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Duncan Ferguson hails Caley Thistle’s vital Hampden win over relegation rivals Queen’s Park

Cammy Harper's winner for ICT in Glasgow nets three key points as they move out of the Championship drop zone.

Cammy Harper celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0 for Inverness at Hampden against Queen's Park.
Cammy Harper celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0 for Inverness at Hampden against Queen's Park. Image: Paul Byars/SNS Group

Caley Thistle boss Duncan Ferguson warns there’s still plenty to do to escape relegation – but insists beating Queen’s Park 1-0 was a “massive” result.

Cammy Harper’s inch-perfect free-kick goal in the first half made all the difference with a result which sees the Spiders slip to ninth, with ICT overtaking them by two points with three Championship games to go.

Ferguson’s men are now only three points behind Morton, who slid to seventh spot on the back of their defeat by Dundee United on Friday and Ayr United’s 5-0 rout of relegated Arbroath.

The Caley Thistle manager said: “It’s massive to be out of the relegation play-off place. Had we lost, we’d be four points behind Queen’s Park and that would have been a mountain to climb. We’ve got out of it just now and we’re two points ahead of them.

“We cannot sit on that. It’s only two points. It is only one game. If we lose and they win, they’re back in front. Losing this would have been an uphill struggle for us.”

Caley Thistle fans roar their side on at Hampden. Image: Paul Byars/SNS Group

Manager thrilled by ICT’s display

Ferguson felt some of the play was pleasing, but the outcome mattered the most.

He added: “To pick up three points was the main thing, although I felt we played really well also. At this stage of the season, we needed points.

“That’s two back-to-back wins for the first time this season. It was brilliant to win it.

“We find it difficult at times on poor pitches, but today we had a really good pitch. You could see how good we can be on the ball.

“In the first half in particular, we were the better team. In the second half, Queen’s Park pushed us a wee bit harder, but overall we were worthy winners.

“It was a great free-kick from Cammy. We had another free-kick taken by the other Cammy (Kerr) and he didn’t do so well, so Cammy Harper did a bit better.”

Beating Arbroath set this one up

ICT gave themselves a shot in the arm last week thanks to their 2-1 home win over League One-bound Arbroath.

Queen’s, meanwhile, were on the end of a 5-0 home defeat against title favourites Dundee United.

Caley Jags striker Billy Mckay. Image: Paul Byars/SNS Group

Defenders James Carragher and Remi Savage missed out for ICT due to a hamstring injury and concussion rules respectively, while on-loan Livingston midfielder Samson Lawal dropped to the bench.

Into the line-up came Danny Devine, Luis Longstaff and Aaron Doran as they retained their usual 3-5-2 shape.

Cammy Kerr, a natural right-back on loan from Dundee, has been playing in central midfield of late, but he was wide right, with Longstaff and Doran in the middle beside Max Anderson and Cammy Harper.

Harper goal from debated set-piece

A superb passing move from the visitors in the 10th minute was a joy to watch as they worked their way towards the box. The move ended when Billy Mckay was tripped by Jack Turner and Kerr flashed the free-kick over the top from 20 yards.

The opener came on 25 minutes in some style, but with debate attached. A Doran shot was adjudged to have struck Carse on the hand and a free-kick was given by referee Alan Muir.

From 25 yards, after Doran threatened to strike, up stepped Harper and he guided the ball into the top-right corner. What a vital moment in this clash.

Cammy Harper’s free-kick gave ICT the lead against Queen’s Park. Image: Paul Byars/SNS Group

Danny Wilson headed wide for the hosts a few minutes later as they pressed for a swift equaliser.

Yet, it was almost 2-0 on 37 minutes when Boyes’ clipped free-kick was nodded on by Alex Samuel for Mckay, who put too much height on the ball to test Calum Ferrie.

ICT stood firm after hosts threaten

Queen’s Park came out with a sense more urgency after the break, with goalkeeper Mark Ridgers saving shots from Sheridan and Jack Turner, and Sean Welsh heading an effort past the right post.

Some of the quality of passing from ICT continued to impress, while the Hampden faithful were anything but as their players struggled at times to get close enough to grasp control of play.

It suited Inverness, but you felt they might need a killer second.

Duffy came to the rescue for the Caley Jags on 75 minutes when his vital block prevented Queen’s 16-goal frontman Ruari Paton’s shot hitting the target.

Ferrie kept Billy Mckay out with 11 minutes to go after Samuel’s perfect pass put him through. For the second time, the club’s record scorer was frustrated in front of goal.

A stoppage-time chance for Paton was saved by Ridgers and the full-time whistle was greeted by a loud cheers from the elated Caley Jags fans in the Hampden sunshine amid the chills.

It’s Friday football for Inverness this week as Raith Rovers, the expected runners-up to Dundee United, visit the Caledonian Stadium.

Queen’s Park are away to mid-table Dunfermline Athletic on Saturday, while Morton head for Arbroath.

Queen’s Park’s Will Tizzard (left) and Inverness winger Luis Longstaff. Image: Paul Byars/SNS Group

Player ratings

QUEEN’S PARK (3-5-2): Ferrie 6, Thomson 6, Wilson 6, Tizzard 5 (Robson 46), Longridge 6, Turner 5 (Mauchin 74), Welsh 6, Carse 5 (McKinstry 46), Scott 6 (Williamson 84), Paton 6, Sheridan 5 (McLeish 74).

Subs not used: Wills (GK), Robson, Bannon, Fox, Bruce, McKinstry.

CALEY THISTLE (3-5-2): Ridgers 6, Duffy 6, Devine 6, Boyes 6, Longstaff 6 (Lawal 55), Kerr 7, Anderson 6, Doran 7 (MacGregor 77), Harper 7, Billy Mckay 6 (Pepple 80), Samuel 7.

Subs not used: Cammy Mackay (GK), Samuels, Brooks, Ujdur.

Referee: Alan Muir.

Attendance: 1,463.

Man of the match: Aaron Doran.