John Robertson, the Inverness Caley Thistle manager, had his fill of losing prettily earlier this season. Winning ugly, he will take any day, as the Highlanders’ Championship recovery catches pace.
Carl Tremarco’s solitary finish – a fine first-half header – was enough to leapfrog Dumbarton and end the Sons’ six-game unbeaten run. The valuable win made it just one defeat in 11 matches for the Highlanders and took them to within five points of the play-off positions.
“We got through it with that resilience we have spoken about,” Robertson said. “At times, you just have to play the conditions and win ugly. It is a massive three points.
“We only took six points from our first quarter and we have already taken 14 from this one with a couple of games to go.”
The home pitch, after recent waterlogging, looked in decent shape as a lively contest unfolded.
After a spell of tit-for-tat, Tremarco, celebrating a new two-year contract, was perfectly-placed to net with a glancing header from Brad McKay’s fine free-kick from deep right. Caley Thistle went looking for the vital second early in the second half, but an audacious attempt from 35 yards by Liam Polworth found keeper Scott Gallacher back-tracking desperately to clutch under his bar. Three minutes later, Connor Bell wriggled into space to the right side of the Dumbarton penalty area and forced a strong parry from keeper Gallacher.
The match became bogged down in a midfield scrap for long enough, but substitute George Oakley’s pace almost caught out the Sons with a searing run and strike just wide.
The visitors had a chance to equalise with four minutes left but Tom Walsh cut his shot wide.
Beaten boss Steven Aitken felt is team deserved something from the match. “I felt we deserved more on the second-half performance. We were excellent. After losing a poor goal, the reaction was great,” he said.