Polar bears would have thought twice about visiting the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium yesterday such was the severity of the swirling snow and icy wind. Some 2,687 hardy supporters must at least have felt the heat and steam from the park.
It proved a controversial encounter as St Mirren’s valuable win broke Caley Thistle’s seven-game unbeaten run and 708-minute streak without losing a goal.
Angry home manager John Robertson felt referee John McKendrick blundered for St Mirren’s pivotal second- half penalty award.
A 2-0 triumph, after Ian McShane’s penalty and Gavin Reilly’s late strike, left the Paisley men a point behind leaders Dundee United with a game in hand.
For the opener, Liam Polworth was adjudged to have taken out Kyle Magennis as he raced in on goal along the byeline. Robertson claimed he had video evidence showing the decision was wrong, but opposite number Jack Ross contradicted him.
“In the first half we dominated with lots of chances and three or four really great saves,” Robertson said. “For me it changes on a very soft penalty. Magennis has come along the byeline and knocked the ball out of the park.
“All Liam Polworth has done is run into the back of him. I spoke to the referee and he felt it was across him.”
Robertson also questioned why goalkeeper Craig Samson escaped with a booking after barging down Iain Vigurs as tempers flared late on. Vigurs was red-carded and Robertson felt the midfielder’s initial booking was ridiculous.
St Mirren could certainly count themselves lucky to survive unscathed in a first half where the hosts passed up eight goalscoring chances, with Samson in top form.
Conditions deteriorated badly as the second half unfolded and St Mirren pressure led to the 52nd-minute penalty.
Magennis left Gary Warren for dead on the left, before cutting inside along the bye-line where he was challenged by Polworth.
McShane sent Mark Ridgers the wrong way from the spot.
With 12 minutes remaining, Vigurs took a second yellow card after reacting verbally to a challenge from McShane. But Samson was lucky to escape with only a yellow card after knocking Vigurs to the ground.
On the break, Saints put the icing on the cake as sub Stelios Demetriou’s clearance fell to Reilly, pictured, who skipped past Coll Donaldson and raced on to slam past Ridgers.
St Mirren boss Jack Ross said: “It was a terrific result in difficult conditions.
“When you add in recent form for Inverness, it was a terrific day for us.”