BILY DODDS has warned his players that they are only halfway through their Premiership play-off quarter-final after the Inverness manager watched his side come from a goal behind to win 2-1 against Partick Thistle.

The Jags had taken the lead early on in the second half at Firhill through Robbie Crawford but they let their opponents back into the game as Shane Sutherland and then Austin Samuels ensured the visitors returned to the Highlands with a victory in the bag.

“It is only half-time,” Dodds said. “We want them to focus and realise what is at stake. We have to have the same effort and not give away cheap goals.

“Thistle will come and have a go. I would in the same situation. It is a big result for us and we just need to ensure we focus.

“Hopefully we can catch them and get the tie killed off. It is a great result for us.”

Ian McCall had predicted a cagey affair at Firhill and the Thistle boss was left looking eerily prescient as the contest got under way. The surface in Maryhill meant that slick passing moves were virtually impossible; instead, the two sets of players shelled the ball hither and thither as they looked for an opening.

Inverness were the brighter of the two teams during the game’s opening exchanges but the visitors struggled to convert their early positivity into clear-cut chances. Robbie Deas went close on the cusp of half-time when the Inverness full-back was picked out unmarked at the back post by Sean Welsh’s excellent diagonal ball, but rifled his shot wide of the far post.

The Jags started the second period on the front foot and it wasn’t long before they got their reward. A long ball was played forward to Alex Jakubiak, who did well to bring it up and lay it off to Brian Graham on the edge of the Inverness box. The veteran striker spotted the overlapping run of Crawford, gently nudged the ball into his path and the midfielder slammed home from close range to hand Thistle the advantage.

The home side were buoyed by the breakthrough and the match opened up a little as they started to fashion opportunities more frequently. Inverness were not out of it though, and a Sutherland shot that whistled over the bar offered a reminder of what Dodds’ men were capable of.

It wasn’t heeded, though, and with 70 minutes on the clock Caley earned their lifeline. A shot from Billy Mckay from the edge of the area was spilled by Jamie Sneddon, and Sutherland reacted quickest as he pounced on the loose ball and tapped it in.

Juan Alegria was brought on as Thistle looked to re-establish their lead and the Rangers loanee missed a glorious opportunity with 10 minutes to play. David Carson tripped over the ball, leaving the Jags striker with a one-on-one and all the time in the world, but he curled his effort high and wide of goal.

That miss would prove costly as within minutes, Inverness claimed a priceless lead ahead of the return leg on Friday night. The ball was worked to Sutherland, who had acres of space on the right. He swung a terrific ball into the area, and substitute Austin Samuels was at hand to stroke the ball home.

“There's big moments in the game and in games of this magnitude you've got to take advantage of them,” rued McCall. “Snedds has been great this season but he's really just got to catch that, and if you don't catch it then put it out the side so that they don't score.

“Then Juan misses a snip that he's got to score. It's just before they scored again and it would've put us up 2-1.

“I am a bit gutted but the tie is absolutely not over. We've got to go there and score first.”