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St Mirren 1-1 Kilmarnock

Highlights: St Mirren v Kilmarnock

By Andy Campbell

St Mirren grabbed a late draw in the opening match at their new stadium against Kilmarnock.

The visitors opened the scoring on 29 minutes when debutant striker Kevin Kyle headed into the net.

Jim Hamilton saw his penalty saved by Killie goalkeeper Alan Combe, who had fouled Craig Dargo in the box.

But the Buddies levelled with seven minutes remaining when substitute Dennis Wyness fired home following a mistake by Combe.

The result consolidates Killie's mid-table position in the Scottish Premier League and gave Falkirk and Inverness the chance to narrow the gap on Saints.

The hosts almost took the lead in bizarre circumstances early on when Manuel Pascali's attempted clearance from Jack Ross' cross went high into the air and bounced near the goal-line before Frazer Wright ushered the ball to safety.

Stephen McGinn went down just inside the penalty area under the challenge of Wright, but the tackle was deemed fair by referee Willie Collum.

After Killie's Mehdi Taouil had been booked for diving, Andy Dorman missed an excellent chance to break the deadlock when he ran on to Dargo's defence-splitting pass and dragged a left-foot shot wide.

The visitors took the lead against the run of the play as Kyle rose to nod Garry Hay's excellent cross past Howard.

St Mirren were soon given the chance to level from the penalty spot when Dargo raced clear of the Kilmarnock defence and, while attempting to round Combe, was felled in the box by the goalkeeper.

St Mirren striker Dennis Wyness
Wyness rescued a point for the Buddies at St Mirren Park

Combe was booked, with Dargo adjudged to have been going away from goal and the keeper then palmed away Hamilton's tame spot-kick.

Kyle had a shot beaten away by Howard before the St Mirren keeper made a superb left-handed save from the forward's goal-bound header from Hay's teasing set-piece delivery.

Former Sunderland striker Kyle claimed for a penalty after the interval when his back-heel shot appeared to strike the hand of John Potter.

Robb's inswinging cross was flicked on by Dargo's replacement Billy Mehmet and Hamilton volleyed wide at the back post.

Wyness, who was introduced for McGinn, was found in the six-yard box by Mehmet's knock-down, but the substitute shot into the arms of Combe.

And Wyness soon got on the score-sheet after capitalising on Combe's error.

The goalkeeper's attempted punched clearance from Robb's free-kick rebounded off Mehmet's head and Wyness lashed the ball into the net.

Robb ensured Saints retained parity when he blocked Danny Invincibile's shot at the back-post after the substitute had been found by a Fernandez cross.

Ross broke on the right deep into injury time but his dangerous cross was deflected over by James Fowler.

St Mirren manager Gus MacPherson:
"It was end-to-end for a lot of the game. We would have been very very disappointed if we hadn't taken something from the game.

"I thought we created some good opportunities, none better than a penalty kick. We didn't take them and you wonder if it's going to be one of those afternoons.

"We kept persevering and we got our rewards.

"At times the football was maybe a bit of a sideshow and we had to get the players minds off that."

Kilmarnock assistant manager Billy Brown:
"I thought we were going to get three points. When Dennis Wyness missed the chance that he had I thought we were going to hold on.

"We played a lot better against Hearts and Aberdeen and lost. It's a point away from home on a difficult day and we'll take it. Every point in this league is a prisoner.

"Kevin Kyle is a big lad with a physical presence and in this league there isn't a lot of players like that and central defenders won't like playing against him.

"He will be a big asset to the club. It was a good goal that he scored."

St Mirren: Howard, Ross, Potter, Cuthbert, Robb, McGinn (Wyness 79), Dorman, Murray, Brady, Hamilton (Thomson 79), Dargo (Mehmet 62).
Subs Not Used: Smith, Mason, Brighton, McAusland.

Booked: Wyness.

Goals: Wyness 83.

Kilmarnock: Combe, Fowler, Wright, Ford, Hay, Bryson, Pascali, Taouil (Invincibile 57), Skelton, Kyle, Fernandez.
Subs Not Used: Rascle, Murray, Gibson, Flannigan, Nolan, Simmonds.

Booked: Taouil, Combe, Bryson, Fernandez.

Goals: Kyle 29.

Att: 7,542

Ref: W Collum

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Kilmarnock's Kevin Kyle 8.67 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
SPL as it happened
31 Jan 09 |  Scottish Premier
SPL photo gallery
31 Jan 09 |  Scottish Premier

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