St Johnstone 2 United 1

Published: 27th December 2014

United fell to a disappointing defeat in Perth today. Butcher had United in control at half time. The second half was end to end with both teams creating chances. O'Halloran headed in a controversial equaliser and then Miller sealed the points with five minutes left for the hosts. By Gareth Scott After United's great win last Sunday against champions Celtic, it was of little surprise that Jackie McNamara named the same starting eleven for the Tayside derby against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park. Mackay-Steven and Connolly did return for the visitors, both listed as substitutes. After a four month injury absence, Steven McLean returned for the hosts, replacing on loan United forward Brian Graham. First Half Backed by a huge travelling support, United started brightly and with four minutes gone Rankin found space at the edge of the area but he dragged his shot wide. Two minutes later Saints went very close when Croft fired in a shot from distance but Cierzniak tipped the ball over. Saints then began to take a bit of control but were limited to long range efforts from Wotherspoon and O'Halloran. With half an hour on the clock a long pass found the overlapping Mackay who sent a low ball into the box but, with MacLean lurking, the impressive Morris brilliantly intercepted. With it looking highly likely that the scores would be even at half time, United struck with 43 minutes gone. Spittal and Armstrong combined to find Butcher at the back post and he slid the ball past Mannus. Shortly after Armstrong gathered the ball in a dangerous position in the box but unfortunately he slipped and the ball was cleared. Second Half With six minutes of the second half gone, Armstrong cut in from the left and his shot stung the hands of Mannus and the ball was cleared. Minutes later a shot from MacKay again forced a brilliant save from Cierzniak. Just before the hour mark Spittal and Erskine exchanged passes with the latter finding Armstrong who shot into the side netting. Three minutes later United broke forward again and Ciftci curled an effort just wide. Ciftci then turned provider when he swung a cross in from the right but Spittal headed wide with the goal gaping. With fifteen minutes left, the game turned on its head. The ball appeared to strike the hand of MacKay but the play was waved on. Croft took advantage and his cross picked out O'Hallaron who headed down and the ball landed in the back of the net. Easton then went close for Saints but Cierzniak saved well low to his right. With five minutes remaining the home side snatched the points. Chris Millar gathered the ball at the edge of the box and he side stepped a number of defenders and shot past the helpless Cierzniak. There was no time to find a leveller for United in a game that could have gone either way. Summing Up: United will be disappointed to lose after being ahead and looking dangerous. The key moment was the equaliser when play could have been stopped when MacKay seemed to handle. Man of the match - Stuart Armstrong looked lively all afternoon for United and was involved in all their positive play. Teams: Saints: Mannus, Mackay, Lappin (McDonald 75) Wright, Anderson, Millar, MacLean, Wotherspoon, Croft (Millar 90) Easton, O'Halloran Subs : Banks, Caddis, Miller, Brown, McLaren, Kitchen United: Cierzniak, Dillon, Townsend, Morris (Mackay-Steven 86) Fojut, Spittal, Rankin, Butcher, Armstrong, Erskine, Ciftci Subs : Szromnik, Wilson, Telfer, Dow, Connolly, Spark Referee : Alan Muir Attendance : 7384