Free scoring Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Queen’s Park cancelled each other out in a contest that produced plenty of chances but ended in a goalless draw.
The Spiders, looking for their first league success in Inverness since August 1994, were back on familiar lines for their match against a Highland team that had scored ten goals in their last two outings.
Head coach Owen Coyle returned to the side that defeated Cove Rangers 6-0 last weekend as he reversed the nine changes, he made for the midweek SPFL Trust Trophy tie with Raith Rovers, with Jake Davidson, Lee Kilday, Charlie Fox, Tommy Robson, Jack Thomson, Dom Thomas, Grant Savoury, Josh McPake and Simon Murray all handed starting jerseys.
Queen’s wearing the same strip combination they wore when they won some handsomely in Aberdeen, nearly made a breakthrough in the first minute with Savoury almost spinning clear after Davidson and Thomas had carried the ball forward.
Savoury did have a pop at goal in three minutes after a Fox header from a Thomas corner had been cleared to the edge of the area with Mark Ridgers untroubled as the ball went high over.
Inverness were quick to show that they were keen to keep their goalscoring form going and Calum Ferrie had to race from goal and head clear from 19 yards on four minutes with Fox doing likewise after Jay Henderson had sent the loose ball goalward.
Ferrie had to move smartly again 60 seconds later with the shot-stopper scampering to his left before diving full length and pushing a Mackay effort wide.
The end-to-end nature continued with Murray having a header saved before the hosts raced up the park and Mackay swept a cut-back wide before Thomas and Henderson both had low shots scooped up just after the ten-minute mark.
Ferrie produced an outstanding stop on 18 minutes when he got down low and clawed away a net-bound Billy McKay header from six yards after a cross from the right had been nodded onto the striker.
Billy Dodds was all set to celebrate the goal until Ferrie’s intervention with the home boss quickly asking his defence to stay sharp as the visitors forced two corners in quick succession in retaliation.
It was Ridgers’ turn to dart from his line and nod away midway through the opening half just as McPake looked set to reach a long ball.
Just before the half hour mark Fox stood strong to block a Mackay shot and from the resultant corner Aaron Doran was not far off as he looked for the far corner with a powerful drive.
Eleven minutes from the break Thomas robbed Zak Delaney, who had been booked earlier for pulling the wide-man’s jersey, and charged deep into the Caley box however his low cross hit a home defender and rolled into Ridgers’ arms.
On 37 minutes Queen’s came close again as they kept on pushing and probing following a corner. McPake let fly from 20 yards and just when it looked like his shot was drifting wide Davidson popped up unannounced and headed it goalward however Ridgers was just able to scramble the ball away from his goal.
Right on half-time McPake wriggled free of Delaney and reached the by-line and sent a low ball across the face of the Inverness goal but disappointingly for Coyle’s side there was no-one on hand to turn it into the net.
A minute into the second half Kilday showed all his experience as he ran and nodded back to Ferrie after the hosts had played a long ball over the visiting defence as they tried to release McKay.
On 48 minutes Murray came within a whisker of a fine goal as he picked up on a breakaway pass from Thomas and charged forward. The skipper beat one defender and powered an angled shot goalward with Ridgers getting a slight tough to send it just past for a corner.
Five minutes later Kilday was booked for a sliding challenge sone 23 yards out with the ‘Black and White’ wall standing firm to block the dead ball from half-time substitute Nathan Shaw.
On 53 minutes Doran slipped McKay through on the Queen’s goal and Ferrie came to his side’s rescue as he stuck out a foot to turn the striker’s shot past for a corner.
In keeping with the cup-tie approach to the contest it looked like Savoury had found the net at the other end on 55 minutes when he blasted a Thomas slip goalward only for Danny Devine to slide in and block.
Caley roared back with Robson and Fox showing cool heads to deal with dangerous situations with the help of the ever-eager Ferrie who helped with the mopping up operations.
Thomas brought out a fine save from Ridgers just after the hour mark from a swerving and dipping strike from distance.
The away fans were in fine voice as McPake was tripped on the left on 63 minutes and their support was almost rewarded with a goal as Murray tried a cheeky direct effort however Ridgers was equal to it.
An unfortunate slip denied Queen’s the opener with 20 minutes left following a corner on the right. Thomas picked out Murray with a pass and he rode a challenge before having a fierce shot blocked however the ball ran to Kilday who looked set to net from close range until his footing gave way and the chance was lost.
McKay forced Ferrie into a high save from 18 yards before Malachi Boateng forced an opening at the other end with a powerful run and cross.
Kilday had another glimpse of goal with 13 minutes left as the ball dropped to him in the Caley area with the defender making too good a connection this time as his shot flashed over.
Thomson was barged to the ground 22 yards out, and in line with the penalty spot, with 10 minutes to go but hopes of a breakthrough ended when Thomas shot high over.
Both sides continued to press for a goal with Boateng again creating danger with a forward run with the home side forcing a late corner.
As the game drew to a close substitute Lewis Nicolson tried a snap-shot from 18 yards but again Ferrie was well-placed to make a diving stop.
Added-on time was extended after a corner flag picked up an injury and a replacement had to be found and when play resumed Robson cleared away a dangerous George Oakley knockdown.
Queen’s Park: Calum Ferrie, Jake Davidson, Lee Kilday, Charlie Fox, Tommy Robson, Jack Thomson, Malachi Boateng, Dom Thomas, Grant Savoury, Josh McPake (Pat Jarrett 68), Simon Murray. Subs not used: Jason Naismith, Louis Longridge, Jacques Heraghty (G/k), Calum Biggar, Scott Williamson, Aaron Healy, Alex Bannon, Stephen Eze.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle: Mark Ridgers, Wallace Duffy, Sean Welsh, Danny Devine, David Carson, Billy McKay (George Oakley 81), Aaron Doran (Ben Woods 72), Lewis Hyde (Steven Boyd 72), Daniel Mackay (Nathan Shaw 46), Jay Henderson (Lewis Nicolson 85), Zak Delaney. Subs not used: Cameron Mackay (G/k), Robbie Thompson, Ethan Cairns, Matthew Strachan.
Referee: Steven McLean