28 Dec Inverness Caley 1-2 Motherwell
Inverness were unable to prevent their winless streak reaching nine games as Craig Clay and Scott McDonald fired Motherwell to a 2-1 victory in the Highlands.
Clay’s strike early in the second half, which drifted in thanks to the strong winds at the Caledonian Stadium, gave them a lead which they held until McDonald doubled their advantage late on.
Greg Tansey netted a 90th-minute consolation but the visiting Steelmen held on.
It means Richie Foran’s Caley Thistle head into Saturday’s crunch derby with Ross County at the bottom of the pile in the Ladbrokes Premiership. They have now not won since their 3-0 win over Motherwell at Fir Park in October.
Inverness were unchanged after their 1-0 loss to Rangers at the weekend, with opponents Motherwell making one switch. Carl McHugh, who had not played since being knocked out on the opening day of the season against Kilmarnock, replaced the injured Keith Lasley.
Inverness had only kept one clean sheet in the league this season, and that was against Motherwell, but they were second best on this occasion.
The visitors had the best of the first-half opportunities, with McDonald dragging an effort wide before Lionel Ainsworth, on as an early replacement for the injured Chris Cadden, angled a shot across the face of Owain Fon Williams’ goal.
On-loan midfielder Larnell Cole had a great sight of goal as he watched the ball drop off a Motherwell defender, volleying towards goal only for it to be blocked by a sprawling Ben Heneghan.
The majority of eyes will have been on Tansey, given it emerged this week he will probably be leaving at the end of the season.
He showed little sign of it affecting him, testing Craig Samson with an away-swinging free-kick.
He played a key role in the build-up to Iain Vigurs hitting the post too, picking out Brad McKay who found former Motherwell man Vigurs at the back post.
Caley Thistle started the second half in a promising manner with Lonsana Doumbouya going close, after positive work by Liam Polworth before Motherwell took the lead in fortuitous circumstances.
Clay took a speculative shot from 30 yards which appeared to be heading over, however the ball swirled in the wind and deceived Fon Williams to drop into the top corner.
The hosts found themselves in a familiar position having to come from behind and Vigurs tried to drag them level on the hour, but saw his free-kick parried by Samson.
Aaron Doran crashed a half-volley off the underside of the bar with 10 minutes to go before McDonald finished well from Louis Moult’s cross.
Tansey’s late consolation was not enough to get Caley Thistle back into the game as they ran out of time.