Dundee 1 St Johnstone 1: Shaun Rooney the second half savior for Saints

Shaun Rooney was the St Johnstone saviour.

The towering full-back’s second half header ensured Dundee were unable to make up any ground in the race for Premiership survival.

Jordan Marshall had fired the Dens Park hosts into an early lead and Saints struggled to work their way into the game.

But Rooney, renowned for his scoring exploits in cup competition last term, popped up with the all-important leveler before celebrating wildly with traveling fans.

More than 2000 occupied the away end, many of whom had decided the plan of action was to gain early entry to seek out the best vantage point.

That meant, as the Saints squad appeared out the tunnel for the warm-up just after 2.15pm, they were greeted by a thunderous round of applause.

Excitement was building and seats soon became occupied as more and more filtered in from the various local watering holes around the City of Discovery. The time for toasting doubles had past, this was all about Premiership survival.

Saints were almost toasting a Jamie McCart opener in the first few minutes but his looping attempt landed on the roof of the net. Other than that, the start had been a shaky one and Dundee soon had the lead.

In 10 minutes, the ball was worked to advanced full-back Marshall and he made no mistake with a powerful, low left-footed drive from the edge of the box.

Home tails were up and they quickly went in search of another. Thankfully, McCart provided a crucial covering block to divert Paul McGowan’s strike behind for a corner.

Saints appeared devoid of making meaningful forward passes and traveling supporters were starting to grow restless.

Manager Callum Davidson had again trusted Nadir Ciftci up top and he almost leveled proceedings with a fierce strike from distance on 34 minutes. Goalkeeper Ian Lawlor pulled off a terrific diving save.

Then, not long after, Callum Hendry suddenly found himself deep inside the box but got his shot all wrong from a promising position.

While a glimmer of improvement towards the end of the half, it still went down as a worrying opening 45 minutes.

Dan Cleary was taken off at the break and replaced by Tom Sang, with Rooney pushing inside to a more central defensive position.

Sang, to his credit, showed energy and whipped in a couple of dangerous deliveries from the right flank but there were never any takers in a Perth jersey.

There was, however, a taker in the 68th minute and it was the towering figure of Rooney. He climbed higher than anyone to head Saints level from a Melker Hallberg corner.

He celebrated with pure passion and booted the advertising boards multiple times right in front of the dancing fans in the away section of the stadium.

The noise level was cranked up and Hendry went agonizingly close to moments later. His wonderful neat feet from him allowed him to escape the Dundee defense but his strike from the edge was tipped around the post.

Rooney then fancied his chances again. This time, however, he could only fire wide with a swiveled attempt.

There was to be no dramatic late winner and Saints remain five points clear of their Tayside rivals.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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