Scottish Premiership
St JohnstoneSt Johnstone0Ross CountyRoss County1

St Johnstone 0-1 Ross County: visitors end five-game winless run

By Thomas DuncanBBC Scotland

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

Vigurs showed his experience with a dominant, battling performance in the middle of the pitch, and his goal proved decisive
Vigurs showed his experience with a dominant, battling performance in the middle of the pitch, and his goal proved decisive

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

Davidson says St Johnstone 'doing all the right things' despite back-to-back losses

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 win 'massive boost' - County's Kettlewell

What's next?

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.

Line-ups

St Johnstone

  • 12Parish
  • 15McNamaraSubstituted forO'Halloranat 78'minutes
  • 5KerrBooked at 21mins
  • 6Gordon
  • 4McCart
  • 3Tanser
  • 26CraigSubstituted forConwayat 69'minutes
  • 18McCann
  • 10WotherspoonBooked at 13minsSubstituted forDavidsonat 78'minutes
  • 22HendrySubstituted forKaneat 59'minutes
  • 14May

Substitutes

  • 1Clark
  • 7Conway
  • 8Davidson
  • 9Kane
  • 11O'Halloran
  • 16Olaofe
  • 19Rooney
  • 20Robertson

Ross County

  • 1Laidlaw
  • 2RandallSubstituted forWatsonat 19'minutesBooked at 29mins
  • 25Donaldson
  • 16Iacovitti
  • 43ReidBooked at 82mins
  • 11VigursBooked at 84mins
  • 27Stewart
  • 22Tillson
  • 7GardyneSubstituted forCharles-Cookat 82'minutes
  • 24PatonSubstituted forKellyat 86'minutes
  • 8Shaw

Substitutes

  • 3Tremarco
  • 5Morris
  • 14Mullin
  • 15Watson
  • 17Charles-Cook
  • 18Kelly
  • 21Doohan
  • 44Wright
  • 47Mackinnon
Referee:
David Munro

Match Stats

Home TeamSt JohnstoneAway TeamRoss County
Possession
Home55%
Away45%
Shots
Home11
Away5
Shots on Target
Home1
Away2
Corners
Home9
Away3
Fouls
Home15
Away18

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, St. Johnstone 0, Ross County 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, St. Johnstone 0, Ross County 1.

  3. Post update

    Foul by Michael O'Halloran (St. Johnstone).

  4. Post update

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

  5. Post update

    Foul by Christopher Kane (St. Johnstone).

  6. Post update

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

  7. Post update

    Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Iain Vigurs.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Jamie McCart (St. Johnstone).

  9. Post update

    Iain Vigurs (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Post update

    Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Ross Laidlaw.

  11. Post update

    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.

  12. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Scott Tanser (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  13. Post update

    Michael O'Halloran (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Ross Stewart (Ross County).

  15. Post update

    Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Alex Iacovitti.

  16. Substitution

    Substitution, Ross County. Stephen Kelly replaces Harrison Paton.

  17. Post update

    Harrison Paton (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Murray Davidson (St. Johnstone).

  19. Booking

    Iain Vigurs (Ross County) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Iain Vigurs (Ross County).