Saints pegged back by hero Hayes

Saints were left to rue Sam Parkin’s miss when through on goal
following Samuel’s seventh minute opener as Inverness put on a
better showing after half-time. Hayes equaliser was just about
deserved, while Adam Rooney went close to winning it for the hosts
with a header that crept narrowly wide in the latter stages.
Inverness made one change from the side that had defeated Aberdeen
2-0 in their previous outing, Russell Duncan dropping out to be
replaced by on-loan Hibs full back Kevin McCann, who was returning
to the side following a groin injury. Dani Sanchez had also
recovered sufficiently from a knee problem to take his place
amongst the substitutes. For St Johnstone, there were three
alterations to the team which overcame Hibs 2-0 a couple of weeks
ago. Graeme Smith replaced Peter Enckelman in goal as the former
Aston Villa man was relegated to the bench along with Jennison
Myrie-Williams, who had his place taken by Liam Craig. There was
also a start for Andy Jackson, in for Murray Davidson, who dropped
out completely. Following an indifferent start to the season, the
visitors had won three out of their last four matches in all
competitions and they made a wonderful start in the Highland
Capital, taking a seventh-minute lead. Alan Maybury’s long
crossfield ball looked more in hope than expectation, but with the
Caley Thistle defence caught flat-footed Samuel stole in at the
back post to beat Ryan Esson with a crisp finish into the far
corner. Parkin had a chance to put St Johnstone into a two-goal
lead as Chris Millar’s through ball sent him racing in on goal, but
with only Esson to beat he struck his effort straight into the body
of the onrushing goalkeeper. Saints were dominating possession and
a thunderbolt from Craig almost caught out Esson as he hurled
himself across goal only to see the ball narrowly go the wrong side
of the upright. With Rooney looking isolated upfront, Caley Thistle
were growing increasingly frustrated in their attempts to break
down a resolute St Johnstone defence. Michael Duberry had
marshalled the Saints rearguard superbly and with the experienced
Jody Morris controlling proceedings in the middle of the park, they
were worthy of their lead as half-time approached. There was,
however, one scare for St Johnstone before the interval when Ross
Tokely headed a Stuart Duff corner back across goal and the ball
eventually landed at the feet of Rooney, but he miscued his effort.
St Johnstone showed no signs of letting up at the start of the
second half as firstly Jackson whipped a dangerous ball across the
face of goal before Samuel’s cross was just a shade too long for
the run of Parkin. There was, however, more cut and thrust about
Inverness as well and they won a dangerous free-kick on the edge of
the box after Richie Foran had been hauled down by Dave MacKay, who
was booked, but Rooney thumped the resultant free-kick straight
into the wall. Danny Grainger was then booked for a challenge on
Hayes as Caley Thistle began to exert some pressure on the visitors
for the first time in the match. But for all Inverness’ dominance
in the early stages of the second period, they failed to fashion a
chance worthy of the name as Saints made the first change of the
match, bringing on Marcus Haber for Parkin, who went off due to a
head knock. The St Johnstone substitute almost had an instant
impact as he drove into the box and cut the ball back for Craig,
but he blazed his effort high over the crossbar. Caley Thistle
responded by introducing Russell Duncan for McCann with Duff
reverting to right back as they tried to salvage an equaliser. The
change clearly had the desired effect as after Graeme Smith had
done well to deny Rooney from close range, Inverness equalised in
the 71st minute. Richie Foran’s wonderfully-weighted throughball
was perfect for Hayes who did well to slip the ball past Smith, who
was booked for catching the Irish winger after he had played the
ball. Inverness were now in the ascendancy and from a Duff cross,
Grant Munro headed over from six yards. Rooney was next to go close
with his head, this time glancing on a Nick Ross ball into the box
only to see it bounce just a yard past the upright. But both sides
had to settle for a point