TOMMY Wright expressed his disappointment with the red card shown to defender Frazer Wright and the award of a second penalty to St Mirren as his side went down in a seven-goal thriller.
The defeat dashed St Johnstone’s hopes of leapfrogging Dundee United into the top six, remaining in seventh position, whilst the three points for the home side sees them restore the 15-point gap between themselves and Hearts at the foot of the table. Two goals from Kenny McLean, the second from the disputed penalty, either side of a Paul McGowan strike had given Danny Lennon’s men the lead on three separate occasions.
Equalisers from Steven MacLean, Nigel Hasselbaink and substitute Rory Fallon looked to have given the Perth side a draw, before former Scotland striker Steven Thompson grabbed the winner in the 89th minute to seal St Mirren’s first home win of the season.
The Perth side’s players furiously protested the decision to send Wright off and award St Mirren a second penalty after Jim Goodwin had seen one saved by Allan Mannus, and manager Wright thought they were harshly treated by referee Willie Collum and his officials.
“My instinct is that Frazer’s one isn’t a penalty, I think he’s used his strength to stay in front of the player and nick the ball,” said Wright.
“I believe the referee didn’t give it, the linesman on the other side gave it, so we’ll have to wait and see and watch it back on the DVD to see it clearer.”
St Mirren midfielder McGowan, who was the player Wright was adjudged to have fouled, had a different view.
“The two of us were kind of tugging each other, but I’m going through on goal and obviously he’s stopping me getting a shot on goal,” he said. “The letter of the law is that if you’re the last man then you’re off.
“Obviously you don’t want to see players getting sent off, I would rather have gone on and scored myself, but that wasn’t the case. These things happen and we’ll take it.”
St Mirren’s McGowan, playing between middle and front, produced an intricate, short pass to find McLean, who netted in the bottom-right corner. But their lead was short-lived thanks to equally impressive set up play by St Johnstone. Hasselbaink ran infield from the left and exchanged passes with Stevie May before MacLean converted.
St Mirren took the lead for the second time when Lee Mair’s through ball allowed McGowan to side-foot past visiting keeper Alan Mannus from 10 yards. But St Johnstone came back again, when Chris Millar, teed up Hasselbaink to thump low into the net. St Johnstone’s Gary McDonald fouled McLean in the box, but Goodwin’s kick was saved by Mannus. Then Wright saw red and this time McLean made no mistake.
The Perth side equalised for the third time with Fallon’s tap-in from Stevie May’s cross. However, Thompson ensured St Mirren had the final say.
Lennon heaped praise on his players for seven points from their last three games. He paid a particularly glowing tribute to two-goal midfielder McLean.
“I’m absolutely delighted with every one of them, but young Kenny McLean, I’ve got to single him out today,” Lennon said. “That’s the third game in a row that he’s brought that level of quality, and the energy that he brings – he’s dynamic.
“The only thing that’s been missing from his last two games was goals, and he’s always been on the fringes of delivering that and I’m delighted that he’s got his rewards today. The key thing for Kenny and everyone else that’s got the jerseys right now is consistency.”