ROSS COUNTY manager Jim McIntyre left Paisley convinced that a first-half mistake by match official Don Robertson cost his side a much-needed first away league win of the campaign.
The Premiership’s bottom club were already leading 1-0 when, in the 26th minute, Michael Gardyne ran on to Jackson Irvine’s pass to put the ball in the net from the edge of the penalty area. A late flag from assistant Dougie Potter signalled that the player was offside and Robertson concurred.
McIntyre, it’s fair to say, did not. “The big moment of the match is the onside goal… we have watched it in the dressing room and it is a poor decision.
“The goal should have been given and that was to go 2-0 up against a team which has not won at home.
“Onside is onside. It doesn’t matter if it is 20-yards – it was crystal clear. You can see I am annoyed.
“It was a very late flag. [Yoann] Arquin stops and doesn’t go near it while Midge goes in and nutmegs the keeper to put it away with aplomb.
“It is really disappointing. I spoke with the referee afterwards and told him it was the wrong call.
“Refs make mistakes, the same as managers, but it is definitely a big moment in the game. It is one we don’t need considering the position we are in.”
The hosts enjoyed the better of the early exchanges but they fell behind due to sloppy defending at a set-piece.
Graham Carey’s inviting deliveries would have been familiar from his stint as a Saints player but the home defence was guilty of ball-watching when he curled in an inswinging corner and the unmarked Paul Quinn headed firmly behind Marian Kello from point-blank range.
Thomas Reilly went close with a header which arced over Mark Brown, but bounced on the wrong side of the far post. The goalkeeper then made a fine double save to deny Reilly and Ball as Saints sought parity.
Referee Robertson then came to their rescue with the disallowed Michael Gardyne “goal”.
There was more dilatory defending from Saints nine minutes later. Jackson Irvine was the player left unattended at another Carey corner, but on this occasion Kello managed to keep out the midfielder’s header.
County were being forced on to the back foot, however, and the equaliser arrived two minutes from the interval.
The visitors failed to deal with a long throw from Jeroen Tesselaar and Adam Drury stooped to head home from almost on the goal-line.
Ball ought to have put the Buddies ahead immediately after the restart but he ruined an impressive build-up involving John McGinn, Kenny McLean and Reilly by not striking the ball as soon as it came to him and he subsequently allowed it to squirm away from him on the greasy surface.
Brown also made a fine save to turn behind a low free-kick from Jim Goodwin before County broke away to take the lead. Yoann Arquin was too strong for Goodwin, dispossessing the St Mirren captain as he attempted to shield the ball from him.
Arquin then supplied substitute Martin Woods, who found Carey in space and the Irishman lashed the ball behind Kello from the penalty spot.
They were still congratulating themselves when Tesselaar, using his less favoured right foot, turned from creater to scorer, driving home from the edge of the penalty area after being teed up by Drury just a minute later.