A 75th minute header from substitute Scott Boyd was enought to win the three points for Kilmarnock at McDiarmid Park, only their second league victory of the season.
Saints will feel they should have taken more from a Killie side who have struggled to find form during the 2016/17 campaign, and despite Saints creating a number of opportunities to get on the scoresheet it was the away side who left Perth with the win.
Saints headed into Saturday’s clash with Kilmarnock looking to build on their fine 2-0 win over Ross county in Dingwall before the international break. Tommy Wright’s was boosted by the return of Chris Millar from injury.
Saints kicked off, and fashioned the first chance after 12 minutes when Liam Craig nodded a header at goal to be blocked, and Danny Swanson’s follow up ricocheted out for corner.
Killie were forced into an early change, bringing on Scott Boyd for the injured Luke Hendrie
Saints came close through Steven Anderson, whose bullet header flew over the crossbar after quarter of an hour.
Moments later, Jamie MacDonald pulled off a wonder save to deny Liam Craig, who headed a Foster cross into the bottom corner to be met by the keeper’s glove.
MacDonald again saved Saints by tipping wide an Alston shot after the former Falkirk midfielder was fed in by Kane after great hold-up play by the striker.
After a quiet spell, Saints brought the game to life when Anderson went down in the box, and when McLean waved play on, Swanson volleyed a rasping effort off Addison and behind for a corner.
Saints then had the ball in the net through Steven MacLean after the striker ran onto and Anderson overhead kick, but the linesman flagged for offside.
It was then the turn of Murray Davidson to come close as he latched onto an Alton through ball but dragged his hot inches wide.
McLean blew for half time goalless, and the home side will be looking to take advantage of the dominance in possession.
On the hour mark, Rory McKenzie carved out Killie’s first real effort at goal as the winger lashed a 20 yard effort wide.
Saints retaliated, as Chris Kane headed a loose ball from a Liam Craig free kick, and the striker’s looped effort was grasped on the line by MacDonald.
Saints made their first switch on 68 minutes, bringing on Wotherspoon for Alston.
On 75 minutes Kilmarnock took the lead through Scott Boyd from close range at a corner.
Saints immediately brought on Cummins for Kane in hunt of a late equaliser.
Wotherspoon was first to try to equalise, heading a deep Easton cross onto the roof of the net.
Saints brought on Coulson for Craig in a late effort to level the game. Killie replaced Coulibaly with Adams as they looked to hold on late on.
A late goalmouth stramash saw Cummins, Foster and MacLean all denied as Saints looked to be running out of ideas.
Late Swanson and Shaughnessy drives weren’t enough to rescue a point, and McLean blew for full time at 1-0, as Saints’ wastefulness in front of goal proved to be their downfall. Full time: St Johnstone 0-1 Kilmarnock.
St Johnstone: Clark, Alston (Wotherspoon 68), Anderson, Davidson, MacLean, Swanson, Shaughnessy, Foster, Easton, Kane (Cummins 75), Craig (Coulson 79). Unused subs: Mannus, Millar, Paton, Gordon.
Kilmarnok: MacDonald, Addison, Smith, Dicker, Jones, McKenzie, Tyson, Burn, Coulibaly (Adams 86), Taylor, Hendrie (S Boyd, 15). Unused subs: MacKay, Boyle, Bojaj, Frizzell, Wilson.
Goals: Boyd (75)
Attendance: 2930 Referee: Steven McLean Man of the Match: Brian Easton
Match report by Ross Gardiner.
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