Mckay at the double as Inverness Caledonian Thistle end winless run against Queen of the South to move back into second in the Scottish Championship
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Queen of the South 1 (Connelly)
Inverness Caledonian Thistle 2 (Mckay x2)
Two goals from Billy Mckay saw Inverness Caledonian Thistle end a run of five games without a win away at Queen of the South.
Goals either side of the break put Caley Thistle in a commanding position, but they were made to work hard in the closing stages for the points after Lee Connelly pulled one back for the Doonhammers.
With the two teams coming into the match at opposite ends of the Championship table, Caley Thistle may well have been anticipating most of the ball and needing to break their hosts down.
For the most part, that was exactly how it played out in the first 45 minutes, with Inverness taking the lead and Queens barely testing Mark Ridgers at the other end.
Caley Thistle first tested Solomon Brynn with just five minutes on the clock, as Reece McAlear tried to catch the home defence out with a quickly-taken free kick that Billy Mckay latched on to – only to shoot straight at the goalkeeper after cutting back on to his stronger foot.
That was a good chance for the Northern Irishman, but he would have an even better one in the 19th minute as the Caley Jags were awarded a penalty.
They had looked to break forward quickly, and when Mckay attempted to flick the ball on to a charging Roddy MacGregor the youngster was taken down by Roberto Nditi inside the box, and the referee pointed to the spot.
Mckay stepped up, and sent Brynn the wrong way to give ICT a lead they would prove to be good value for.
Shane Sutherland looked to follow that goal up minutes later with a low driven effort from outside the box that Brynn did well to hold on to, while Danny Devine went close with a glancing header at a corner kick that went all the way across the face of goal.
Still, Inverness have not had an issue taking the lead in recent weeks, holding on to it has been more of their problem, and as the first half drew to a close Queens began to grow into proceedings.
Ridgers was not called into action before the break, but Ben Liddle did go close to an equaliser with a half volley from 25 yards out that had the visiting keeper moving quickly on his line to make sure it was going wide.
After starting slowly after the interval in recent weeks, though, ICT made sure not to fall into the same trap again as they doubled their advantage.
Again it was Mckay, this time heading the ball into the corner of the net after connecting with David Carson's cross in the 50th minute.
Queen of the South did make some attacking substitutions to try and turn things around, but it was still Inverness who had more of the ball and created the better chances.
Shane Sutherland blazed over from the edge of the box, Scott Allardice went close with a header and Mckay saw a free kick on the very edge of the box give him a golden chance to get his hat trick, only to shoot over the bar.
With 15 minutes to go though, the hosts put the result back into doubt by pulling a goal back.
A valiant initial effort from Danny Devine to block a shot on the line went to waste as Lee Connelly – who has previously been a thorn in Caley Thistle's side – smashed the rebound into the top corner.
That seemed to get the Doonhammers' tails up both in the stands and on the pitch, with a renewed intensity coming from the side in dark blue.
Mckay very nearly got his hat trick to seal the match with less than 10 minutes on the clock though, receiving the ball after a driving run from Allardice and hitting the crossbar with a curling effort.
Both teams were searching for a goal – Inverness to put the game to bed and Queen of the South to have something to show for their efforts – and Ridgers was forced into a good save to keep out an effort from Harry Cochrane.
Neither side would come closer than that in added time, as the Caley Jags held on to win 2–1 and put an end to their winless run, moving up to second in the Championship table in the process.
Queen of the South: 12. Solomon Brynn, 5. Paul McKay, 7. Ruari Paton, 10. Lee Connelly, 13. Josh Debayo (6. Harry Cochrane 62), 14. Ben Liddle (9. Ally Roy 62), 15. Calvin McGrory (3. Alex Cooper 46), 19. Innes Cameron, 20. Roberto Nditi, 22. Max Johnston, 33. Wullie Gibson.
Substitutes: 1. Josh Rae, 8. Josh Todd, 17. Niyah Joseph, 49. Ruben Soares Junior.
Caley Thistle: 1. Mark Ridgers, 5. Robbie Deas, 6. Daniel Devine, 8. David Carson, 9. Billy Mckay (19. Manny Duku 89), 10. Aaron Doran (3. Cameron Harper 87), 11. Shane Sutherland, 12. Roddy MacGregor, 15. Kirk Broadfoot, 18. Scott Allardice, 23. Reece McAlear.
Substitutes: 21. Cameron MacKay, 16. Lewis Jamieson, 17. Anthony McDonald.
Referee: Don Robertson
Yellow cards: ICT – Carson (55).