Saints made it through to the quarter finals of the Scottish Cup with the show of determination that was needed to overcome a confident and impressive Ross County side in Dingwall.
Steven Anderson and Kevin Rutkiewicz were paired at centre half and further up the park Steven Milne sat in behind the strike pairing of Peter MacDonald and Andy Jackson.
The first clear cut chance of the game fell to Saints in five minutes when the ball broke to Paul Sheerin in the box but his left foot drive was charged down and then keeper Tony Bullock did well to tip over a spectacular overhead kick by Peter MacDonald from the resultant loose ball.
At the other end Alan Main had to get down smartly to smother a low cross from Dene Shields with County danger man Andy Barrowman lurking for any spills.
The goal that proved to be the only one of the game came in 14 minutes and was a moment to forget for County keeper Bullock who completely mis-hit an attempted clearance from a pass back and as the ball shot across the penalty area Liam Craig was quick to chase it and turn the ball home from close range.
The ball was being treated as something of a hot potato and with the exception of Greg Cameron Saints lacked someone to get the ball down and try the passing game but to be fair to the home side they played with a tempo and touch which befits league leaders.
Andy Jackson tried his luck from 22 yards after bursting through from the half way line but his effort was just wide while former Saints youth player Alex Keddie sent a header just over the bar.
Ross County enjoyed the best of the first half but for all their possession they rarely troubled Alan Main due it part to resolute defending from Anderson and Rutkiewicz in the centre of the defence.
County tried to get back on level terms quickly after the break and Sean Higgins sent a drive just wide.
A flurry of substitute activity saw former loan Saint Paul Lawson come on for the home side while Kevin Moon replaced Peter MacDonald and soon after that what proved to be the Staggies best chance of the game was kept out – but only just! Alan Main – whose handling was otherwise excellent – failed to gather a deep free kick from Higgins and Dowie saw his effort canon off the post and when Shields pounced on the loose ball he saw his goal-bound drive cleared off the line by Stanic.
Apart from that incident Saints looked increasingly comfortable as the home side ran out of ideas and steam while Saints had chances to increase their lead – notably from Greg Cameron who lofted an effort over the bar at the end of a great Andy Jackson run and then trying his luck with a free kick.
It wasn’t a pretty display but Saints dug deep and showed the sort of battling qualities that were posted missing at Dumfries last weekend and a home tie against SPL opposition now awaits.
Website Man of the Match: It wasn't a night where anyone in particular stood out - more a good team effort. The re-itroduced Kevin Rutkiewicz and Steven Anderson formed a formidable barrier at the heart of the defence but on a night where the ball was frequently in the air GREG CAMERON was the one player, particularly in the first half, who tried to bring it down and find some passes.
ROSS COUNTY: Bullock, Miller, Golabek, Dowie, Keddie, Brady (Lawson), Scott, Higgins, Shields (Petrie), Barrowman, Strachan (Moore).
Subs not used: Boyd, Malin
SAINTS: Main, Irvine, Stanic (McManus), Cameron, Rutkiewicz, Anderson, Milne (Weatherston), Craig, Jackson, MacDonald (Moon), Sheerin.
Subs not used: McCluskey, Cuthbert