County claim vital win
Ross County moved out of the relegation play-off spot with a narrow 1-0 Scottish Premiership win over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.
Staggies striker Melvin de Leeuw scored the winner in the 29th minute to take leapfrog the Dingwall club over St Mirren into 10th place, two points clear of the Buddies who had surrendered a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to Dundee United at Tannadice earlier in the day.
The Scottish Cup semi-finalists were looking for the win that would cement their top-six place and thought they had drawn level deep into added time when defender Steven Anderson had the ball in the net only to see it ruled out by referee Bobby Madden at the behest of his linesman Graham Chambers.
The match was live on television and the peculiar kick-off time of 5.30pm no doubt contributed to the poor crowd of 2,213 and those that stayed away missed little in the early stages.
There was just over a minute gone when St Johnstone's Nigel Hasselbaink headed a Lee Croft cross over the crossbar from 10 yards in unconvincing style.
At the other end, County striker Yoann Arquin got his head to Michael Tidser's lofted cross but could not find the power to unduly worry Perth keeper Alan Mannus.
There was a lot of huffing and puffing by both sides in an increasingly scrappy encounter until the Dutchman's goal arrived just before the half-hour mark.
The Staggies' marauding left-back Evangelos Oikonomou turned inside Lee Croft down the flank and knocked the ball into de Leeuw whose first touch at the edge of the box took him past flat-footed Saints defender Gary Miller to give himself a yard of space before he rifled a left-footed shot across the goal and past the diving Mannus for his sixth counter of the season.
The goal was out of keeping with what had gone beforehand but it breathed some life into the game
Three minutes later, with Saints still trying to compose themselves, County striker Jordan Slew had an effort from inside the box but this time Mannus was equal to the task.
Two minutes from the interval the home side should have levelled when Miller's searching cross to the back post found Dave Mackay running in unmarked but the Saints skipper steered his header back across goal and a yard side of the target.
Croft was replaced by David Wotherspoon for the start of the second-half but it was County who should have made it 2-0 when Jordan Slew put Arquin through but the big Frenchman over-ran the ball with a poor touch and the chance was lost.
For the first time in the game St Johnstone began to exert sustained pressure.
In the 58th minute Wotherspoon's free-kick was met by Anderson at the back post but net-bound header was cleared a yard from the line by Filip Kiss with County scrambling the ball away for a corner which came to nothing.
Three minutes later an acrobatic over-head kick by St Johnstone striker Stevie May forced County keeper Mark Brown into a spectacular save at the expense of another fruitless corner.
As Perth frustrations grew, Saints boss Tommy Wright put on striker Chris Iwelumo for Nigel Hasselbaink and midfielder Chris Millar for James Dunne in the 69th minute, using his last throw of the substitutes' dice.
In the first-minute of three minutes added time Brown made a fine save from Mackay's deflected shot and two minutes later, from Wotherspoon's free-kick, Anderson had the ball in the net but his celebrations were cut short when the flag was up for an infringement, suggestions being that a handball by Iwelumo was the reason.