CALEY Thistle bowed out of the Betfred Cup despite coming from behind to beat Forfar Athletic 2-1.
Marc Scott’s piece of opportunism gave Forfar the lead early in the second half, after Liam Polworth’s penalty was saved by Mark McCallum.
John Robertson’s side responded immediately with two quick-fire goals, with George Oakley and John Baird both finding the back of the net.
But results elsewhere, as expected, cost Inverness any chance of competing in the round of 16, with their eight points not good enough to qualify as one of the four best runners-up.
The Caley Jags were without Collin Seedorf, with David Raven coming in, while Felitciano Zschusschen dropped to the bench and Oakley was handed a start. New signing Connor Bell, who penned a one-year deal prior to the game, was on the bench.
It was Oakley who, harmlessly, stroked the first shot of the game straight at McCallum, after positive work by Polworth down the right flank.
McCallum was called into action again inside the opening 15 minutes, getting down to his right to parry a long-range effort from Riccardo Calder.
The visitors were gifted an opportunity to take the lead on the half-hour mark as Baird was hacked down by Andrew Munro in a penalty-box scramble. However McCallum went the right way, springing to his right to keep out Polworth’s strike.
Forfar’s McCallum was certainly the busier of the two stoppers and was nearly caught out by an Iain Vigurs free-kick, adjusting his feet at the last minute to catch after the ball got caught up in the wind. A near-post shot from Baird was also repelled and Calder’s driven effort smothered as the Championship side sought a half-time lead.
Osman See had the chance to make a name for himself when he escaped Matthew Elsdon’s attentions, but he inexplicably blazed over with only Mark Ridgers to beat.
Inverness had their warnings and failed to heed them as Scott gave the hosts the lead four minutes into the second half. Jim Lister fired for goal and Ridgers was unable to hold it, allowing Scott to nod in the rebound.
But credit where it is due, Inverness responded when they needed to. A long ball from Ridgers played in Baird and when McCallum rushed out to block, the ball broke to Oakley to tuck in.
The Caley Jags were ahead in the 55th minute as Polworth’s corner from the left evaded everyone apart from Baird, who controlled at the back post before rifling back across goal and in.
Momentum had changed completely and the visitors should have been further ahead. Polworth teed off from the edge of the box that McCallum did superbly to tip over and after the home goalkeeper denied Oakley, Michael Travis had to sweep the ball clear from the line.
There were still glimmers of hope for the League One side, with See glancing David Cox’s centre over and Eddie Malone blasting over the top.
Malone produced a sumptuous volley that, fortunately for Ridgers, was not far enough into the corner to trouble him.
Ultimately Caley Thistle did what they needed to do on the day, but the Falkirk result cost them a shot at a place in the last 16.
FORFAR ATHLETIC: McCallum; Travis, Bain, Malone, Munro, Mensing, Cox (Aitken, 79), Millar (McBride, 51), Lister, See, Scott. Subs unused: King, Easton, Warwick, Gill, Kennedy. Booked: Munro.
CALEY THISTLE: Ridgers; Raven, Mckay, Elsdon, Chalmers, Polworth, Draper, Vigurs, Calder (Mulraney, 75), Oakley (Zschusschen, 71), Baird (Bell, 84). Subs unused: Esson, MacDonald, Cooper. Booked: Calder, Baird.
Referee: G Duncan.