Dundee Utd 0-1 St Johnstone

St Johnstone kept up the heat on third-place Inverness CT by beating Dundee United at Tannadice for the first time in almost 13 years.

United's Stuart Armstrong fired over before Saints claimed for a penalty after the ball hit Brian McLean's arm.

The visitors took the lead when Liam Craig tucked home Gregory Tade's pass.

Johnny Russell came off the bench to make his come-back from injury but it was Saints went closest to extending their lead through Steven MacLean.

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Interview - Dundee United boss Jackie McNamara

With two Scottish Premier League games left to play, Craig's seventh goal of the season keeps St Johnstone one point behind the third-place that would bring them a place in the Europa League qualifiers next season.

Dundee United remain sixth as they lost for the first time in 14 meetings with their Perth opponents, and perhaps more worryingly, a third SPL defeat on the bounce.

Goalmouth action was not long in coming and it stemmed from good attacking play from United's young right-back Luke Johnston. The 19-year-old found Michael Gardyne in the box who neatly laid the ball off for Armstrong to hit a left-foot effort narrowly over Alan Mannus's crossbar.

The home side's pressure continued as Gary Mackay-Steven mishit from 10 yards before Jon Daly's back-post header caused brief panic among the Saints rearguard.

However, the visitors edged themselves into the match and were unfortunate not to to be awarded a penalty.

Dundee Utd's Johnny Russell (left) made his first appearance since breaking his leg in March
Dundee Utd's Johnny Russell (left) made his first appearance since breaking his leg in March

Rowan Vine beat Johnston in the box and his poked cross appeared to hit the arm of defender McLean, but referee Euan Norris was not interested in the claims.

St Johnstone midfielder Paddy Cregg, on for the injured Chris Millar, combined well with captain Dave MacKay to provide a delivery which MacLean could not direct on target.

But Saints did find the net through Craig shortly after.

The Hibernian-bound midfielder collected Gregory Tade's square pass inside the box to guide a cool side-footed finish past goalkeeper Radoslaw Cierzniak.

That goal sent a jolt through the Tangerines, who nearly got an equaliser from an unlikely source when Sean Dillon's curling strike from 20 yards flashed past the post on the stroke of half-time.

United manager Jackie McNamara sensed the need for change and sent on Rory Boulding and Russell to try and bring that about - the latter making his first appearance since breaking a bone in his leg in March.

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Interview - St Johnstone manager Steve Lomas

And the hosts went on to win some free-kicks in dangerous positions, but it was St Johnstone who fashioned the more clear-cut chances.

Vine's low cross-come-shot almost went in at the back post, then Tade nearly turned in Murray Davidson's header from the resultant corner.

A fantastic Cierzniak save then stopped Saints doubling their lead, beating away MacLean's angled half-volley from 10 yards before Tade blazed the rebound over.

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