THAT scent of panicked perspiration hanging in the air around St Mirren fans these days was Caley Thistle’s just five years ago.
SCORERS: ICT - Draper 16, Tansey 34; St Mirren - Naismith 3, Kelly 62
Encountering it in comfortable top-six territory must have lent perspective on the home terraces. Gloom surrounding the heroic League Cup final failure and recently erratic league form is nothing compared to the trauma that threatens today’s opponents.
For St Mirren, a point was a positive in some respects but they might rue the failure to take two more given that Inverness ended the 2-2 tussle with ten men.
There were some critical shouts aimed at manager Danny Lennon before the equaliser and a late close call for Saints Kenny McLean. None will detract from Lennon’s focus, though. “With all due respect, sometimes fans don’t really see what you’re trying to achieve until once I maybe explain it a little bit,” Lennon said.
“You do what you feel is right. The fans are entitled to their opinions. I feel every frustration they are going through at this moment in time.”
The hosts were without the influence of captain Richie Foran, but looked to youth in the shape of Liam Polworth and Ryan Christie, the latter earning his first competitive start. Saints, without Paul McGowan and Marian Kello, really had to go for it and netted with the first serious attack of the match.
Kenny McLean swung a long, diagonal free-kick across from deep left and found Jason Naismith in space to the right of the box. Naismith controlled elegantly and struck low inside Dean Brill’s far post. A flailing leg from defender David Raven couldn’t divert the finish.
Home momentum built with some quick-passing movement culminating in the equaliser after 17 minutes. This time it was Saints’ marking that was questionable from Graeme Shinnie’s corner from the right. The delivery was excellent and found the towering figure of Ross Draper out-leaping Darren McGregor to slam in a header at the back post.
Saints were creaking and a Greg Tansey flick of the head sent striker Billy Mckay clean away soon after. Unfortunately for the club top scorer, the ball took a wicked bobble and his scuffed attempt spun well off-target.
St Mirren succumbed again after 34 minutes. Tansey was the executor, with a cool finish in front of a crowded goal-line after Mckay cushioned a Polworth cross with his head.
Saints’ fighting qualities didn’t wane in the second half and they turned the tide. Just after the hour, McLean’s corner sparked a bit of pinball in the home box wit the hosts unable to clear, before Sean Kelly nodded past Brill from close range.
Josh Meekings added to home concerns, taking a straight red card after 67 minutes for bringing substitute Josh Magennis tumbling as he stole towards the penalty box.
St Mirren should have snatched the winner after a great run and cross from Gary Teale set up McLean, only for Raven to clear on the line.
Home manager Hughes was incensed with the Meekings sending off. “I don’t think it was a red card. I felt when the foul was committed Shinnie was probably in line with him,” Hughes said.
“I don’t know the rules now. I felt the boy wasn’t going to get his second touch and therefore it was a booking not a red. I asked for an explanation from the fourth official and couldn’t really get a convincing one.”