If the definition of a good refereeing display is that the match ends without anyone having noticed the man in the middle then Craig Thomson had an absolute howler. And he did.
With manager John Hughes serving a touchline ban, he enjoyed a bird’s-eye view of his side’s hotly disputed opening goal.
There was little argument over the initial award of a penalty kick for handball against Stephen McManus, who had raised his arm to block Danny Devine’s header from a Greg Tansey corner.
Motherwell’s ire arose from the official’s decision to order a re-take after Connor Ripley had saved Tansey’s effort from the spot.
Mr Thomson handed Tansey a reprieve after spotting several home players had entered the penalty area before the original kick had been taken and the midfielder made the most of his second chance, hammering the ball down the middle.
Stephen Pearson had his name taken for dissent and the home fans made their displeasure with the referee just as clear. As, indeed, did Motherwell manager Mark McGhee.
“If you watch any penalty that’s shown on TV tonight every single one will look the same – people will be following in,” he claimed.
“While I can’t say it’s the first time I’ve seen a decision like that it’s certainly the first time in a long time so that was disappointing.”
It went from bad to worse for the hosts when Miles Storey was teed up by substitute Dani Lopez (who had come on for the injured Ryan Christie) and his drive from 20 yards appeared to take a significant
deflection off Kennedy, which left Ripley on his heels.
There was nothing fortunate about Thistle’s third, however. Former Motherwell midfielder Iain Vigurs will never have struck a ball as sweetly as the volley from Tansey’s corner which Ripley could only admire on its way past him.
Motherwell could have folded at that point but they continued to chip away at the visitors’ defence and got their reward when Louis Moult prodded home a Lionel Ainsworth cross at the far post for his seventh goal of the season.
Unfortunately for the hosts, that was as good as it got for them. Inverness soaked up the waves of pressure and looked the likelier side on the break.
McManus put the tin lid on a disappointing afternoon when he was sent off during added time following a tussle with Lopez.
“I’ve just watched the red card again,” said McGhee. “Mick’s put his arm across and he’s watching the ball. He’s trying to get across the boy and the referee sends him off.
“I haven’t spoken to the referee. I thought he had a poor game. He’s our best referee but at some point he’s going to have his worst game – we have them, too – and he had his today.”
Unfortunately for Inverness, who ended a four-game winless sequence with this display, Christie could be out for some time and he is almost certainly ruled out of Scotland’s European Under-21 Championship qualifying tie against Ukraine on Friday.
“We’re not sure about Ryan,” said Inverness No.2 Brian Rice. “He’s in a brace and he’s hobbling. It looked like a twist and his knee just gave way.
“We’ll need to see if it settles down overnight.
“It’s a massive blow for him because he was due to go away with the Under-21s and he loves that.”