ST MIRREN ended Dundee United’s six-match winning streak as Steven Thompson’s double book-ended a 4-1 win in Paisley.
Scorers: St Mirren - Thompson (12, 88), McGinn (35), Naismith (71); Ciftci (36)
Bookings: St Mirren - Goodwin, Newton, McGinn; Dundee United - Watson (sent off), Gunning
The former Scotland striker struck the opener for Saints against his old side after 12 minutes before John McGinn added a second with ten minutes of the first half remaining.
United did pull one back just seconds later when Nadir Ciftci netted but the game was over as a contest when Jason Naismith slotted his first goal for the Buddies with 20 minutes left.
Thompson then wrapped up the scoring with a fourth two minutes from time.
The visitors won 4-0 at Tannadice the last time the sides met and arrived in Paisley full of confidence following a winning streak in which they had blasted 22 goals. Yet they appeared to be intimidated by the Buddies’ physical approach.
At times, though, the home side were too robust and boss Danny Lennon had to substitute skipper Jim Goodwin two minutes from the break before he was sent off.
Ironically, it was United who finished a man down after Keith Watson was sent off just seconds before Naismith’s goal for a crude tackle on young defender Sean Kelly.
St Mirren presented boss Danny Lennon with a late Christmas present minutes before kick-off when they confirmed Newcastle’s teenage striker Adam Campbell would be arriving on loan in time to face Kilmarnock on 2 January.
In the meantime, Saints would have to make do with lone frontman Thompson for the clash with United – but the former Scotland striker quickly came up with the goods.
Paul McGowan lobbed a cross to the back post which was knocked down by Conor Newton for Thompson to shoot on the swivel from ten yards out and his finish was flawless as he found the bottom corner.
Amid the excitement of that opening, though, Goodwin was booked after cementing opposition midfielder John Rankin.
United were behind for the first time since losing to Inverness at the end of October, but responded by immediately turning up the heat on Saints.
Thankfully for Lennon’s men, goalkeeper Marion Kello was a match for efforts by Stuart Armstrong, Rankin and Ciftci.
Ross County boss Derek Adams famously dubbed Goodwin the “Ghost” recently because of what he claimed were referees’ inability to see his many fouls. He got away with another again, though, as he went unpunished after clattering into Ryan Gauld, sparking a furious response from United manager Jackie McNamara.
With a full complement still on the field, Saints opened up United again as McGowan fed McGinn on the edge of the box. The teenager forced his way past Paul Paton, dummied Gavin Gunning and then slid the ball past the wrong-footed Radoslaw Cierzniak in the away goal.
But United came back quickly when Gauld’s pass was collected by Ciftci with his chest, who then fired off a quick shot which rebounded up off Kello. The spin of the ball took it towards his empty net as two last-ditch attempts by the Saints defence failed to keep it out.
Goodwin continued to involve himself in needless altercations, so Lennon removed the Irishman, replacing him with David van Zanten two minutes before the break before referee Bobby Madden did it for him. Saints were again lucky to escape a red card as Marc McAusland slid in hard on Gary Mackay-Steven at the start of the half. United piled forward but Kello pulled off another fine diving save to deny Rankin’s long-range effort on 52 minutes. Their hopes evaporated when Watson saw red for his late challenge on Kelly.
It proved even more costly as Naismith settled the match with Saints’ third seconds later. The right-back made an early run in from the wing to latch on to McGinn’s through ball and he used his strength to hold off Andrew Robertson before poking the ball past Cierzniak.
Thompson struck again late on as he collected McGowan’s cross before slamming it into the top corner.
St Mirren: Kello, Naismith, Kelly (Harkins 85), Goodwin (van Zanten 43), McAusland, McGregor, Newton, McLean (Grainger 45), Thompson, McGowan, MaGinn. Subs not used: Mair, Reilly, Brady, Dilo.
Dundee United: Cierzniak, Watson, Robertson, Rankin, Souttar, Gunning, Mackay-Steven, Paton, Ciftci, Gauld (Goodwillie 65), Armstrong (Graham 66). Subs not used: Dillon, Erskine, Dow, McCallum, Gomis.