TOMMY Wright, the St Johnstone manager, revealed he later apologised for a furious rant at the fourth official over captain David Mackay’s red card.
The Northern Irishman re-assessed his instinctive reaction to the flashpoint early in the second half, but still the incident might have been dealt with more leniently by referee Don Robertson.
The decision initially looked harsh on Mackay as the two combatants clattered into a 50-50 challenge, but video later showed Mackay’s leg was straight and raised as he went for ball with Carl Tremarco.
Saints shook off the huge setback to grasp a massive three points when substitute Liam Craig won and scored a penalty in stoppage time.
“I gave the fourth official a lot of stick because I thought it was a poor decision, but having seen it back I’ve gone in and apologised to him,” Wright admitted. “I can see why the referee has given it but I think, with the pace that Dave has gone in, maybe on another day the ref could have given him a yellow.
“But I don’t think we can appeal it because there isn’t enough in there to give us a case.”
Wright was thrilled to end Saints’ poor run of four straight defeats, and six games without a win in Inverness, but admitted the match was dismal.
“In the whole game we worked hard but particularly when going down to ten men. I can’t remember Alan Mannus being under any real pressure,” he said.
“So it was more like us in terms of a defensive performance. Unfortunately it took us going down to ten men to get us going but there was a lot of character in there and a lot of desire to stop the opposition.
“I make no apologies for it but it was a terrible game of football.”
Craig was dropped after defeat by Partick as one of three changes Wright made, but was to play his part at the death.
Home manager John Hughes had nine first-team players missing and only five fit for the bench.
The two teams seemed to cancel each other out with only occasional flickers of invention and guile.
Ryan Christie showed flashes of skill for the hosts and was unlucky with a couple of creative contributions, including a clever pass that had Tremarco in on goal only for Michael O’Halloran to make a saving tackle.
The hosts looked set to benefit on a greater share of possession early in the second half as Mackay clattered through Tremarco for the red card.
But if anything, the Perth visitors gained more attacking threat as the game progressed culminating in the winning moment.
Substitute Craig surged into the home box with two minutes added time played and was brought crashing by Danny Devine.
Craig then made no mistake with a confident spot-kick to move the Saints back into the top half of the table.
The game itself was worse than forgettable.
“It was a lack of concentration in the last couple of minutes,” Inverness manager John Hughes said.
“I felt at 11 v 11 we were well on top and dominated, although I would have liked to create more chances.
“We weren’t as good in the second half as we were in the first, but we were still probing.
“Losing the goal in the last minute is disappointing but playing against ten men we have to test their goalkeeper more.”