THREE penalties, two red cards, six bookings and very little football. On an afternoon when Kilmarnock recorded back-to-back wins for the first time since October, it was the performance of referee Willie Collum which was the main talking point.
Scorers: St Mirren - Wylde (pen) 90; Kilmarnock - Eremenko (pen) 54, Slater (pen) 85
While the visitors just about merited the victory, Saints’ interim manager, Gary Teale, believes that Collum’s display could deny him the opportunity to land the post on a permanent basis.
“I feel hard done by, to say the least looking back at the decisions,” he said. “In fact, I told him that I was embarrassed he gave us the penalty at the end.
“I asked him if it was a token gesture because I didn’t think that was a penalty any more than the Kilmarnock ones were – and the decision to send Kenny McLean off was a massive call as well.
“He makes those calls in a split second and he obviously thinks he got them right but I think he got them wrong.
“But, at the end of the day, I’m sitting here with another defeat, which isn’t going to help me get this job. The last home game against Motherwell was the same – the officials cost us that day as well.”
The visitors were first to threaten when Alexei Eremenko’s chipped pass found Rory McKenzie inside the penalty area but the midfielder delayed his shot and was jockeyed out of the firing line by Jason Naismith.
Both teams struggled to implement their passing game on the wet, greasy surface and the swirling wind was so powerful that Craig Samson’s kicks from hand regularly failed to reach the halfway line.
However, Sean Kelly ought to have at least worked the goalkeeper when Kenny McLean teed up an opportunity for him from 15 yards; instead, he blazed the ball over the bar.
Eremenko almost scored direct from a corner kick in the 48th minute but the Finn was denied by the fingertips of Ridgers’ left hand.
Chris Chantler was cautioned for a clumsy challenge on Lewis McLear two minutes later and Jim Goodwin’s free kick rippled the side-netting.
Kilmarnock made the breakthrough in the 53rd minute when Marc McAusland climbed over Magennis as the pair attacked a cross from Craig Slater and Mr Collum pointed to the penalty spot.
Eremenko oozed confidence as he stepped up to drive the ball behind Ridgers and into his bottom right-hand corner.
The Buddies’ hopes of salvaging a point all but evaporated in the 73rd minute when Kenny McLean, who had endured a frustrating time of it, appeared to headbutt Ross Barbour, who was booked for the original foul.
“I was disappointed with Kenny because he didn’t need to get involved,” said Teale. “The referee said he made a motion with his head – not a butt as such – but I’ve looked back at it and I don’t think he did.
“From the evidence I’ve seen, I believe there are grounds for an appeal.”
Saints used their full complement of substitutes but they fell further behind to another soft penalty when Stephen Mallan made contact with Magennis.
This time Craig Slater took the kick but he probably wished he hadn’t when Collum, who had already booked the player, showed him a second yellow card for excessive celebration after he had lashed the ball behind Ridgers.
However, the official, who had earlier taken the name of Manuel Pascali, chose not to do so again when the Italian tugged Jim Goodwin’s shirt and Gregg Wylde scored a consolation from the spot.
“I’d agree the first penalty looked soft but the second one was clear,” said Kilmarnock manager Allan Johnston. “I thought St Mirren’s penalty was very soft as well.
“Overall, on the balance of play, I thought we deserved to win the game.”