Saturday 13th May
Dig out your passports because today Saints secured one of Scotland's four European spots as a 1-0 victory over Partick Thistle put us nine points clear in fourth place with just two matches remaining.
Danny Swanson's penalty, his fifteenth goal of the season, was the difference between the sides today in a hard fought but well deserved victory for Tommy Wright's side.
We now play two more games at home to end the season, first of all against Hearts on Wednesday evening before Rangers are the visitors on Sunday.
Saints headed into Saturday’s clash with Partick Thistle knowing that a point would be enough to secure a fifth European tour in six years. Saints were without record appearance holder Steven Anderson, so brought Tam Scobbie into the starting lineup.
Graham Cummins looked to be in on goal after just 30 second, and was frustrated to see Finnie wave play on as his shirt looked to have been pulled back.
Liam Craig was first to come close, latching onto a quick Easton thrown in on six minutes but despite beating his man, his 16 yard volley flew wide.
Partick carved out their first chance on thirteen minutes when Ryan Edwards squeezed a shot past Easton, but Mannus dived to his right and saved well.
However, Saints dominated the early chances and Liam Craig’s low driven free kick was parried by Cerny, but MacLean was flagged offside before he could knock in the rebound.
A quick counter attack from the visitors saw Paul Paton forced into a brilliant lunging block, and Adam Barton was unlucky to see his header as the ball came back to Earth soar wide.
On the half hour mark, Danny Swanson unleashed a 30 yard thunderbolt when nothing looked on, and the Partick defence sprung into life when Cerny spilled the slippery ball, and cleared the danger.
Cummins found himself through on goal a minute later, and squared it to swanson who was sliced down in the box. The winger picked himself up, dusted himself down and smashed the resulting penalty beyond Cerny to put Saints ahead and one foot in the first qualifying round of the Europa League. 1-0.
Ade Azeez powered his way past Scobbie to try and level the scores, but Mannus did well to get down and save.
The first half ended with Saints a goal up, and Tommy Wright would be looking to produce another fine performance in the second half. Half Time: St Johnstone 1-0 Partick Thistle.
Alan Archibald made two switches at the break, bringing on Erskine and Lawless for Azeez and Devine.
Thistle got the second half underway, and the first real chance of the half came on 51 minutes, as Liam Craig lashed a loose ball at goal from 20 yards, and Cerny did well to hold the effort which looked to have all but sealed European football.
Tam Scobbie then forced a contender for save of the season from Cerny, who kept out the defender’s bullet header from a Craig free kick with one hand.
Richard Foster was then fed through by Wotherspoon, and Cerny rose to the occasion when the right back tried to round him.
Paul Paton was brought down on the edge of the box after a brilliant through ball Foster, but the referee again played on to the Saints’ players frustration.
Partick’s final switch was Nisbet for Edwards on 67 minutes.
Saints then swapped Alston for Wotherspoon as they looked to cement the result.
A stunning run from Swanson from his on half into the box culminated in the winger’s thunderous shot being tipped over when it looked like he had wrapped up the points.
Paul Paton produced a volley from 25 yards which looked to be going wide, but Cerny tipped it behind.
Saints second change came on 85 minutes, as goal hero Swanson made way for Craig Thomson.
There was no late drama, and Saints did what Saints do best: hold onto leads, win post split fixtures and secure European football. Again. Full time: St Johnstone 1-0 Partck Thistle.
We’re all going on a European tour… ;)
Saints: Mannus, Foster, Shaughnessy, Scobbie, Easton, Wotherspoon (Alston, 69), Paton, Craig, Swanson (Thomson, 85), Cummins, MacLean. Unused subs: Clark, Smith, Coulson, Kane, Gilchrist.
Goals: Swanson (32) Booked: MacLean (59), Craig (66), Swanson (82)
Partick Thistle: Cerny, Booth, Lindsay, Osman, Doolan, Barton, Elliott, Devine (Lawless, 46), Azeez (Erskine, 46), Keown, Edwards (Nisbet, 67). Unused subs: Ridgers, Amoo, McLaughlin, McCarthy.
Goals: Booked: Devine (16), Edwards (23), Elliott (81)
Attendance: 3630 Referee: Stephen Finnie Man of the Match: Tam Scobbie
Match report by Ross Gardiner.
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