CALEY Thistle moved one step closer to qualifying for European after winning 2-1 at Hibernian in Saturday’s Clydesdale Bank SPL.
With Ross County losing 1-0 at home to Kilmarnock, ICT opened up a five point gap thanks to their win in the capital. Motherwell’s 3-0 cruise at Dundee keeps them three points ahead of the Highlanders in second place, although the Steel men are due to head to Inverness after the split.
Unbeaten in Edinburgh in the SPL this season, Terry Butcher’s side were in confident mood following their 2-1 derby win against Ross County two weeks ago.
Kilmarnock-bound keeper Antonio Reguero came in for the injured Ryan Esson. Danny Devine replaced the injured Gary Warren in defence and Graeme Shinnie came back from suspension to replace Charlie Taylor.
The first half saw very few chances at Easter Road, although it was the visitors who had the best of them.
Owain Tudur Jones and Aaron Doran both went close, while skipper Richie Foran crashed a volley goalwards, which was held by keeper Ben Williams.
Hibs almost snatched the lead on the half hour mark when Ryan McGivern had a pop from distance, but his effort flashed into the side-netting.
The deadlock was broken just after the interval when Foran sent a deft pass through to Ross Draper and the midfielder coolly steered the ball above Williams into the net.
Hibs appealed for a penalty on 59 minutes when the ball seemed to strike Josh Meekings on the hand, but referee Craig Thomson waved play on.
The Leith team did draw level, however, moments later when Gary Deegan’s drive deflected off Leith Griffiths to give Reguero no chance in goal.
It was another deflected shot which restored ICT’s advantage on 65 minutes as Andrew Shinnie’s shot hit off James McPake and beat keeper Williams.
Billy McKay almost added gloss to the scoreline when he closed in on goal, but a fine challenge from captain McPake denied him.
Inverness CT will hope to add to their 50-point tally on Friday night when fifth-placed St Johnstone head to the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium.
Hibernian: Williams, Clancy, McGivern, McPake, Deegan (Robertson 73), Griffiths, Doyle, Stevenson (Wotherspoon 83), Taiwo (Cairney), Harris, Thomson. Subs not used: Murdoch, Claros, Handling, Foster.
Inverness CT: Reguero, Raven, Graeme Shinnie, Tudur Jones, McKay, Draper, Foran, Andrew Shinnie (Ross 90), Meekings, Doran, Devine. Subs not used: Mathieson, Sutherland, Polworth, Pepper, Gibbons, Taylor.
Referee: Craig Thomson.