Buddies begin Park life with draw

St Mirren's Dennis Wyness came off the bench to rescue a 1-1 SPL draw against Kilmarnock in the Paisley club's first game at their new stadium.

Last Updated: 31/01/09 at 17:51 Post Comment

Wyness: Came off bench to score penalty

Wyness: Came off bench to score penalty

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Kyle headed home on his Scottish Premier League debut and it looked like his would be the only bright new start after Alan Combe saved Jim Hamilton's penalty.

But Wyness grabbed a late equaliser after a mistake by Combe, who had controversially escaped a red card for hacking down Craig Dargo.

Chairman Stewart Gilmour, accompanied by First Minister Alex Salmond, marked the official opening of the new St Mirren Park by firing a ball through a miniature goal.

The near-capacity 7,542 crowd on Saturday also witnessed the laying of Love Street's centre spot on the touchline by former Saints captains Tony Fitzpatrick, Billy Abercromby, Tommy Turner and Kevin McGowne.

Kyle, who joined Killie from Coventry on Thursday, made an impressive debut up front alongside David Fernandez and only an excellent save from Mark Howard stopped him finishing the game off before the break.

Kilmarnock defender Simon Ford almost suffered the ignominy of scoring the first goal at the stadium through his own net when he sliced a clearance just wide.

St Mirren, who had Steven Rob deputising for the suspended Franco Miranda at left-back, were playing some decent football without testing Combe.

Killie were threatening from set-pieces and Frazer Wright hooked a shot on target after Kyle had made his presence felt at a corner, but Howard was well positioned to save.

Saints created the first clear chance in the 23rd minute but Andy Dorman slipped the ball just wide after Dargo threaded the ball into the path of his long burst forward.

Dorman soon had a shot blocked at close range by James Fowler but Kyle netted a straightforward opener in the 29th minute when he headed Garry Hay's deep cross into the bottom corner.

Killie almost fashioned a second when Fernandez flicked the ball across the face of goal after being sent clear by Gavin Skelton's flick, but Saints broke with devastating effect seconds later.

Dargo ran clear on to Garry Brady's through ball and was hacked down by Combe just inside the corner of the box.

Dargo had been heading away from goal but Combe had committed himself and referee Willie Collum faced strong protests from the home side when he only booked the Killie goalkeeper.

Combe added insult to injury by diving low to his right to stop Hamilton's penalty.

Kyle soon forced Howard to parry his 20-yard drive and the Saints keeper made a brilliant stop from Kyle's bullet header following Hay's free-kick.

St Mirren had another escape when Manuel Pascali nodded over from six yards after winning Mehdi Taouil's corner.

Fowler blocked from Dargo as St Mirren pushed forward after the break but the pressure soon dissipated.

Kilmarnock were looking comfortable and claimed for a handball when John Potter blocked Kyle's flick inside the box, but Hamilton missed a great chance midway through the half.

Stephen McGinn crossed to the back post after his corner was half-cleared but Hamilton, completely unmarked, volleyed wide.

Substitute Billy Mehmet cut inside and set up Brady but he fired harmlessly wide from 16 yards and Saints brought on Wyness and Steven Thomson as they looked for inspiration.

Wyness shot weakly at Combe after Brady's header found him in space 10 yards out but the former Inverness striker soon levelled in the 83rd minute.

Combe cost his side when Mehmet beat him to Robb's long free-kick after the Killie goalkeeper came well off his line. The ball fell for Wyness to turn it into the empty net.

The visitors almost snatched victory in the final minute but Robb produced a superb sliding clearance as Danny Invincibile tried to steer home Craig Bryson's cross at the back post.

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