Ross County denied at death by St Johnstone after thrilling comeback

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Ross County look set for a Premiership relegation play-off after a thrilling comeback was halted by Ryan McGowan’s equaliser in a 3-3 draw with St Johnstone.

Stevie May scored either side of half-time, first with a curling effort and then from the penalty spot, to give the visitors a commanding lead in Dingwall.

But County came roaring back with Yan Dhanda netting a spot-kick, Jordan White breaking the offside trap to level things up and Jack Baldwin hitting a stunner at the death.

However, McGowan had the final say to claim a point that left County three above bottom-placed Dundee United and three below third-bottom Kilmarnock, who they face in their final game on Sunday.

The Staggies’ best chance early on came courtesy of St Johnstone’s goalkeeper, as Ross Sinclair punched the ball straight to White before recovering well to smother the shot.

It was the visitors who took the lead through May, whose shot beat Ross Laidlaw and found the far corner.

St Johnstone maintained the upper hand into the second half, where May turned and shot from 25 yards, forcing Laidlaw to tip the ball on to the bar.

Shortly afterwards he made it 2-0 from the penalty spot after Nohan Kenneh had taken down Adam Montgomery.

Ross County's Jordan White celebrates equalising

Image: Ross County’s Jordan White celebrates equalising

That daylight between the sides did not last long though, as County went up the pitch and won a penalty of their own courtesy of a handball by Cameron Ballantyne.

Dhanda stepped up to take it and powered his spot-kick past Sinclair and into the top corner to cut the deficit in half.

That got the Staggies’ tails up and they began to pin St Johnstone deep into their own half as they tried to find an equaliser.

Eventually that pressure told as, in the 69th minute, Kenneh mishit a shot into the path of White who converted from close range and, after a VAR check for offside, the goal was allowed to stand.

In the 90th minute, an unlikely source popped up with what looked like a winner, with Baldwin smashing the ball into the bottom corner from 25 yards.

However, St Johnstone fought back deep into five minutes of stoppage time and Andy Considine thought he had an equaliser when his header at a corner hit the bar, only for McGowan to follow up and find the net.

What the managers said…

Ross County boss Malky Mackay: “I thought we started quite well, and I’m reasonably happy with the whole first half,” Mackay explained.

“They caught us on the counter with their only shot on goal, and (Stevie) May – who is a good player – scores.

“There are terrific blocks on their line for three chances we had in the first half, so at half-time it was just a case of asking for 10 per cent more energy and we would be fine.

“We lose a really lazy, sloppy tackle for the penalty to go 2-0 down, but the spirit that we showed in the team really gave us the chance to fight back into it again.

“We came back well, we pushed and probed, and we held our nerve to go ahead.

“We lose a sucker punch at the very death, but in the grand scheme of things it changes nothing with Kilmarnock winning. We know exactly what we’ve got to go down there and do on Sunday.”

St Mirren boss Steven MacLean: “We were 2-0 up and cruising, and then we drop our standards. We’ve set standards over the last four games and been very good, but then we stopped trying to win first contact and second balls.

“We know those standards now, but I have to praise their character because we went right to the end.

“I’m just disappointed to be 2-0 up in a game and not be able to see it out.

“Fair play to County, they fought back and deservedly got back in the game because they put us under a lot of pressure.”

What’s next?

Ross County’s final Scottish Premiership game of the season is away to Kilmarnock on Sunday, while St Johnstone host Livingston.

Both matches kick off at 12.30pm.

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