St Mirren rue penalty decision in Inverness match

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St Mirren manager Danny Lennon ­believes that, like players, match officials may need time to settle into the new season.

The Buddies conceded a penalty early in the second half against Inverness ­Caledonian Thistle with David van Zanten punished for handball as he tried to block a shot at virtually point-blank range from James Vincent.

Vincent scored the spot-kick before efforts by Aaron Doran and Billy McKay sealed a 3-0 win for Inverness.

Lennon did not criticise referee Kevin Clancy for the penalty, but said officials may be under too much scrutiny when it comes to decisions, especially those that can change the outcome.

He said: “I just feel that every time a decision is made referees are under pressure from above.

“They want to stop the game and make decisions or make the big calls. You look at the one in the first half where the Inverness player (Gary Warren) got booked. It was the first real tackle in the game and he won the ball.

“You look at ourselves coming here and we’re finding our feet having come back from pre-season. Officials have had the same respite as ourselves, so ­perhaps it will take them a bit of time to get back up to speed.”

Former Kidderminster Harriers player Vincent marked his competitive debut for Inverness in style, and after several players missed from 12 yards last season, Vincent has been made chief penalty taker by boss Terry Butcher.

He said: “James is someone I really like. He’s one of several players to come to us from non-league football down south and they are making their mark. Last season Billy McKay, Richie Foran and Graeme Shinnie all missed ­penalties, so James took the responsibility and he’s got the job now as he tucked it away really well.”

It was the first time in four years that Inverness have kicked off the season with victory as 10-man St Mirren ­suffered a second-half capitulation.

It took just 60 seconds for Aaron Doran to extend Inverness’s lead, just four minutes after the interval after some slipshod St Mirren defending.

Danny Grainger’s short back pass was chased down by Billy McKay. St Mirren keeper Cornell got there first only to gift the ball to Doran, who finished from 18 yards into an empty goal.

Inverness were now rampant and in the 59th minute they got their reward as Doran created space for David Raven to swing in a cross that was glanced into the net by McKay, Caley Thistle’s top scorer last season. St Mirren’s misery was completed with Van Zanten’s dismissal for a second yellow card.

Butcher handed new goalkeeper Dean Brill, on loan from Luton Town, a first-team debut alongside Vincent, while fellow summer signings Ben Greenhalgh, Carl Tremarco, Danny William and ­Torbjorn Agdestein were on the bench. St Mirren gave competitive debuts to David ­Cornell, Gary Harkins and Grainger.