Kilmarnock 1 St Johnstone 1: Immediate response to the burning issues

Derek McInnes’ side had ruled out a goal for handball after a long VAR check in the 18th minute, but they safely took the lead when Joe Wright hit the back of the net in the 37th minute. The tall defender nodded home as Jordan Jones was in the swing and Saints keeper Remi Matthews was caught in no man’s land.

The Saints looked utterly out of contention, but in the end they captured an important point in their own attempt to avoid being dragged into the current fight for survival. Drey Wright pounced on a loose ball after a quick Perth counterattack in the 70th minute before firing home in the bottom corner.

Here are the big talking points and burning issues of the Ayrshire competition…

David Watson seems to be a talent

Derek McInnes has been criticized this season for failing to refresh his Kilmarnock starting XI, but he was forced into a midfield change on Saturday with Liam Polworth sidelined through injury. Prestwick-born David Watson got the nod for his first league start for Killie and the 18-year-old impressed from the start. Looking eager to get the ball, he physically mixed it with St Johnstone’s midfield and sprayed the ball across the rugby park’s surface with confidence. From the press box it was obvious his performance at home support and his manager McInnes, who was visibly impressed on the touchline, was taken by storm. It was a first league start for the youngster, but he could play an important role in the start of the season.

Saints miss key men

Callum Davidson’s Saints looked unimaginative for a long time against Kilmarnock and ultimately struggled to get a foot on the ball in the middle of the park. A midfield trio of Cammy MacPherson, Melker Hallberg and Graham Carey were passive and failed to make it in the final third. St Johnstone’s recent successes have depended heavily on midfield powerhouse Daniel Phillips and his suspension for the last two games has hurt the team as a whole. The Trinidad and Tobago international is key to getting the Saints to click from the center of the pitch and his return against Aberdeen next time will be great.

Strong result in the relegation battle

This ended up feeling like a bigger point for St Johnstone than Kilmarnock. Killie were by far the better team in their own field and probably should have been out of sight in the first half as several chances went past McInnes’ team. With Ross County losing at Livingston and Dundee United drawing against St Mirren, it was a great chance to pick up points against those below. The Saints, on the other hand, picked up a point that retained their eighth place finish. They are ten points behind the bottom of the table and eight points ahead of the playoff position. Kilmarnock 1 St Johnstone 1: Immediate response to the burning issues

Russell Falcon

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