A DRAMATIC injury-time penalty winner by Stephen Thompson earned St Mirren an unlikely victory against Ross County at the Global Energy Stadium yesterday.
Scorers: Ross County - Woods 31′ (pen); St Mirren - Mallan 39′ Thompson 90′ (pen)
County, now right back in relegation trouble, dominated the match but somehow managed to end up with nothing against a Saints side who, following Motherwell’s win over Kilmarnock on Friday evening, had already been relegated from the Scottish Premiership.
Martin Woods fired County ahead from the penalty spot in the 31st minute but it was all-square eight minutes later when Stephen Mallan scored with a deflected drive.
As the game went into stoppage time, Mark Brown charged from his goal to upend Saints’ sub Lewis Morgan and Thompson hammered home the spot-kick.
In a lively start to the match, both sides looked eager for the victory.
Saints goalkeeper Mark Ridgers lost control of the ball in front of goal but County’s Craig Curran had his back to it and the chance was lost.
County continued to press and made the breakthrough in the 31st minute when they were awarded a penalty after Liam Boyce was felled in the box by Sean Kelly. Dead-ball specialist Woods made no mistake from the spot.
It was almost 2-0 shortly afterwards when Jason Naismith did brilliantly to block a Curran shot right in front of goal.
Then a slick move involving Tony Dingwall and Woods on the half-hour mark set up Boyce with a great chance eight yards out but the forward blazed over the bar. County paid dearly for that miss within a minute when Mallan’s shot at goal took a wicked deflection over Brown and into the net.
The hosts should have restored their lead just before the break when a Woods delivery into the box was headed over by Boyce on the six-yard line.
County were on the offensive right from the start of the second half and Curran was just a yard short to get on the end of another fine ball into the box by Woods.
Jackson Irvine got on the end of a Woods corner in the 49th minute but his weak header drifted past the far post.
It was one-way traffic towards the Saints goal and both Boyce and Dingwall fired over as County pushed forward. The chances kept coming and Irvine headed another one over the top from a deep cross by Jamie Reckord.
It was relentless and Michael Gardyne was not far away with a curler which just cleared the far post. Boyce then got on the end of another attack but he just failed to get enough on the ball to get it past Ridgers. Dingwall had another pop at goal but this time Ridgers touched it behind.
Right at the death Paul Quinn headed just over from a Woods free kick as another chance went begging.
It appeared as though the match was destined to finish all square but then, in the dying moments of a fiercely contested match, Saints broke forward again and substitute Morgan was taken down in the box by Brown. The goalkeeper was red-carded by referee Steven MacLean before Thompson buried the spot kick past stand-in ’keeper Darvydas Sernas. The goal was a devastating blow to the home supporters.
Suddenly, having seemed to be moving clear of the relegation zone in recent weeks, County had been dragged right back into the mire. Jim McIntyre’s men are level on points with ninth-placed Kilmarnock and now only three clear of Motherwell, who occupy the dreaded play-off spot.
Ross County: Brown, Fraser, Boyd, Paul Quinn, Reckord, Dingwall (De Vita 80), Woods, Irvine, Gardyne, Boyce (Sernas 81), Curran (Cardle 84). Subs not used: Reguero, Meite, Rocco Quinn, Kiss.
St Mirren: Ridgers, Naismith, Baird, Kelly, Tesselaar, Dayton, Mallan (Cuddihy 72), Reilly, Wylde (Morgan 80), Gow (Sadlier 83), Thompson. Subs not used: Arquin, Brown, Kello, Genev.
Referee: Steven McLean. Attendance: 3,098.