ALEX Schalk 's late goal snatched a point to deny Caley Thistle a deserved Highland derby win.
Greg Tansey's deflected goal looked to have given the hosts all three points but Dutch striker Schalk struck five minutes from time to earn a draw.
Given Hamilton Accies' defeat at Rangers the draw was still enough to lift the Caley Jags off the foot of the table, but they will feel they did enough to merit taking the three points.
Inverness recalled Carl Tremarco and Ross Draper after suspension, dropping Brad Mckay and Liam Polworth to the bench. The Staggies brought in Andrew Davies and Christopher Routis for Paul Quinn and Martin Woods. Scott Fox did not recovery from his back injury and Aaron McCarey started again.
The former Wolves stopper was an early spectator to an Iain Vigurs effort, which nicked off the crossbar on its way over.
Aside from that, both sides seemed at pains to have a go at each other. Delivery towards the box was hurried rather than patient and there was a distinct lack of pace from each team.
Jason Naismith was a busy figure down the County right and provided the best chance of the half, drifting in from the flank and delivering a low cross, which Alex Schalk failed to turn in on the slide.
The Staggies finished the half stronger and crosses caused trouble in the home penalty area. They were indebted to blocks from Louis Laing and Gary Warren for keeping the game scoreless at the break.
It would not remain that way for long. Three minutes into the second half, Tansey took aim from the edge of the box and his goal-bound effort flicked off Fraser on its way into the net.
Inverness had got the bit between their teeth and a top stop from McCarey denied Tansey from making it 2-0 from a free-kick.
Craig Curran missed a glorious chance just before the hour to draw County level, where any contact on Naismith's cross would have meant a goal. However, he looked to merely glance his header from six yards, which floated harmlessly wide.
Jim McIntyre's side saw plenty of the ball but failed to force a save out of Owain Fon Williams. The Caley Jags could have put the bed with two chances in minute, with McCarey parrying a Tansey effort and Billy Mckay turning a Henri Anier cross against the bar.
Substitute Jim O'Brien drew a tip over from Fon Williams in the last 10 minutes as County strived for an equaliser.
They had to wait until the 86th minute but they did snatch an equaliser, Schalk firing in on the turn into the top corner.
CALEY THISTLE: Fon Williams; Raven, Warren, Laing, McCart, Tremarco, Draper, Tansey, Vigurs (Polworth, 42), Anier (Ebbe, 89), Billy Mckay. Subs unused: Hoban, Brad Mckay, King, Cole, Boden. Booked: Tremarco.
ROSS COUNTY: McCarey; Gardyne (Lalkovic, 80), Fraser, Davies, van der Weg, Naismith, Boyce, Chow, Routis (O'Brien, 78), Schalk, Curran (Dow, 85). Subs unused: Foden, Gobern, Tumilty, Dykes. Booked: Naismith.
Referee: C Allan.