A great night, a superb team performance and a fantastic support that sang and cheered for the whole game – the only thing wrong was the final score. The crowd was low for a match of this magnitude but it was live on Sky TV and the venue and timing were not ideal. Unlike Hampden the Inverness fans were in the majority. In the end the twin dreams of a Scottish Cup final and European football were over but it was very close. In only seven minutes Russell Duncan broke up a Dunfermline attack and Bingham raced from his own half into Pars’ territory before sliding the ball neatly to Paul Ritchie on the left of the box. Ritchie gave the Inverness fans something to really sing about when he slipped the ball under Derek Stillie to open the scoring. Steve Hislop sent a glancing header past in 19 minutes from Keogh’s corner. The Pars equalised in 24 minutes when Lee Bullen sent a low ball from the left and Darren Young turned it in from six yards. A Hislop shot was deflected for a corner in 29 minutes then Mark Brown kept his side in it with two superb saves from Craig Brewster. Brown injured himself at the first save but after treatment he completed the match. Dunfermline pressed hard for the rest of the half but the Caley Thistle defence held firm. Four minutes into the second half there was a major blow when Russell Duncan crumpled to the ground and was stretchered off. The match turned on three moments around the hour mark. In 59 minutes substitute Darran Thomson found Hislop on the left but his powerful shot crashed off the bar. Three minutes later Ross Tokely sent over a cross from the right and Ritchie met it cleanly to head goalwards. It looked a certainty but Stillie pulled off a spectacular save. Despite these chances ICT went 2-1 down in 63 minutes. Gary Dempsey’s reverse pass reached Brewster on the left and his angled shot went in off the far post. Heads went down a little but Roy McBain did hit over the bar in 73 minutes. In 77 minutes Barry Nicholson scored a captain’s goal to make it 3-1. From the right wing he waltzed inside past three men and hit it low past Brown from eight yards. Caley Thistle did not give up but Dunfermline were always in the driving seat after that blow. Bingham pushed through the middle in 81 minutes but was blocked. Darren Mackie and Stillie chased a 50/50 ball in 86 minutes but it broke for a throw-in when it could have gone anywhere. The fourth official announced three added minutes and it was enough to give some hope. 90 seconds over time Mackie was tripped by Scott Wilson and a penalty awarded. With Barry Wilson missing Bingham took the responsibility and duly scored to make it 3-2. By this time the clock showed over 92 minutes and there was no more time for heroics. Hugh Dallas blew the final whistle and Caley Thistle were out of the cup. They left the field to a standing ovation but the disappointment was written all over the players’ faces. No treble and no European trips but still a chance of the league title.