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St Mirren 1 Kilmarnock 1: Shiels refuses to be put on the spot over penalty award

Both sides had cause to be aggrieved, since the game's two goals came from contentious penalty decisions.

Paul McGowan converts the contentious penalty
Paul McGowan converts the contentious penalty

It was a measure of the mood of the two managers that, while Danny Lennon was content afterwards, Kenny Shiels was clearly irked by the decisions of Brian Colvin.

The Kilmarnock manager has been subject of various Scottish Football Association disciplinary charges this season, and he chose his words carefully when asked about the spot-kick that was awarded when Mark O'Hara challenged Dougie Imrie. Yet he delivered them forcefully and bluntly to make a point.

"If you want me to speak about decisions in games, interview the referee first and then I'll talk all day long in response to what he says," Shiels asserted. "That's the way it should be. I'm not going to answer questions on it. Don't ask me questions about the referee and his decisions, until you have asked them, then I'll respond to what he says, is that fair? I'm not doing any more interviews until you interview the refs."

Shiels then left the room, although he did stop to briefly answer a question about the contract offer reportedly made to Cammy Bell, his goalkeeper, who performed exceptionally during yesterday's game. "The chairman's dealing with that," he said.

Shiels had a right to be frustrated, since O'Hara appeared to make contact with the ball before Imrie tumbled, with Paul McGowan scoring from the spot. However, it also looked as though David Barron made little or no contact on James Dayton in the fifth minute of the game, but Colvin awarded a penalty then, too, which Liam Kelly converted firmly.

"They were soft penalties," admitted McGowan, "but it evened itself out." By that rationale, a draw was a fair result. Yet St Mirren created more chances, only to find themselves thwarted by Bell, whose contract is up in the summer and who is thought to have caught the eye of Rangers. He made a series of outstanding saves, in particular leaping up to tip a Stephen Thompson shot over the bar.

The occasion demanded endurance, since the conditions were treacherous, with the rain blown across the pitch by an incessant, swirling wind. Composure wasn't a victim of the conditions – both teams still sought to play a measured game – but the most effective trait was resourcefulness. Players had to react to the circumstances, particularly the defenders, and there was no respite.

Both goalkeepers must have winced at the influence of the wind on the ball but they were able to be resolute. Craig Samson was agile as he dived to his left to push away Paul Heffernan's header. That save kept St Mirren in the game, because a second goal for Kilmarnock would have deflated them. It was moments later that Bell saved so impressively from Thompson. The striker also steered a shot past the upright, then Bell saved from his header.

Kilmarnock will be keen to retain the goalkeeper, who is thought to have been offered a five-year contract to stay. The club did complete some business yesterday, though, with the signing of Rabiu Ibrahim on a two-year deal from Celtic, although the attacking midfielder did not feature in the squad for this game.

The visitors weren't short of creativity, but St Mirren adapted better to the conditions, at least up until their equaliser, since the sides were evenly matched in the closing moments.

Lennon, the St Mirren manager, opted to be bold at half-time, bringing on Imrie, an attacker, for John McGinn, a midfielder, and essentially lining up in a 4-2-4 shape.

Kilmarnock were forced to make a change of their own, with O'Hara, a 17-year-old full-back coming on. The teenager looked fraught, at times, even before the penalty, as Imrie tried to forage down the left. Yet St Mirren would have equalised before then had it not been for Bell, who saved headers by Jim Goodwin and Paul Dunnett, then tipped David Barron's stinging shot over the bar.

I thought it was a terrific game," said Lennon. "I love playing Kilmarnock because we both love to get the ball down and play. It's a wee bit of a boxing match, you have the ball and then we'll have it. We were putting Cammy Bell under pressure but we hit a boy on top form."

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