Saturday 29th April
Saints' European ambitions were given a huge boost this afternoon after Tommy Wright's side picked up a superb 2-0 win away to second placed Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership, to take us 6 points clear in fourth place.
Both teams were goalless going into the last ten minutes of the match when two strikes, the first from Danny Swanson and the second from substitute Craig Thomson, saw the Perth men leave Pittodrie with all three points - to the delight of the away support who had travelled up in great numbers.
The goal from Craig Thomson was his first for Saints, while goalkeeper Alan Mannus made his 200th appearance for the club.
After having a free weekend last week due to The William Hill Scottish Cup Semi-finals Saints returned to action this afternoon for their first post-split fixture against Aberdeen. The match came two weeks on from the two sides' last meeting at McDiarmid Park, which ended in a 2-1 victory for the Dons. Tommy Wright made 5 changes to the side for today’s match at Pittodrie as Steven Anderson, Chris Millar, Murray Davidson, Danny Swanson and Graham Cummins, who was now free from suspension, came into the starting line-up. They replaced Tom Scobbie, Blair Alston, Michael Coulson and Paul Paton who all dropped to the bench. While Steven MacLean missed out due to serving a one-match suspension. Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes made one change to the team that started last Saturday’s 3-2 win against Hibernian in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup at Hampden as Niall McGinn came into replace Mark Reynolds.
Saints got the match underway and they made a positive start as on 3 minutes Wotherspoon’s cross from the right was knocked behind for a corner by Andrew Considine. The corner was taken by Liam Craig however, his ball into the box was comfortably cleared by the Aberdeen defence.
The home side created a chance on 8 minutes as Shaleum Logan broke down the right before delivering a good cross into the box which was cleared. However, the clearance only went as far as Graeme Shinnie who unleashed a shot from distance and it was deflected towards goal by Adam Rooney but Alan Mannus, who was making his 200th appearance for Saints, got down to easily gather.
Logan was the first player in referee Alan Muir’s book on 17 minutes as he was shown a yellow card for a foul on Danny Swanson. Then shortly after Jonny Hayes was also booked for a clumsy challenge on David Wotherspoon.
The game started to heat up on 20 minutes as the home side were not happy that Chris Millar wasn’t booked for a challenge on Ryan Christie.
Saints then got a great chance to break the deadlock on 22 minutes as Swanson burst away from the home defence and was in on goal however, he then cut the ball inside but Hayes did very well to get back and intercept the ball.
Saints made their first change of the match on 35 minutes as Paul Paton came on for Chris Millar.
Aberdeen came close to taking the lead a minute before half time as Hayes whipped the ball in from the left which picked out Kenny McLean whose header went inches wide. Then as the match entered 1 minute of added on time a long ball by Dons keeper Joe Lewis almost let in Christie but Richard Foster did very well to track the run of the on-loan Celtic midfielder before Mannus cleared the danger.
Aberdeen got the second half underway and they almost took the lead a minute after the restart as McLean fired wide after being setup by Logan from a Hayes free kick.
Wotherspoon gifted possession to the home side on 53 minutes and the Dons broke forward through Ryan Jack. The Aberdeen captain then sent the ball out wide to Rooney who delivered a good cross into the box but Wotherspoon redeemed himself as he got back to turn the ball behind for a corner.
Then on 55 minutes McLean unleashed a good strike from 25 yards but it didn’t trouble Mannus as it sailed over the bar.
On the hour mark Saints were awarded a free kick after Wotherspoon had been fouled by Shinnie. The free kick was taken by Liam Craig and his delivery into the box picked out Steven Anderson whose header went wide of the target.
On 62 minutes Saints broke at pace and Swanson unleashed a dipping strike from distance which went marginally wide.
Some great play between Craig Thomson and Swanson on 79 minutes saw the former break into the box before having a shot which was palmed by Lewis. Saints were then awarded an indirect free kick as the loose ball fell to Dons captain Jack who played the ball back to Lewis who picked the ball up. The free kick was taken by Craig and he slipped the ball to Swanson who fired the ball into the net to give Saints the lead.
Saints then doubled their lead on 83 minutes as on a great counter attack through Swanson saw him setup Thomson who blasted a great strike past Lewis for his first goal for the club.
After that Aberdeen very rarely troubled the Saints defence as they comfortably saw the closing stages out to secure a vital 3 points and send the 379 travelling Saints fans back down the road very happy.
Man of the Match: Steven Anderson
Aberdeen: Lewis, Logan, Shinnie, Considine, Taylor, McLean, Christie (Pawlett 66), Rooney (Stockley 66), McGinn, Hayes (Wright 88), Jack Unused Substitutes: Alexander (GK), Reynolds, O’Connor, Storey Booked: Logan, Hayes, Stockley
Saints: Mannus, Anderson, Millar (Paton 35), Davidson, Wotherspoon (Thomson 72), Swanson (Alston 88), Shaughnessy, Foster, Easton, Craig, Cummins Unused Substitutes: Clark (GK), Scobbie, Smith, Coulson Booked: Anderson, Shaughnessy, Craig Scorers: Swanson (80), Thomson (83)
Referee: Alan Muir Attendance: 10,606
Match Report by Daryl Scott
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