Arbroath returned to the Highlands for the second time in three days as they took part in the inaugural fixture of the Irn Bru Cup.
The cup competition is a revamp of the Challenge cup which has grown to now incorporate the Under 20 colt teams of all 12 Premiership clubs alongside teams from the Championship, League 1 and League 2.
Duncan Shearer’s Caley Thistle U20s were the opponents for Dick Campbell’s men and he gave the opposition his full respect when he was at last able to name Arbroath’s strongest starting line up, as suspensions and injuries finally eased.
The game kicked off at an electric pace with Lichties attacking down both wings and Linn was first to try an attempt on goal as he cut in from the wing but his shot was just wide. The young Caley Thistle side were full of pace and almost nicked the opening goal but fortunately for the Lichties Linn was back defending and managed to stop a MacRae shot.
The opening goal came in the 17th minute for the Lichties and was netted by Omar Kader. Bobby Linn attacked down the left wing before crossing into a crowded box with the ball eventually landing at the back post where Kader made no mistake by smashing the ball in from 6 yards with his left foot.
Arbroath turned up the pressure and scored their 2nd goal in the 21st minute. A second corner in quick succession by Ryan McCord was met by Colin Hamilton who beat three defenders to bullet a header into the net.
Caley Thistle were dangerous on the break and came close through Chris Brown who was impressive throughout. The Lichties were unable to add to their lead in the first half but came close with efforts from McCord, Doris and Hamilton.
The home side started the second half well but the experience of Dunlop and Little showed no charity to the young opposition as they put in a determined display. With only 16 minutes remaining Arbroath were forced into substituting keeper Ricky Gomes as the Canadian seemed to succumb to an injury.
Arbroath’s third goal came in the 77th minute when they hit on the break from a Caley Thistle corner. Ricky Little burst out of defence with the ball before finding Linn who ran towards goal before curling a teasing ball into the box where Martin ‘Jimmy’ Scott clinically finished to score his first goal for the Lichties and secure passage to the next round.
Arbroath’s focus will now turn to the league opener on Saturday as they welcome Berwick Rangers to Gayfield.