Scottish Premiership
Dundee UtdDundee United2St JohnstoneSt Johnstone0
By Jim SpenceBBC Scotland Sport
  • Dundee United go two points clear at top
  • Chris Erskine scores after returning to starting line-up
  • United now unbeaten in six games
  • St Johnstone fail to record fifth straight win over United

Dundee United went clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership with a workmanlike win over St Johnstone.

United opened the scoring on the counter-attack, with Chris Erskine slotting the ball past Alan Mannus after being set up by Nadir Ciftci.

A Michael O'Halloran effort came off a post after the break as St Johnstone went close.

But United made the points safe when Paul Paton fired high into the net after being set up by Keith Watson.

The Tannadice outfit had started the day level on points with Inverness Caledonian Thistle, but the Highland side's defeat in Aberdeen leaves United two points clear of Hamilton Academical at the summit of the Premiership.

And victory stretched the Terrors' unbeaten run to six games, while ending Saints' run of four victories over the hosts without conceding a goal.

Murray Davidson (left) challenges Dundee United's Mario Bilate
Murray Davidson (left) was a late addition to the St Johnstone starting line-up

For the first meeting between the sides since last season's Scottish Cup final - a game which St Johnstone won 2-0 at Celtic Park in May - visiting manager Tommy Wright was forced into a late change when midfielder Chris Millar picked up an injury during the warm-up.

Murray Davidson, who was initially left out after playing in the midweek League Cup win over Kilmarnock, was restored instead.

There was also no place for the scorer of the winning goal in that tie, Brian Graham, who was ineligible to play against his parent club.

Yet it was Jackie McNamara's changes that proved more crucial in the opening half. The United manager opted to include Erskine and Mario Bilate ahead of Stuart Armstrong and Blair Spittal and it was the former Partick Thistle player who opened the scoring after 23 minutes.

From a St Johnstone corner, United goalkeeper Radoslaw Cierzniak gathered and threw the ball out for his side to break. Ciftci fed Erskine on the right side of Saints' penalty box and the midfielder fired in a composed finish.

United began brightly after the restart, with Ciftci forcing Mannus to race from goal to clear as he raced in on the Saints goalkeeper. Then Bilate fired in a lobbed effort that flew just over the Saints bar.

Saints were almost level on the hour mark when O'Halloran reacted quickly when the ball evaded United defender Callum Morris in the six-yard box, but the woodwork denied the striker.

However, United added a second in the 72nd minute when Ciftci laid the ball to the right for Watson on the overlap and the defender's low cross was fired home from eight yards by the well-placed Paton.

Chris Erskine slots the ball past Alan Mannus for the opening goal
Chris Erskine slipped the ball past Alan Mannus for the opening goal
St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright (left) shows his displeasure in the dugout
St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright (left) was forced to make a change to his line-up before kick-off
Paul Paton leaves St Johnstone goalkeeper Alan Mannus in despair
Paul Paton left St Johnstone goalkeeper Alan Mannus in despair
Paul Paton celebrates scoring United's second goal with John Rankin
Paul Paton (left) scored Dundee United's second goal

Line-ups

Dundee Utd

  • 1Cierzniak
  • 2Dillon
  • 14MorrisBooked at 90mins
  • 12Watson
  • 5Fojut
  • 17ErskineSubstituted forMackay-Stevenat 75'minutes
  • 18DowSubstituted forSpittalat 78'minutes
  • 7CiftciBooked at 67mins
  • 6Paton
  • 8Rankin
  • 19BilateSubstituted forArmstrongat 62'minutes

Substitutes

  • 10Armstrong
  • 11Mackay-Steven
  • 21Telfer
  • 23Smith
  • 24Spittal
  • 26Szromnik
  • 33Spark

St Johnstone

  • 1Mannus
  • 5Wright
  • 6Anderson
  • 2Mackay
  • 24Easton
  • 16Caddis
  • 8McDonaldSubstituted forLappinat 54'minutes
  • 22CroftSubstituted forMorganat 54'minutes
  • 10WotherspoonBooked at 80mins
  • 18Davidson
  • 29O'Halloran

Substitutes

  • 4Lappin
  • 11Morgan
  • 15Banks
  • 19Miller
  • 20Brown
  • 31Easton
  • 34Kerr
Referee:
Bobby Madden
Attendance:
7,161

Match Stats

Home TeamDundee UtdAway TeamSt Johnstone
Possession
Home46%
Away54%
Shots
Home6
Away7
Shots on Target
Home3
Away1
Corners
Home3
Away5
Fouls
Home13
Away14

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Dundee United 2, St. Johnstone 0.

  2. Full Time

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

  3. Post update

    Foul by Paul Paton (Dundee United).

  4. Post update

    Liam Caddis (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Post update

    Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Jaroslaw Fojut.

  6. Booking

    Callum Morris (Dundee United) is shown the yellow card.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Callum Morris (Dundee United).

  8. Post update

    Michael O'Halloran (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  9. Post update

    Attempt missed. Simon Lappin (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from the left side of the box is high and wide to the right.

  10. Post update

    Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Murray Davidson.

  11. Booking

    David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone) is shown the yellow card.

  12. Post update

    Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Post update

    Foul by David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone).

  14. Substitution

    Substitution, Dundee United. Blair Spittal replaces Ryan Dow.

  15. Post update

    Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Post update

    Foul by Steven Anderson (St. Johnstone).

  17. Post update

    Attempt missed. Simon Lappin (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Dundee United. Gary Mackay-Steven replaces Chris Erskine.

  19. Post update

    Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Frazer Wright.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Chris Erskine (Dundee United).

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