Saturday 8th April
Liam Craig scored from the penalty spot on his 300th appearance for St. Johnstone in a well-deserved 3-0 win at Inverness.
Steven MacLean opened the scoring on 40 minutes before Liam Craig's penalty and an injury-time strike from Graham Cummins sealed a comfortable win in The Highlands.
The result moves Saints just three points behind third-placed Rangers, who face Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Sunday afternoon.
Saints made the trip north today to take on bottom club Inverness CT as they looked to build on Wednesday’s 1-0 over Hearts at McDiarmid Park. Tommy Wright made one change to the team that started in midweek as David Wotherspoon dropped to the bench to be replaced by Michael Coulson. Inverness CT manager Richie Foran made three changes to the team that lost 1-0 at Aberdeen on Tuesday night as Jamie McCart, Alex Fisher and Larnell Cole came into replace David Raven, Liam Polworth and Henri Anier.
Saints got the match underway in the glorious spring sunshine. However, it was the home side that got the first chance of the match on 7 minutes as they were awarded a free kick just outside the box after Tom Scobbie had fouled Alex Fisher. Greg Tansey stepped up to take the free kick however, his effort hit the wall before going out for a corner. Tansey took the corner and his ball into the box picked out Fisher who headed the ball goal wards but it was deflected wide by Carl Tremarco.
Saints first chance of the match came on 11 minutes as Graham Cummins saw his header go inches wide from a great Michael Coulson cross from the left. Coulson and Cummins linked up again 3 minutes later however, this time the header from the Saints striker was well off target.
On 18 minutes Caley Thistle created space for themselves out on the right wing as Kevin McNaughton crossed the ball into the Saints box which was met by the head of Fisher however, he couldn’t get his effort on target. Then shortly after Tremarco fired wide from a Tansey corner.
Inverness were pilling the pressure on and on the half hour mark they forced several corners however, the Saints defence stood firm and cleared the danger.
Then on 32 minutes the home side got a great chance to open the scoring as Ross Draper picked out Billy McKay and the Caley Thistle striker was in on goal but Alan Mannus did well to block the effort before gathering the ball.
On 39 minutes Larnell Cole flashed an effort wide of Mannus’ right-hand post after being setup by Tansey.
Then arguably against the run of play Saints took the lead as Coulson’s cross from the left into the box was palmed by Owain Fon Williams. The ball then fell at the feet of Steven MacLean who knocked it home from close range despite the best efforts of Gary Warren and Jamie McCart to keep it out.
Inverness almost got an immediate response from the restart however, Cole’s effort was straight at Mannus.
Saints then broke straight up the other end and Coulson’s long range effort was well gathered by Fon Williams.
Then just before half time Saints came very close to making it 2 as Liam Craig’s corner fell to Cummins at the back post who somehow lifted it over the bar.
On 54 minutes Liam Craig did well to beat his man before crossing the ball into the box which picked out Cummins however, he couldn’t get enough power on his header as Fon Williams gathered.
Looking to get back into the game Inverness made a double change on 57 minutes as Liam Polworth and Billy King came on for Ross Draper and Kevin McNaughton.
Joe Shaughnessy made a brilliant defensive block to deny McKay on 62 minutes. The loose ball then fell to Billy King who fired well wide. Inverness were applying the pressure and on 67 minutes a 20 yard Tansey effort was well saved by Mannus.
Saints were awarded a free kick in a good position on 69 minutes. However, the free kick was taken by Coulson who fired well over. It was Coulson’s last involvement in the match as a minute later he was replaced by David Wotherspoon.
The home side continued to knock at the door and with 15 minutes remaining Mannus made a good save as he palmed away a Larnell Cole effort. The loose ball then fell to King whose effort drifted wide.
Then on 81 minutes Caley Thistle were reduced to 10 men as Cole was shown two yellow cards in quick success; one for a foul and one for dissent.
On 86 minutes substitute Craig Thomson showed off his pace as he broke into the box however, his angled shot hit the side netting.
Saints were now taking advantage of the extra man and a minute later Chris Millar had a great chance as he broke forward however, he took too long on the ball and his effort was blocked.
Saints were then awarded a penalty with a minute remaining after Tremarco had fouled Cummins in the box. Craig stepped up to take the penalty and he calmly sent Fon Williams to wrong way to convert on his 300th appearance for the club.
It got even better for Saints in added on time as Cummins made it 3-0 as he knocked the ball home after a brilliant drive from Millar.
Then it was almost 4 as Craig’s long range effort crashed off the bar in what was relentless stuff in the closing stages of the match.
The result sees Saints still have a 5 point advantage over Hearts but it closes to the gap on third placed Rangers to 3 points, who play Aberdeen tomorrow.
Man of the Match: Liam Craig
Inverness CT: Fon Williams, Tremarco, McNaughton (King 57), Warren, Draper (Polworth 57), McCart (Boden 82), McKay, Tansey, Fisher, Laing, Cole Unused Substitutes: Esson (GK), Mulraney, Boden, McKay, Anier Booked: Cole Sent Off: Cole
Saints: Mannus, Scobbie, Alston (Thomson 82), MacLean (Millar 79), Shaughnessy, Smith, Coulson (Wotherspoon 70), Paton, Easton, Craig, Cummins Unused Substitutes: Clark (GK), Anderson, Hurst, Hunter Booked: Alston Scorers: MacLean (40), Craig (89 Pen), Cummins (90)
Referee: Stephen Finnie
Match Report by Daryl Scott
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