SPL v St Johnstone


Attendance: 3732, Kick Off: 3:00pm.

Referee: Brian Colvin

Three changes in the Pars team from that put out at Celtic Park - Kevin Rutkiewicz was out injured, Paul Burns and Kyle Hutton were on the bench.  In came Austin McCann, Gary Mason and Martin Hardie.

St Johnstone made one change from the team that started at Aberdeen; Chris Millar dropping out to make way for Lee Croft.

The Fifers kicked off through Buchanan and Thomson but were put under pressure for most of the opening quarter of an hour. Dave MacKay sent in a good cross that Alex Keddie managed to clear. Then Saints lost their skipper Jody Morris in 14th minute through injury and Chris Millar replaced him.

The home side then had a great opportunity to take the lead when Lee Croft crashed a shot in from the right side of the box.  Chris Smith parried the shot and then made a remarkable recovery to get a touch on the ball to divert it away from the inrushing Francisco Sandaza.

Two minutes later there was another near thing as Saints headed the ball across goal for Frazer Wright to head goal bound but Paddy Boyle intercepted and got the ball away amid appeals for a penalty.

St Johnstone continued to enjoy much more control of the game.  They were awarded a 26th minute free kick on the right when McCann was penalised.  Liam Craig lobbed that in to the six yard box and there was fear as the ball rebounded off the far post with Boyle sweeping the ball away.

The Pars created danger in the other box when Dowie sent in a free kick that keeper Alan Mannus came out to fist away, taking down Thomson in the process.  At the other end Smith held a low Croft shot after Sandaza had sent him into the right side of the penalty box. In 32 minutes Murray Davidson deployed the Pars keeper again with a low shot from 20 yards.

After a fantastic Smith save and hitting the post, the Perth men got the goal that they deserved in the following minute. Murray Davidson fed Croft the ball that he chipped into the Pars box. Millar touched it on to Sandaza who was closed out only for Murray DAVIDSON to slot the ball home. 1-0

Two minutes later Calum DAVIDSON made it 2-0. Sandaza held up the ball on the left side of the box.  McCann put up the defence in front of the Saints striker but the Saints full back ran in from behind Sandaza to get a free shot that he placed inside the right post.

Jim McIntyre beckoned Paul Burns from his warm up behind the goal and he was the Pars first sub of the afternoon in 36th minute when he replaced David Graham.

There was a rare purple patch for the Pars in 42nd minute when a good number of passes, involving Cardle, Buchanan, Hardie, and Burns who eventually fed the ball out to the right from where Cardle lobbed a disappointing cross that Mannus picked out with ease.

It had been a lacklustre 45 minutes for the Pars and no doubt the Manager would have some strong words for his players as they went in for the break.

Half time: St Johnstone 2 Dunfermline 0

Paul Willis came on for the second half as the Pars pack was shuffled. Paddy Boyle was the player going off, McCann went to left back, Burns to right back and Dowie and Keddie formed the central defence.

Little changed, unfortunately and St Johnstone continued to look the more dangerous with Murray Davidson pushing forward. Willis tried a shot but that failed to trouble Mannus. Jim McInytre committed his final substitution of the game just ten minutes into the second period; Andy Kirk replacing Liam Buchanan.

A 58th minute free kick brought Dunfermline upfield, Dowie pumped the ball in from the right but Alan Mannus was well out to pluck the ball out of the air. At the other end McCann blocked Murray Davidson`s shot before the Pars had another free kick this time on the left but it was taken quickly and came to nothing.

In 62 minutes Cillian Sheridan`s pass was beaten away by Dowie but Sandaza latched on to the ball and waltzed through the Pars defence but thankfully a poor shot sent the ball wide left of goal. There was comical attacking thankfully as Croft sent a cross in from the right that failed to pick out either Sandaza or Sheridan.

Dunfermline looked dangerous in 66 minutes when Willis and Cardle cut an opening on the right.  Joe`s cross was cleared only as far as McCann whose shot was deflected behind for a corner on the left. That led to Burns getting in a pile driver of a shot that was just too high to count.

Chris Smith was then beaten by a Croft shot but the corner of post and bar kept a possible third goal out. Two corners came the Pars way with just under 20 minutes remaining but Mannus ended the danger as he held Cardle`s inswinger.

More fight seemed to be injected into the Pars play. Thomson burst through the Saints defence but there was no one in the middle as he reached the 18 yard box so cut it back left to Cardle. The cross was defended out to BURNS who sent a thundering shot into the bottom left from 25 yards. 2-1

The hope that Dunfermline could stage a comeback was abruptly terminated after just five minutes. Craig threatened on the left before CROFT punished the Pars defence running across to the right side of the penalty area.  The player on loan from Derby County fired a shot into the net at the far post. 3-1.

After that it was only the home side that looked like adding to the goals tally.  Sheridan hit the right post and the ball kept out the net when taking an obscure angled rebound. In the end only the folk from the Fair City went home happy

The result was disappointing but so too was the Fifers performance.  Coupled with news of a Hibs win at Rugby Park, this was not a good day for Dunfermline Athletic`s hopes of SPL survival. St Johnstone ended their poor record in the league at home to their near neighbours. This 3-1 win was their first league success over the Pars since November 1995.

ST JOHNSTONE:  Alan Mannus; Frazer Wright, Callum Davidson, David Mackay, David McCracken, Jody Morris (c)(Chris Millar 14), Murray Davidson, Lee Croft (James Keatings 87), Liam Craig, Francisco Sandaza (Marcus Haber 76), Cillian Sheridan
SUBS NOT USED: Kudus Oyenuga, Peter Enckelman, Alan Maybury, Greg Mitchell
SCORER: M Davidson (33), C Davidson (35), Croft (78)

DUNFERMLINE: Chris Smith; Andy Dowie, Austin McCann (c), Alex Keddie, Paddy Boyle (Paul Willis HT); David Graham (Paul Burns 36), Gary Mason, Ryan Thomson, Joe Cardle; Martin Hardie, Liam Buchanan (Andy Kirk 55).
SUBS NOT USED: Steven McDougall, Kyle Hutton, Kerr Young, Ryan Goodfellow (GK).
SCORER: Burns (73)

WEATHER: Overcast 11C

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