Stenhousemuir 1-1 Inverness CT (aet; ICT win 6-5 on pens): Esson saves the day in shoot-out

STENHOUSEMUIR came within a penalty shoot-out of making it a second SPL scalp in consecutive rounds before Inverness sneaked through to the quarter-finals.

Billy McKay looked to have calmed nerves in the visitors’ ranks with the opener midway through the first half but Brown Ferguson’s penalty before the break 
ensured the tension was ratcheted up.

Penalties duly arrived but, with Inverness skipper Richie Foran and Stenhousemuir midfielder Bryan Hodge both missing, the spot-kicks went to sudden-death and Caley Thistle keeper Ryan Esson was the hero with his save from Darren Smith’s effort.

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Teenage Celtic keeper Robbie Thomson answered an SOS call earlier in the day to join the Second Division outfit on loan and he dealt with his first real test soundly in the 13th minute when he dropped confidently onto Aaron Doran’s low shot. However, there was little the 19-year-old could do in the 23rd minute as Inverness opened the scoring.

A deflection on Foran’s threaded through ball caught the Warriors’ defence flat-footed and McKay scored from 16 yards out. Caley Thistle then shot themselves in the foot with six minutes to go to the break. David Raven was guilty of over-elaboration as Stenhousemuir burrowed their way into the box and, as the dallying full-back swung his boot at the ball, he caught the leg of Ferguson. The home midfielder completed the job by rifling his penalty wide of Esson’s dive.

Try as they might Inverness could not find a winner in the second period and extra time came and went, forcing the 

Stenhousemuir: R Thomson; Ross, McMillan, Buist (Rodgers 96), McKinlay; I. Thomson (Anderson 103); Ferguson, Hodge, Kean, Dickson (Smith 70); Gemell. Subs not used: Shaw, Lawson.

Inverness CT: Esson; Raven, Warren, Meekings, G. Shinnie; Pepper (Morrison 79), Foran, Draper, Doran; McKay (Roberts 102), A Shinnie. Subs not used: Reguero, Cooper, Oswell, Roberts.