INVERNESS warmed up for Sunday’s Scottish League Cup final against Aberdeen with a hard-fought 0-0 draw against Hibernian in the Highland capital.
Chances were at a premium in a Scottish Premiership game that only very rarely flickered into life at either end.
The result, however, was enough to move Caley Thistle up to fourth in the table, while Hibernian remain in seventh, four points behind St Johnstone.
With the League Cup final only four days away, Inverness manager John Hughes rang the changes.
In came Danny Devine, Carl Tremarco, Nick Ross, Liam Polworth and Danny Williams from the side that lost 5-0 to Dundee United in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup. Graeme Shinnie and James Vincent dropped to the bench. Greg Tansey and Marley Watkins were suspended, as was Ross Draper, while David Raven was not involved.
On-loan Sunderland striker Duncan Watmore was back for Hibernian following injury, while Tom Taiwo came in after completing a ban. Liam Craig and Lewis Stevenson were both relegated to the bench following the 3-3 home draw with Motherwell.
Hibs had only enjoyed one victory in their last nine games, but almost opened the scoring, Ryan McGivern bringing out a fine fingertip save from Dean Brill after being set up 12 yards out by Danny Haynes.
Play quickly surged to the other end and Billy Mckay was inches away from converting Aaron Doran’s attempted curling shot from the edge of the 18-yard box.
That was it in terms of clear-cut scoring opportunities in a game where both sides lacked quality in the final third.
Hibs probably shaded the first half in terms of possession, but neither team could string many passes together in a first 45 minutes which will not live long in the memory.
The opening exchanges of the second half showed no signs of the game coming to life, despite the best efforts of the lively Watmore to open up the home defence.
There was finally something for the home fans to get excited about when Doran’s ball over the top found Mckay, who did well to control it, before striking for goal from the angle. However, the ball went wide of the near post and found only the side-netting.
Inverness captain Richie Foran found his way into the referee’s notebook for a strong challenge on Sam Stanton, before McGivern was cautioned after catching Ross late.
The home side almost took the lead when Ross played a neat ball through to Doran, but again with the angle tightening he could only fire a shot straight at Ben Williams, who palmed it away to safety.
No one, however, could make the breakthrough in the latter stages of a scrappy affair where a point apiece was probably the right result.