Saturday 14th July
Saints got their Betfred Cup campaign underway today as they fought out a goalless draw with East Fife at McDiarmid Park. However, Saints secured a bonus point as they defeated the League 1 side 5-4 on penalties.
Saints dominated play and created numerous chances during the first half with David McMillan, David Wotherspoon and Liam Gordon all having chances to break the deadlock.
The second half was similar with Saints having the better of the play but they just couldn’t find a way past a well organised East Fife defence.
The match then went to penalties to see who would earn the bonus point. With the score tied at 4-4 former Saints player Craig Thomson stepped up to take his sides fifth but it was brilliantly saved by Zander Clark. Drey Wright then converted his penalty to win the game for Saints.
In Saints’ first competitive game of the season Tommy Wright named a strong squad to face East Fife in the opening game of the Betfred Cup group stages. The Saints manager handed Drey Wright his debut in front of the home fans and named Liam Craig the captain as normal club captain Joe Shaughnessy sat out due to injury.
Saints got their first competitive game of the season underway shooting towards the North Stand.
Some great build up play from David McMillan and Drey Wright saw them finding space in the East Fife back line. Wright put a great pass through to Stefan Scougall in the box, his neat lay off to McMillan, found the Irishman who had a great shot which was heading for the top right hand corner but Brett Long was off his line quickly to parry away.
On 20 minutes Zander Clark pulled out a fantastic point blank save against the run of play to keep the score level. Former Saint Craig Thomson flew down the wing and managed to beat Jason Kerr, his great cross found Scott McBride whose powerful header stung the palms of Clark and the Saints defence were able to clear.
On the half an hour mark, play settled down, David Wotherspoon fired a 30-yard free kick just wide of the target as Saints’ continued to dominate possession. Continuing to pile on the pressure, Wright played a short corner to Scougall and his whipped cross met Liam Gordon’s head but the defender’s attempt flew just over the bar.
Saints finished the first half the stronger of the two but the East Fife defence made it difficult to take any real chances. East Fife coming the closest to scoring through McBride but Clark matched up to his header, with it all to play for in the second half.
East Fife got the second half underway.
Straight off the bat Saints threatened again, a corner whipped in by Liam Craig found Murray Davidson but his first touch let him down and Long collected. A half chance with 20 minutes to go fell for Tony Watt, Liam Craig’s free kick found the new signing but his header was picked out of the air by Long.
Some great work down the left-hand side from Watt saw him drive into the box, his cross found Chris Kane whose effort was smashed into the side netting. Saints continued to pile on the pressure towards the late stages, Watt did well to find space on the right-hand side, his cross skimmed off of Kane’s head and made its way to Wright but his miss-hit shot was cleared by the East Fife defenders.
With the full 90 minutes plus stoppage time played match went to a penalty shoot out to see which team could secure an extra point.
East Fife took the first penalty and Craig Watson slotted it past Zander Clark with ease, Liam Craig followed and showed his experience through a composed finish.
Johnny Court and Chris Kane put both of theirs away to level the score.
Pat Slattery, Tony Watt, Blair Alston and Ross Davidson all finished their penalties well past the keepers to bring the score to 4-4.
Ex-Saint Craig Thomson stepped up to take East Fife’s 5th penalty, he smashed it to his right, Zander Clark’s left, and the Saints keeper connected with 2 strong palms to deny the youngster. It was then down to Drey Wright to secure the extra point for Saints and he did it with confidence rattling the ball into the back of the net to make the end result 5-4 to St Johnstone.
Following a frustrating 90 minutes for the home team, Saints collected the bonus point to put them second in Group B in the Betfred Cup.
Saints: Clark, Tanser, Kerr, Gordon, Foster, Craig, Davidson, Wotherspoon (Alston 82), Scougall (Watt 60), Wright, McMillan (Kane 60)
Unused Substitutes: Hurst (GK), Anderson, Comrie, McClean
East Fife: Long, Dunsmore (Kane 80), Slattery, Dunlop, Watson, Meggat, Thomson, Davidson, Watt (Bell 71), Smith, McBride (Court 80).
Unused Substitutes: Couser, Dowds, Young
Booked: McBride, Watson
Referee: Steven Kirkland
Match Report by Hannah Klatschak
Picture: Drey Wright scores his penalty to secure the extra point for Saints.
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