Dunfermline 3-3 Inverness CT

By Clive LindsayBBC Scotland

Martin Hardie's superb curling 30-yard free-kick in stoppage time saved a point for the Pars against Inverness.

Andy Kirk's neat finish put Dunfermline deservedly ahead after 26 minutes.

Greg Tansey's low drive deflected past keeper Paul Gallacher two minutes after the break as Inverness levelled, but Kirk headed a reply five minutes later.

Jonny Hayes pounced when Gallacher spilled a shot on 76 minutes then Tansey headed in seven minutes later before Hardie's late equaliser.

It was a point Dunfermline thoroughly merited but leaves the Fifers still looking for a win over the Highland outfit in 11 games.

Inverness boss Terry Butcher hoped to have bolstered his defence by the re-signing of Chris Hogg, who came into the side along with winger Aaron Doran in place of Nick Ross and Tom Aldred.

But the visiting rearguard was quickly exposed after Joe Cardle floated a corner to the back post.

Veteran midfielder Hardie, who returned to the starting line-up in place of Andy Dowie after last weekend's struggle to defeat Annan Athletic 2-1 in the Scottish Communities League Cup, volleyed into the six yard box.

Joe Cardle and Andy Kirk celebrate
Kirk (right) supplied the clinical finish as Dunfermline took a first-half lead

Andrew Barrowman looked certain to score against his former club as he divered the effort towards goal, but goalkeeper Ryan Esson somehow clawed the ball off the goalline.

Caley Thistle at last forced a save from Gallacher after 25 minutes from a curling Tansey free kick that the goalkeeper made a bit of a meal of as he pushed it clear.

The Pars responded and Kirk slipped the ball past Esson after a high up-and-under from Hardie was headed on by Barrowman.

Caley Thistle suffered another blow after 38 minutes when defender Kenny Gillet was stretchered off after a clash of heads with Austin McCann.

With David Proctor as their replacement, a groggy Inverness survived until half time without further punishment as Dunfermline continued to dominate proceedings.

However, Inverness were level within two minutes of the re-start when Tansey tricked his way clear of two Dunfermline players and the midfielder's low drive deflected off Alex Keddie and over the despairing Gallacher.

Dunfermline were quickly back in front when Cardle squandered a chance to shoot at the back post but was allowed to send in a cross that found Kirk unmarked eight yards out to head past Esson.

Inverness ought to have been level when Richie Foran won a challenge with goalkeeper Gallacher and his head flick appeared to be heading over the line before Gregory Tade turned the ball in only to be ruled offside.

They were back level after Gallacher fumbled a deflected drive from Owain Tudur Jones and Hayes prodded home from six yards.

Inverness were ahead when Foran rose at the back post and his header across goal was force home by Tansey.

However, Hardie's value as a set-piece specialist came to the Pars' rescue as they began their return to Scotland's top flight with two home draws.

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