St J’stone 1 – 1 Ross Co

St Johnstone and Ross County’s scrap to avoid the cinch Premiership play-off will go to the last day after Saints striker Adama Sidibeh grabbed a dramatic last-gasp leveller at McDiarmid Park.

County’s attacking midfielder Yan Dhanda, on his way to Hearts in the summer, thrashed in a superb goal after 28 minutes which looked like it would secure the visitors’ top-flight status.

However, Sidibeh headed in a leveller in the 90th minute to keep Saints two points behind the 10th-placed Staggies.

St Johnstone play Motherwell at Fir Park in their final league game on Sunday, while Ross County host Aberdeen on the same day. Whoever finishes 11th goes into a play-off with Raith Rovers or Partick Thistle.

Neither side went into the game in fine fettle.

Saints, who had last won a home game in December, lost to a late Livingston winner in West Lothian on Saturday, while the Staggies, whose victory at Kilmarnock last September was the only away league win this season, had been thrashed 5-1 at home by Motherwell.

Amid the expected frenetic start, County striker Simon Murray’s right-footed drive was saved by Saints ‘keeper Dimitar Mitov who moments later made a much better save from George Harmon’s close-range header from a Murray cross.

The home side then had a couple of opportunities.

In the 16th minute, Ross County centre-back Jack Baldwin miskicked altogether from distance, allowing Saints attacker Stevie May to run clear on goal but a weak shot was easily saved by County ‘keeper Ross Laidlaw.

Then St Johnstone midfielder Dan Phillips slashed a shot over the bar from 14 yards after being set up by Nicky Clark.

Adama Sidibeh
Adama Sidibeh celebrates his late equaliser for St Johnstone

However, it was Dhanda who came up with a piece of magic to give County the lead, working a one-two with Jordan White and waltzing into the Saints box before thundering a left-footed shot high past the helpless Mitov.

The Saints ‘keeper, however, made a fantastic double save a couple of minutes later, first from a powerful Harmon drive and then Murray from the loose ball, although the flag then went up for offside against the latter.

The match was stopped temporarily just before the break by referee Nick Walsh for what appeared to be a VAR malfunction but both sides got back to work in the second half, neither conceding an inch.

County always looked the more threatening but there were few chances at either end until the 65th minute when Saints substitute Ben Kimpioka fired over the bar from just inside the box.

The final stages were a times uncomfortable for the Dingwall side but they looked like they would see it out until, with regulation time just about over, Sidibeh headed in Graham Carey cross to give the home side a cinch Premiership

What the managers said…

St Johnstoneboss Craig Levein:

“We kept going and we’re still hopeful things can go our way.

“All credit to the lads, although we were open in second half, we haven’t had a lot of luck this season but I thought we just deserved with the effort we put in.

“The hope is we go to Motherwell and win, then Aberdeen beat Ross County. We will try to put in a strong performance.

“Even if we have to go into the play-offs I would rather go into it in a vein of form rather than disappointment so the message to the players on Sunday will be just go out and play as well as we can and if things work out fantastic and if they don’t we are ready to go into the play-offs in good form.

“We have to got to be confident of going there and winning. Of course the reality is it’s out of our hands now.

“We wanted it to be in our hands completely but that isn’t the case. But I don’t think Aberdeen will be an easy team to dispose of on Sunday either.

“Sunday will be about a lot of different things, character, quality and maybe a bit of luck, who knows?

“We have showed a lot of energy in our performances later, that has pleased me and was evident tonight. So on we go to Sunday and we’ll see what happens.”

Ross Countyboss Don Cowie:

“That’s football, isn’t it? It happens.

“The players are down and disappointed, but it’s my job to lift them and get the spirits high for playing Aberdeen.

“I felt it was a good away performance, they dealt with the pressure well and I felt comfortable.

“So I’m not angry, we switched off ever so slightly and [Graham] Carey has a wonderful left foot. He put a ball in and it was a great header to be fair.

“The good thing is Sunday’s game comes quickly and we won’t have time to stew on it.

“We will recover and get ready to go against Aberdeen. They are in good form but apart from Motherwell at home we have been excellent at home.

“I said before the game we earned the right to have it in our own hands and we did that tonight.

“Right until the 90th minute I thought we’d done it. St Johnstone put a lot of attackers on the pitch and we switched off.”

What’s next?

St Johnstone’sfinal Scottish Premiership match of the season is away to Motherwellon Sunday, while Ross County host Aberdeen.

Both games kick off at 3pm.

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