Dundee Utd 0-1 St Johnstone: Match Report
Dundee Utd 0-1 St Johnstone: Match Report - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game as it happened.
Craig ends Saints' drought
Liam Craig's first-half strike against Dundee United at Tannadice gave St Johnstone their first Clydesdale Bank Premier League win over the Tangerines in 13 years.
The Saints midfielder - who has signed a pre-contract with Hibernian - lit up a lifeless opening period in the 38th minute with a fine finish from inside the penalty area.
There was huffing and puffing from both sides in an equally dull second half but no more scoring with the victory leaving the McDiarmid Park club in fourth place, one point behind Inverness as the race for the Europa League spots enters its final two games.
United suffered their third successive post-split defeat and the biggest positive for them was seeing the return in the second half of highly-coveted striker Johnny Russell, who was back for the first time since after breaking his leg against Inverness in February.
The match began encouragingly enough.
There was less than a minute on the clock when a fine move involving United's 19-year-old Luke Johnston, playing at right-back in his first start for the Tayside club, and Michael Gardyne ended with midfielder Stuart Armstrong curling a left-footed shot from just inside the box a yard over the bar.
Great work by the talented Armstrong moments later saw him leave Saints stopper Steven Anderson in his wake down the left before teeing up Gary Mackay-Steven with his cross but the United forward made a hash of his attempted volley from 12 yards and the visitors escaped.
The Perth side might have been excused for thinking it was not going to be their day in the eighth minute when midfielder Chris Millar had to be replaced by Patrick Cregg but the change made little difference to the pattern of play.
Little was happening in either penalty area although there was a St Johnstone penalty claim 10 minutes later when United defender Brian McLean blocked a cut-back from Rowan Vine inside the box but referee Euan Norris stood firm.
The game progressed in lacklustre style, summed up in the 35th minute when Perth striker Steven MacLean headed a cross by skipper Dave Mackay over the bar.
That effort was at odds with Craig's goal three minutes later.
As United failed to clear their lines, Gregory Tade laid the ball across to the Saints midfielder, he curled it past United keeper Radoslaw Cierzniak from around 14 yards to give the visitors the interval advantage.
There was a cheer from the home fans among the crowd of 6,437 in the 56th minute, though, when Russell came on for Johnston with fellow forward Rory Boulding replacing Gardyne.
Manager Jackie McNamara reshuffled his side with skipper Jon Daly moving back from centre-forward to centre-half and McLean going to right-back.
It remained a stodgy affair.
In the 67th minute Cierzniak made a good save from Vine's low drive from the edge of the box at the expense of a corner which, ultimately, came to nothing.
Ryan Gauld immediately replaced Mark Millar, booked moments earlier for a crunching tackle on Cregg, but it was the Saints who looked the most likely to get the next goal.
In the 82nd minute Cierzniak made a good close-range save from MacLean's powerful drive before Tade blasted the rebound high over the bar with what was the last real action of the game.
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