Scottish Premiership
St JohnstoneSt Johnstone2Dundee UtdDundee United0

St Johnstone 2-0 Dundee United

By Richard WintonBBC Sport

St Johnstone moved to within three points of Dundee United after dominating this dress rehearsal for the Scottish Cup final.

Steven Anderson's first-half header gave the Perth side a lead they would never relinquish.

And Stevie May's opportunist second made sure of a comprehensive victory

United rarely threatened, spurning what few opportunities they had and likely bidding farewell to their hopes of a top-three finish in the process.

But for St Johnstone, it was an ideal way to prepare for the Celtic Park showpiece next month.

The victory was more than merited, too. The hosts were the more roused of the two semi-final victors from the start and continued to play with a verve that United struggled to contain.

Indeed, from the moment Radoslaw Cierzniak pawed desperately at an Anderson volley during the opening exchanges, the Perth side were the more threatening. That Keith Watson had to clear a low David Wotherspoon cross out from under his own crossbar a few minutes later only reinforced that impression.

It came as little surprise, then, when St Johnstone made good on their ascendancy just after the half hour.

Steven Anderson scores
Steven Anderson nods the opener for Saints

United conceded a free-kick in their right-back area and Wotherspoon's delivery invited Anderson to rise unchallenged and nudge a header beyond Cierzniak.

That was the first goal St Johnstone have scored against United this term that did not carry the signature of May, but the striker was a persistent pest.

One fierce lash cannoned back off a post and another grazed the crossbar from the 21-year-old striker.

He would, unsurprisingly, get his fifth goal of the season against United, but had to wait until the final quarter of the game to do it. Wotherspoon released Dave Mackay down the right and, although Watson beat May to the cross initially, the striker reacted sharply to force over the line at the second attempt.

By that stage, it had seemed as if a second goal would elude St Johnstone.

Michael O'Halloran and Steven MacLean got in each other's way after Cierzniak flapped at a May cutback, May himself should have done better than lift over the bar after scampering on to a Wotherspoon pass, and the latter rattled a low drive against the inside of a post.

United did not even come that close, with chances scant amid a dreary display. Defensively shaken, overpowered in midfield and ineffective in attack, Jackie McNamara's side were nowhere near their best and rarely looked like disturbing what was a comfortable afternoon for St Johnstone.

Ryan Gauld jabbed straight at Alan Mannus, and the goalkeeper made two further fine saves, first to thwart Gary Mackay-Steven's attempt to lift a delicate lob over him, then from a towering Brian Graham header.

Substitute Ryan Dow enjoyed United's only other openings, twice directing efforts past the target, the first after an outrageous piece of Mackay-Steven trickery.

That brought a cheer from the travelling support, but the celebrations were enjoyed only by St Johnstone.

Line-ups

St Johnstone

  • 1Mannus
  • 2Mackay
  • 24Easton
  • 12Dunne
  • 6AndersonBooked at 80mins
  • 5Wright
  • 10WotherspoonSubstituted forThomsonat 89'minutes
  • 4Cregg
  • 17MaySubstituted forMillerat 85'minutes
  • 9MacLean
  • 29O'HalloranSubstituted forHasselbainkat 77'minutes

Substitutes

  • 11Hasselbaink
  • 15Banks
  • 19Miller
  • 20Brown
  • 23Clancy
  • 25Iwelumo
  • 44Thomson

Dundee Utd

  • 1Cierzniak
  • 12Watson
  • 26Robertson
  • 8Rankin
  • 5Gunning
  • 20Souttar
  • 11Mackay-StevenSubstituted forGrahamat 83'minutes
  • 6Paton
  • 21Ciftci
  • 19GauldSubstituted forDowat 61'minutes
  • 10Armstrong

Substitutes

  • 2Dillon
  • 9Graham
  • 16Wilson
  • 18Dow
  • 25McCallum
  • 27Gomis
  • 29El Alagui
Referee:
John Beaton
Attendance:
5,223

Match Stats

Home TeamSt JohnstoneAway TeamDundee Utd
Possession
Home54%
Away46%
Shots
Home11
Away8
Shots on Target
Home5
Away2
Corners
Home3
Away6
Fouls
Home13
Away14

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, St Johnstone 2, Dundee United 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, St Johnstone 2, Dundee United 0.

  3. Post update

    Patrick Cregg (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Andrew Robertson (Dundee United).

  5. Substitution

    Substitution, St Johnstone. Craig Thomson replaces David Wotherspoon.

  6. Post update

    Hand ball by Steven MacLean (St Johnstone).

  7. Post update

    Attempt saved. Brian Graham (Dundee United) header from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  8. Substitution

    Substitution, St Johnstone. Gary Miller replaces Steve May.

  9. Substitution

    Substitution, Dundee United. Brian Graham replaces Gary Mackay-Steven.

  10. Post update

    Steve May (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Keith Watson (Dundee United).

  12. Post update

    Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Frazer Wright.

  13. Booking

    Steven Anderson (St Johnstone) is shown the yellow card.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Steven Anderson (St Johnstone).

  15. Post update

    Ryan Dow (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  16. Post update

    Foul by Steve May (St Johnstone).

  17. Post update

    Ryan Dow (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, St Johnstone. Nigel Hasselbaink replaces Michael O'Halloran.

  19. Goal!

    Goal! St Johnstone 2, Dundee United 0. Steve May (St Johnstone) right footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by David Mackay.

  20. Post update

    Frazer Wright (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.