Saints headed into their Scottish Cup fourth round clash with Hamilton Accies knowing that if they could replicate their performances against the Lanarkshire side already this season, they would be able to book a place in the next round.
Tommy Wright made no changes to the side which dominated against Dundee before the winter break, with new signing Michael O’Halloran not quite match fit yet.
Accies, who shipped four goals in their last visit to McDiarmid, introduced new signing Tony Andreu in bid to progress a round closer to getting their hands on the world’s oldest football trophy.
David Wotherspoon got the game underway, and Saints had a free kick in a dangerous location within 15 seconds as Matty Kennedy was brought down by a defender.
With 46 seconds on the clock, Jason Kerr nodded home the free kick, giving Saints a lead inside a minute for the second match in a row. 1-0.
Kennedy, looking dangerous already, found himself in a shooting position before there were four minutes on the clock, but the attacker was flagged offside.
Chris Kane was next to try his luck, volleying at Ryan Fulton in the visiting goal after being teed up by Tony Watt, but the stopper gathered his effort with just over ten minutes on the clock.
Tenacious work on the left flank from Watt earned Saints their first corner on 22 minutes, but Kennedy’s delivery was gathered by Fulton.
Saints doubled their lead on 25 minutes as Ross Callachan’s volley was parried back into the box and blasted home by Tony Watt. 2-0.
Callachan then tested Fulton from 25 yards, but his low drive was held by the keeper.
The Hamilton goalie was put under pressure by Kane who forced him to spill a one-on-one outside the box, but the busy goalkeeper was able to blast the loose ball clear before Saints could capitalise.
The first booking of the game was awarded to Accies’ Alex Gogic who sliced down Kane near the halfway line ten minutes before the interval.
Saints were awarded a free kick after Fulton handled the box outside the box, sliding to prevent Callachan from breaking into the box. Kennedy’s rasping effort was deflected over by Dougie Imrie.
Kennedy almost made it three with five minutes of the half remaining, as David Wotherspoon twisted and turned into the box, delivering a tempting cross which was glanced goal wards by the former Everton winger, but the effort was inches over.
The teams went in at the break with the score at 2-0, and Saints were well deserving of their advantage.
Hamilton got the second half underway, shooting into the GS Brown Construction North Stand, but the first chance of the half fell to Kane, who’s first effort was blocked, but Watt teed the striker up for a volley while he was still on the ground. The Accies defence were able to keep the attempt out, however.
The visitors’ first real chance came through Mikel Miller, who’s rasping effort from range was gathered by Zander Clark at the second time of asking.
Liam Craig saw yellow for a lunge on Aaron McGowan, but Accies couldn’t make anything of the resulting set piece.
A dangerous Kennedy cross was headed behind by Gogic, who’s diving header put a few hearts in mouths around the stadium.
Saints were hunting for a third, ad Richard Foster’s cross from the touchline found Kane, but the striker’s header landed on the roof of the net.
A surging Jason Kerr run on 65 minutes saw the centre half skin four Accies defenders, and when he cut back to Watt, the strikers delivery was unfortunately unable to pick out a blue shirt.
Martin Canning’s first change was to replace Steven Davies with Steven Boyd as they searched for a way back into the tie, before swapping Gogic for Tom Taiwo.
Saints first switch was to replace Kennedy with Danny Swanson.
Aaron McGowan blazed over for Accies as the match entered the final ten minutes, but Saints looked comfortable holding onto their lead.
A double parry from Clark gave Saints a late scare, as the stopper conceded a corner from a bouncing strike, but the ever-present keeper punched clear the corner with confidence.
Saints’ second switch saw Watt make way for David McMillan as the clock struck 90 minutes.
But it finished 2-0 and Saints will be delighted to book their place in the fifth round with a comprehensive win over Premiership opposition. Full time: St Johnstone 2-0 Hamilton Academical.
Saints: Clark, Foster, Shaughnessy, Kerr, Tanser, Craig, Callachan, Wotherspoon, Kennedy (Swanson, 75), Kane, Watt (McMillan, 89). Unused subs: Hurst, Alston, Anderson, McCann, Gordon.
Goals: Kerr (1) Watt (25)
Hamilton: Fulton, McGowan, McMann, Gordon, Kilgallon, Sowah, Gogic (Taiwo, 73), Imrie, Andreu, Miller, Davies (Boyd, 68). Unused subs: Marsden, Bingham, Penny, Want, Martin.
Referee: John Beaton Attendance: 2363 Man of the Match: Jason Kerr
Match report by Ross Gardiner.
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