Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager Terry Butcher hailed his side’s fighting spirit after watching them come back from the dead to claim a thrilling 4-4 Clydesdale Bank Premier League draw at Dundee United on Saturday.
Dundee United - Meekings (5og), Daly (6, 90pen), Skacel (8)
Inverness CT - McKay (26, 28, 62pen), Warren (86)
Butcher admitted he felt his side’s recent run of fine form was almost certain to come to an end when United raced into a 3-0 lead after just eight minutes.
That left Caley Thistle with a massive task but Billy McKay’s hat-trick inspired a memorable fightback in what was one of the most entertaining games of the season so far.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the lads in terms of how they battled back,” Butcher said. “It’s difficult to imagine too many teams doing what they did.
“All seemed lost so early on but this was all about believing in ourselves and not giving up the ghost.
“It would have been easy to just accept defeat but once we got back in contention by half-time you could see the belief in the camp growing.
“It’s great to see that as a manager and, when you have that, it can take you a long way. We’re on a very good run just now which we want to keep going and, when you all muck in together like we did against Dundee United, you have nothing to fear.”
Inverness striker Billy Mackay insisted they never once thought of defeat even after Jon Daly and Rudi Skacel had struck to make it 3-0 after Josh Meekings’ own goal.
First Mackay steered a Richie Foran shot into the net from close range, then he converted Aaron Doran’s inswinging corner at the back post, and he completed a sensational hat-trick from the penalty spot after Ross Draper had been hauled down in the penalty box by Willo Flood.
McKay said: “We’ve got a great togetherness. It was a terrible start but it just goes to show what can be done when you stick to your task and don’t become negative.”
United manager Peter Houston admitted his side had only themselves to blame for having to rely on captain Jon Daly’s last-gasp penalty after Gary Warren’s 86th-minute header had made it 4-3 to the Highlanders.
Houston said: “We didn’t defend well enough and you really have to do that against a big side like Inverness.
“We should have been stopping crosses into the box earlier than we did so we’ll have to look at that again as we’ve been working extremely hard on that aspect of our game in recent weeks.
“Inverness are a good side on a positive run just now but we should be winning when we score four goals at home – simple as that.
“It’s naturally disappointing because of the position but we have to take it on the chin and lift ourselves for the next match.”
Referee: J Beaton