ANDREA Mbuyi-Mutombo kept Caley Thistle in the Scottish Cup with a late equaliser against Hibernian.
His cameo appearance in the last 20 minutes kept Inverness in this quarter-final tie after they had struggled throughout at Easter Road.
James Keatings had given Hibernian a deserved lead at the start of the second half and with Caley Thistle going well over an hour without having a shot on goal, it looked as if they would be progressing to the semi-finals.
However, two substitutes combined to keep Caley Thistle in the draw with 14 minutes to go, Lewis Horner crossing for Mbuyi-Mutombo to level the scores.
Hibernian will be wondering how they let this one slip, given the control they had on the game, but they will face a replay in the Highlands on March 16.
Inverness made one change from the side that lost 2-0 to Hearts on Tuesday night. Ross Draper returned from suspension at the expense of Lewis Horner, with John Hughes electing to move to a back three and Carl Tremarco partnering Danny Devine and Gary Warren.
Hughes had not played with a back three since one ill-fated attempt away to Partick Thistle in March of last but in the early goings at Easter Road, the trio kept lone striker Keatings quiet. Most of the early concern belonged to Hibernian, with a series of Greg Tansey corners causing alarm at Mark Oxley's near post.
However, they were soon giving Inverness a fright of their own and it was thanks only to Owain Fon Williams they remained level. Liam Henderson's free kick was met by the unmarked David Gray who forced Fon Williams into a smart stop. Liam Fontaine appeared prime to smash in the rebound but for the Wales international, who blocked again and Tremarco cleared.
That moment gave the home side a lift and they came even closer to opening the scoring on 13 minutes, Keatings seeing his rebound ruled out for offside after Anthony Stokes struck the post.
The return of Draper to the midfield had a noticeable impact for the Caley Jags, making them instantly more competitive against a side that contained the impressive John McGinn. He lays down a marker with hard but fair challenges, letting both team-mates and opposition that he intends to win the midfield battle.
Hibernian's high defensive line should have been punished on several occasions in the first half, but for mis-timed runs by Jordan Roberts and Miles Storey. They had the beating of Fontaine and Darren McGregor for pace but they often set off too early to reach diagonal balls.
For the lack of chances Caley Thistle created in the first half, Hibernian were fashioning plenty. Keatings was at the centre of everything – first seeing a penalty shout for handball against Devine waved away then stinging Fon Williams' palms from the edge of the area.
Pressure finally paid dividends on 54 minutes though. Stokes, a Caley Thistle target in January, sold Tremarco a dummy and laid in Gray, whose cross was turned in by Keatings. It was no less than Hibernian deserved and Inverness would have no option now but to play more expansively.
The game developed some needle with a number of Caley Thistle players remonstrating with Hibernian players and match officials in the 10 minutes after the goal. Both Tansey and Warren got themselves booked as frustrations boiled over.
The clock ticked over to 75 minutes and the Caley Jags were still to have a shot on target – but they did not have much longer to wait. Horner, the former Hibee, raced to the byline and crossed for fellow substitute Mbuyi-Mutombo. He steadied himself and found the roof of the net, despite Gray's best efforts.
There was an urgency about Caley Thistle's game now and had Danny Williams' volley flown in instead of straight at Oxley, they could have stole themselves an unlikely passage but both sides had to settle for a replay on Wednesday week.
HIBERNIAN: Oxley; Gray, Fontaine, McGregor, Stevenson, Thomson, McGeouch (Gunnarsson, 26), McGinn, Henderson, Stokes, Keatings (Dagnall, 86). Subs unused: Virtanen, El Alagui, Boyle, Shaw, Donaldson. Booked: Keatings.
CALEY THISTLE: Fon Williams; Tremarco, Devine, Warren, Williams, Tansey, Vigurs (Mbuyi-Mutombo, 73), Draper, Polworth (Horner, 72), Roberts, Storey. Esson, R. Williams, Hughes, Wedderburn, Foran. Booked: Polworth, Warren, Tansey.
Referee: C. Allan.