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Caley Thistle see off Ayr in play-offs

By Andrew Henderson

Inverness Caledonian Thistle 1 (Donaldson)

Ayr United 1 (McCowan)

Inverness Caledonian Thistle progressed to the play-off semi finals after defeating Ayr United 4-2 on aggregate.

The Honest Men had taken a first half lead through Luke McCowan to give themselves a fighting chance in the two-legged tie.

But Coll Donaldson’s first goal of the season 10 minutes from time was enough to rescue a 1-1 draw on the day and a clash with the defender’s old club, Dundee United, in the next round.

Coll Donaldson's header saw Caley Thistle safely through to the play-off semi-finals. Picture: Ken Macpherson
Coll Donaldson's header saw Caley Thistle safely through to the play-off semi-finals. Picture: Ken Macpherson

With a two goal deficit from the first leg, Ayr had to come out swinging to get back into the contest.

They started brightly, with Declan McDaid and Lawrence Shankland forcing corners that eventually came to nothing.

Inverness started to settle into the game though, and they had a chance to go in front when Liam Polworth played a ball through to Jordan White.

It may have been slightly wider than the target man would have liked, but it was still a dangerous position that forced Ayr goalkeeper Ross Doohan to come out and smother the effort.

Caley Thistle won a corner, but it was Ayr who would take the lead a minute later.

The set-piece was cleared away, and McDaid took full advantage of having acres of space on the right flank to charge forward.

He had to pause as teammates tried to catch up with him, and the winger eventually picked out 19-year-old Luke McCowan who smashed the ball into the net in the 18th minute.

McDaid would continue to be a thorn in Kevin McHattie’s side, but Robbie Crawford would have a chance from the other side before half time, cutting in from the left but missing the target.

White would have a chance to equalise on the day for Caley Thistle with a volley, but it was straight at Doohan.

ICT seemed to tire in the second half, and they were lacking creativity even before Tom Walsh and Brad McKay were substituted with knocks.

So it looked like it was up to Ayr to find a way through, and Crawford saw a curled effort go wide after good work from Michael Moffat.

Inverness would get an equaliser on the day in the end though, and it would come from a set-piece.

With 10 minutes left on the clock, Aaron Doran was fouled in a good position, and Polworth swung in a delivery that Coll Donaldson got a glancing touch on to score.

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