Written by Marko Srsen
Caley Thistle were defeated by Ayr United by two goals to one on Friday evening at the Caledonian Stadium.
The loss unfortunately means that Inverness will not be involved in the playoffs this season, meaning another season in the Championship.
It also put an end to our 7 game unbeaten run that included a Scottish Cup semi-final victory.
We would like to thank the fans for their continued support over the league campaign.
Caley Thistle kicked off in front of over 3000 jubilant fans fresh off of a massive semi-final victory at Hampden last Saturday.
Unfortunately for the Highlanders Ayr would start the game the brighter side – Chris Maguire causing problems for the Caley Thistle defence.
The first chance came in the 2nd minute of the match – Maguire took the ball down well on the edge of the box, but fired his shot just over the bar.
12 minutes later Ayr came close again, and it was Maguire again.
On this occasion former Ross County man Josh Mullin played a pass to Maguire just outside the six yard box. Maguire’s first timed attempt deflected off of Danny Devine.
Some muted protests for handball were denied by referee Don Robertson – the man who stepped in for Willie Collum for last Sunday’s Old Firm.
Caley Thistle’s best opportunity of the half came on the 20 minute mark.
Cameron Harper played a nice one-two with Billy Mckay on the left hand side. Harper found himself at the byline and hit a first time cross to the head of McKay whose header looped over the bar.
The momentum did not change however, and the away side broke the deadlock through Josh Mullin 10 minutes before the break.
Chris Maguire’s defence splitting pass found its way through to Mullin who remained composed to slot his right footed finish past Ridgers.
Caley Thistle boss Billy Dodds felt it was time to make some changes at half time – bringing on the pacey Austin Samuels for Dan MacKay, and fan-favourite David Carson for Wallace Duffy.
Dodds switched the formation to a 4-4-2, pairing Samuels up top with Billy Mckay.
The subs made an instant impact, with Samuels showing his pace to trouble the Ayr defence, and Carson showed his calmness and technical ability, coming inside as an inverted full-back a lot of the time.
8 minutes into the half the subs combined well. Carson played a ball up to Samuels in the box who took the ball down well and played it to Billy Mckay on the right side of the box. Mckay pulled the ball back to Samuels in the middle of the box, who just couldn’t steer a tough finish on target.
The home team continued to pile on the pressure.
Only 3 minutes after the first Samuels chance, Billy Mckay’s flick on header found its way into the path of Samuels who showed great pace to get to the ball, sliding the ball under Charlie Albinson. The ball looked as though it was going to creep into the net until Frankie Musonda got there just in time to clear it off the line.
In the 75th minute Jay Henderson played the ball into Billy Mckay who again found himself on the right hand side. Mckay hit a great first time cross perfectly onto the right foot of Carson whose volley was just wide of the post.
It was only a matter of time before Inverness found an equaliser, and it would finally come through Nathan Shaw in the 82nd minute – a calm finish from close range from Mckay’s assist.
Caley Thistle looked the better side and looked the most likely to win the match, however, Ayr were the team to find the winner.
After a great passage of play, the ball found its way to Mark McKenzie on the right side of the box, who found Daire O’Connor in a lot of space in the centre of the box, whose finish sent Ridgers the wrong way and hit the back of the net.
Austin Samuels thought he had levelled it again in the final moments of the match but was deemed to be offside.