St Johnstone 0 Dundee United 0: Ten-man Saints show their battling qualities

Ten-man St Johnstone showed their battling qualities to pick up a home point against Dundee United.

Saints were left with a second half mountain to climb when midfielder Melker Hallberg was ordered off in the 53rd minute.

The recent arrival was cautioned in the opening half and then received his next yellow for a similar tug-of-the-jersey offence.

Required to dig deep, Perth players remained resolute and displayed great determination to keep the visitors from leaving with three points.

Saints remain second from the bottom of the Premiership but the hard-earned result pulls them to a point clear of Dundee, who lost to Ross County.

It’s rare when Callum Davidson is afforded the opportunity to list the same starting line-up two matches on the bounce.

But continuity was the name of the game for this tussle of Tayside following Tuesday night’s much-needed win at Livingston.

All 11 starters from the dramatic midweek boost were trusted with sparking similar scenes of celebration, this time on home turf.

Saints’ start in West Lothian had been particularly impressive and matching those energy levels was going to be imperative.

The productive pressing performance was on show again early doors although United had looked threatening on a couple of occasions.

A Dylan Levitt corner, in particular, bounced precariously inside the box before the ball was eventually swiped away from danger.

But a better opening fell the Perth side’s way on 18 minutes when Hallberg – impressive on Tuesday – showed his strength to advance deep into opposition territory.

The Swede unselfishly picked out Ali Crawford in plenty of space inside the box but, after setting himself, he fired a pure strike off the underside of the crossbar. So close.

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Callum Hendry, fresh from a goal last time out, then went for the spectacular from a tight angle which forced goalkeeper Benjamin Siegrist to touch behind for a corner.

Up the other end and as the half-time whistle neared, United somehow weren’t able to bundle in Nicky Clark’s flick-on from a Levitt corner.

And then Tony Watt felt an ambitious curling effort towards goal which, thankfully, Perth No.1 Zander Clark scooped up at that second time of asking.

There was just time for Hendry to produce a clever nutmeg and strike from the edge of the box. The drive was powerful and on target but Siegrist was across quickly to beat the ball away.

Saints, for a change, would be shooting towards the North Stand in the second half but quickly it was United and substitute Ilmari Niskanen on the counter.

The Finnish winger clipped a delivery to the back post but Liam Smith’s effort was blocked by well-positioned Callum Booth.

Suddenly the play switched and hard-working Stevie May called Siegrist into action again.

This was very much all to play for but on 54 minutes Saints were down a man when Hallberg picked up a second yellow card. Both offenses had been for pulling back the opposition.

Perth boss Davidson, in response, switched it up to a 4-4-1 formation and sent Murray Davidson and Cammy MacPherson on for May and Crawford.

United applied the pressure and Peter Pawlett was close to rising at the back post to connect with a Niskanen cross before Watt hammered the outside of the post from a tight angle.

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More fresh legs arrived in Tony Gallacher and Glenn Middleton as the men in Tangerine searched for a way through.

Middleton almost nicked it with a deflected attempt from the edge of the box but the ball drifted narrowly wide of the post.

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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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