John Robertson, the Inverness manager, urged his relative underdogs to finish things off in the Highlands after watching them salvage a late replay through George Oakley’s equaliser.
The Highlanders, who lifted the Scottish Cup for the first time in 2015, showed similar character here to defy Neil McCann’s Dundee, who were on the verge of securing their passage into the fifth round until late drama unfolded at Dens Park.
Dundee had established a second-half lead through goals from Sofien Moussa and Mark O’Hara, following Aaron Doran’s early opener. But Oakley’s 87th-minute strike meant Inverness are assured of another crack at their loftier opponents, which few could have begrudged them when, in truth, they ought to have had this
fourth-round encounter wrapped up long beforehand.
“We have the spirit for cup competitions,” reflected Robertson, whose priority is to guide Championship side Inverness into the promotion mix. “I don’t think anyone could deny us our late equaliser because it was the least we deserved.
“We’ve got a good spirit at the moment and we said to them not to have any regrets. We had a glorious chance on the stroke of half-time to go 2-0 up and it’s a different ball game.
“Strikers will miss chances. It was just a lack of conviction and George didn’t catch it as good as he would have liked. The pleasing aspect is he’s gone back in, got involved and got the equaliser.
“We’re not favourites for the replay. It will be another tight match but we’ll relish it up in Inverness.”
Inverness arrived at Dens in fine fettle, having quietly climbed the Championship table in recent weeks, and proceeded to cause Neil McCann’s top-flight hosts problems from the minute Doran fired them ahead.
Brad McKay’s long throw eluded the entire Dundee defence, allowing Doran to ghost in at the far post and drill a shot past Elliott Parish, the stranded home keeper.
Dundee looked as though the winter break had taken an edge off their play. They did, though, threaten through former Inverness defender Josh Meekings, whose 36th-minute header hit the bar from Scott Allan’s corner.
Yet it was the visitors who still squandered the best chances. Oakley, with the last kick of the ball prior to half-time, had a glorious opening when he was put clean through on goal, only to hack his shot straight at Parish.
Dundee had to show more after the break. Within two minutes of the restart, A-Jay Leitch-Smith worked a slick one-two with Allan, before his ten-yard shot found a way past Mark Ridgers, the visiting keeper, with the aid of a deflection off Moussa.
That signalled the hosts’ best spell. O’Hara’s trademark driving run and raking shot from 18-yards gave Ridgers no hope in 64 minutes, before more drama unfolded.
Riccardo Calder’s cross was left by the Dundee defence. Oakley was quickest to react by thrusting out his leg to steer a finish past Parish.
“The only positive I can take out of this is the fact we’re still in the cup,” admitted McCann afterwards.