St Mirren’s four-game unbeaten run in the SPL came to a shuddering halt with this heavy defeat at home to Ross County.
Former St Mirren midfielder Richard Brittain fired the visitors into the lead from a set piece after 22 minutes.
Steven Thompson buried home the equaliser five minutes after the restart but County substitute Sam Morrow regained the lead after 67 minutes played. And a deadly double from County new boy Ivan Sproule, in the space of four minutes, killed Saints off completely.
There were starts for David Barron, Graham Carey and Sam Parkin, while on-loan Newcastle United midfielder Conor Newton made his debut.
Early on Grant Munro saw a header from a corner easily dealt with by Saints keeper Craig Samson.
At the other end Thompson picked up a pass from Newton but his effort from the angle of the six yard box was blocked by the legs of Mark Brown.
Samson was called into action when Iain Vigurs burst in from the right hand side before sending in a low shot at the near post, but the Buddies stopper managed to block the effort with his legs.
Barron almost broke the deadlock with some nice footwork before sending a left foot shot fractionally wide.
Winger Gary Teale showed some great trickery on the right hand side before he fired in a cross for Parkin but the English striker’s header was easily taken by Brown in goal.
Centre-back Marc McAusland was penalised for a handball offence and County won a free-kick 25 yards out in a central position.Up stepped Brittain to curl a right foot shot into the top right hand corner for 1-0.
Before the break, Thompson went to ground under a challenge from Mihael Kovacevic in the box but referee Euan Norris waved away his appeals for a spot-kick.
Reliable Thompson levelled it up after 50 minutes when he picked up Barron’s pass from the right 16 yards out, side-stepped a defender, then fired low into the bottom left hand corner.
County regained the lead when Barron was slack with a passback and Morrow nipped in to capitalise, firing beyond Samson and into the bottom right hand corner. Disaster struck when a Saints’ throw-in on the far side was knocked on by Vigurs and Sproule steered himself before firing a half volley beyond Samson from 18 yards for 3-1.
It was soon 4-1 with 15 minutes remaining when Sproule was on hand to tuck home the rebound from close range after Rocco Quinn’s initial shot from 20 yards was blocked.
Into injury time, Lewis Guy looked to have been impeded as he tried to connect with a Dougie Imrie cross and ref Norris pointed to the spot.
To complete a miserable afternoon, Guy looked on in horror as his resultant penalty kick was blocked by the feet of Brown.