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SPL: Dundee 1-3 St.Johnstone

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There were two changes to the starting line up for the Dens Park men with Toshney and Boyle coming in at the expense of Benedictus and former Saint Steven Milne.

In the opposite dug out Steve Lomas only had the suspension of Rowan Vine to contend with and this allowed a first SPL start for new signing Steven Maclean to partner Gregory Tade in the Saints frontline.

With a decent crowd inside Dens, it was the home side who started the brighter of the two with some quick midfield movement causing the Perth men trouble and inside ten minutes Conroy had a great chance to give his side the lead, as he turned Mackay inside the box.

But the alert Mannus was out quick and deflected Conroy’s effort onto the post, with the Perth defence not heading the warning Mannus again saved his side as Nish got his toe to a short headed back pass from Anderson but the quick reactions of the Perth keeper saw him claw the striker’s effort clear.

Slowly the away side crept back into the game with some neat passing moves, but were never able to find the finishing touch or the final pass until the 17th minute when Liam Craig broke the offside trap and with a great diagonal run had plenty of time to hit the byline and his pullback – which should have easily been cleared by Irvine – found its way to the unmarked Tade coming in at the back to lash the ball passed an exposed Douglas.

With St Johnstone’s superior passing game giving them a slight edge, Dundee seemed to abandon the pass and move which had seen them have some success in the early exchanges and aim for the head of Colin Nish to do the damage and it proved fruitful as Dundee grabbed a quick equaliser with the saints rearguard unable to deal with the knock on and after Cregg skied his clearance McAlister beat Wright to the dropout ball and the big centre’s flailing leg took the striker down for the penalty.

It was coolly dispatched by Conroy. With the home fans buoyed by that goal they found their voice and pushed their side on to try to grab a foothold in the game, but their defensive frailties again came to the fore when a slack pass by Toshney left the defence exposed and some neat play by Hasselbaink and Maclean saw the advanced Gary Miller swing in a delightful cross which found its way to the back post where Craig controlled his shot from an acute angle passed Douglas.

Dundee seemingly stung into action but for all their possession in the closing minutes of the first have they never troubled Mannus in the visitors goal.

Unfortunately for the home side that was as good as it got with the haste of their inclusion to the SPL being shown in the second half as with six minutes gone Frazer Wright rose highest at a corner to power the ball toward goal and Steven Maclean was sharpest to react as he stooped to guide the ball into the net.

From that point onward St Johnstone were fairly dominant in possession and should have extended their advantage with Tade coming the closest when sent clear by Millar, he let fly with a stinging shot that almost uprooted the goal as it cannoned off the post.

In their desperation to claw their way back into the match, they resorted with alarming regularity to the diagonal ball for Nish who after finding initial success was easily marshalled by the Saints rearguard, whereas the Dundee defence were unable to cope with the smart movement of Maclean and the shear power and drive of the relentless Tade who bullied a lacklustre defence all afternoon in an impressive display.

With midfield anchor Cregg going off in the first half with a hamstring pull, the day hit a thoroughly sour note five minutes from time when Maclean was manhandled to the ground by Davidson, after initial calls for a penalty died down it was clear that the striker was in trouble as he lay on the turf. Credit to Dee’s keeper Douglas who was quick to alert the officials to the frontman’s plight and after lengthy treatment he was stretchered off with an apparent dislocated elbow and perhaps to emphasis the gulf on squad talent and the task faced by the men from Dens this season, he was replaced by former Scotland international Craig Beattie to make his first SPL appearance this season.

Dundee: Douglas, Irvine, Toshney (Benedictus 60), Davidson, Lockwood, Baird (Riley 52), McAlister, Kerr, Conroy, Nish, Boyle

Unused subs: Alex Baird (gk), Milne, Gallagher, McBride, Easton.

St Johnstone: Mannus, Miller, Anderson, Wright, MacKay, Millar, Davidson, Cregg (Hasselbaink 24), Craig, Tadé, MacLean (Beattie 84).

Unused subs: Tuffey (gk), McCracken, Tobin, Kane, Caddis.

Attendance: 6158

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