Match ends, St. Johnstone 1, Inverness CT 0.
- Brian Graham penalty wins game
- Ross Draper sent off for Inverness
- Caley Thistle drop to fourth in table
A Brian Graham penalty was enough to secure St Johnstone a deserved victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
The defeat at McDiarmid Park meant the visitors slipped from second to fourth in the Scottish Premiership.
Graham won and converted the spot-kick, after he was tripped inside the area by Inverness goalkeeper Dean Brill.
There was a further setback for the visitors when they were reduced to 10 men with the dismissal of Ross Draper, and the game was then beyond them.
During different spells, both sides were able to claim possession of the ball for extended periods, but that alone was not enough to gain control of the outcome. There was a lack of penetration and creativity, so chances were sparse.
Billy McKay, for instance, tended to be isolated up front for Inverness, although the visitors were quick and agile on the counter attack, only for the delivery in the final third to let them down.
Aaron Doran saw a long-range effort deflected wide, but otherwise the visitors were relying on their concentration and their wits.
St Johnstone were able and industrious, with a good solid shape to the side and unpredictability whenever Michael O'Halloran set off on a direct run towards goal. All that was missing for the home side was poise at the critical moment.
A chance fell to Saints captain Dave MacKay inside the penalty area, and though his shot skewed through the legs of an Inverness defender Graeme Shinnie cleared off the line.
O'Halloran was sent through on goal before half-time, but his shot hit the chest of Brill as the keeper rushed off his line.
The home side would have been buoyed by their recent form - having been unbeaten in six games - and they remained full of conviction after the break.
Inverness were diminished, though McKay almost broke the deadlock with a well-struck free-kick that Brill tipped away.
The Highlanders may have felt under pressure, but there was also an element of controversy about the opening goal.
Graham was sent clear and Brill ran out to dive at his feet. The striker fell over with dramatic aplomb and, after a brief pause, referee Brian Colvin pointed to the spot.
After Graham had converted the spot-kick, Inverness were further hampered by the dismissal of Draper.
The midfielder made a strong challenge for the ball on Simon Lappin and appeared to throw out his elbow. Colvin made no hesitation with this decision, and immediately reached for his red card.
Inverness were not wholly subdued, and David Raven sent a shot flying across the face of the goal.
The home side were always dangerous on the break, though, and David Wotherspoon's shot from close range was pushed over by Brill.
- 22CroftSubstituted forMillerat 90+3'minutes
- 7MillarSubstituted forDavidsonat 55'minutes
- 10WotherspoonSubstituted forMcDonaldat 88'minutes
- 2RavenBooked at 60mins
- 3ShinnieBooked at 62mins
- 4VincentSubstituted forWatkinsat 56'minutes
- 22ChristieSubstituted forWilliamsat 85'minutes
- 8DraperBooked at 67mins
- 10DoranBooked at 28minsSubstituted forRossat 81'minutes
- Brian Colvin
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, St. Johnstone 1, Inverness CT 0.
Michael O'Halloran (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by David Raven (Inverness CT).
Substitution, St. Johnstone. Gary Miller replaces Lee Croft.
Foul by Murray Davidson (St. Johnstone).
Billy McKay (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Gary McDonald (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Gary Warren (Inverness CT).
Brian Graham (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Nick Ross (Inverness CT).
Substitution, St. Johnstone. Gary McDonald replaces David Wotherspoon.
Foul by Lee Croft (St. Johnstone).
Greg Tansey (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
David Mackay (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT).
Substitution, Inverness CT. Danny Williams replaces Ryan Christie.
Gary Warren (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Brian Graham (St. Johnstone).
Foul by Frazer Wright (St. Johnstone).