St Mirren got back to winning ways with a 2-0 victory at home to Ross County. Here are three things we learned from the game:

A belated change to the Paisley pattern

Goals have been hard to come by for St Mirren of late. Early in the second half of this game, in which they again created but spurned a number of chances before finally making the breakthrough, they passed the 500 minute mark since one of their own players had last found the net. That was Lewis Jamieson, whose 90th minute equaliser against Hibernian on November 8 was followed by four matches without scoring and a win over Livingston that was settled by a Sean Kelly own goal, a former St Mirren defender ironically enough. 

Manager Stephen Robinson has tried all number of permutations in attack to try to end that sequence, giving Jamieson, Jonah Ayunga, Mika Mandron, Alex Greive, Toyosi Olusanya and Stav Nahmani all the chance to stake a claim to become the team’s regular starting centre forwards.

It was more of the same here for a while, Ayunga missing two good chances to open the scoring, Nahmani also thwarted in an otherwise first league start in the team and Greg Kiltie hitting the bar when he probably ought to have scored. 

Given that record it was probably not a surprise that it took another own goal for Saints to finally move in front. It was credited to the unfortunate Ryan Leak but only after a delay, VAR intervening after novice referee Calum Scott had allowed play to go on despite home protests. 

Six minutes later and finally a St Mirren player took Jamieson’s mantle. It was a first goal for Ayunga since returning from a lengthy injury lay-off, a special moment for the him but not one Ross Laidlaw in the County goal will want to look back on with the ball slipping underneath him. After that Saints reverted to type, passing up a number of good openings to get a third goal. But at least this time they had another win to celebrate as they move back up to third in the table.

“If we took every chance that we made our strikers wouldn’t be playing for St Mirren,” admitted Robinson. “It’s as simple as that. If Jonah scores every chance and he’s 6ft 5, good right foot, left foot and really quick he wouldn’t be playing here. That’s the consistency aspect of it. Now it’s about if we can take more of our chances.”

Bump in the road for County

Derek Adams had enjoyed a strong start since returning to Dingwall before this one, two wins, one draw and no goals conceded. This defeat was something of a setback, then, in their bid to avoid being embroiled in a relegation scrap although this has rarely been a happy hunting ground without a win here since 2015. They looked solid enough defensively for as long as St Mirren kept spurning chances but never really threatened at the other end, although Jordan White ought to have directed a first-half header on target while Alex Samuel was only denied by a brilliant Zach Hemming save as County chased the game.

“We didn’t play as well as we can do or have done,” admitted Adams. “We didn’t deserve to win the game. The first goal was always going to be pivotal in this game.”

Home comforts

St Mirren’s successful mission to reach the top six last year was built on a formidable home record in the first half of the season in particular. After an opening day loss to Motherwell, the Buddies went all the way to February before suffering another defeat in front of their own fans when Hibs were in town. 

The bijou, 8000-seater SMISA Stadium could never be considered a football fortress in the traditional sense but it continues to serve them well, with Rangers the only team to have left Paisley with three points in their pocket this season. Given their well-documented troubles on the road, it will be vital for Saints to continue to make hay at home if they are to maintain a top six push for another season, with struggling Motherwell next in town on Saturday.