St Johnstone still positive over play-off survival chances after Inverness ‘sore one’

St Johnstone’s Liam Gordon blocks a late chance for Inverness striker Billy McKay during the 2-2 draw in the Premiership play-off final 1st leg. (Photo by Ross Parker/SNS Group)

Saints were utterly dominant for the majority of the cinch Premiership play-off final first leg on Friday and goals from Shaun Rooney and Melker Hallberg had them two ahead inside 24 minutes.

But they squandered chances to hit Caley Thistle on the break and Billy Dodds’ side scored two late goals through Reece McAlear, the second a sensational free-kick.

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St Johnstone’s top-flight status now depends on Monday’s one-off clash at McDiarmid Park but Gordon refused to be rocked by the late blow.

“I don’t really know how we didn’t (win) to be fair,” the defender said. “First 65 minutes, I thought we were brilliant then we conceded the first goal.

“It’s obviously disappointing looking back at it. Having seen the photo, the boy’s at least three yards offside. That’s in the second phase and there was a head knock before.

“It’s disappointing to lose a goal in that fashion and then they score a worldie free-kick. Then it’s 2-2.

“But now it’s halfway, 2-2, all to play for in the second leg. We just need to dust ourselves down.

“If we can put that performance that we had, and just be more clinical, then we should do well.

“We dust ourselves down and we have a big performance to come now on Monday.”

Inverness grew in belief as the game progressed and will take that into the second leg.

“Of course they will fancy their chances,” Gordon said. “They’re in the final play-off, I don’t see why they wouldn’t.

“But we fancy our chances as well. If we turn up the way we can, we fancy ourselves as well.

“I thought we did a lot well but could have done better going forward. We have another chance to put it to bed and make amends.

“There is so much to play for, so much at stake. Boys can’t have their heads down.

“We need to look at the positives of what we did in the first leg. There are plenty of them. We just need to do it again on Monday and be more clinical.”

Inverness defender Robbie Deas feels maintaining the belief they finished with on Friday can carry them into the top flight, having already come from behind to beat Partick Thistle in the quarter-finals and defied the odds to get past Arbroath after going down to nine men.

Deas said: “We need that bit of luck but we go into Monday confident we can turn them over.

“We are on a good run and we never say never. We have that attitude throughout the season, come back a lot of times when we looked down and we proved that against a Premiership side.

“But in the second half we calmed down and showed what we can do. We just need to believe that on Monday.”

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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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