St Johnstone 1-0 St Mirren: Chris Kane goal earns points

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AS half-time approached at McDiarmid Park yesterday, St Johnstone fans could be forgiven for complaining that they had seen this game one too many times.

After enjoying the half’s best chances and restricting their opponents to no efforts of note, it looked as though a ninth stalemate of the season was on the horizon.

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But a goal from Chris Kane after just 30 seconds of the second-half ensured that all three points remained in Perth. Taking Callum Davidson’s side level with their Paisley namesakes in the Premiership and ensuring their trip to Hampden next week for their Betfred Cup semi-final is on the back of a victory.

“I asked the boys for a bit more energy going into the second half and we got the early goal,” Davidson said. “I’m just delighted, I’ve been here enough saying we’ve played really well and not got anything for the game. I thought we defended really well, put our bodies on the line and never really allowed St Mirren to get into our box so that was the pleasing aspect and obviously the three points is so important.”

The hosts’ first-half performance showed exactly why they have drawn so many games as again they failed to turn chances to goals.

Shaun Rooney put in an excellent delivery early on after leaving Richard Tait on his heels when he powered past the full-back, but there were no takers for his cross-cum-shot across the face of goal. David Wotherspoon also saw a free-kick narrowly evade the top corner.

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The home side should have led when Chris Kane was able to pin himself on Conor McCarthy from a diagonal ball and get the better of the Irishman, Guy Melamed was then presented with a shooting chance when Kane sent him through on goal. He was composed enough to chop the ball back past Joe Shaughnessy, but the defender did well to recover and deflect the eventual shot wide of the target.

The visitors severely lacked width, especially on the left due to Lee Erwin’s more natural inkling to drift centrally. While St Johnstone always had the option to switch play to either wing-back, allowing them to take full advantage of the pitch and dominate proceedings. Eamonn Brophy, given his first start since his arrival from Kilmarnock, was in a hurry to make an impression from the off but was isolated against the hosts’ back three despite his best efforts.

And after a stuttering first-half, it took St Johnstone a mere 30 seconds to break the deadlock after the interval.

Excellent link-up play between Melamed and Kane saw the Israeli forward slip his partner through on goal, who’s powerful effort was saved superbly by Jak Alnwick before Kane finished into an empty net at the second time of asking. Melamed did appear to use his arm in the build up the goal, which aggravated Jim Goodwin along with Cammy MacPherson’s dismissal. The young midfielder was shown a second yellow card for a challenge on Melamed soon after the goal.

“Joe Shaughnessy clearly heads the ball onto Melamed’s arm,” he claimed after. “If it happens in the other box you’re screaming for a penalty and you’re probably going to get it.

“Why Steven McLean doesn’t give that I’m not sure because he’s got a really good view of it. The sending off for me is another poor decision.

“The second {yellow} is a mistake as far as I’m concerned, Cammy clearly wins the ball and the ball changes direction but for whatever reason Steven McLean deems it worthy of a second yellow card. That’s here we lose the game in the end, poor decision from the officials.”

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