Saints 1-1 Kilmarnock

Last updated : 17 August 2013 By Stuart Gillespie

Let's be honest, Killie fans probably knew Gary Harins would score against them today. He left Rugby Park under a cloud in January and was probably out to prove a point, even though the man responsible for his departure has also left the Ayrshire club. So when he rattled in our equaliser in the second half it was perhaps a bit predictable. What was also maybe predictable was we couldn't make our man advantage over the visitors count, Kris Boyd having been sent off shortly after scoring for punching Jim Goodwin in front of the ref. Doesn't matter if he connected or Goodwin had been naughty to him earlier, it was stupidity - right in front of the ref - and he was off.

We dominated after that and had the best part of half an hour to find a winner, but it just wouldn't come. The worrying thing is this was the perfect home game to have at the start of the season and we were struggling before Boyd kindly got himself sent off. To come through the first two games we had with just a point and a goal is a bit concerning. At least today we looked like scoring in the second half and probably would have had our finishing been a bit better. Two points dropped rather than a point gained sums things up.

The team looked pretty much as expected, Jon Robertson in at rightback and Conor Newton in for Thomas Reilly. However, there was a bit of a surprise with Kenny McLean replacing John McGinn. McLean has missed the last few weeks with injury but played for the under-20s during the week and was deemed fit enough to start. Unfortunately for Robertson, he wasn't after getting injured in the warm-up so missed his big chance - Darren McGregor promoted to the starting line-up. Killie went with Paul Heffernan and Kris Boyd up top, with recent recruits Jackson Irvine, Barry Nicholson and Sean Clohessy in from the start. Former Saints Craig Samson and Jeroen Tesselaar also started.

Steven Thompson could only head wide from an early Gary Teale cross before finding the target with the next delivery, Samson just about managing to hold onto it. We were looking pretty dangerous despite only having one striker and should perhaps have been in front when terrific play from Teale, McGowan and Thompson saw a cross find the unmarked McLean but he didn't seem sure whether to fling his head or foot at it and the chance was gone. The visitors finally woke up after that as Marc McAusland and Danny Grainger blocked shots from Heffernan.

The opening stages suggested we were in for a decent game of football. Sadly we then had the best part of half an hour without a notable attempt on goal as each side's attacking moves kept breaking down. When we did get ourselves through on goal we were foiled by the offside flag. Boyd was able to tee up Nicholson a chance for a goal on his debut a couple of minutes from the break, Cornell doing well to push the shot around the post.

Harkins – who was bizarrely being used as a striker - missed the target from Teale's cross at the start of the second half before Killie's Kyle Jacobs shot straight at Cornell. Unfortunately, there was nothing the Saints keeper could do a few minutes later when we were left chasing back from an attack and Sean Clohessy delivered the ball to the near post where Boyd slotted home. It was pretty poor from the defence and things should have been worse when Heffernan somehow missed the target with a header from 12 yards before Irvine smacked a shot over. McGowan should perhaps have done better than shoot wide when released by McLean, although Samson maybe got a touch despite goal kick being awarded. McGowan had a half shout for a penalty soon after when he felt he'd been pushed off the ball by Tesselaar but while it was in the "seen them given" category, it would probably have been a bit soft.

What was not soft was Boyd's red card, which was so stupid it was unintentionally funny. The striker seemed to be a bit wound up by Goodwin over something that had happened seconds before and when the pair went up for the ball again Boyd decided to punch him. In the back of the head. Right in front of the ref. As I said, so stupid as to be funny and off he went, Harkins heading wide from a difficult position before Thompson's header was kept out by a terrific Samson save. The former Buddie blocked the striker's next shot but could do nothing when his defence failed to deal with a corner and Harkins smashed it into the net to bring us level.

The hunt was on for the winner as Killie went defensive, Heffernan and the impressive Rabiu Ibrahim both surprisingly withdrawn, before McGregor put a corner wide and Samson had no trouble dealing with a Harkins shot. Reilly came on for McLean as we changed system in a bid to pose a few more problems, with McGinn coming on for the tiring Grainger 10 minutes from time. Teale proceeded to tear the Killie defence apart but put a tame shot wide before Goodwin gave the ball away to Stewart and then was booked for flattening him. The free-kick caused us a few problems before we eventually got it clear and launched an attack of our own, Reilly inches away from meeting Harkins' cross.

The chances continued to come - McGowan curling a shot narrowly wide when he should have hit the target before penalty appeals for handball proved in vain as the flag was already up for offside. In the last few seconds Harkin won himself some space down the left and flashed the ball across goal, McAusland failing to get the touch that would have forced the ball over the line and given us a vital win.

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