After three defeats in a row, St Johnstone stopped the rot with this hard-fought draw against Ross County at McDiarmid Park.
It was home boss Tommy Wright’s 200th game in charge of the club but it is unlikely to live long in the Northern Irishman’s memory banks.
A point apiece was probably a fair result with neither side doing enough to secure victory with Saints now having gone four matches without finding the back of the net.
Wright made no fewer than five changes from the team that was defeated 1-0 by Hearts at Murrayfield on Saturday with keeper Zander Clark, Steven Anderson, Paul Paton, Blair Alston and Murray Davidson being drafted in for Alan Mannus, Liam Gordon, Liam Craig, David Wotherspoon and Chris Millar.
The Perth side were captained by Joe Shaughnessy with Anderson recently being relieved of the skipper’s armband to allow him to focus solely on his own game.
There was a welcome return to McDiarmid for former Saints boss Owen Coyle who is now managing the Highland side.
County, who won at the weekend against Hamilton, started brightly knocking the ball around well but it was St Johnstone who had the first half chance of the game in the 10th minute when Paton swung a ball in from the left to the County back post with Anderson directing a header towards goal that was comfortably held by Staggies keeper Scott Fox.
Too often though in the early stages of the game, the final pass from both sides was misplaced with a resulting lack of clear-cut opportunities.
However, County did carve out an opening in the 16th minute when Jason Naismith delivered a cross from the right with Thomas Mikkelsen sending a header on to the top of Clark’s net.
Shortly after, Staggies Tim Chow tried his luck from long range but his effort flew well wide of the target.
Saints then capitalised on a slip by Kenny van der Weg with Michael O’Halloran cutting the ball back for Stefan Scougall but his well-struck shot was blocked by a defender.
The home side came close to breaking the deadlock in the 33rd minute when the lively Scougall fired a snap shot from just outside the Staggies box with Fox having to look lively, diving to his left to push the ball out for a corner.
St Johnstone suffered a big blow in the 41st minute when O’Halloran had to come off to be replaced by Wotherspoon.
Referee Barry Cook brought the half to an end with the game goal-less and the fans inside the ground no doubt hoping for more palatable fare in the second 45.
And just four minutes after the restart, there was a great opportunity for Saints when Brian Easton swung a cross in from the left with Paton busting a gut to get on the end of it but with the goal at his mercy, he sent his header too close to Fox who saved well.
The home side’s Aaron Comrie then found himself in space inside the Staggies box but he pulled his shot well wide.
Saints continued to look the more likely to end the stalemate and had another chance in the 58th minute when they were awarded a free-kick on the corner of the County penalty area. Wotherspoon whipped the ball in and it flew just inches past Fox’s left-hand post.
County then came close themselves when substitute Craig Curran sent a header goalward with Anderson having to make a vital clearance from close to his own line.
Soon after, Staggies David Keillor-Dunn had an opportunity when he hit a curling shot from 14 yards with Clark having to produce an outstanding diving save to deny him.
County keeper Fox then pulled up and had to come off injured to be replaced by Aaron McCarey.
St Johnstone had another chance when Wotherspoon was fouled just outside the Staggies box with the Saints player picking himself up to take the free-kick but he blasted his effort over the bar.
In the 90th minute, there was a final chance for Saints through sub Graham Cummins but he sent his long-range shot straight at McCarey who held on comfortably to ensure the game ended all square.
Attendance – 2,267.
St Johnstone – Clark, Alston (Craig, 82), Shaughnessy, Anderson, Davidson, MacLean (Cummins, 71), O’Halloran (Wotherspoon, 41), Comrie, Paton, Scougall, Easton.
Subs not used – Mannus, Tanser, Johnstone, Craig, Gilchrist.
Ross County – Fox (McCarey, 76), Fraser, Naismith, Chow, Dow (Gardyne, 68), Davies, Draper, Mikkelsen (Curran, 53), O’Brien, Van der Weg, Keillor-Dunn.
Subs not used – Kelly, Schalk, Lindsay, Mckay.
Referee – Barry Cook.