Scottish Premiership: Ross County 0-2 Saints

An outstanding performance from Chris Kane, who won a first half penalty and scored a second half goal, ensured Saints went into the international break with three points from Saturday's match at Ross County.

The win see St. Johnstone move to joint-third in the Scottish Premiership with the next match at home to Kilmarnock a week on Saturday.

MATCH REPORT

Saints headed to Dingwall today as they looked to build on Sunday’s draw at Hamilton. Tommy Wright made two changes to the side that started last weekend as Chris Kane and Steven MacLean, who missed the Hamilton Accies match due to the synthetic surface at The SuperSeal Stadium, returned to the starting line up to replace Michael Coulson and Graham Cummins who both dropped to the bench. Ross County manager Jim McIntyre made one change to the team that secured a point at Hearts last weekend as Greg Morrison came in to replace Ian McShane who missed out due to suspension after being sent off at Tynecastle. However, there was one late change to the County line-up as Jay McEveley came into replace Andrew Davies. Russell Dingwall took McEveley’s place on the bench.

Danny Swanson had the first shot at goal on 11 minutes however, his effort was deflected for a corner. Saints then forced two more corners but nothing came of them.

Liam Craig unleashed a shot on 16 minutes which took a deflection off a County player before being gathered by Scott Fox in the home goal. Then a minute later after some good build-up play Blair Alston squared the ball to Craig who flashed his effort just wide. Danny Swanson was next to have a shot at goal from just outside the box however, his effort was gathered by Fox.

The Staggies got a sight of goal on 21 minutes as Martin Woods created space for himself before having a shot which went wide.

Saints were playing well and they created another chance on 26 minutes as Steven MacLean slipped the ball to Blair Alston whose effort at goal went wide.

Good play by Murray Davidson on 32 minutes saw him win the ball in midfield before playing a neat one-two with Swanson. Muzz then advanced into the box before trying to setup Alston however, Jay McEveley got back to intercept the ball.

Then 2 minutes later MacLean could not make a proper connection with a Steven Anderson header as Fox easily gathered.

With 5 minutes of the first half remaining Chris Kane was setup by Swanson before having a shot which was saved. Then a minute later Saints were awarded a penalty as Kane was bundled to the ground by McEveley. Swanson stepped up to take the penalty and he calmly sent Fox the wrong way to give Saints the lead. It was Swanson’s eighth goal of the season and his fifth penalty.

As the match entered one minute of stoppage time Jonathan Franks delivered a good cross into the Saints box which found the head of Michael Gardyne at the back post who headed wide.

ROSSCMR.jpg

Ross County started the second half brightly and when Zander Clark made a poor clearance on 51 minutes the ball was picked up by Woods who then broke into the box before having a shot which went high and wide. Then on 56 minutes Franks sent an inviting ball across of the face of the Saints goal which Greg Morrison failed to make a connection with as Saints cleared their lines.

County were getting closer to an equaliser and Marcus Fraser was next to have a shot at goal on 58 minutes however, his strike was straight at Clark. Shortly after a Gardyne cross picked out Liam Boyce who headed wide.

The Staggies made a double change on 68 minutes as Ryan Dow and Chris Burke came onto replace Greg Morrison and Jonathan Franks. Dow almost made an instant impact a minute later as he forced a fingertip save from Clark following a Woods free kick into the box.

Saints were defending well against the County attacks and then on 74 minutes Saints broke on the counter as substitute David Wotherspoon linked up well with Swanson to play in Kane who stroked the ball under Fox to double Saints lead.

With 10 minutes remaining Burke unleashed a powerful curling left footed strike which brought out a good save from Clark. Play was then stopped as County striker Liam Boyce went down in the box with an injury. With Boyce being unable to continue The Staggies were forced to play the closing stages of the match with ten men having made all their subs.

Kane could have got his second of the afternoon on 89 minutes as Craig floated a cross into the box and Kano rose to head the ball goal wards but his effort was gathered by Fox.

The fourth official then indicated that there would be 4 minutes of additional time however, Saints comfortably saw the match out to secure another vital 3 points which leaves them in jointed third place with Hearts on 14 points going into the international break.

Man of the Match: Chris Kane

Ross County: Fox, Woods, Quinn, Boyce, Gardyne, Fraser, Routis (Chow 74), Van Der Weg, McEveley, Morrison (Dow 68), Franks (Burke 68) Unused Substitutes: McCarey (GK), T. Dingwall, Cikos, R. Dingwall Booked: Woods

Saints: Clark, Alston (Wotherspoon 65), Anderson, Davidson, MacLean, Swanson (Paton 85), Shaughnessy, Foster, Easton, Kane, Craig Unused Substitutes: Mannus (GK), Coulson, Gormley, Gordon, Cummins Booked: Foster Scorers: Swanson (42), Kane (74)

Referee: Crawford Allan Attendance: 3,299

Match Report by Daryl Scott