Dundee 1-1 St Johnstone: Lack of injuries a result

This mattered little really for St Johnstone, whose main focus returns to the Europa League and the task of trying to overcome Rosenborg, the Norwegian league leaders, later this week.

Kilmarnock keeper Kyle Letheren clears the ball away from Dundees Brian Easton Picture: Rob Casey/SNS

Dundee 1 - 1 St Johnstone

Scorers: Dundee - Monti (17); St Johnstone - May (9)

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Referee: C Charleston

Attendance: 1,766

Tommy Wright’s side did themselves proud when they triumphed in Norway last Thursday in their surprise 1-0 win in the Europa League ­second qualifying round first-leg tie, courtesy of Frazer Wright’s ­winner on the night.

Their main concern here was avoiding injuries and ensuring they are in the best fettle possible for Thursday’s return leg when they will aspire to seal their place in the third qualifying round and, in so doing, take a step closer to clinching a place in the lucrative group stages.

That was a point not lost on Wright after watching striker Stevie May miss a second-half penalty in yesterday’s hard-fought draw with First Division promotion hopefuls Dundee at Dens Park. “It’s all eyes on Thursday now,” he said. “We’ve got to be ready for it.

“What we achieved last Thursday was great We’ve got to realise this is a tie and not a one-off game.

“We got lots of credit which we deserved for last Thursday but it was only one game. I’m happy enough.

“We gave away a sloppy goal though, when we didn’t deal with a cross, which was disappointing.

“We should have won the game with Stevie’s penalty but that’s how things go. Stevie hasn’t had much game time as he picked up an injury but I’m quite pleased with him.

“He already knows he’ll play a big part this season so we’ll see.”

Saints had former Dundee United goalkeeper Steve Banks ­between the sticks following his summer move from their Tayside rivals.

They were anxious to keep a clean bill of health ahead of their vital return tie so goal hero Wright was rested.

This was a step up for the First Division Dark Blues who had chalked up three straight ­pre-season wins in their quest for a quick-fire return to the top-flight after the pain of relegation last season.

They fell behind as early as the ninth minute when May made it 0-1 with a cool finish from Liam Caddis’s through ball which caught the Dundee defence on the hop. May steadied himself before slotting the ball low past new Dundee ’keeper Kyle Letheren and into the corner of the net. But in 17 minutes Carlo Monti levelled.

Gary Irvine’s left-foot cross was headed down by Peter MacDonald and Monti continued his hot scoring streak by lifting the ball past Banks for a classy equaliser.

Then, in 31 minutes, Jim McAlister rattled the woodwork when his header from Irvine’s cross came crashing back off the post. Two minutes before the break, MacDonald latched onto Monti’s knockdown but saw his low shot saved by Banks at full length. Shortly after the break, Rory Fallon fired in a left-foot volley which Letheren did well to fist away.

Saints introduced former Aberdeen and Dunfermline midfielder Barry Nicholson as a trialist midway through the ­second half.

In 73 minutes, Saints were awarded a penalty when May was brought down by Dundee defender Iain Davidson. May stepped up but Letheren saved with his legs to deny the visitors a morale-boosting win before the real business of Rosenborg which lies ahead.

Dundee assistant manager Ray Farningham said: “This was a good test for our players and we stood up to it pretty well.”

Dundee: Letheren, Irvine, Dyer, Davidson, McBride, MacDonald, Rae, Monti, Benedictus, Gallagher, McAlister.

St Johnstone: Banks, Miller, Scobbie, McKay, Easton, Caddis, Cregg, Wotherspoon, Edwards, Fallon, May.