Dundee signed off for 2018 with a poor performance at home to St Johnstone whose 2-0 win hardly flattered them. Scott Tanser scored in the first minute and Liam Craig added the second after half time. The visitors were sharper than the Dark Blues all over the park and were in charge throughout the game.
The Dark Blues’ only change from the Boxing Day draw against Livingston was Martin Woods returning in the place of Benjamin Källman who was on the bench. St Johnstone made three changes following their win at St Mirren. David Wotherspoon, Ross Callachan, and Chris Kane came in for Murray Davidson, Blair Alston and Dann Swanson.
Dundee have made a bad habit of conceding both early goals and freakish goals this season. Today they did it again, losing a poor goal after only 35 seconds. Saints kicked off and immediately moved forward. Dundee were too passive and failed to break up the attack that ended with Scott TANSER floating a cross from the left that dropped over Jack Hamilton and into the net off the far post. A fluky goal? Yes, but the Dee defence can’t claim bad luck. It was avoidable.
Giving St Johnstone a goal of a start, and going behind before a Dundee player touched the ball, had a predictably depressing effect on the players and fans. Saints were able to run the game largely as they wanted for the opening 20 minutes.
Dundee might have fallen right out of the match as Saints passed up a series of decent chances. A threatening, purposeful spell of pressure allowed David Wotherspoon a chance from 10 yards, but he shot straight into Hamilton’s midriff.
Tanser was allowed too much space on the Dee left to try an angled shot, but again it was straight at Hamilton. Both Tony Watt and Matty Kennedy were able to get in shots after some nervous Dundee defending, but both were blocked. Chris Kane was again guilty of shooting at Hamilton after good work on the wing by Watt.
At last Dundee managed to stage a serious attack, but they worried the Saints defence on just two occasions in the first half. Nathan Ralph combined neatly with Calvin Miller whose low cross was played back by Kenny Miller into the path of Jesse Curran, only for Joe Shaugnessy to block the shot.
For the most part it was Saints who were creating the danger with Kennedy hooking a shot wide and Wotherspoon seeing a close range shot blocked.
Late in the first half Dundee had their second promising move when Martin Woods played in Calvin Miller to shoot across goal and past the far post.
Dundee’s first half was poor, but sadly they failed to pick themselves up at half time and the second half was worse. Glen Kamara was replaced at half time by Benjamin Källman as Dundee turned to a straightforward 4-4-2.
A minute after the restart Jesse Curran fleetingly found space inside Saints’ penalty area but was crowded out before he could shoot. Dundee then dropped out of the game and Saints took control. In the first half the Dark Blues played some neat, but ineffectual football in areas that didn’t hurt St Johnstone. In the second half Dundee’s ball retention was dreadful and every attempted Dee attack quickly ended with Saints coming straight back at their hosts.
Kennedy brought a good save from Hamilton after forcing his way in from the right. Watt then snatched at a chance, skying his shot after the ball broke to him near the penalty spot.
After 58 minutes St Johnstone made the points safe with the second goal they deserved. They played a short corner and Watt flicked his header on for Liam CRAIG who smashed his shot home a the far post.
Hamilton saved on the goalline from Watt’s close range backheel as Saints players were almost queuing up for a shot following a free kick.
Dundee’s best effort of the second half came when Benjamin Källman dived at a Curran cross getting a slight touch that only sent the ball straight at Clark.
Apart from that the traffic was always flowing in the direction of Jack Hamilton. Watt headed over from a Foster cross and right at the end Hamilton saved well from substitute David McMillan’s close range shot.
Once the second goal went in the only real doubt was whether St Johnstone would be able to turn their outfield dominance into more goals. The only meagre crumb of comfort was that the Dark Blues defence managed, just, to keep them out. Dundee’s midfield and attack could do nothing to get into the game. Almost every pass intended to start an attack either went to a Saints player or to a Dee who was instantly hustled off the ball.
It’s impossible to dodge the verdict that Dundee got off lightly today. St Johnstone’s goals came from a fluke and a set piece, but they created endless danger in open play. They not only threw away many good chances, they frequently failed to find the right final ball after exposing the Dundee defence. If their finishing and composure in the last 30 yards had matched their fine approach play through the midfield and down the flanks this could have been a thrashing. On the day Saints were far better on the ball, and streets ahead of a disjointed Dee side in their work off the ball.
Dundee FC 4-4-1-1
Kerr, Boyle, O’Dea, Ralph
Curran, Kamara (Källman at half time), Woods, Calvin Miller (Nabi 63)
Kenny Miller (c)
Unused subs: Parish (gk), Inniss, Spence, Moore, Lambert.
Booked: Boyle (foul on Kane), Woods (altercation with Craig), Curran (foul on Kennedy).
St Johnstone 4-4-2
Foster, Shaughnessy, Kerr, Tanser
Kennedy (Swanson 82), Callachan, Craig, Wotherspoon
Kane, Watt (McMillan 82)
Unused subs: Hurst (gk), Anderson, Nydam, McCann, Gordon.
Goals: Tanser (1), Craig (58).
Booked: Craig (altercation with Woods).
Attendance: 6,868 (1,836 away supporters).
Referee: Don Robertson. Assistants: Stuart Stevenson, Anthony Cooper. Fourth Official: Steven Reid.
Report: James Christie.