INVERNESS will take their place in the Scottish Cup draw, but they made very heavy weather of it against Partick who waited until they were all but down and out before breathing life into what had been a very one-sided contest.
Scorers: Partick Thistle - Taylor 67; ICT - Watkins 16, Tansey 28
The home team started brightly enough with a few raids down either flanks the Caley defence had to stand tall to deal with. This fleeting opening salvo was as good as it got for the Jags as high-flying Inverness soon took control.
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Inverness contested every ball like they should be in a cup-tie, Partick contested them like they were at a tea dance and defended with all the sturdiness of blancmange.
Marley Watkins had already strolled through the heart of the home rearguard only to fluff his lines before he hit his mark at the second attempt with an angled finish having got away from the pedestrian Frederic Frans.
For a defensive unit with more or less no pace to speak of the defensive line being held by Partick was astonishingly high, and was allowing Inverness to run in behind them with near impunity.
Ross Draper volleyed straight at Paul Gallacher from ten-yards, Marley again got in one-on-one and, with the home fans howling with derision, Greg Tansey was allowed to breeze past a flurry of soft tackles to slot home a deserved second.
If there was a saving grace at the break for the Maryhill men it was their still being in the game and a knowledge they simply had to improve in the second period, so lamentable had their first-half showing been. Deadline day loan signing Lyle Taylor was introduced and there was a little more about Partick as Ryan Esson in the Caley goal was called into action for the first time to hold a Stuart Bannigan volley and block at the feet of Taylor.
Taylor was the catalyst for the upturn in Partick’s fortunes with his pace, power and willingness to run the channels causing Inverness immediate problems. So no surprise it was the former Falkirk man halving the deficit with a quarter of the game remaining.
Suddenly Firhill had a spark to it, the home support had new belief and we finally had a genuine cup-tie. However, try as they might Partick could not force a Highland replay and will no doubt wonder what might have been if they had bothered to show up for the first half.