Kevin Rutkiewicz’s side earned a well-deserved draw with their Championship opponents then prevailed in the shoot-out to make it five points from six in Premier Sports Cup Group A.
Albion led in the Highland capital thanks to first-half goals from Dylan Mackin and Kieran Moore but Roddy MacGregor and Shane Sutherland hauled Billy Dodds’ men level.
Five of the 10 kicks in the shoot-out were missed and Blair Currie’s save from Shane Sutherland proved decisive. Jack Leitch (saved) and Kyle Banner (crossbar) failed from 12 yards but Dale Carrick, Nathan Flanagan and Rabin Omar all converted. Scott Allardice and Reece McAlear netted for ICT.
It was a gloriously warm day in Inverness for a rare meeting of the teams at this venue. Unsurprisingly, Rutkiewicz fielded the same team who beat Cove 3-2 for the match against a Caley Thistle side who had defeated Peterhead 2-0 in their Group A opener on Tuesday.
Stirling’s start to the tie was eye-catching. They had a good penalty shout for handball dismissed after just 30 seconds and were in front after less than four minutes.
Mackin got the goal with a superbly-struck free kick from around 25 yards – it was a perfectly judged left-foot strike from the forward and the ball went in off the underside of the bar.
Albion stunned their hosts by scoring again after 20 minutes. Nathan Flanagan played a clever ball in from the right, the defence couldn’t clear, and Moore pounced from close range.
Inverness were back in it just short of the half-hour mark when Manny Duku set up MacGregor and the highly-rated teenager scored with a cool finish low into the net from 15 yards.
ICT equalised early in the second period. Sutherland, so often the scourge of Stirling in his Elgin days, found the bottom corner with an almost casual finish from the edge of the area.
Most onlookers probably fancied Inverness to go on and complete the job but, although they had the bulk of possession, Stirling defended stoutly and didn’t give up too many opportunities.
True, Aaron Doran missed a sitter right at the end when he fired wide, but just before that Omar forced an outstanding reaction stop from keeper Cammy Mackay and Leitch had earlier rattled the bar from 18 yards.
Albion’s very impressive display certainly merited the draw in 90 minutes. The bonus point was a welcome extra and revenge for four years ago, when they lost 2-0 to Caley Thistle in a penalty decider after a 0-0 draw at Forthbank.
Inverness CT: Mackay, Harper, Carson, Broadfoot (Devine 63), Fyffe (Deas 46), Welsh (Allardice 38), Gardyne (Doran 63), MacGregor, Walsh, Sutherland, Duku (McAlear 83). Subs (not used): Ridgers (GK), Duffy, Nicolson, Cairns.
Goals: MacGregor 27, Sutherland 49
Stirling Albion: Currie, Cummins (McGeachie 74), McNiff, McLean, McGregor, Laird (Banner 83), Moore (Heaver 89), Omar, Leitch, Flanagan, Mackin (Carrick 74). Subs (not used): Law (GK), Roberts, Bikey.
Goals: Mackin 4, Moore 20
Referee: Alan Newlands