Four goals in 13 second-half minutes lit up a fiery Renfrewshire Derby at the Paisley 2021 Stadium on Saturday.

Two penalties and some controversial decisions drew the ire of both sides to referee Steven McLean, who was caught up in controversy when taking charge of the Betfred Cup semi-final between Rangers and Motherwell last weekend.

Saints were almost architects of their own downfall inside the first three minutes. A mix up between Liam Smith and Jack Baird allowed Jai Quitongo to steal in and run through on goal, but a terrific last ditch block from Gregor Buchanan bailed out his defensive colleagues.

The Buddies were next to go close after a well worked move between Stephen McGinn and Cammy Smith ended with Smith squaring for Lewis Morgan, but the winger’s shot was scuffed narrowly wide.

The game was played at a frantic pace with plenty of full blooded tackles as both sides lived up to the derby day billing, but chances were in short supply.

Saint started the second half with intent, Cammy Smith teed up Lewis Morgan and the winger’s shot from a difficult angle needed an impressive one handed save from Derek Gaston to keep it out.

In the 65th minute the game burst into life as The Buddies made the breakthrough. Morgan struck a free-kick into the wall before picking up the rebound and going on a mazy run down the left and Michael Doyle was penalised for pulling him back inside the box as Steven McLean pointed to the spot. After a short delay Ian McShane was able to keep his composure and send Gaston the wrong way.

But Ton soon silenced the home support. With the Saints bench adamant they were due a corner when Morgan’s shot appeared to deflect wide, Gaston played the goal kick to Mark Russell who strode down the left unchallenged, his cross was cleared only as far as Murdoch who let fly from fully 25 yards into the corner to equalise in fine style.

But the game soon swung back the way of the home side. An overhit Morgan cross ended up at the feet of Cammy Smith on the right, the midfielder did brilliantly to pick out Reilly who swept the ball home.

Reilly was within inches of doubling his tally when he swept a Morgan cross towards goal but it drifted agonisingly wide, and that miss would prove costly.

The scoring wasn’t finished there as Ton were awarded a penalty of their own. After referee McLean had stopped a Morton corner from being taken twice due to pushing, when it was delivered Buchanan hadn’t heeded the warning and was penalised for holding Tam O’Ware. Former Saint Gary Harkins calmly slotted the ball home.

The controversy hadn’t ended. Reilly appeared to be brought down right on the edge of the area by O’Ware, but McLean booked the bemused striker for diving.