Dundee United 3 - 0 St Mirren: the Saints crushed

Charlie Telfer screams with joy after scoring against St Mirren. Picture: SNS
Charlie Telfer screams with joy after scoring against St Mirren. Picture: SNS
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DUNDEE United returned to the top of the Scottish Premiership with a convincing 3-0 win over lacklustre St Mirren at Tannadice.

Scorers: Dundeed United - Patton, 45; Ciftci, 56; Telfer, 73

Jackie McNamara’s side saw off Tommy Craig’s team thanks to goals from Paul Paton, Nadir Ciftci and Charlie Telfer.

It ensured the Tayside club leapfrogged Hamilton to round off a successful week, having earlier clinched their place in the semi-final of the League Cup.

United had a much-changed side from the one which overcame Championship opponents Hibernian following a penalty shoot-out in the League Cup at Easter Road in midweek - and they nearly went ahead inside two minutes.

Paton’s curling free-kick was met in the air by Calum Butcher, whose downward header was heading for the far corner of the net until St Mirren’s Kenny McLean managed to sweep the ball off the line.

The Paisley side arrived on Tayside on the back of a reasonable run of form and they created their first scoring opportunity in the 17th minute.

Jason Naismith got in behind the United defence before sending over a cross for striker Callum Ball.

Just yards from goal, Ball made contact but was denied by United keeper Radoslaw Cierzniak, who turned his effort round the post at the expense of a corner.

From that corner, Saints captain Marc McAusland rose unchallenged to meet Gary Teale’s ball, but he headed just over the bar as United breathed a sigh of relief.

That gave the visitors a lift and they came close again a few minutes later.

This time Ball played a pass to Adam Drury, who tried his luck with a low right-foot shot which was turned round the post by Cierzniak - diving full length to stop the effort.

United were forced into a change just after the half-hour mark when Mario Bilate pulled up with a hamstring injury, so was replaced by Stuart Armstrong.

But in the 45th minute the hosts went ahead through Paton.

Armstrong’s diagonal pass found Aidan Connolly who ran and sent over a cross which came back off Jeroen Tesselaar.

Paton had made his way into the box and he was there to sweep home from 12 yards past visiting goalkeeper Marian Kello.

The second half started with St Mirren’s Jim Goodwin booked by referee Andrew Dallas for a late challenge on Conor Townsend.

In the 52nd minute Saints looked like equalising when Thomas Reilly put Drury clean through - but Cierzniak saved with his feet.

However, Ciftci made it 2-0 for United in the 56th minute. Butcher played the ball over the top of the Saints defence for Connolly to attempt a header which was blocked by Kello - and Ciftci was on hand to turn home the rebound from close range.

Then, in the 73rd minute, Telfer made the points safe as he ran on to Connolly’s through-ball to slide a shot past the diving Kello for his first goal for the club.