Match ends, St. Johnstone 0, Ross County 1.
Ross County's win at St Johnstone - which ended a winless run of five games - is "massive boost" ahead of a tough run of fixtures, says boss Stuart Kettlewell.
Iain Vigurs' curling free-kick proved to be the winner at McDiarmid Park as County cemented fifth place in the Scottish Premiership.
They face three of the top four - Aberdeen, Rangers and Hibernian - next.
"We have to look forward to it," Kettlewell told BBC Scotland.
"That has to give us a real boost, and confidence going into these tough games.
"Results like this start to swing things in your favour and gives you an opportunity to build going into a tough run of fixtures.
"For us it's just trying to see if we can build momentum. League position, we're not going to talk about it, we're not going to bang a drum and say we're going to be top six, bottom six."
County's defending has been their Achilles heel for the entirety of their Premiership return, conceding two goals per game on average since promotion in 2018-19.
But they managed to contain St Johnstone on their own patch with relative ease, despite creating little themselves.
It was a case of deja vu for Callum Davidson's side as they put in a similar performance in the defeat to Motherwell last week. They created the better chances but failed to take them, with one lapse of concentration proving costly as Vigurs' free-kick flew in.
Jason Kerr and Ali McCann failed to convert from teasing crosses to the back-post with the game goalless, and they also had a claim for a penalty turned down when McCann's cross appeared to strike the arm of Vigurs in the box. Callum Hendry and David Wotherspoon also flashed shots just wide.
But when trailing after the break they toiled to fashion clear opportunities. Scott Tanser's shot on the angle off the bar came after nice combination play from Danny McNamara and Kerr, but that was one of few moments of quality.
Ross Laidlaw managed to deny Murray Davidson from close range with just two minutes remaining.
As the second half went on County became content to sit deep and defend their own box, and were fully justified in doing so as they held on for a morale-boosting win.
Man of the match - Iain Vigurs
What did we learn?
Ross County can defend. Routinely picked out for being vulnerable at the back - with plenty of justification - all three of their victories this season have been by a 1-0 scoreline. Coll Donaldson and Alex Iacovitti were aggressive in defending their own box and stood up to a late siege.
As for St Johnstone, they have now lost three of their four home matches without scoring and were again wasteful in front of goal. They lack a predatory striker, and must find a goal-scoring touch if they want to avoid a relegation tussle.
What they said
St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson: "First half I thought we dominated the game, so to go in 1-0 down was hard to take. I thought we had a go second half, they gave it everything to try and get that goal. But unfortunately when you lose that first goal, it makes it very difficult."
Ross County manager Stuart Kettlewell: "Really disappointed with the goals we lost last week [in the 5-0 loss to Celtic], and it was the complete opposite to what we got today. The way we defended our penalty box, we had a solid shape throughout the game, we had spells where we looked very comfortable, and I'm just delighted to come away with the three points and the clean sheet."
St Johnstone will look to turn their form around when they travel to Livingston in the Premiership next Saturday, while Ross County host in-form Aberdeen the following day.
- 15McNamaraSubstituted forO'Halloranat 78'minutes
- 5KerrBooked at 21mins
- 26CraigSubstituted forConwayat 69'minutes
- 10WotherspoonBooked at 13minsSubstituted forDavidsonat 78'minutes
- 22HendrySubstituted forKaneat 59'minutes
- 2RandallSubstituted forWatsonat 19'minutesBooked at 29mins
- 43ReidBooked at 82mins
- 11VigursBooked at 84mins
- 7GardyneSubstituted forCharles-Cookat 82'minutes
- 24PatonSubstituted forKellyat 86'minutes
- David Munro
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, St. Johnstone 0, Ross County 1.
Foul by Michael O'Halloran (St. Johnstone).
Ross Stewart (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Christopher Kane (St. Johnstone).
Ross Laidlaw (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Iain Vigurs.
Foul by Jamie McCart (St. Johnstone).
Iain Vigurs (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Ross Laidlaw.
Attempt saved. Murray Davidson (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Christopher Kane with a headed pass.
Attempt blocked. Scott Tanser (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Michael O'Halloran (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Ross Stewart (Ross County).
Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Alex Iacovitti.
Substitution, Ross County. Stephen Kelly replaces Harrison Paton.
Harrison Paton (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Murray Davidson (St. Johnstone).
Iain Vigurs (Ross County) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Iain Vigurs (Ross County).