St Johnstone 0-0 Inverness CT

St Johnstone moved up to fourth in the Scottish Premier League despite only claiming a point against Inverness.

The Highlanders almost took the lead early on when Jonny Hayes cut in from the right and fired against the post.

Richie Foran also threatened for the visitors, having a shot and header saved by goalkeeper Alan Mannus.

The home side were more prominent after the break with Francisco Sandaza having a couple of efforts saved and also heading wide.

Saints' point takes them above Dundee United into fourth, who lost at Aberdeen, and the Perth side are now four behind Motherwell in third.

Inverness started at a whirlwind pace perhaps stung by manager Terry Butcher's criticism of their loss to Hibs last weekend.

Hayes scored a spectacular, if fortunate, effort in that defeat and almost repeated the trick in the opening minutes.

His cross was whipped in above Mannus but landed on the top of the net as the Saints goalkeeper breathed a sigh of relief.

Hayes looked in the mood and was inches away from opening the scoring on 10 minutes.

He surged down the right wing, left three defenders trailing and curled a wonderful effort off the the inside of the post.

Foran's long-range drive was then saved well by Mannus, while Josh Meekings shot wide from the following corner.

Mannus foiled Foran again, stopping the Caley Thistle captain's header before the home side finally threatened.

Sandaza teed up Liam Craig for a low drive that flew wide before the Spanish striker was appealing for a penalty when Roman Golobart bundled him over when trying to round keeper Jonathan Tuffey.

Referee Kevin Clancy waved play on and Saints manager Steve Lomas was given a warning after taking his complaints too far.

The home side were on top for most of the second half and Sandaza should have done better than aiming a weak shot at Tuffey from Cillian Sheridan's cutback.

St Johnstone continued to press Tuffey saved from Sandaza again before substitute Marcus Haber wasted a good chance after being sent free on the left.

Sandaza sent a close-range header wide after David McCracken had headed a corner kick in his direction before Inverness wasted a chance to snatch the points in injury time.

The ball fell to Meekings in a congested penalty area but the big defender lacked composure and scooped his shot high over the target.

St Johnstone manager Steve Lomas: "We were disappointed in the first-half display but we were much better in the second.

"Inverness were excellent in the first period and it took us a while to get to grips with them.

"We created a few good chances and Fran has missed, but we can't be too critical of him as he's been brilliant for us.

"We will take some positives. It's a clean sheet and we moved a point above Dundee United.

"We are disappointed not to win but maybe that would have been harsh on Inverness, as they were excellent."

Inverness manager Terry Butcher: "I was delighted with the performance. I criticised the players last week but they rammed the words down my throat.

"I had the back four from heaven playing and they deserve a lot of credit for the clean sheet. To pick up an away point against a team battling for Europe is a good result.

"Richie Foran said in the dressing room that it was a great way to start the run-in and I fully agree with that."

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