A FIRST half to forget for Caley Thistle's under-19s meant their hopes of reaching a cup final at Hampden were all but over by the interval.
Trailing 4-0 at the break, Inverness had also endured the loss of goalkeeper Kyle Allison to a nasty facial injury barely 30 minutes into the tie against Rangers at Ibrox.
By that point Caley Thistle, who were playing in their first-ever semi-final at this level, were already two goals down after Jamie Ness had put the hosts in front only four minutes in, before Danny Wilson headed home Kai Naismith's cross on 27 minutes.
Luck had clearly deserted the Highland Capital club as Allison was stretchered off and taken to hospital for treatment on a double fracture of his jaw following a hefty collision with Kane Hemmings. Keiran Wilson was the stricken Allison's replacement but he could do little to prevent Rangers doubling their lead before half-time with Kyle Hutton and Stephen Stirling on target.
Coach Alec Cleland and his assistant Scott Kellacher attempted to mastermind a way back into the game at the interval but Rangers were more than happy to play a waiting game and then make full use of the space as the visitors committed numbers forward.
Hutton's second of the game was added to by Swedish substitute Isa Bagci as the home side made it six without reply. Caley Thistle, however, kept persevering and were rewarded for their efforts late on with Stuart Leslie and then a Gavin Morrison penalty providing some consolation.
CALEY THISTLE Allison; Scott-Woodhouse, Shinnie, Welsh, Finnis, Rennie, Morrison, Hemsley, S. Sutherland, Leslie, Ross. Subs: Wilson, Fraser, Carrol, Porter, Chambers.