Kilmarnock suffered heartbreak in the highlands as they were dumped out of the Scottish Cup quarter finals by Inverness Caledonian Thistle, whose dreams of lifting a second Scottish Cup in 8 years remain alive after a narrow 2-1 victory.
Goals either side of half time from a Billy McKay penalty and captain Sean Welsh were enough to overturn Kyle Vassell’s early opener, as the championship side take another Premiership scalp and head to Hampden for the first time in this competition since 2019.
The top flight strugglers travelled North looking to put their league woes behind them and secure their second semi final appearance of the season.
Caley Thistle meanwhile looked to continue to capitalise on their second chance in the competition, after Queen’s Park were expelled for fielding an ineligible player two rounds previously.
Derek McInnes’ side wasted no time in asserting their dominance on their hosts as Kyle Vassell put them ahead. Returning after a 2 game ban, the forward appeared to get the final touch on Danny Armstrong’s corner with only 2 minutes on the clock.
Twenty minutes later however and Billy Dodds’ men were given a golden chance to equalise when they were awarded a penalty. Referee David Dickinson pointed to the spot after a low ball was adjudged to strike Joe Wright on the arm.
Despite some protests from the away side, Billy McKay stepped up and dispatched his 15th goal of the campaign.
As the snow descended at half time, it was Kilmarnock goalkeeper Sam Walker who appeared frozen when he was deceived by Sean Welsh’s long range effort after 5 minutes of the second period.
The Inverness captain unleashed a low drive from outside the area which slid under the body of Walker to give his side a shock lead.
Kilmarnock tried to turn the screw as the half wore on but were unable to find the decisive breakthrough as they turn their attention back to escaping relegation.