CALEY Thistle were a whisker away from winning again in Paisley on Saturday – but were denied by a late leveller in an opening day 2-2 draw in the Clydesdale Bank SPL.
Starting their first league game in Inverness colours were defenders Simon King, Gary Warren and David Raven and midfielder Ross Draper at New St Mirren Park, a venue ICT are now unbeaten at in six visits since it opened in 2009.
St Mirren, who finished eighth last season, no longer seem to be rated as relegation candidates because their results have shown more than steady improvement under boss Danny Lennon.
And it was the hosts who looked the better side in the opening exchanges, with former Caley Thistle midfielder Dougie Imrie testing goalkeeper Ryan Esson with a powerful 25-yarder.
Lewis Guy then, on his competitive Buddies debut, should have opened the scoring, but he headed over the crossbar.
However, he didn’t have too much longer to wait as, on 32 minutes, he latched on to a pass from Paul McGowan and drilled a low effort past Esson to make it 1-0.
The Highlanders soon fought back into the contest and Draper saw his shot cleared off the goal-line by Gary Teale.
The visitors looked impressive early in the second half, but could not find a way past ex-Ross County keeper Craig Samson.
Conditions changed as the grey skies opened and the downpours began.
Andrew Shinnie was doing all he could to link up with striker Billy McKay, but along with Aaron Doran and Shane Sutherland, the final pass as never quite effective enough.
On 68 minutes, Sutherland was replaced by Nick Ross and, moments later, the Inverness midfielder was on hand to steer home a cross from Doran with his first touch.
It was a worthy equaliser for Terry Butcher’s team, but on 75 minutes, they grabbed the lead when Andrew Shinnie fed the ball through for McKay and the former Northampton Town hit-man shot under Samson’s legs for a 2-1 advantage.
The Saints were rocked, but they too showed resolve and Darren McGregor headed home a last-gasp equaliser.
Referee Steven McLean then red-carded Guy for flooring Draper in a scramble for the ball.
So, mixed emotions for Caley Thistle after this one, but with fixtures against Hearts and Celtic to come this month, they will be determined to get their home campaign off to a winning start on Saturday when Kilmarnock come calling.
St Mirren: Samson, Van Zanten, Barron, McGregor, Mair, McGowan, McLean, Imrie (Reilly 87), Parkin, Teale (Robertson 80), Guy. Subs not used: Kelly, Smith, McGinn, Adam.
Inverness CT: Esson, Raven (Meekings 64), Graeme Shinnie, Tudur Jones, Warren, McKay, Draper, Andrew Shinnie (Polworth 87), King, Doran, Sutherland (Ross 68).
Referee: Steven McLean.