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St Johnstone move off bottom spot with point at Kilmarnock

St Johnstone hauled themselves off the foot of the Ladbrokes Premiership as they recorded their first clean sheet on the road in ten months to secure a hard earned point at Kilmarnock.

Not since they held Rangers to a goalless draw at Ibrox in February have Tommy Wright’s side prevented a home side from scoring.

But they shut out Kilmarnock at Rugby Park and, while St Johnstone were unable to get on the scoresheet, the point was enough to lift them up to 11th place.

It was a welcome defensive performance for Wright, whose side shipped four goals at the weekend against Motherwell and unsurprisingly the Saints manager opted to ring the changes, five in total, to the side which lost 4-0 at Fir Park.

Wright bemoaned his side’s defending as they shipped cheap goals to Motherwell but at Rugby Park their backline was not really tested during a scrappy opening 45 minutes.

St Johnstone had the better of the play in the first half but failed to work Kilmarnock goalkeeper Lauentiu Branescu. That, in part, was down to those protecting his goal in front of him and also the visitors lacking a clinical and cutting edge.

The closest St Johnstone came to opening the scoring in the first half was when Liam Craig slide a free-kick down the right flank to Drey Wright and his low cross was met by defender Liam Gordon.

Gordon’s shot was goalbound but deflected wide off Alan Power.

Kilmarnock’s main threat came from set-pieces and, when Chris Burke whipped in a free-kick, Dario Del Fabro, who scored the injury-time equaliser against Hibernian on Saturday, sent a header over.

Saints carved out another opportunity when Ali McCann played in Michael O’Halloran but the angle was against the winger and he opted to drill the ball across the face of goal but none of his team-mates had gambled to get on the end of it and the chance was gone.

Just before the interval, Killie threatened at another free-kick. Once again Burke was the provider but Stephen O’Donnell was unable to get enough purchase on the ball to force it home.

A wonderful defensive header from Gordon prevented Del Fabro giving Killie the lead after 58 minutes. Kilmarnock kept on the pressure from a corner and Alex Bruce delivered a cross which looked perfect for his defensive partner at the far post but Gordon was in the right place to glance a header clear.

St Johnstone goalkeeper Zander Clark was finally called into action in the 64th minute when Burke lashed in a shot but he was able to beat it away.

The game then petered out with neither side able to break the deadlock.