Caley Thistle failed to break into the top-six despite claiming a fully deserved 2-0 victory against bottom-placed Dundee United.
A goal in each half from Miles Storey and Iain Vigurs secured the points for Inverness, but Ross County’s victory against Partick Thistle means John Hughes’ side must settle for a place in the bottom half.
Hughes made one change from the side that was suffered a last-gasp defeat at Motherwell the previous weekend, with midfielder Greg Tansey returning from suspension, replacing Liam Hughes.
United were desperate for the points to claw back ground on second-bottom Kilmarnock, with manager Mixu Paatelainen keeping faith with the side that was defeated 1-0 by Partick Thistle on Tuesday.
United created early pressure, with Owain Fon Williams forced to make a low diving save to beat away Guy Demel’s free-kick, but Inverness increasingly grew into the game. Storey spurned a glorious chance, when Iain Vigurs’ quick free-kick picked him out totally unmarked, but his strike was saved by Eiji Kawashima, but Caley Jags’ leading scorer was not to be denied just moments later, when he tapped home from Ross Draper’s delivery to give his side the lead.
The goal settled Inverness and they should have added to their lead, with Greg Tansey’s low shot and Gary Warren’s near post header both cut out by Kawashima, before Storey blazed over after being played through by Tansey’s threaded pass.
Fon Williams came to his side’s rescue shortly after the break, making a fine palmed save from Demel’s strike, and the visitors made United pay with a second goal on 50 minutes. Tansey’s corner was only partially cleared, landing with Iain Vigurs at the edge of the box, to drill home his eighth goal of the season and give Caley Jags some breathing space.
Fon Williams prevented United pulling one back, making a fantastic close-range save to deny Kyle Knoyle’s low effort, while Vigurs was close to a second with a looping long-range strike that was tipped over by Kawashima, as Caley Jags held on for the points.