It certainly didn’t seem like Stuart Kettlewell and managerial counterpart Tommy Wright were in any mood to exchange pleasantries over a nice cup of tea at full-time in Dingwall.
Starkly contrasting views of what they had seen in Saturday’s 2-2 draw had stoked fiery reactions in the technical areas, while lending a caustic edge to respective post-match comments.
It was all fine drama from a neutral’s perspective, but these are crucial times for both clubs. The ferocity and friction, on and off the park, was understandable.
County, fifth in the league, were trying to make it 10 points from the last available 12 heading into the international break, an outcome that would have elevated a very decent Premiership start to the ranks of outstanding.
St Johnstone were desperately striving to scramble off bottom place with a first win of the campaign.
It didn’t require the pantomime villain sideshow of Richard Foster’s first bow against Saints since a high-profile spat with Wright to add bite to the occasion. Tackles flew in with venom at times.
Joe Chalmers’ 10th minute opener should have been extinguished by a Stevie May penalty 10 minutes later, but the Saints’ striker was denied by a brilliant Ross Laidlaw save, the second such act of redemption from a previous error in as many weeks.
County’s management team were enraged by the award, claiming Tom Grivosti was innocent of bundling over Danny Swanson in the box.
May made amends, though – sneaking behind the County defence on to Swanson’s dinked pass after 34 minutes and placing a neat finish under Laidlaw’s dive.
It seemed just like old times from the man who hit 32 goals in 55 starts for Saints up to August before leaner times at Sheffield Wednesday, Preston and Aberdeen.
Controversy flared again after 51 minutes. Billy Mckay was left writhing on the ground after what the home technical area saw as high studs to the torso from Murray Davidson.
Matthew Kennedy raced on and unleashed a stunning long-distance strike in off the post to edge the bottom team ahead.
County, never really dominant on the ball, were relentlessly determined and found a way back after 68 minutes.
Davidson clambered all over Michael Gardyne 22 yards out and Blair Spittal, the former Partick Thistle midfielder, swept a wonderful free-kick high past Zander Clark.
There were edgy, nerve-racking moments for both camps in the final 20 minutes and, as the dust settled, County co-manager Kettlewell and Wright remained at loggerheads.
“When you look at the decisions that went against us today, they were absolutely mind-blowing,” Kettlewell said.
“Thankfully Ross makes a save from the penalty, but it’s definitely not a penalty.
“Then there was the decision that goes against us where Billy Mckay is fouled in the lead-up to the second goal.
“It was a good strike from Matthew Kennedy, who was a menace all day, but when your player has six stud marks in his midriff from a straight leg challenge, with three officials in and around that area, to miss that is quite incredible.
“We’re delighted our players picked themselves up from going behind and we were able to get a point.”
Kettlewell and Steven Ferguson, as ever, will examine failings in their own side this week but, overall, the former is happy with the start County have made.
He also praised Spittal’s dead ball contribution and Ross Draper’s welcome return to action from the bench after injury, and he spoke of broader positives. “There’s certainly no negativity from us,” he said.
“The performances by and large have been good, but we felt we could play much better today. It was a bit of a disjointed performance.
“That said, to still pick up a point and not be playing entirely at our best is a good sign.”
Wright, under pressure from recent results, snapped back at suggestions County had been hard done by from decisions.
“There’s no foul (on Billy Mckay).
“Murray Davidson clearly wins the header and goes for it,” the Northern Irishman insisted.
“I’d be more concerned with how the team defends in that situation.
“We didn’t get the win, but we totally dominated from the first whistle. We should have got all three points. We only have ourselves to blame in terms of not taking the chances.
“One free-kick gets them a point when they don’t really deserve it. That’s probably why Ross County have done well this season – they’ve dug in and stayed in the game.”