Match ends, Kilmarnock 0, St. Johnstone 0.
Kilmarnock 0-0 St Johnstone: Visitors move off bottom place
St Johnstone moved off the bottom of the Scottish Premiership with a 0-0 draw away at Kilmarnock.
Tommy Wright's side had only kept one league clean sheet all season before the game, but comfortably kept the hosts' forwards at bay.
The visitors' Liam Gordon came closest to opening the scoring in the first half, but his effort was blocked on the line by Chris Burke.
Kilmarnock remain in fifth place, now five points behind Motherwell.
Kilmarnock passive once again
At half-time in Saturday's draw with Hibernian, Kilmarnock manager Angelo Alessio shouted at his side. He was angry with them as they trailed by a goal at the break, before going another goal down a few minutes later.
"I called for them to give more and show a strong personality. The first half we were soft and passive," he said. But at Easter Road, he eventually got a reaction.
His team rallied, they showed hunger, fight and spirit. Led by the likes of substitute Liam Millar, who was rewarded with a start for this game as a result, they repeatedly banged on the door of Hibernian's defence and eventually got what their performance in the final half hour warranted. A hard-fought 2-2 draw.
Tonight at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock did not show a single one of those qualities. If Alessio was angry at the break last weekend, he will have been seething - or at least should have been - with his players when referee Bobby Madden blew his whistle after 45 minutes tonight, and then again at full-time as he failed to see any sort of response in the second-half.
With the return of striker Eamonn Brophy, his team potentially buoyed by Dario Del Fabro's last-gasp equaliser a few days earlier, and facing bottom of the league St Johnstone, a team who have a goal difference of minus 20, Kilmarnock did not even register a single shot on target in the first half. Stephen O'Donnell should have scored just before the break but he could not quite guide in Burke's in-swinging free-kick.
In fact, it took until just past the hour mark before Zander Clark had anything to do in the visitors' goal, as Burke's effort stung his hands at the near post with Kilmarnock's only shot on target. In the aftermath, Kilmarnock appealed for a penalty but referee Madden waved play on.
We should not take anything away from St Johnstone, however. They certainly did not look like a team low on confidence as they raced out the blocks and, had it not been for Burke's goal-line header, Gordon would have opened the scoring inside the first 20 minutes.
Though Laurentiu Branescu was not called into action many times, the visitors found themselves in promising positions on a number of occasions and could have easily ran out with all three points had their decision-making in the final third been better.
It was a performance offering hope for St Johnstone's supporters. Tommy Wright's five changes worked a treat. They looked refreshed, they were solid at the back, confident in possession and, at the end of the game, they were the team pushing for the winner and looking the more likely to score.
Though Wright will be disappointed that they were unable to find that elusive winning goal, it was a very good response to their 4-0 drubbing at Motherwell a few days ago.
Man of the match - Liam Craig
BBC Sport Scotland's Paul Mitchell at Rugby Park
Given that he hadn't started a game since the sides last met at the end of August, with just two substitute appearances since then, Liam Craig brought his experience to the visiting XI.
Sitting in front of the back four he provided protection while also trying to inspire the Perth side going forward. He was an integral part of them leaving with a point.
'It was a poor game' - reaction
Kilmarnock manager Angelo Alessio: "It was a tough game, we are disappointed with the performance but the draw is the right result.
"It was a very poor game. For me we should have had a penalty, it was clear."
St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright: "We didn't look like a side who had just come off a 4-0 defeat away from home.
"Just the final ball and decision let us down because I thought we should have made more of the positions we got into, that may have given us enough to go and win the game."
- 26Del Fabro
- 8DickerBooked at 63mins
- 15El MakriniSubstituted forSowat 74'minutes
- 9BrophySubstituted forMcKenzieat 84'minutes
- 11MillarSubstituted forThomasat 73'minutes
- 25St. Clair
- 21RalstonBooked at 70mins
- 7WrightSubstituted forWotherspoonat 73'minutes
- 17O'HalloranSubstituted forKennedyat 82'minutes
- Bobby Madden
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Kilmarnock 0, St. Johnstone 0.
Foul by Osman Sow (Kilmarnock).
Jason Kerr (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt missed. Anthony Ralston (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.
Stephen O'Donnell (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Matthew Kennedy (St. Johnstone).
Substitution, Kilmarnock. Rory McKenzie replaces Eamonn Brophy.
Chris Burke (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Alistair McCann (St. Johnstone).
Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Niko Hämäläinen.
Hand ball by Osman Sow (Kilmarnock).
Substitution, St. Johnstone. Matthew Kennedy replaces Michael O'Halloran.
Alan Power (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jason Holt (St. Johnstone).
Foul by Osman Sow (Kilmarnock).
Liam Craig (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt missed. Jason Holt (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the left.
Substitution, Kilmarnock. Osman Sow replaces Mohamed El Makrini.
Substitution, Kilmarnock. Dom Thomas replaces Liam Millar.
Substitution, St. Johnstone. David Wotherspoon replaces Drey Wright.
Anthony Ralston (St. Johnstone) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Liam Millar (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Anthony Ralston (St. Johnstone).
Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Dario Del Fabro.
Attempt saved. Chris Burke (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.
Gary Dicker (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Gary Dicker (Kilmarnock).
Michael O'Halloran (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Alistair McCann (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.
Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Jason Kerr.
Dario Del Fabro (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Liam Gordon (St. Johnstone).
Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Eamonn Brophy.
Foul by Alan Power (Kilmarnock).
Michael O'Halloran (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Stephen O'Donnell (Kilmarnock).
Jason Holt (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Alex Bruce (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Christopher Kane (St. Johnstone).