St Johnstone survived two woodwork strikes from former Scotland striker Kris Boyd to secure a hard-fought point at Rugby Park.
Saints looking for a cure for their European hangover following their heart-breaking Europa League exit at the hands of the very ordinary FC Minsk were always in this game.
They should have had a spot kick when Steven Anderson’s jersey was pulled by Boyd but they also had first post then bar to thank for keeping him and Killie out in the second half.
As a result of this decent draw at a tough venue, Tommy Wright’s men sit in joint-third spot after two matches of the new Premiership.
Given what they had gone through as a club over 120 minutes on Thursday night against the Belarussians, it was not surprising that Wright chose to freshen up his starting line-up.
In came Gwion Edwards, Chris Millar, Brian Easton, Rory Fallon and Murray Davidson, with Garry McDonald, Nigel Hasselbaink, David Wotherspoon, Paddy Cregg and Steven MacLean all dropping down to the bench.
Stevie May, the subject of transfer interest from English side Peterborough, led from the front as the Perth men looked to find a domestic cure for their European hangover.
After a quiet opening 10 minutes, Saints came close when a May glancing header off an Easton free kick from the right skipped just past the post. May tried again a couple of minutes later, this time with a shot that flew over.
Then at the other end keeper Alan Mannus raced from goal, only to be beaten to the ball by Paul Heffernan, although the danger was eventually cleared.
A fine cross from the left from Rory McKeown on 22 minutes made its way through to Kris Boyd in front of goal but referee Willie Collum blew for handball by the former Rangers and Scotland man and the danger disappeared.
With the half-hour mark passed, Killie created a decent chance to release Heffernan but as he bore down on Mannus he got the ball stuck under his feet and the opportunity was gone.
Then a sweeping run down the right wing by Edwards enabled him to get a low cross over the face of goal to the inrushing Fallon, whose boot just wasn’t outstretched enough.
Another great delivery from Edwards on 36 minutes did reach its target but May’s first-time strike was well saved by Killie goalie Craig Samson.
Saints having just created their best chance of the game, Kilmarnock quickly followed suit with theirs as half-time approached. A fine ball into the box from Rabiu Ibrahim was met by the forehead of Heffernan and Mannus did well to stop the ball sneaking inside his far post.
The visitors waited just eight minutes of the second half before making a positive substitution, taking off Easton and replacing him with Wotherspoon.
A couple of minutes later, though, it was the home team on the attack and Mannus was the hero as he reached to his right to claw away a net-bound header from Darren Barr. Then Boyd slammed a shot just wide from a good position.
The Perth men hit back with an attack of their own but Samson was quick off his line to cut out a Fallon cross before it reached the head of May.
With 62 minutes on the clock, Tam Scobbie swung the ball over from the left and Fallon used all his height to reach the cross and send a looping header just over Samson’s bar.
Saints made another change, bringing on Garry McDonald for Edwards, before May beat the offside trap, only to see his terrific ball across the face of goal go unconverted.
Chris Millar then tried his luck from distance on 68 minutes without troubling Samson, before Jeroen Tesselaar of Killie became the first player to be booked for a late challenge on May.
Saints had a stonewall shout for a spot kick on 75 minutes when Boyd blatantly tugged Steven Anderson’s jersey but there was no reaction from ref Collum.
Killie also had a claim when Frazer Wright blocked a Gros shot with his hand. Boyd, always a threat for the hosts, ran at the St Johnstone backline three minutes later, veered left at the edge of the box, then smacked a low shot off the base of Mannus’s far post as the match threatened once again to conjure up a goal.
On 83 minutes, Boyd took his frustration out on the woodwork again, smashing a shot off the bar before the ball came down on the wrong side of the line.
With just two minutes to go, Heffernan’s turn and shot inside the box brought yet another fine stop out of Mannus.
Both teams threw everything at each other in the closing stages but the scoreline, stubbornly, stayed blank.
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