Saints 0-1 Ross County

Last updated : 28 January 2006 By Stuart Gillespie
Goodness knows how we didn't score, although considering how they started the match Ross County must be wondering how they didn't manage to get a goal until there were just ten minutes from time.

The good run had to come to an end some time, typically it came against a side who had lost their last five games to us and had never managed to win a match at Love Street!

After the debate about which players should start up front, Saints boss Gus MacPherson decided to start with Mark Corcoran, John Sutton and Stewart Kean. Corcoran played on the left, except he was neither in midfield or up front. Imagine, if you will, someone playing in the "whole" behind the two strikers, except instead of being central, they are on the left. Hmmm. Not a sensible idea, and it didn't really work.

A far more interesting change (and one not needing a strange explanation) was Tony BUllock replacing Chris Smith in the Saints goal. Was Smith injured, or did he just need a rest? Who knows.

The first half hour was not good, in fact from a Saints point of view it was terrible. John Rankin hit the post before Bullock had to produce a great save from a Kevin McKinlay shot. Alex Burke then managed to head wide at the back post when unmarked.

Saints suddenly realised they were in a game at this point and Charlie Adam forced Stuart Garden into a good save from a free kick after David van Zanten had been fouled. From the resulting Lappin corner, Kean headed wide when unmarked. Oops!

Saints started to look threatening as the break approached, with Garden spilling an Adam shot into Sutton's path, but his effort from the rebound was blocked. Kean then tamely headed an Adam free kick into Garden's arms.

Saints could have been ahead just after the restart. A Corcoran shot come pass found Kean, but his effort hit the post when most people thought it was in. Many think John Sutton was fouled in the build up, didn't see it myself!

Another item for debate is whether a van Zanten header soon after had crossed the line. Corcoran's cross was good, and van Zanten's header avoided Garden but was cleared off the line by Sean Webb. Was it in? Well, neither the linesman or referee thought so, and they are the only men who matter in such situations.

Saints had lots of possession for the next half hour or so but couldn't really make it count, even when Iain Anderson replaced Kean. This was a strange choice. Corcoran moved up front, whilst Anderson took Corcoran's place between the midfield and forwards, despite being right sided. Meanwhile, Lappin continued on the right!

With ten minutes left, Saints did what they do best: lose a goal after dominating the half. Lionel Djebi Zadi punted a ball in, David Winters controlled, held off his man and laid it on a plate for Sean Higgins to hammer past Bullock. The away team ahead at Love Street with ten minutes left, is that allowed?

Apparently so, and they nearly doubled their advantage minutes later, but Higgins duffed his shot wide. Saints could have been level just after, but Corcoran's pass was deflected just out of Sutton's reach. It was one of those days.

Gus MacPherson's strange tactical day was complete three minutes from time when Alan Reid replaced van Zanten. What exactly was he trying to achieve?

So, a home defeat in the league, the first of the season. St. Johnstone won, so the gap is now down to seven points. We go to McDairmid after our venture to Spartans next week. We must win!