ICTFC secured their spot in the Scottish Cup final, dispatching Falkirk FC 3-0 in a repeat fixture of their cup heroics in 2015.
Billy Mckay scored a brace either side of the half, with an additional headed effort from Daniel Mackay adding a cushion to the result at the 33rd minute. The Caley Jags now await either Celtic or Rangers in the final, who face each other in the opposite fixture on Sunday.
The Highlanders arrived at Hampden Park in red hot form, winning six out of their last seven games. Meanwhile, Falkirk comfortably beat Alloa 4-1 away in their previous fixture in the league – courtesy of two Liam Henderson goals, one from Kai Kennedy and Brad Mckay.
Billy Dodds made only a few changes to the starting lineup from the one used in the Quarter Final. David Carson was out of the squad after picking up a yellow card against Kilmarnock, with Wallace Duffy starting at RB. Daniel Mackay also came into the side as the left of a three behind top scorer Billy Mckay, flanked by Henderson on the right and Shaw just behind.
ICTFC fans would recognise some familiar faces from the Bairns squad, with Coll Donaldson, Brad Mckay and former loanee Kai Kennedy lining up for the opposite team.
Ryan Williamson and Rumarn Burrel were the big changes from their last game in the Quarter Finals against Ayr United, with Rowe and Wright starting on the bench.
The Highlanders started out the game well and early with the first goal of the game. Pressure from the Caley Jags down the right hand side triggered a VAR call at the 4th minute.
Jay Henderson’s lofted cross on the right hand side appeared to have clipped the hands of Leon McCann in the box from close range and after a brief check, Nick Walsh pointed to the spot. Billy Mckay stepped up to take it and calmly slotted it to Brian Kinnear’s empty left side – an edge for the Championship side.
At the 10th minute, Falkirk failed to take advantage of a chance to draw level. A long ball into no man’s land wasn’t cleared by Ridgers, who rushed out of his box. Callum Morrison collected it with the goal still unoccupied but couldn’t side-foot his shot into the net from an angle, instead clipping the far post.
At the 18th minute, ICT’s Daniel Mackay found Henderson with a square ball around 25 yards away, but his ambitious effort sailed high over the target from the right hand side.
Falkirk kept the pressure on from the wings with a few half-chances as they continued to probe the stout ICT defence, with a deep cross from the left met in the box by Kucheriavyi, but was headed down the throat of Mark Ridgers for a save.
Despite the pressure, ICTFC extended the lead at the 33rd minute via a counter attack. An excellent whipped cross from the right hand side by Henderson was met by Daniel Mackay in the box, who directed it into the bottom right corner. A quick check showed that the Hibs loanee was about a yard onside, confirming the second. Moments later, Liam Henderson tried to replicate a headed goal for Falkirk from a cross, directing it well wide of the mark from a setpiece.
Wallace Duffy’s cross into the Falkirk box just before the break almost crept under the bar, forcing Kinnear to tip it out for a corner, but the first period ended at the 2-0 scoreline.
Falkirk continued after the restart looking for a goal to get them back into the tie. An early corner was met on the volley by former Caley Jag, Coll Donaldson, but his effort was scuffed well wide in the box.
Just like the first half, the Highlanders added a third early into the second via a well taken goal, and it was from a combination of the two scorers.
The latter scorer was on hand to assist the former, with Daniel’s whipped inswinging cross finding Billy lurking at the back post, cushioning a first time volley past a diving Kinnear. His brace brought the Northern Ireland international just one short of the club scoring record.
Nathan Shaw almost added a fourth shortly afterwards, with his driven cross-cum-shot deflecting onto the near post.
Two of Falkirk’s subs almost combined for a conciliatory goal at around the 65th minute. A backpass to Ridgers was snatched by Gary Oliver, who with two attempts couldn’t find a cutback for Nesbitt in the box from the byline, both being denied by red and blue shirts.
Shaw saw an effort off the post again shortly after at the opposite end, receiving the ball from the right half-space, cutting inside and attempting a bending effort on his left foot but his shot smacked the far post and dribbled just short of the other side.
Falkirk couldn’t get past ICT’s wall, leaving them with only a pair of half chances before the final whistle. Substitute Ola Lawal tested Ridgers with an easy save to his left, curling a low drive that was caught comfortably by the shot-stopper.
Aidan Nesbitt attempted a half-chance from range in the dying moments of the game, but failed to threaten Ridgers’ goal, sending it high of the mark.