St Johnstone’s Murray Davidson strikes to inflict new blow on Dundee United
Murray Davidson bundled home the winner as St Johnstone continued their fine form by beating Dundee United 2-1 at Tannadice.
Tommy Wright’s side had to come from behind after Billy McKay had headed the hosts into the lead.
In a hard-fought Ladbrokes Premiership match, goals late in the first half from Chris Kane and Davidson earned victory for the visitors.
Steven MacLean missed a second-half penalty for Saints but it did not prove a costly miss as they held on against Mixu Paatelainen’s men who remain bottom of the table.
Hosts United started well, with defender Ryan McGowan firing in a shot which away goalkeeper Alan Mannus was pleased to see clear his far post.
United new boy Gavin Gunning was keen to catch the eye and unleashed an ambitious 30-yard free-kick which was close to hitting the target.
The fired-up hosts took the lead after 33 minutes when Charlie Telfer fed McGowan, whose cross was met by McKay as he headed pass Mannus from close range.
St Johnstone looked to level right away and Dave MacKay’s curled free-kick from long distance struck the underside of Michal Szromnik’s crossbar, with the Polish goalkeeper beaten. The ball ran along the goal-line before being cleared.
Shortly after, Telfer had a clear opportunity clean through on goal to make it 2-0 from Blair Spittal’s pass.
As it looked as though the youngster would bury the opportunity, Mannus advanced and did enough to beat his effort away.
They were made to regret that missed opportunity when, after 43 minutes, Kane rose above McGowan to power a bullet header from David Wotherspoon’s corner into the roof of the net, with Szromnik left helpless.
Then, two minutes later, Saints struck again following a scramble inside the box.
Joe Shaughnessy knocked the ball across the face of the goal for MacLean, who cracked his shot off the post.
From the rebound, Davidson on his second attempt managed to scramble the ball over the line to give the visitors a precious half-time lead.
All eyes were on how United would respond after the break, and they launched an appeal for a penalty after 52 minutes.
McGowan went down under a challenge from St Johnstone substitute Liam Caddis, but referee Craig Thomson was convinced the Australian international had dived and booked him accordingly.
Thomson, though, did point to the spot after 64 minutes. Kane nicked in front of John Rankin just under the nose of the referee, and contact led to a sure-fire penalty.
MacLean steeped up but fired wildly over the bar to keep United’s hopes of a comeback alive.
United threw just about everything at the visitors late on, with Spittal’s notable long-range effort bringing out a reflex save from Mannus.
But, like many clubs who find themselves at the foot of things, their luck was not in and they could not find a way to dig out an equaliser.
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