St. Johnstone came into the game having won their first league match of the season last week against Celtic and that fighting form was evident in a resilient display at the home of the SPL new boys. Ross County were 40 games unbeaten yet had only scored twice in their first six SPL games.
Ross County started the brighter of the two sides as they had a number of early chances. On 10 minutes, some nice play between Morrow and Kettlewell set up Gary Glen who did well to volley the ball with Mannus on rushing, however his shot went just over.
Glen again had an opportunity to put County in front however his lob shot on 19 minutes was ruled offside. A corner from Vigurs on 28 minutes nearly put County in front as his in swerving corner fell nicely to Scott Boyd whose diving header went just over the bar.
All Ross County’s early pressure counted for nothing as St Johnstone’s first shot on goal from Liam Craig flew neatly into the top corner past the diving Michael Fraser. The speculative effort from 30 yards out caught the County keeper and support completely off guard.
However the Saints euphoria turned to anger a minute later as Rowan Vine got a straight red card for an off the ball push on Richard Brittain. That red was to be followed up by two quick fire yellows to Vines teammates, Wright and Tade.
Ross County came out fired up for the second half and had their first chance on 51 minutes when a Sam Morrow cross was narrowly missed by the head of Grant Munro, however it fell to the feet of Mihael Kovacevic at the far post who rifled a shot of the chest of Mannus.
A minute later Iain Vigurs had his speculative long-range shot go just over the bar.
With 57 minutes played, Steve Lomas brought on Murray Davidson for Nigel Hasselbaink and was nearly instantly repaid when with his first touch he volleyed the ball of the underside of the post from a couple of yards out when it would have being easier to score.
St Johnstone’s luck looked to have run out when Ross County got an equaliser on 69 minutes through Sam Morrow. Some nice wing play from Kettlewell resulted in a great cross which fell to Munro who played a short pass across the box for Morrow to slide into the bottom corner past the diving Mannus.
With the equaliser and the extra man, Ross County went searching for a winner. McMenamin had a shot to the bottom corner well saved on 76 minutes and some serious pinball box action on 80 minutes saw most of the Ross County line up have a shot on goal blocked.
However with County looking ever more likely to score a breakaway attack from the Saints ended up with them retaking the lead against the run of play. A long-range shot from Steven MacLean was punched out for a corner kick. Craig’s corner sailed out to the back post where Frazer Wright headed the ball back across goal, over Fraser and into the top of the net.
Saints nearly increased their lead before the end with a David McKay free kick on the edge of the box hitting off the crossbar. St Johnstone plays Third Division amateurs, Queens Park on Tuesday in the last 16 of the League Cup while Ross County have a trip to Paisley next Saturday to play St Mirren in the SPL to look forward too.
After the match, Saints manager Steve Lomas was happy with his team’s performance but not the referees: “They don’t surprise me, the character to score is fantastic, you know we faced adversity. The sending off is an absolute shocker. The last time I appealed was a total waste of time, it was an absolute waste of everybody’s time. I won’t appeal it. It’s obviously down to the referee and how he sees it.”
Ross County manager Derek Adams was unhappy to see his teams lose their 40 match unbeaten run: “We are obviously disappointed to lose the goals we lost today. I thought we dominated the game from start to finish. It’s a sad way to lose a football match. We had the possession, the chances and St Johnstone score with their first shot of the game. I thought they defended well, we put them under a lot of pressure. It was a sad way to lose out unbeaten run.”
Ross County: Michael Fraser, Marc Fitzpatrick (Martin Scott), Grant Munro, Scott Boyd, Ross Tokely (Mihael Kovacevic), Stuart Kettlewell, Richard Brittain, Iain Vigurs, Rocco Quinn, Sam Morrow, Gary Glen (Colin McMenamin)
Subs not used: Mark Brown, Archie Macphee, Steven Ross, Tony Dingwall
St Johnstone: Alan Mannus, Gary Miller, Steven Anderson, Frazer Wright, Gregory Tade (David McCracken), Rowan Vine, David McKay, Nigel Hasslebaink (Murray Davidson), Patrick Gregg (Steven MacLean), Chris Millar, Liam Craig.
Subs not used: Jon Tuffey, Liam Caddis, Chris Kane, Chris Tobin
Referee: Crawford Allan