Ross County were unable to hold firm with nine men as St Mirren netted two late goals to triumph 2-0 at Victoria Park.
County had seen Josh Reid and Ross Draper sent off by referee Colin Steven after both players picked up two bookings, and although the Staggies defended bravely they were eventually undone by goals by Marcus Fraser and Kristian Dennis.
The result stretches County’s winless league run to 12 games, although they are now just a point adrift of Hamilton Accies after a 3-0 victory awarded to the Lanarkshire men for a non-fulfilled fixture against Saints was suspended.
John Hughes made two changes for his first home game in charge of the Staggies, with Ross Stewart and Michael Gardyne both sidelined with injuries picked up in the midweek defeat by Celtic, and replaced by Oli Shaw and Jermaine Hylton.
County made a lively start, with Ross Draper seeing a low effort held by Jak Alnwick within the opening seconds following Stephen Kelly’s lay-off.
Alnwick had to show excellent reflexes to thwart the Staggies again on four minutes, initially doing well to beat the ball away after his own defender had connected with Iain Vigurs’ corner, before making an even better reaction save to tip Alex Iacovitti’s header over.
County continued to threaten, with Hylton teeing up Kelly for an effort on the edge of the box which the midfielder dragged wide of target.
Saints threatened from long-range when Junior Morais tested Ross Laidlaw for the first time, while at the other end Alnwick saved from Hylton and Kelly.
County were dealt a blow on 37 minutes however, with Reid shown a second booking less than 20 minutes after his first, both for fouls on Kyle McAllister. That prompted a reshuffle, with Hughes bringing on Carl Tremarco for Vigurs.
The visitors started brightly after the break with Marcus Fraser striking wide from the edge of the box, before the former Staggies skipper saw a dangerous cross well cut out by Callum Morris.
Laidlaw had to be alert to get his hands behind a powerful Morais effort, as the rainswept conditions continued to pose problems.
County were reduced to nine men on the hour mark as Draper was shown two yellow cards in quick succession, the first coming for his initial challenge on Ethan Erhahon before being shown a second booking for retaliating to the Saints player as he lay on the ground.
Saints looked eager to capitalise on the opportunity to claim all three points given their numerical advantage, with substitutes Jon Obika and Kristian Dennis seeing shots blocked behind.
Laidlaw was called into action once again on 71 minutes to palm away Ilkay Durmus’ free-kick, before Buddies skipper Joe Shaughnessy sidefooted wide from a great position moments later.
Saints’ breakthrough finally arrived on 76 minutes however, with Fraser taking aim with a shot just inside the County area which deflected past Laidlaw.
The Staggies goalkeeper had to perform heroics to keep the Staggies in the game seconds later, with a superb fingertip save from Richard Tait’s close-range header.
County’s hopes were ended five minutes from time though, with Dennis steering home Durmus’ cross at the near post to send the points to Paisley.