Ross County were forced to settle for a second successive Premiership draw following a goalless encounter against St Mirren.
Both sides could have made a decent case to suggest they should have taken the points. County enjoyed the better of the first half but were forced to stand tall to sustained spells of Buddies pressure after the interval, with both goalkeepers on inspired form.
The stalemate was enough for County to further reduce the gap at the foot of the table, as they now trail second-bottom Livingston by just two points.
Malky Mackay made four changes from the side which battled back to claim a late 1-1 draw with Dundee United on Saturday. Harry Clarke was ruled out through suspension, while Regan Charles-Cook, Jordan White and Jordan Tillson dropped to the bench.
There were recalls for Ross Callachan, Joseph Hungbo and Dominic Samuel, while there was a long-awaited first league outing for Jake Vokins at left back. The on-loan Southampton player had spent much of the campaign on the sidelines due to a metatarsal fracture.
County had to weather some Saints pressure from a flurry of corners, but it was the Dingwall men who had the first serious attempt on five minutes. A break forward saw Callachan slip the ball into the path of Blair Spittal, whose effort took a wicked deflection which caused it to brush the top of Alnwick’s crossbar on its way over.
Alnwick was called into action once again on nine minutes when he made a fine diving save to turn Samuel’s curling effort wide, after he had done well to take down a high ball which stemmed from a poor clearance by Charles Dunne.
The visitors continued to mount the pressure, with Spittal shooting straight at Alnwick from the edge of the box, while Samuel blazed well wide from an acute angle, however there was plenty for Mackay to be encouraged with.
Ash Maynard-Brewer was called into action for the first time on 23 minutes, showing good hands to keep hold of a stinging Connor Ronan effort from distance. Saints looked to build their threat, with a fizzing low Eamonn Brophy drive across goal prompting an excellent sliding clearance by Jack Baldwin.
County remained a threat though, with Harry Paton seeing a low effort palmed away by Alnwick following a neat flick by Hungbo.
The Staggies were playing some slick football, but they were dealt a blow on 34 minutes when Alex Iacovitti pulled up when tracking back on a Buddies breakaway, with Keith Watson replacing him.
Saints enjoyed a decent start to the second half, with the Staggies taking time to settle back into their rhythm. A gilt-edged chance fell the way of forward Kristian Dennis on 51 minutes when Ronan’s cross picked him out at the far post, but he nodded harmlessly wide from close-range.
Brophy was next to threaten when he receive a cutback from the right flank two minutes later, but he saw his strike cut out by Maynard-Brewer.
The Staggies took time to regain their first half rhythm, but they had a fine chance to break the deadlock on 54 minutes. Hungbo burst down the right flank before crossing for Samuel, but the striker was not able to get a strong enough connection to trouble Alnwick.
At the other end, Dennis shot straight at Manard-Brewer after a Jamie McGrath free-kick fell into his path, while the Staggies goalkeeper had to be alert to tip a Ronan effort around the post.
Maynard-Brewer came to the Staggies’ rescue moments later when another Ronan delivery into the box was deflected goalwards, with the Australian doing enough to knock the ball on to the post.
Substitute Greg Kiltie was next to try his luck with an effort which Maynard-Brewer did well to claw over the ball, as County struggled to stem the flow of pressure coming their way.
County did threaten when Vokins pulled a ball across goal from the byline after being slipped in by Samuel, with Alnwick getting a crucial touch but hurting himself against the post in the process.
Saints had a glorious chance to take the points with seven minutes left when Curtis Main went through on goal, however a combination of Baldwin’s challenge and Watson’s goal-line clearance kept the ball out.
It was the Staggies who nearly claimed the points at the death, when Spittal saw a low effort saved by Alnwick after being teed up by Paton, before the goalkeeper palmed away Cancola’s follow-up.
ST MIRREN (4-4-2) – Alnwick 8; Fraser 6, Tait 7, Dunne 6, Tanser 7 (Millar 79); McAllister 6, Power 6, Ronan 7 (Kiltie 72), McGrath 6; Dennis 6, Brophy 5 (Main 63). Subs not used – Lyness, Flynn, Erhahon, Erwin, Millar.
ROSS COUNTY (4-2-3-1) – Maynard-Brewer 8; Randall 6, Baldwin 8, Iacovitti 5 (Watson 34), Vokins 6; H Paton 6, Cancola 6; Hungbo 6, Callachan 6 (Tillson 80), Spittal 6; D Samuel 7 (White 79). Subs not used – Laidlaw, Robertson, Charles-Cook, Burroughs, Tillson, White.
Referee – David Dickinson 5
Man of the match: Jack Baldwin