Saints ended a winless run of four matches to defeat Inverness Caledonian Thistle by three goals to nil at McDiarmid Park on Saturday afternoon.
A first half strike from Liam Craig was followed up by goals from Murray Davidson, who returned to the team for the first time since October, and Danny Swanson, in a match that saw the Highlander's Marc Warren sent off for two bookable offences.
The result puts St. Johnstone just two points behind 4th placed Aberdeen, where Saints travel to next Saturday.
After having a free weekend last week due to Celtic’s involvement in the Betfred Cup Final against Aberdeen, Saints returned to action this afternoon when they welcomed Richie Foran’s Inverness CT side to McDiarmid Park. Looking to bounce back after a 4-2 defeat to Ross County in their last match Tommy Wright made two changes to the Saints starting line-up as Murray Davidson and Michael Coulson came into replace Paul Paton and Blair Alston. There was one change to the Caley Thistle team that lost 2-1 at Dundee last Saturday as Larnell Cole came in for the suspended Lewis Horner.
Prior to kick off there was a minute’s silence in memory of those who lost their lives in the Chapecoense plane crash in Columbia earlier this week.
The visitors got the match underway but it was Saints who had the first effort at goal on 6 minutes as David Wotherspoon went on a mazy run down the right before cutting in and slipping the ball to Danny Swanson on the edge of the area however, his effort went over the bar.
Caley Thistle got their first effort on goal on 11 minutes as a shot from the edge of the box by Larnell Cole was easily saved by Zander Clark.
Saints took the lead on 14 minutes as Liam Craig passed the ball to Steven MacLean and the Saints striker advanced forward before passing back to Craig who calmly slotted the ball past Owain Fon-Williams for his third goal of the season.
A minute later Saints created another chance this time Swanson broke down the left and into the box before crossing however, Greg Tansey got a head on the ball to direct it back to Fon-Williams who gathered the ball.
Swanson, who is Saints top goal scorer this season, setup Wotherspoon on 20 minutes however, the Saints midfielder was taken down by Ross Draper in the box although the appeals for a penalty were waved away by referee Euan Anderson.
Saints were creating chances and Liam Craig saw his 25-yard strike on 28 minutes saved at the second attempt by Fon-Williams.
Caley Thistle created a chance on 31 minutes as Cole’s deep cross found Carl Tremarco whose header had Clark scrambling back but his effort went just over the bar.
On 36 minutes Swanson cut in from the left before having a shot which was saved by Fon-Williams at the second attempt. Then with 3 minutes of the first half remaining Craig did well to create space on the left before crossing the ball which was gathered by Fon-Williams.
Saints were furious not to be awarded a penalty on 52 minutes as Wotherspoon slipped the ball to Richard Foster and the right back was in on goal but was bundled to the ground by Josh Meekings however, the referee again waved play on.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men on 61 minutes after Gary Warren was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Danny Swanson. The Caley Thistle captain had only been booked a minute before for a foul on Steven MacLean. From the free kick Saints doubled their lead as Wotherspoon slipped the ball to Swanson whose shot hit Murray Davidson and the midfielder reacted quickest to knock the ball home to put Saints firmly in control.
On 71 minutes Caley’s Billy King unleashed a 20-yard effort which went inches’ over.
Joe Shaughnessy sent Brian Easton free down the left on 81 minutes and he then crossed the ball which found Swanson in the box who knocked the ball past Fon-Williams for Saints third of the afternoon. It was Swanson’s twelfth goal of the season.
Saints then comfortably saw the match out to secure a well-deserved 3 points.
Man of the Match: Danny Swanson
St Johnstone: Clark, Anderson, Davidson, MacLean (Cummins 83), Wotherspoon, Swanson (Kane 83), Shaughnessy, Coulson (Alston 76), Foster, Easton, Craig Unused Substitutes: Mannus (GK), Scobbie, Millar, Gordon Booked: Coulson, Wotherspoon Scorers: Craig (14), Davidson (62), Swanson (81)
Inverness CT: Fon-Williams, Tremarco (Gilchrist 87), Warren, Meekings, Draper, Doran (Mulraney 70), Vigurs, Tansey, King, Doumbouya (Sutherland 85), Cole Unused Substitutes: Esson (GK), Robertson, MacLennan Booked: Draper, Doumbouya, Warren Sent Off: Warren
Referee: Euan Anderson Attendance: 2,549
Match Report by Daryl Scott
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