THE commiserations were heartfelt but Richie Foran awaits an apology.

The Inverness Caledonian Thistle captain had the disappointment of leading a defeated team exacerbated by his anger at the refusal of the referee, Steven McLean, to award his side a penalty when he was wrestled at a corner kick by Andrew Considine. "We had a stonewall penalty turned down," said the Dubliner. "You need brave referees and he's made the wrong decision. I'm sure he'll see that on TV and I'm expecting a phone call from him apologising. I could hardly have missed from there. I was grabbed from behind with two arms, but all he said was that it wasn't a penalty. The ref's a really good boy, I like him. He talks to you but once again a referee has had - I'm trying to choose my words carefully and not get into trouble - a big say in the outcome of the game."

He said of McLean: "He was in a great position to see it. I just want them to be fair. We're not getting the decisions at all."

Foran was philosophical about the missed penalties by Greg Tansey and Billy McKay: "I told Greg that I'm sure he'd rather miss a penalty than have your mother told she has got really bad sickness that she won't recover from. And I said to Billy that he'd rather miss a penalty than be told his little son William had been in an accident. At the end of the day, it's just football."

There was a limited victory for Inverness as midfielder Ross Draper won the man-of-the-match award but the Englishman was aware that was no consolation on a disappointing day for his team.

"It's nice to get an award like that to show the kids when I'm older but it doesn't mean a great deal at the moment after the way we were beaten. And maybe I didn't deserve it. I'll take it, but it means nothing without a winner's medal to back it up."

Draper was a crucial part of an Inverness game plan to smother Aberdeen in midfield.

"It worked really well because we restricted them to few chances," he said. "In our recent home game against them we were 4-0 down at half-time so we knew what they can do and what they're capable of. So we decided to sit in, limit their opportunities and see what we could nick on the break or from set pieces. And it worked a treat."

He added: "Later on we changed the formation and we had a little bit more of a go. This is a missed opportunity but it's a great achievement for the club and for us as a group of players just to get here. I'm just disappointed that we couldn't finish it off."

This gloom was most obvious in Aaron Doran, the Irish midfielder, who was dropped from the starting line-up by manager John Hughes to accommodate the stifling strategy.

"I was disappointed not to start. He [Hughes] called me in yesterday and said that, after the Dundee United and Celtic games, he didn't want to concede goals, so he went a bit more defensive, bring me on to win the game," said the former Blackburn Rovers player who was introduced in the second half.

"I was devastated, but that's football. The lads all supported me and I couldn't go around sulking, getting the other lads down."