United were a goal and a man down early on but ultimately equalised on both fronts courtesy of McGowan’s effort and a late red card for Caley defender Gary Warren.
The drama began as early as the sixth minute, when a beautiful pass from Graeme Shinnie sent Marley Watkins scampering through on the home goal only for Michal Szromnik to haul him down.
That prompted referee Calum Murray to award a penalty and produce a red card for Szromnik – Greg Tansey keeping his nerve from the spot to send substitute goalkeeper Radoslaw Cierzniak the wrong way.
Watkins was close to doubling the lead on two occasions before the break but the Terrors survived and began to impose themselves more in the second period.
The equaliser came in the 76th minute when McGowan’s shot was deflected – wrong-footing Ryan Esson and nestling in the back of the net to ignite the home fans.
It could have got even better for the hosts when Nadir Ciftci raced through on goal with five minutes remaining, but Esson produced a stunning stop to ensure his side headed for the Highlands with a share of the spoils and stay unbeaten in 2015.
There was still time for Warren to earn his marching orders as Murray produced the second red of the evening following an off-the-ball incident.