John Robertson, the Inverness Caley Thistle manager, took the assistant referee’s explosive turn of pace up the players’ tunnel at the break as confirmation of a serious injustice. Linesman Sean Carr wasn’t the only observer at the Caledonian Stadium left panting after breathless action.
Robertson was convinced Billy Mckay had run off-side before the cross that home defender Brad McKay, pictured, turned into his own net for the equaliser before half-time. County, though, claimed video footage disproved the claim.
Whatever the truth, this was entertainment in its rawest derby form. The share of spoils set a record 23-game unbeaten run in the league for the hosts, breaking past manager Steve Paterson’s 1996 previous best.
Mark Ridgers pulled off a jaw-dropping save from County’s Mckay before the break. Both sides, though, tallied up a clutch of missed chances in the second period.
“It was a brilliant game,” Robertson said. “The first goal was a great strike but we felt we came back well and deserved to be ahead at 2-1.
“The equaliser was one where you can clearly see Billy Mckay is offside and we felt a bit aggrieved at half-time. People are not daft and the linesman knows he made a mistake. That’s why he raced up the tunnel at half-time.
“He has got it wrong and it has cost us today but it shouldn’t take away from what was a terrific game of football. As for our draws, I’ve been in football for 40 years and never seen anything like this.”
What a rip-roaring 90 minutes it was. County led against the run of play after 17 minutes through Jamie Lindsay’s low-struck finish from 22 yards.
Two minutes later, it was level. A cross from home captain Aaron Doran saw Tom Walsh rise to power in a header and, from six yards out, the upstretched leg of George Oakley deftly did the rest.
The hosts grabbed the lead on the half hour. Liam Polworth picked out Shaun Rooney in plenty of space at the edge of the box and the full-back’s finish was whipped a low into the bottom left corner.
County sparked to life and it took a truly remarkable, one-handed save down low from keeper Mark Ridgers to turn wide a Mckay header from Josh Mullin’s cross.
Mckay’s moment came, though – against home howls for off-side – after 43 minutes. The flag stayed down as the ex-Caley Thistle striker’s low cross from the left was turned into the his own net by the flailing leg of home defender McK ay.
The second half was at first more subdued, but the howler’s and unlucky close calls stacked up for both sides.