Dunfermline made three changes to their mid-week line up with Perth legend Martin Hardie in the starting line up, and there was a first start in three months for Austin McCann after Kevin Rutkiewicz pulled out through injury.
St Johnstone made all of the early running and would have been disappointed not to have taken the lead their pressure deserved, the early promise was to take a huge blow when on 15 minutes influential club captain Jody Morris pulled up with a groin injury to be replaced by Chris Millar.
With the half hour mark fast approaching Dunfermline had been totally ineffective going forward and not testing St Johnstone ‘keeper Mannus with a single shot in anger. With the Perth men continuously knocking at the Dunfermline defence it seems only a matter of time before they made the breakthrough. Liam Craig came close to breaking the deadlock as his free kick from tight on the by-line was missed by Pars ‘keeper Chris Smith only to come crashing back of the upright, but the Perth men were only moments away from breaking down the dogged Dunfermline rearguard.
On 34 minutes, neat play down the right by Mackay and Croft feeds the ball into the box creating confusion as it finds the feet of Sandaza who in trying to create space tees up Murray Davidson breaking from deep to rifle the ball into the net from ten yards, with the breakthrough finally achieved the home side sniffed blood and went straight back on the attack and had doubled their advantage ninety seconds later with Sandaza again the provider this time on the left feeding Callum Davidson charging into the box to power home his first St Johnstone goal since 1998.
St.Johnstone started the second half in the manner they finished the first with a high tempo full of energy, aggression and touches of composure and skill exactly the components missing from what really was a disappointing Dunfermline side.
Chance after chance fell to St Johnstone as Dunfermline offered little of note to the game and Craig, M Davidson and Sandaza all past up great opportunities to increase the Perth Saints lead with the impressive Croft coming closest as he cannoned a shot of the stanchion of the helpless Chris Smith’s goal.
On 73 minutes the 713 loyal Dunfermline fans who had made the trip finally had something to cheer about as Hardie teed up Paul Burns whose shot from 25 yards sailed past Mannus into the net who was furious that the goal stood as two Dunfermline players seemed to be in on offside position, however the goal stood and it looked as if the Perth side’s lack of finishing could again cost them.
With Burns’s strike bringing them back from the brink the Pars fans sensed that their team could possibly snatch a point from a match that was beyond them however it was not to be as the impressive Croft got the goal that his play deserved with some neat skill taking him into the box and picking his place in the side netting leaving the once again exposed Smith with no chance.
With St Johnstone creating more chances through substitutes Haber and Keatings the only surprise is that Steve Lomas’s men only managed to net the 3 times. Dunfermline Manager Jim McIntyre will have been glad of the final whistle as this was a poor performance his men and wont fill him with confidence as he leads them into a relegation battle where some of his men don’t look up for the fight.
St Johnstone: Mannus, Mackay, Davidson, Morris(Millar), Wright, McCracken, M Davidson, Croft(Keatings), Sheridan, Sandaza(Haber)
Subs not used: Enckelman, Maybury, Oyenuga,Stewart
Dunfermline: Smith, McCann, Mason, Keddie, Cardle, Hardie, Graham(Burns), Boyle(Willis), Dowie, Buchanan(Kirk), Thomson.
Subs not used: Goodfellow, McDougall, Hutton, Young