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Livingston 0-3 Caley Thistle – The Verdict: Player ratings, talking points and star man as ICT stun Premiership Lions

Scottish Cup quarter-finals await for Caley Thistle.

Billy Mckay celebrates after firing ICT in front at Livingston. Images: Paul Devlin/SNS Group
Billy Mckay celebrates after firing ICT in front at Livingston. Images: Paul Devlin/SNS Group

Caley Thistle made the most of their second chance in the Scottish Cup by shocking Premiership hosts Livingston 3-0 to advance to the quarter-finals.

The Inverness side, who harbour hopes of promotion from this season’s Championship, were handed a fifth-round spot at the expense of Queen’s Park, who fielded an ineligible player in their recent 2-0 win in the Highlands.

However, David Martindale’s Lions are roaring right now, sitting fourth in the Premiership and have come on leaps and bounds since ICT won 2-1 here in the League Cup group stages last July.

ICT were five matches unbeaten against Livi, whose last victory over the north side came in September 2017 in the Championship. That run was not expected to extend beyond this weekend.

Inverness started well, with early link-ups involving Billy Mckay and Daniel MacKay leading to a corner, from which Nathan Shaw’s deflected shot was gathered by goalkeeper Shamal George.

Caley Thistle’s Cammy Harper and Livingston’s Steven Bradley. Image: Paul Devlin/SNS Group

Caley Jags number one Mark Ridgers was called into action on 12 minutes when he beat clear a stinging free-kick from Steven Bradley. From the follow-up corner, Ayo Obileye sliced a shot over the top.

Livingston were forced into a change when ex-Aberdeen striker Bruce Anderson’s injury saw him go off, replaced by Cristian Montano.

Daniel MacKay will feel he should have done better when Shaw, who robbed Jason Holt of the ball, picked him out in the box, but he guided a shot wide, with Billy Mckay well positioned in the box on 34 minutes.

The moment which mattered most came seven minutes into the second half and it stemmed from a terrific looped ball sent in from Henderson for Mckay, who guided an unstoppable drive high into the net out of the reach of George.

He sent the away bench wild and Mckay ran to celebrate with the jubilant Inverness fans.

Billy McKay crashes home the opener for Caley Thistle.

On 62 minutes, ICT moved closer to the last eight with another goal. This time, from a swift counter-attack.

Shaw sent in a terrific cross into the box and Sean Welsh got just enough on his header to see it go in off the post to make it 2-0.

The icing on the cake came with 10 minutes left when Mckay picked up play on the right, advanced towards the box and rifled a wonderful shot past George.

The party began while the home fans left in big numbers.

Ridgers ensured tInverness were not breached late on as he superbly kept out a header from Obileye.

Talking points

Deas return was shock and lift for ICT fans

News of defender Robbie Deas making it into the matchday squad stirred early interest in this tie as he was on the pitch with the squad on arrival.

The 22-year-old highly-rated centre-half was expected to miss the rest of the reason after breaking his leg in a 1-1 draw he scored in against Raith Rovers in October. 

Deas didn’t come on, but the fact he was on the bench was a pre-match boost.

Roddy MacGregor, who is himself making his way back from injury, was also part of the visitors’ travelling party, lending his support. Could this indicate a return for the talented midfielder soon, too?

Robbie Deas was a substitute for Inverness at Livi. He broke his leg against Raith Rovers last October, so this was a surprise return for the defender, who was tipped to sit out most of the season.

First half hesitation changed in some style after break

Caley Thistle were lively from the off and were finding joy mainly on the left flank as Billy Mckay swept Shaw or Daniel MacKay into action.

However, just a wee bit of accuracy or hesitation against their top-level opponents saw a chance whipped away or wasted.

At times, it felt as if Livingston were let off the hook after fine build-ups offered so much.

However, Mckay, January’s Championship player of the month, led by example in the second half with his deadly double and Welsh’s goal put ICT on track for victory.

Wins like this gave taste of what can follow for ICT

That’s twice Inverness have won at a Livingston side showing real quality in the Premiership this season.

Last term, Caley Thistle held St Johnstone for three out of four halves before running out of steam in the Premiership play-off final.

A cup quarter-final now lies in store and a potential shot at a big gun, but this win in West Lothian could also act as a spur to drive Caley Thistle into the lethal form they need to push for promotion.

Right now, ahead of two successive games against Hamilton, they sit two points outside the promotion play-off places in the Championship.

Livingston’s Jason Holt competes with Inverness midfielder Euan Henderson.

Talking tactics

Inverness made two changes from the side who shared four league goals against Morton last week. 

Captain Sean Welsh was fit again, so back in the heart of the midfield, while Nathan Shaw was handed a starting jersey, with Zak Delaney and Aaron Doran dropping to the bench.

Billy Dodds set his side up in their usual 4-4-1-1 formation, with Shaw a threat on the left side and on-loan St Mirren midfielder Jay Henderson doing likewise on the right. Shaw did, however, on occasion switch over the to right to keep their opponents on their toes.

Sean Welsh (right) celebrates after heading ICT 2-0 in front at Livingston.

Referee watch

Don Robertson’s decision not to caution Billy Mckay for a clash with substitute Cristian Montano irked home manager David Martindale, who took his argument to the fourth official. A booking for Nicky Devlin for clashing with Sean Welsh was also hotly disputed.

Player ratings

LIVINGSTON (4-2-3-1): George 6, Devlin 6, Fitzwater 6, Obileye 6, Penrice 6 (Shinnie 58), Holt 6, Pittman 6 (Bahamboula 58), Stephen Kelly 6, Bradley 6 (Guthrie 46), Nouble 7, Anderson 3 (Montano 13).

Subs not used: Hamilton (GK), de Lucas, Longridge, Omeonga, Sean Kelly.

CALEY THISTLE (4-4-1-1): Ridgers 6, Duffy 6, Harper 6, Welsh 6, Devine 7, Carson 6, Billy Mckay 8 (Doran 88), Daniel MacKay 6 (Boyd 88), Allardice 7, Henderson 6 (Delaney 82), Shaw 6 (Hyde 85).

Subs not used: Cammy MacKay (GK), Deas, Strachan.

Star man

Billy Mckay: A brilliant brace for ICT’s lethal finisher. He was at the heart of all Livi’s problems and his finishing makes Inverness a team to be feared right now. He is now just six goals away from the 101 club record set by Dennis Wyness.