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St Mirren 0 Inverness 0: new boss Hughes' first game ends in stalemate

John Hughes first game as Inverness boss ended in stalemate as the Highlanders were held to a 0-0 draw by St Mirren in Paisley.

St Mirren's John Mcginn (right) against Inverness' Marley Watkins (left)
St Mirren's John Mcginn (right) against Inverness' Marley Watkins (left)

The Buddies enjoyed the better chances in the first half but the closest they came was when Steven Thompson - making his 100th appearance for the club he supported as a boy - struck Dean Brill's upright after 25 minutes.

Hughes must have given a rousing speech at the break because his team came out in much better shape after the interval.

Caley Thistle also hit the woodwork when Marley Watkins headed against a post with 20 minutes left but Saints survived on that occasion to extend their unbeaten streak to five games, ensuring they stay just a point behind Hibernian in seventh place in the Scottish Premiership table on 16 points.

Hughes only replaced former Inverness manager Terry Butcher - now in charge at Easter Road - on Wednesday and his late arrival was reflected in a disjointed display by the visitors.

St Mirren, meanwhile, had looked sluggish against Championship opponents Queen of the South in the William Hill Scottish Cup last week as they were forced to accept a replay, to come on Tuesday night.

But they had a much more fluid look about them as they swept through the Caley ranks on seven minutes before keeper Brill produced a strong wrist to deny Thompson's low drive.

Conor Newton opened the scoring at Palmerston seven days ago and could have had another after 15 minutes had it not been for Gary Warren's brave goal-line block as the home side piled on the pressure.

Next it was Brill who had to again come to the rescue on 25 minutes. Newton threaded a fine pass through the Inverness defence for Paul McGowan, who drove inside before teeing up Thompson, whose shot was tipped on to the right-hand post by the keeper.

The ex-Luton number one then pushed away Kenny McLean's curling free-kick while Marc McAusland was disappointed to nod just over from the resulting corner.

The travelling Caley support had to wait until after the half-hour mark to see their side threaten for the first time but Aaron Doran's shot from Nick Ross' cut-back fizzed frustratingly wide, while McGowan did similarly as Saints continued to prod away at the other end.

Josh Meekings was lucky only to receive yellow after cleaning out McLean five minutes before the break, while McGowan also collected a caution after giving the perpetrator a petulant shove during the afters.

The Paisley men had bossed the first half but came out for the second to find their opponents had been fired up by a rousing half-time team-talk from their new manager.

The space St Mirren had exploited with verve in the opening period had vanished as the game grew scrappy.

And with 20 minutes left, the visitors came close to capitalising on their new-found competitiveness.

Saints failed to clear their lines from a corner and Meekings used the opportunity to pick out Warren at the back post. The centre-half opted against an attempt on goal himself but nodded it back into the mixer for Watkins, who sent a header on to Marion Kello's right-hand post.

Saints thought they might have had a late penalty when Darren McGregor tangled with Brill as he chased McLean's dangerous inswinging corner but referee Calum Murray waved away their appeals.

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Football

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