St Johnstone missed the opportunity to kick off their Scottish Premiership campaign with success when Ali McCann handed a 70th-minute penalty over the crossbar as the Ross County clash ended 0-0.
The poorly-hit shot from the highly-rated Saints midfielder missed the mark by several feet after Coll Donaldson was judged for fouling Reece Devine by referee Colin Steven.
The hosts also lived dangerously in the playoffs when Liam Craig hit the post six minutes from time, following a shot from substitute Stevie May.
Ross County: Laidlaw, Watson, Donaldson, Iacovitti, Randall, Spittal, Tillson, Callachan, Charles-Cook, White, Samuel.
Submarines used: Paton, Shaw.
Saint Johnstone: Clark, Kerr, Gordon, McCart, Rooney, McCann, Davidson, Devine, O’Halloran, Wotherspoon, Hendry.
Submarines used: Mai, Kane, Craig.
However, it would have been something of an injustice if the home side hadn’t collected a point in a game that’s difficult to watch.
Regan Charles-Cook created an early half-chance for the county, but the home side were unable to test Zander Clark in the St Johnstone goal as Keith Watson drove away.
Michael O’Halloran did better after 10 minutes when he forced a low save from Ross Laidlaw after David Wotherspoon provided the opening.
But drama was painfully rare, with both teams appearing eager to practice damage control rather than attacking with flair and imagination.
Hamilton midfielder Ross Callachan, relegated top scorer last season, provided a rare moment of inspiration when he smashed County’s right side and delivered a low polling cross through the Saints’ goal. However, Callachan bet too much on the ball for Dominic Samuel to reach at the far post.
The second half was little more entertaining than the first and the game desperately needed someone to liven up the proceedings.
The county certainly looked more solid defensively than it has been in recent times, possibly due to the tactical influence of new manager Malky Mackay.
In their defense, the hosts had to deal with a Covid epidemic which forced the club into isolation for 10 days and resulted in the postponement of two League Cup matches.
But St Johnstone, two-time cup winner last season, will need to find a much more specific advantage when he travels to Turkey next week to face Galatasaray in a Europa League first round qualifier.
Although rarely exposed from the rear, they offered little significant threat and their failure to secure a victory with the penalty kick summed up their afternoon.
What the managers said
Ross County Boss Malky Mackay: “It’s been a really tough few weeks. Two weeks ago they were all sitting at home because of Covid.
“We had already had the huge turnover of 15 starting and we only have five so far. We only have 14 fit players and three or four kids on the bench.
“Two of the boys were at the Gold Cup three days ago in America and Harry Paton was somewhere over the Atlantic 18 hours ago.
“Let him come, fly to London and fly here this morning – and end up sitting on the bench and getting out on the pitch – testifies to that.
“We knew it would be a tough game. Callum have a very well-trained team. They had a fantastic season. But I owe my team. They changed their system twice during the game, so we are delighted with the foil. White .”
Patron Saint of St Johnstone Callum Davidson: “I thought it was a game we should have won. In the first half both teams played the same system.
“It was pretty hard to have a real flow in the game and it was pretty rambling. There were a lot of niggly little fouls that I thought maybe the referee could have played on.
“In the second half I was happy with the change in intensity because I asked them to be a little more positive on the front foot and more aggressive.
“Liam Craig was not on the field and he is the one who usually shoots the penalties.
“It’s just one of those things. Ali was confident and it’s disappointing because these are huge things in games and it could have made a difference in our sense.”
Ross County travel to Hibernian at 3 p.m. on Sunday 8 August in the Scottish Premiership, while St Johnstone travel to Galatasaray in their Europa League third qualifying round first leg at 7 p.m. Thursday.