Match ends, Kilmarnock 0, St. Johnstone 1.
Brian Graham's late penalty secured St Johnstone a victory at Rugby Park and lifted the visitors above Kilmarnock in the Scottish Premiership.
Darryl Westlake was adjudged to have fouled Michael O'Halloran inside the penalty area for Graham's spot-kick.
Killie had been the more dominant side in the first half but could not turn possession into goals.
Saints were brighter after the break, despite losing James McFadden to injury, and earned a hard-fought win.
These are two sides near each other in the middle of the table and in the midst, so far, of relatively featureless seasons.
St Johnstone came to Ayrshire unbeaten in their previous five games, while Kilmarnock had not won any of their previous six.
The pattern of the game did not reflect that form, though, since it was the home side that tended to be dominant, at least in the opening half.
The game was only 40 seconds old when Kilmarnock's Robbie Muirhead hit a first-time shot on target, but Alan Mannus dived smartly to his right to push the shot away.
A powerful and direct figure, Josh Magennis also tried to be decisive inside the area when he lashed a shot goalwards, but the ball was deflected over.
Just before half-time, left-back Chris Chantler felt emboldened enough to venture upfield and met a cross from the right with a first-time shot from 20 yards that stung the palms of Mannus in the St Johnstone goal.
Kilmarnock had taken control of the midfield, where Jamie Hamill and Sammy Clingan were resolute and industrious. As a result, St Johnstone were limited as an attacking force, although Graham stabbed a shot on target from O'Halloran's cross which Craig Samson did well to smother at close range.
McFadden had not been expected to play at Rugby Park, since he was concerned that the artificial surface might aggravate his previous injuries.
He was mostly peripheral, although he was still able to conjure an impudent moment when he flicked the ball with his heel and it bounced off the top of the crossbar.
McFadden only lasted five minutes after the interval, though, limping off with a forlorn look on his face.
St Johnstone were not immediately hamstrung, and Simon Lappin's free-kick towards the near post was punched clear by Samson.
When Tope Obadeyi burst past the outrushing Mannus and into the area, he just had to lay the ball in front of Magennis, but the ball was delivered behind the striker.
There was urgency to Kilmarnock after Graham converted St Johnstone's penalty, but Muirhead's shot was beaten away by Mannus, all but confirming the defeat.
- 22WestlakeBooked at 56mins
- 23ChantlerBooked at 82mins
- 8ClinganSubstituted forSlaterat 56'minutes
- 9MillerSubstituted forMcKenzieat 71'minutes
- 10WotherspoonSubstituted forDavidsonat 80'minutes
- 14GrahamBooked at 80mins
- 17McFaddenSubstituted forCroftat 49'minutes
- Don Robertson
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Kilmarnock 0, St. Johnstone 1.
Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Darryl Westlake.
Attempt saved. Josh Magennis (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt missed. Jamie Hamill (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.
Rory McKenzie (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Murray Davidson (St. Johnstone).
Josh Magennis (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Chris Millar (St. Johnstone).
Attempt saved. Josh Magennis (Kilmarnock) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.
Foul by Josh Magennis (Kilmarnock).
Frazer Wright (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt missed. Michael O'Halloran (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the left.
Goal! Kilmarnock 0, St. Johnstone 1. Brian Graham (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal.
Penalty conceded by Chris Chantler (Kilmarnock) after a foul in the penalty area.
Penalty St. Johnstone. Brian Graham draws a foul in the penalty area.
Attempt missed. Josh Magennis (Kilmarnock) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.
Substitution, St. Johnstone. Murray Davidson replaces David Wotherspoon.
Brian Graham (St. Johnstone) is shown the yellow card.
Mark Connolly (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.