Both these sides’ results of late had been the cause for a raised eyebrow or two, but the gulf in terms of the result and performance yesterday means that it’s now frowns all round for Inverness Caley Thistle. Richie Foran’s men were simply abject – summed up by captain Gary Warren’s dismissal for picking up two yellow cards early in the second half. While they may only sit at the bottom of the Premiership on goal difference, they urgently need to halt the slump which has seen them take only six points out of a possible 27.
St Johnstone had gone into this one having lost three of their last four games at McDiarmid Park and, while they were far from flawless yesterday, they looked a whole lot more like their normal defensively stubborn and hardworking selves. “We were much better,” said manager Tommy Wright. “It’s pleasing to get the clean sheet – a solid performance and a good way to bounce back.”
His men looked sharp and focused from the start and they were rewarded by an early breakthrough. A crisp exchange of passes between Liam Craig and Steven MacLean prised apart the Caley defence and the former had a generous of space and time to dispatch a low drive into the far corner of the net.
The confidence boost for the Perth men was palpable and Craig tested Owain Fon-Williams again with a stinging effort from the edge of the box which the Welshman required a couple of attempts to smother.
Caley were making a reasonable fist of it themselves at this stage, but lacked pace and invention in the final third. Carl Termarco’s powerful angled header past Zander Clark’s far post was the closest they came to regaining parity.
With a largely punchless attack the last thing Caley needed was to lose both a player and a further goal early in the second half but that’s exactly how it panned out.
Warren’s two rapid-fire yellow cards were needless and then to rub salt in the wound, from the free kick that followed his second transgression Danny Swanson fed David Wotherspoon whose shot was deflected into the path of Murray Davidson in the box. The midfielder finished empathically to put the hosts two up.
After this it became a case of damage limitation rather than a salvage job for Caley. The hosts clearly revelled in the unaccustomed luxury of being in such comfortable ascendency and looked capable of scoring more if they put their minds to it. It was entirely fitting that, when they did find the net again, it was courtesy of the once more impressive Swanson who picked up a cross from Brian Easton and dispatched it beyond Fon-Williams with minimal fuss.
In truth Wright’s men should have helped themselves to at least a couple more, but given the doleful nature of Caley’s performance, they had probably suffered enough punishment for one day.
“Today was our worst performance of the season” said Foran.“I know what we need and I’ll go and get it – we need more defensively minded players.”