Inverness CT 1-1 Heart of Midlothian: Championship leaders held in Highlands


Liam Boyce stole in to level for Hearts, who had fallen behind early on to Miles Storey’s strike

Scottish Championship leaders Hearts moved 12 points clear at the league summit with a 1-1 draw at Inverness.

Miles Storey opened the scoring for the hosts after 10 minutes in their first game under interim manager Neil McCann.

But Liam Boyce hauled Hearts level before the break with a sharp finish.

Inverness, who remain sixth, spurned a good second-half chance through Robbie Deas, while the visitors came closest to a winner when Boyce’s late header struck the top of the crossbar.

McCann, taking temporary charge with Inverness boss John Robertson granted compassionate leave, deployed an attacking formation and, buffeted by the Highland gusts, Hearts’ defending was slapstick in the early stages.

Storey, the left prong of Caley Thistle’s attacking trio, is a muscular player and his speed, power and opportunism created the opener.

The striker surged after a lofted James Keatings ball, seized upon Michael Smith’s tame header back towards Craig Gordon, bumped the defender aside and clipped into the away goal.

After two ambitious penalty claims from David Carson, Shane Sutherland ought to have doubled the Inverness lead in the 20th minute when Hearts were flummoxed by a floated ball into the area, but Gordon came to the rescue from point-blank range.

Gary Mackay-Steven played a big part in Hearts’ revival, two devilish runs deep into the opposition half resulting in two fouls and a booking apiece for Wallace Duffy and Sean Welsh.

From the free-kick that followed the Welsh challenge, Craig Halkett won the knock-down and Boyce pounced to dispatch his sixth goal in seven matches.

The second half was even, play cascading from end to end, but the chances were scarce.

Deas got himself under a vicious, swerving corner, but could only balloon his header over the bar.

At the other end, Walker scampered to the byeline and saw his cut-back cleared by Danny Devine.

Smith went off with a dozen minutes left, a worrying moment for Hearts boss Robbie Neilson, before the visitors laid siege to the Inverness goal.

Boyce came desperately close to winning it when his 89th-minute header bounced off the top of the crossbar before being clumsily gathered by Mark Ridgers.

Substitute Armand Gnanduillet flashed an effort just across the target, and Jamie Walker’s vicious shot was saved by the Caley Thistle goalkeeper, ultimately consigning Hearts to a third-straight draw.

The result leaves Inverness with one victory in their past nine outings, but this was a dogged and dangerous display, bagging them a hard-earned point.

Inverness CT interim manager Neil McCann: “I’m proud, I must admit. I’m delighted with the boys. We’ve only had one-and-a-half sessions. They gave me everything.

“They were brilliant and limited Hearts to very little. We’d like to polish up our football, but I can’t have any complaints.”

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson: “We’re disappointed, that’s three draws on the bounce. People have got to realise it’s very difficult to play in the Championship. You have to earn the right to play.

“To be sitting 12 points clear is a fantastic achievement for the players. We have no given right to turn up and win football matches. We’ve got to take the positives from that.”

Line-ups

Inverness CT

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Ridgers
  • 2DuffyBooked at 30mins
  • 6Devine
  • 24Deas
  • 16Harper
  • 4WelshBooked at 36mins
  • 8CarsonBooked at 52minsSubstituted forAllardiceat 66′minutes
  • 17Storey
  • 7KeatingsSubstituted forTodorovat 78′minutes
  • 12MacGregorSubstituted forMacKayat 57′minutes
  • 11Sutherland

Substitutes

  • 18Allardice
  • 21MacKay
  • 22McKay
  • 25Nicolson
  • 27MacKay
  • 28Hyde
  • 77Todorov

Hearts

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1GordonBooked at 52mins
  • 2SmithSubstituted forIrvingat 80′minutes
  • 28Popescu
  • 26Halkett
  • 21KingsleyBooked at 32mins
  • 16Halliday
  • 18McEneff
  • 29KastaneerBooked at 15minsSubstituted forGnanduilletat 45′minutes
  • 14NaismithSubstituted forWalkerat 62′minutes
  • 17Mackay-Steven
  • 10Boyce

Substitutes

  • 5Haring
  • 6Berra
  • 7Walker
  • 9Gnanduillet
  • 13Stewart
  • 19Irving
  • 31Henderson

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