With new boys Gregory Tade and Rowan Vine suspended Saint boss Steve Lomas was dealt a blow through the week when new signing Craig Beattie was laid low after picking up a bug from his children, leaving Sean Higgins as the only senior striker to spearhead the Perth attack. There was also a reshuffle in defence as veteran Callum Davidson missed out due to a groin strain.
Visiting manager Craig Brown also had his problems in attack missing Rory Fallon and summer signing Niall McGinn which gave the diminutive frame of youngster Ryan Fraser a place in the starting line-up.
With the early exchanges pretty even it was left to Fraser to lift the travelling support with an electric turn of pace which saw him bearing towards the box until Anderson crudely blocked him off to halt his process and pick up a very early booking.
This set the trend for most of the first half with the lightning pace of Fraser creating constant havoc in the Perth rearguard and the youngster, who had been key to Aberdeen’s early dominance, was provider on 16 minutes when his low cross found the unmarked Osbourne inside the box who had time to take a touch and lashed the ball low past the exposed Mannus.
With the impressive wing play of Fraser and Hayes pinning the St Johnstone defence back they needed their midfield to claw them back into the game, but on 29 mins they lost Chris Miller to an apparent hamstring injury to make the task more difficult. As the visitors dictated the pace of the play right up to half time no one could begrudge them the one goal advantage.
At the start of the second half Saints were forced into a second change with influential midfield powerhouse Murray Davidson failing to emerge and was replaced by Gary Millar.
St Johnstone started the second half on the front foot with Higgins making a mess of a glorious chance as he miscued from six yards from a Craig free kick, as he held his head in his hands he couldn’t have imagined how vital that miss was to be as seconds later a calamitous mix up between Wright and Mannus allowed Jonny Hayes to gleefully roll the ball into the empty net.
With a two-goal advantage the Dons were full of confidence and dominating the home side who in truth had lost all shape and belief but more importantly seemed to be losing the fans.
Scott Vernon did his best to compound the home fans misery by heading home twice but each occasion he was denied by the flag of the far side linesman. He again could have sunk the home support, but as Jonny Hayes shot cannoned off the post after he was deftly set up by Hughes, Vernon’s shot was deflected wide by Mackay with the away fans screaming for a penalty and Vernon himself claiming for hand ball which was waved away by the hugely unimpressive referee John Beaton.
With Aberdeen unable to extend their advantage the perseverance of Hasselbaink was rewarded when he latched on to a Higgins knock down to bundle the ball home, with a sniff of grabbing an improbable point the home side started to press and almost sneaked an equaliser when Anderson rose highest at the back post but his last gasp effort sneaked narrowly wide.
A delighted Craig Brown was full of praise for his charges picking out his experienced pros of Anderson, Rae, Hughes and Naysmith as vital to his teams successes this season but claims to be happy with his squad. The opposite was claimed by his counterpart Lomas who bemoaned his lack of squad depth and highlighted again his need for 2 or 3 more singing but admits it now rests on the shoulders of chairman Steve Brown.
St Johnstone: Mannus, Mackay, Scobbie (May 53), Cregg, Wright, Anderson, Millar (Adams 31), Davidson (G. Miller 46), Craig, Hasselbaink, Higgins.
Subs not used: Tuffy, McCracken, Caddis, McIntosh
Aberdeen: Langfield, Jack, Anderson (Reynolds 61), Rae, Considine, Vernon, Hayes (Magennis 85), Osbourne, Naysmith, Hughes, Fraser (Megginson 78).
Subs not used: Rogers, Clark, Milsom, Paton