St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson admitted his side’s defensive performances were concerning after they suffered a seventh consecutive defeat.
Ross County secured a deserved 2-1 win in Perth to leave the home side two points adrift of Dundee at the foot of the cinch Premiership.
Last year’s double cup winners were missing four players because of Covid issues as well as long-term absentees such as David Wotherspoon, and they are clearly still suffering from the loss of Jason Kerr and Ali McCann in the latter stages of the transfer window.
But their performance against County left Davidson “disappointed, frustrated, angry” after the visitors managed 20 shots at goal to the hosts’ nine.
Saints midfielder Jacob Butterfield quickly cancelled out Regan Charles-Cook’s early opener before Ross Callachan atoned for a first-half penalty miss to fire the winner from close range in the 69th minute.
County twice hit the frame of the goal and missed good chances to extend their lead before surviving a late onslaught without major scare.
Davidson said: “After going a goal down I thought we reacted really well to it. Second half we tried to come out and be the team that was pushing.
“I keep talking about us not scoring goals but defensively we were really poor. We didn’t do enough first contact again and one-v-one battles, and allowed Ross County too many chances.
“I asked them to show character and have a go and I thought they did in parts but there were other parts that weren’t good enough.
“Last year we were very good defensively and for me now we are not good enough in that department and it’s a concern for me.
“It’s something we need to sort, and I take responsibility for it. We have obviously had some issues but I expect better than that – I expect boys to fight and do better in certain situations.”
County boss Malky Mackay described the result as a “huge win”.
“I’m delighted to come here and play the way we did,” he added. “On another day we put the game to bed. We hit the post and the bar and were clean through on goal.
“We don’t take them and that allows them the last five minutes when we have got to defend well, which we do.”