Saturday 18th February
A last-minute winner from Chris Kane ensured a 2-1 win for Saints at Ross County this afternoon, making it back-to-back victories in Dingwall this season.
A Jay McEveley own goal opened the scoring on 31 minutes to put St. Johnstone ahead before Craig Curran levelled with 17 minutes remaining.
The result puts Saints one point behind fourth placed Hearts, who drew at home to Inverness CT today.
Saints headed to Dingwall today as they looked to take another step closer in securing a top six place. Tommy Wright made two changes to the team that started last Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at home to Partick Thistle in the Scottish Cup as Liam Craig and Blair Alston came into the starting line-up to replace Danny Swanson and Graham Cummins. Ross County also went out of the Scottish Cup last weekend as they went down 1-0 at home to Aberdeen and manager Jim McIntyre made two changes to his starting line-up as Alex Schalk and Jim O’Brien dropped to the bench to be replaced by Milan Lalkovic and Craig Curran.
Saints got the match underway and they came very close to opening the scoring after 4 minutes as a David Wotherspoon cross from the left picked out Blair Alston who directed the ball goal wards with a neat flick that hit the post.
Saints were forced to make a change after 13 minutes as Keith Watson came on for Murray Davidson who had picked up a knock. That change meant Watson slotted in at right back with Richard Foster moving to right midfield and Blair Alston taking up a more central midfield role.
The home side created a good chance to break the deadlock on 27 minutes as Craig Curran did well to keep the ball in play before cutting it back to Liam Boyce who laid the ball off to Michael Gardyne but luckily for Saints he blasted well over from 12 yards.
Saints took the lead on 31 minutes as Alston’s ball across the County goal from the right was turned into his own net by Jay McEveley.
Then 4 minutes later Keith Watson delivered a good cross into the box which found Steven MacLean whose header was straight at Scott Fox in the home goal. Another Watson cross from the right on 38 minutes saw David Wotherspoon win the header however, the ball was gathered by Fox.
With 5 minutes of the first half remaining County came very close to drawing level as hopeful ball by Kenny Van Der Weg picked out Gardyne who unleashed an effort at goal which hit the post. Saints then went straight up the other end and a left footed drive by Brian Easton went over.
The Staggies continued to put pressure on the Saints goal and on 44 minutes Boyce unleashed a curling strike that went inches past Zander Clark’s left-hand post.
On 49 minutes a Liam Craig effort was gathered by Fox.
The home side made a change on 53 minutes as Jason Naismith came on for Van Der Weg.
With an hour played Saints were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box after Wotherspoon had been fouled. The free kick was taken by Wotherspoon who laid the ball off to Alston and he had a strike at goal which was held by Fox.
A Wotherspoon corner on 64 minutes picked out Watson whose goal wards header was blocked on the line by Gardyne before being tipped over by Fox. The Saints players were claiming for a penalty as they were adamant that Gardyne had used a hand to block the ball but it wasn’t given by referee John Beaton.
Then 3 minutes later Fox made a great save to deny MacLean from close range after the Saints striker had been setup by Alston.
The home side equalised on 73 minutes as Martin Woods sent a through ball to Craig Curran who took a touch before slotting low past Clark from close range.
As the match entered the closing stages Saints introduced Chris Kane into the action as he came onto replace Steven MacLean.
The match looked like it was headed for a draw however, on the 90th minute Wotherspoon passed the ball to Kane and the Saints striker turned before unleashed a fantastic strike into the top corner of the net for his fifth goal of the season.
The action was not over and deep into the 3 minutes of added on time Clark made a great save to deny Alex Schalk. The loose ball then fell to Andrew Davies who blasted well over.
Saints then comfortably saw the match out to secure a vital 3 points.
Man of the Match: Blair Alston.
Ross County: Fox, Davies, Curran, Lalkovic, Van Der Weg (Naismith 53), Woods, Fraser, Boyce, McEveley, Chow (O’Brien 61), Gardyne Unused Substitutes: McCarey (GK), Gobern, Schalk, Quin, Dow Booked: O’Brien Scorer: Curran (73)
Saints: Clark, Alston, Anderson, Millar, Davidson (Watson 13), MacLean (Kane 88), Wotherspoon, Shaughnessy, Foster, Easton, Craig Unused Substitutes: Mannus (GK), Scobbie, Coulson, Thomson, Jardine Booked: None Scorers: McEveley OG (31), Kane (90)
Referee: John Beaton Attendance: 3,187
Match Report by Daryl Scott
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