County put the pressure on early when an Iain Vigurs corner was headed just wide of the left-hand post by Keith Watson. Despite the bulk of possession lying with the Staggies in the opening stages, the Saints held their shape well and stayed resolute to any threatening attacks. It was nearly a dream return debut for Jason Naismith, when his rasping shot struck the side netting 16 minutes in.
A teasing cross was played into the danger area by Naismith shortly after, when Oli Shaw could only force a parried save from Clark. It spilled onto the edge where an unmarked Ross Draper was waiting. He coolly smashed it home, putting the home side one goal to the good.
St Johnstone produced an instant reply on the 25th minute when Watson flew into a challenge inside the box, bringing down Chris Kane. The referee Willie Collum pointed to the spot without hesitation. Veteran Craig Conway stepped up to take it, and managed to squeeze it past Ross Laidlaw in the bottom right, drawing the away team level.
Early in the second half, Conway had a free kick which he floated in nicely, but it was glanced away by Ross Draper, sending the Staggies on the counter. Harry Paton slipped a ball through to Shaw, who struck a shot at the keeper, but he was deemed offside by the linesman.
The second half was particularly cagey, with neither team having many clear cut chances. The away side dominated the ball, but failed to trouble Ross County. County came ever so close to grabbing the lead when Stephen Kelly swung in a corner with five minutes to go, Watson rising well before sending a bullet header onto the top of the crossbar but it skimmed out for a goal-kick.
Josh Reid found himself on the edge of the box in the dying embers. He smashed a strike towards goal but an incredible save from Clark denied the teenage full-back. That was the last action of the game, as the referee called time at 1-1. Here are three things we learned.
Ross County bounce
Despite not emulating the same level of performance they did at Easter Road when they beat Hibs 2-0, Ross County gained a positive point. The confidence levels seem to have been pushed up with the arrival of John Hughes, who has already instilled a more possession based style of play.
With four points in the last two games, the Staggies seem to be verging on hitting a good run of form.
Saints’ shooting boots
The Saints frontline had a countless amount of chances in this match, but they just couldn’t seem to put them away.
Callum Davidson’s men were the dominant force in the second half, but they struggled to make the pressure count. Many efforts from the likes of Conway and Kane were close, but they couldn’t get the ball past Ross Laidlaw.
The returning Naismith came straight into the XI for the first game he was available for, which shows the value he holds to Ross County. From the get-go he gave County an extra attacking option with his penetrative runs on the right hand side.
His size and stature was also a help defensively, with his aerial presence helping the Staggies back line to win their duals.
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