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