The introduction of Stevie May with just 16 minutes remaining yesterday was met with a shudder.

That was seen more clearly since it affected the St Johnstone supporters, many of whom were concerned their striker might suffer an injury just six days before he was scheduled to appear in the William Hill Scottish Cup final. A perfunctory league match away to Inverness Caledonian Thistle suddenly felt much less significant.

For those last few minutes the game was all that mattered to Tommy Wright, though. Goals from Ryan Christie and Greg Tansey would give the home side the win yesterday but the St Johnstone manager sought something more from the game when he sent on his team's top scorer.

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Wright's concern for the result in the Highlands - which consigned the Perth side to a sixth-place finish - was not shared fully by his players, perhaps understandably since they were not inclined to risk injury so close to their big day. Wright, for his part, was not about to castigate them for that.

However, it said much for the club ethos that there was still genuine "hurt" within the squad, according to Wright, brought on by a defeat. The St Johnstone manager is confident that feeling will dissipate quickly this week, though.

"The lads are hurting through there" said the Northern Irishman. "The second half was a poor performance. It is totally understandable as there was maybe one eye on next week, but it is still hard to accept when you have an opportunity to go fifth in the table.

"But the good thing is this is one defeat that, come tomorrow morning, will be quite easily forgotten. We have something really special to look forward to now. Our players deserve the season they've had. They deserve to be in a cup final. Now we'll prepare to go and win it."

Neither side appeared in too great a hurry to win the game yesterday, though, with the visitors threatening to score just once in the first half. When they did Michael O'Halloran's shot was well saved by Dean Brill, the Inverness goalkeeper.

It took until the hour mark for the deadlock to be broken, with Christie heading in after Allan Mannus saved an initial effort from Aaron Doran. "The emergence of young Ryan Christie is a pleasure," said John Hughes, the Inverness manager.

Tansey added Inverness' second goal in the last minute of the game with a wonderful strike. St Johnstone fans would still be relieved to watch May walk off at the end unscathed.