds, meanwhile, insists behind the scenes he has been having crunch talks with his promotion-hunting players.
After the dust settles on the final on Monday, news should emerge as to who is staying and going.
He added: “We have spoken to a few players we want to keep and negotiations are ongoing.
“It’s good to know what league you will be playing in but I’m sure the boys won’t mind waiting a few days.
“It would be more beneficial to them to be in the Premiership.
“We have made up our mind on the players.”