Ross County opened their Premiership campaign with a 0-0 draw at home to St Johnstone who missed a late penalty to cost them all three points.
It was far from a thrilling encounter in Malky Mackay’s first league game in charge, with the match largely bereft of goalscoring opportunities.
The Staggies held on for the point, with Saints midfielder Ali McCann spurning the game’s best chance when he blasted a 70th minute penalty high over the bar.
County came into their opening league match following a disrupted Premier Sports Cup campaign, which had seen two matches forfeited following a Covid outbreak.
The squad remains visibly light in numbers, with Mackay hoping to finalise a number of new signings over the coming days.
Mackay, taking charge of a Scottish league match for the first time, made two changes from the side which ran out 4-1 winners over Montrose the previous weekend. Jake Vokins was sidelined and Alexander Robertson dropped to the bench, with Regan Charles-Cook back following his return from the Concacaf Gold Cup, while Connor Randall was also drafted in.
County were showed some encouraging early signs, with newly-appointed skipper Keith Watson and Charles-Cook both off target with headers.
Saints, who were in competitive action for the first time since clinching their memorable cup double in May, threatened for the first time when Reece Devine’s long-range strike was deflected past Ross Laidlaw’s right-hand post.
The first half increasingly became something of a scrappy encounter, which was evidenced by a nasty head collision between Watson and Saints attacker Callum Hendry from which both players recovered from on the half hour mark.
The Staggies had the best chance of the first half on 36 minutes when Ross Callachan was played in down the inside right channel, with his drilled low ball across goal carrying too much pace for fellow new addition Dominic Samuel to connect with at the far post.
It was a frustrating watch for both sets of supporters, with the early part of the second half doing little to provide more inspiration.
The Staggies had looked more defensively sound than in previous seasons, with the leaking of goals having been a long-standing issue. One of last term’s issues nearly came back to haunt them on 70 minutes however, as they conceded a cheap penalty when Coll Donaldson tripped Devine as he drove towards the byline.
County survived the let-off however, with McCann blasting high over the bar with a woefully executed spot kick.
The woodwork came to County’s rescue six minutes from time when substitute Liam Craig struck the post from an acute angle, following a ball across goal by Stevie May.
ROSS COUNTY (3-5-2) – Laidlaw 6; Watson 7, Iacovitti 7, Donaldson 6; Randall 6, Spittal 6 (Paton 68), Tillson 6, Callachan 6, Charles-Cook 6; White 6, Samuel 6 (Shaw 65). Subs not used – Munro, Robertson, Wright, Williamson, MacLeman.
ST JOHNSTONE (3-5-2) – Clark 6; Kerr 6, Gordon 6, McCart 7; Rooney 6, Davidson 7, McCann 6, Wotherspoon 6 (Craig 83), Devine 7; Hendry 5 (Kane 76), O’Halloran 6 (May 76). Subs not used – Parish, Muller, Brown, Ballantyne.
Referee – Colin Steven 6
Attendance – 1,998
Man of the match: Alex Iacovitti