Interim co-boss John Robertson reckons Caley Thistle’s last-gasp 1-0 defeat at home to Dundee United was a real blow as they prepare to welcome their new manager.
The defeat, which stretched their winless run to 10 matches including nine losses in all competitions, leaves them bottom of the table with one point from their first six outings.
A stoppage-time sucker-punch goal from sub Chris Mochrie sealed the victory for the Taysiders, who moved one point clear of Raith Rovers at the top of the table.
ICT remain rooted to the foot of the table, three points adrift of Morton and five points behind Ayr United.
Eight defeats and one draw going into this clash was the reason head coach Billy Dodds and assistant Barry Wilson were sacked last Sunday.
The decision on who will become their successors is expected next week, with Celtic B coach Darren O’Dea, ex-Celtic captain Scott Brown and Morton’s Dougie Imrie front-runners, with plenty of other contenders keen for the job.
‘Neither team deserved to win’
Robertson, who was in charge with Charlie Christie, admits losing three points after such a strong display was a real blow.
He said: “It was a sickener. We didn’t deserve to lose. A draw would have been there or thereabouts. I don’t think either team did enough.
“When they went down to 10 men, we looked like we’d go on and win it. Unfortunately, we switched off at a set-play. (Goalkeeper) Mark Ridgers did incredibly well to keep the ball out and we didn’t pick up a runner and, a couple of deflections later, it’s in the net.
“Those 10 seconds summed up our season. We were as good, if not better, than Dundee United in large spells.
“Are we troubling their keeper enough? No. Billy Mckay was unlucky with a terrific strike which goes inches past. There were no real clear-cut chances, but we matched them and battled with them, but there is still a lack of belief and confidence in the final third at times.
“It was a double-ricochet and it goes in. It’s five defeats out of six, all by a single goal. In virtually every game, we should have had at least a point from it. We haven’t and that’s what we need to reverse as quickly as we can.”
No difference in class throughout day
Robertson insists the Highlanders must take heart from matching the new leaders until the very end, but he insists the need for a victory at Arbroath next Saturday is clear.
He added: “If you were an independent fan watching this game, you would not know which team was second-top before kick-off and which team was bottom.
“That’s good, but we have to address it quickly as you don’t want to be marooned at the bottom of the league for any length of time.”
The headline ICT team news was a debut for Australian defender Nikola Ujdur, who took his place in central defence alongside on-loan Livingston player Morgan Boyes. Danny Devine dropped out of the squad.
The other change from last week’s 1-0 loss to Raith Rovers was midfielder Aaron Doran coming in for young Robbie Thompson. Doran scored the last twice ICT had beaten the Tangerines.
United, unbeaten on their last five visits to the Caledonian Stadium, had racked up eight successive results without a loss. In the head-to-heads, United had won the last six meetings between these teams in all competitions.
The first chance fell to the visitors when a slick passing move saw Louis Moult fed Glenn Middleton, who flashed a drive into the side-netting.
At the other end, on-loan Dundee midfielder Max Anderson drew a save from Jack Walton with a powerful shot, then Charlie Gilmour nodded over from the corner.
Visiting keeper Walton had to be alert on 36 minutes as he dived to push clear a low angled shot from Nathan Shaw.
Five minutes before the break, Declan Glass almost broke the deadlock, but he guided his shot on to the outside of the right post.
On the hour, a sweeping move almost brought the opener, but Billy Mckay scooped a shot inches wide after Longstaff cleverly picked him out.
The Taysiders were reduced to 10 men on 69 minutes when Ross County loanee Jordan Tillson was sent off after two bookings inside 10 minutes of coming on, with the second yellow for a foul on Charlie Gilmour.
In the first minute of stoppage-time, United grabbed the points when Ridgers clawed a drive on to the bar before Declan Gallagher teed up Mochrie, who slammed home from close range, with the aid of a deflection. It was the cruellest of luck and ICT didn’t deserve that.
It sparked huge celebrations for Goodwin and his team and despair for the hosts, who could not find a leveller in the remaining few moments.
CALEY THISTLE (4-4-1-1): Ridgers 6, Carson 7, Ajdur 6 (Delaney 78), Boyes 6, Harper 7, Shaw 6 (Bray 90), Anderson 6 (Lodovica 90), Gilmour 6, Doran 6 (Thompson 60), Longstaff 6 (Samuels 60), Billy Mckay 7. Subs not used: Cammy Mackay (GK), Davidson, Hyde, Brooks.
DUNDEE UNITED (4-2-3-1): Walton 7, Grimshaw 6, Gallagher 7, Holt 7, McMann 6, Docherty 6 (Mochrie 80), Glass 7 (Tillson 60), Middleton 7, Sibbald 6, Meekison 6 (Fotheringham 60), Moult 5 (Watt 34). Subs not used: Newman (GK), Denham, Graham, Tillson, Freeman, Watt, Stirton.
Referee: Calum Scott 6.
Man of the match: David Carson.