BILLY DODDS felt Scottish Cup fever finally got the better of Caley Thistle’s players as their streak of six wins ended against title favourites Dundee.

For the third game running, the Highlanders had to fight back from behind to earn the result with Austin Samuels’ close-range finish cancelling out Hearts target Lyall Cameron’s cheeky back-heel flick.

League leaders Dundee, now eight games unbeaten, still have work to do in their final two matches, with Queen’s Park breathing down their necks. The draw, in front of Caley Thistle’s biggest crowd of the season, officially ended the hosts’ dreams of winning the title, but play-off hopes will come down to a final showdown with Ayr United.

Before that comes the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden and Dodds admitted: “I thought we maybe had one eye on the semi-final and we’ve also had a large volume of games this month. We looked a wee bit tired.

“Can we play this game and get through it? I am glad this run of games is out of the way. People have been wanting to talk about the semi-final, whether family, people around the club or fans. I understand that but I didn’t want to even mention the semi-final.

“I was hoping we’d already be in the play-offs now, but it will go to the last day, which is good and exciting. A win today would have meant a draw would have been enough against Ayr, but I don’t think we deserved to win the game either.

“It’s human nature for the cup semi to be in our minds. What an opportunity it is. It’s been like the elephant in the room, but now I am really looking forward to the build-up.”

It was a day of nostalgia and emotion for the Inverness club.

Before the match, there was a minute’s applause in honour of long-serving groundsman Tommy Cumming who passed earlier in the week. And at half-time, pre-merger Caley’s class of 82/83 were introduced to fans, 40 years after their Highland League-winning side’s “Invincible” unbeaten season.

In the here and now, the stakes were high between arguably the two Championship slides in best form.

A strong, blustery wind made it tricky for the players on a day short on clear cut chances.

Dundee mustered the vital breakthrough right on the hour.

After a spell of pressure, Jakubiak cut in from the left and his stroke was blocked by Danny Devine. But Cameron showed great invention to flick a back heel past Ridgers from inside the six-yard box.

Amid a spate of substitutions, Caley Jags signalled their intent by taking off centre half Danny Devine for attacker Dan MacKay. But the hosts, no strangers to late comebacks this season, drew level with 15 minutes remaining.

Tremendous work from Hibs loanee Dan MacKay on the right was followed by a curling pass into the penalty area. The ball bobbled through to fellow substitute Austin Samuels who controlled and stuck it home from four yards.

Samuels had another chance in the closing minutes, turning superbly outside the box but firing into Adam Legzdins’ arms.

While Dodds felt the draw was fair, opposite number Gary Bowyer felt aggrieved. The Dundee boss said: “It was definitely one that got away. In the second half we were really good until that last little bit in the final third, in the penalty box.

“It was just decision-making. We had some wonderful opportunities.

“We scored a good goal, but the goal we conceded is a poor one with too many errors. We’ve come here and dominated the game, but there’s obviously stuff we have to working on.”