Scottish Premiership
Ross CountyRoss County1St JohnstoneSt Johnstone1

Ross County 1-1 St Johnstone

By Kenny CrawfordBBC Scotland at the Global Energy Stadium

Ross County moved off bottom spot as a controversial Alex Schalk penalty cancelled out Denny Johnstone's early opener.

With just 75 seconds on the clock, Johnstone guided a header low and under Scott Fox from six yards out.

The hosts earned a second-half spot kick when Chris Eagles was brought down, seemingly just outside the box, by Chris Millar.

Schalk converted the penalty to take his side to 17 points and off bottom.

Tommy Wright's St Johnstone didn't manage to make it five wins from their last five trips to the Global Energy Stadium, but the Perth men are now unbeaten in three matches - against Rangers, Hearts and County - over the festive period.

That spell of fixtures has also proved a bountiful time for Johnstone, who notched his first Saints goal at Ibrox then provided the downward header that gave the visitors the perfect start in the Highlands.

David Wotherspoon, back in the starting eleven, supplied the cross and although Johnstone's header appeared to be directed straight at County goalkeeper Fox, it bobbled its way into the back of the net to make Owen Coyle look at his watch in disbelief. Just 75 seconds on the clock.

Denny Johnstone celebrates after opening the scoring against Ross County.
Denny Johnstone secured his second goal of the season, having scored in St Johnstone's 3-1 victory over Rangers at Ibrox

The Staggies' captain Andrew Davies nearly equalised in the ninth minute with a header that St Johnstone's Zander Clark saved in superb fashion.

St Johnstone almost made an equally effective start to the second half. Michael O'Halloran surged into the box and his low drive across goal was turned into the net by Steven MacLean, only for the assistant referee to raise his flag.

That key decision was followed by another. Referee Greg Aitken pointed to the spot on the 52nd minute when Chris Millar mistimed his tackle on the tricky Chris Eagles. Saints protested that it was not inside the box, but Schalk was not distracted as he put his fifth goal of the season low into the right corner.

Billy McKay (right) sees his shot saved by Saints keeper Zander Clark.
Owen Coyle's side have a better goal difference than Partick Thistle - both sides on 17 points

From there on the game opened up. Johnstone and Wotherspoon were denied in quick succession by two equally brilliant last-ditch blocks by Jason Naismith and Chris Routis.

At the other end, County's top scorer Craig Curran failed to stretch enough to apply the finishing touch to Schalk's cross.

The introduction of Davis Keillor-Dunn caused all sorts of problems for St Johnstone.

The youngster's trickery started the most incredible sequence of goalmouth action that goalkeeper Clark emerged from with great credit. Naismith had the first effort from 12 yards, which Clark parried before Schalk knocked the rebound off the inside of the post. The ball then fell to Billy McKay and the Irishman was twice denied from point-blank range by the impressive Clark.

Keillor-Dunn continued to be the star of the show. The 20-year-old curled one effort narrowly wide and went on to fire another one towards the far corner, but Clark got a palm to it.

Right at the death, Liam Craig watched his free-kick nearly nick all three points for Saints.

Post-match reaction

Ross County manager Owen Coyle: "We know the performances haven't been bad but it was a horrendous start. A minute into the game, a throw-in down the side and we've been caught cold and that's not acceptable, which was stressed to the players at half-time.

"For me, I thought we were a shadow of ourselves in the first half. We needed that intensity, the pace we play at. Second half I've got to say we were outstanding. Second half, we should have won the game. I think St Johnstone will feel very lucky to leave with a point - accepting St Johnstone are always dangerous on the counter-attack."

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright: "It's a good point. I always feel if you come away with something here it's always a good point. I thought we played well. I thought it was a cracking game and both teams tried to win the game and were still trying to win the game at the end."

"I think the penalty decision, and I've seen it back, I don't see how he can be 100% that it's inside the box. Chris Millar shouldn't go to ground, he knows that, and he probably makes it easier for the referee. Chris' feet and body never go inside the box so I don't know how he can possibly have touched the player in there if his body and feet stay outside the box.

"Denny Johnstone's dragged to the ground inside the box. I went to see the referee about that. I think referees have got to be brave at times and make those decisions. It's a foul. There's no attempt by Naismith, I think it was, to win the ball and he just wrestles Denny to the ground. Again it's a decision that should have went our way."


Ross County

Formation 4-4-1-1

  • 1Fox
  • 3Naismith
  • 2Fraser
  • 15DaviesSubstituted forLindsayat 45'minutesBooked at 48mins
  • 28van der Weg
  • 7Gardyne
  • 4Routis
  • 8ChowBooked at 90mins
  • 33EaglesSubstituted forKeillor-Dunnat 60'minutes
  • 10Schalk
  • 11CurranSubstituted forMckayat 72'minutes


  • 9Dow
  • 18Lindsay
  • 19Mikkelsen
  • 22Mckay
  • 25O'Brien
  • 31McCarey
  • 40Keillor-Dunn

St Johnstone

Formation 4-4-2

  • 12Clark
  • 19FosterBooked at 55mins
  • 5Shaughnessy
  • 6Anderson
  • 3TanserBooked at 22mins
  • 10WotherspoonSubstituted forAlstonat 83'minutes
  • 7Millar
  • 11O'Halloran
  • 26Craig
  • 9MacLean
  • 17JohnstoneSubstituted forCumminsat 71'minutes


  • 1Mannus
  • 4Alston
  • 20McClean
  • 21Scougall
  • 23Gordon
  • 24Easton
  • 29Cummins
Greg Aitken

Match Stats

Home TeamRoss CountyAway TeamSt Johnstone
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Ross County 1, St. Johnstone 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Ross County 1, St. Johnstone 1.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Liam Craig (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left from a direct free kick.

  4. Booking

    Tim Chow (Ross County) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  5. Post update

    Foul by Tim Chow (Ross County).

  6. Post update

    Chris Millar (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  7. Post update

    Attempt missed. Michael Gardyne (Ross County) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

  8. Post update

    Attempt missed. Kenny van der Weg (Ross County) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

  9. Post update

    Attempt saved. Davis Keillor-Dunn (Ross County) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

  10. Post update

    Attempt missed. Billy McKay (Ross County) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left.

  11. Substitution

    Substitution, St. Johnstone. Blair Alston replaces David Wotherspoon.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Jamie Lindsay (Ross County).

  13. Post update

    Chris Millar (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  14. Post update

    Attempt missed. Davis Keillor-Dunn (Ross County) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right.

  15. Post update

    Attempt saved. Tim Chow (Ross County) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  16. Post update

    Michael Gardyne (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  17. Post update

    Foul by David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone).

  18. Post update

    Attempt saved. Jason Naismith (Ross County) header from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

  19. Post update

    Attempt saved. Jamie Lindsay (Ross County) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner.

  20. Post update

    Attempt saved. Billy McKay (Ross County) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

As It Stood

6St Johnstone207582128-726
11Ross County2145122134-1317
12Partick Thistle2145121737-2017
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