Friday 23rd December
A 43rd minute strike from Murray Davidson, coming from a Blair Alston corner, was enough to win all three points for the St. Johnstone at a blustry Rugby Park on Friday night.
The win puts Saints just one point behind fourth placed Hearts, who fell to a 3-2 loss away to Dundee.
Saints travelled to Ayrshire this evening for an SPFL Premiership match against Kilmarnock. Tommy Wright made three changes to the side that started against Motherwell last weekend as Blair Alston, Steven Anderson and the fit again Danny Swanson all started. They replaced Tom Scobbie, who dropped to the bench, while Michael Coulson missed out after pulling a calf muscle in the draw with Motherwell last week and Steven MacLean didn’t feature due to the artificial surface at Rugby Park. Kilmarnock manager Lee Clark chose to go with the same starting eleven that started last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Inverness CT.
Saints got the match underway shooting towards the Moffat Stand but it was the home side that threatened first as Rory McKenzie unleashed a shot from the edge of the area which was turned behind for a corner by Zander Clark. The corner was taken by Jordan Jones but it was comfortably dealt with by the Saints defence.
Saints created a good chance on 8 minutes as Richard Foster did well to get away from Jones before cutting the ball back and it eventually found Chris Kane whose left foot strike hit the side netting.
Kilmarnock were claiming for a penalty on 14 minutes after Souleymane Coulibaly went down in the box however, referee Stephen Finnie waved play on.
David Wotherspoon tried to pick out Murray Davidson in the box on 20 minutes however, his inviting cross was knocked behind for a corner by William Boyle. The corner was taken by Danny Swanson and his delivery found the head of Davidson whose header hit post.
The home side were forced to make a change on 32 minutes as Dean Hawkshaw came on for Rory McKenzie who had picked up an injury. Kilmarnock created a good chance a minute later however, Jones dragged his effort wide of the target.
Saints took the lead 2 minutes before the break as a Blair Alston corner found Davidson who slotted the ball past Jamie MacDonald in the Killie goal. It was a good finish from the Saints midfielder.
6 minutes into the second half Killie were awarded a free kick 25 yards out after Coulibaly had been fouled by Foster. Coulibaly took the free himself however, his effort was straight at Clark.
The first booking of the game came on 57 minutes as Wotherspoon was shown a yellow card for a foul on Jones.
Kilmarnock had started the second half brightly and 2 minutes later Iain Wilson sent over a good cross which was chested down by Nathan Tyson to Steven Smith who unleashed a shot at goal which went wide. Then a stramash in the Saints box on 63 minutes ended with Clark collecting the ball to clear the danger as Killie upped the pressure on the Saints goal.
A 30 yard Coulibaly free kick on 71 minutes was palmed away by Clark. Then 3 minutes later Kris Boyd controlled the ball before setting up Hawkshaw whose effort went inches past Clark’s left-hand post.
Saints created a great chance to double their lead on 75 minutes as great play by Alston saw the midfielder find Graham Cummins in the box however, his header was brilliantly saved by MacDonald to keep Killie in the game.
Saints came close again on 79 minutes as Foster’s cross found Alston whose header was deflected narrowly wide for a corner.
On 83 minutes Brian Easton went on a great mazy run before having a shot which was saved by MacDonald. Then a minute later Liam Craig created space for himself before unleashing a strike from the edge of the box which hit the post.
As the match entered 3 minutes’ additional time Luke Hendrie was sent off after the Kilmarnock defender was shown 2 yellow cards in quick succession; the first for a foul on Liam Craig and the second yellow card was for dissent.
Saints then comfortably saw the match out to secure a vital 3 points. It was a nice early Christmas present for the travelling 154 Saints fans!
Man of the Match: Murray Davidson
Kilmarnock: MacDonald, S. Smith (Cameron 77), Boyle, McKenzie (Hawkshaw 32), Dicker, Jones, Tyson (Boyd 62), Wilson, Coulibaly, Taylor, Hendrie Unused Substitutes: Mackay (GK), Frizzell, M. Smith, Adams Booked: Dicker, Hendrie Sent Off: Hendrie
Saints: Clark, Alston, Anderson, Millar, Davidson, Wotherspoon, Swanson (Craig 70), Shaughnessy, Foster, Easton, Kane (Cummins 64) Unused Substitutes: Mannus (GK), Scobbie, Paton, Watson, Hunter Booked: Wotherspoon, Davidson, Cummins Scorer: Davidson (43)
Referee: Stephen Finnie Attendance: 3,056
Match Report by Daryl Scott
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