St Johnstone 0 Dundee 0 extras: Emotional minute’s silence, Davidson’s praise for Saints fans and an eye-catching debut from former Aberdeen winger

Three key issues and observations from St Johnstone’s goal-less draw with Dundee as both teams end long losing league runs with basement stalemate.
New signing Niall McGinn (left) looks like he will be a major asset for Dundee in their bid to avoid relegation (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)New signing Niall McGinn (left) looks like he will be a major asset for Dundee in their bid to avoid relegation (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)
New signing Niall McGinn (left) looks like he will be a major asset for Dundee in their bid to avoid relegation (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

Lily Douglas tribute

It isn’t often St Johnstone and Dundee fans are united in a single cause, particularly when they are both locked in a tense battle at the bottom of the table. However, the case of tragic Lily Douglas is a powerful reason for a hands-across-the-Tay gesture. The young St Johnstone fan from Perth passed away on Sunday at the age of 14 after a five-year battle with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. As well as being a supporter of her local team, she was a keen dancer and had even performed at McDiarmid Park with her troupe.

The club asked for fans to pay tribute to Lily with a round of applause in the 14th minute and with the ball having gone out of play at around that time, the players even paused to bring an extra sense of significance to these poignant moments. Pink balloons were released as well as some puffs of pink smoke. The St Johnstone supporters will have noted that their counterparts from Dundee applauded with equal gusto.

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It proved a tear-jerking 60-second break from a relegation scrap that while important, is really not very important at all.

Callum Davidson’s praise for fans

After the trials of Kelty, there might have been some trepidation felt by St Johnstone players at how they would be treated by the fans, some of whom were very vocal in their criticism after that Scottish Cup defeat in Fife. Any such fears were quickly extinguished as the home supporters gave their team stout backing from the off. The fact it was local rivals Dundee in opposition perhaps helped whip up the fervour. But it was certainly evident that these fans were getting behind the team even though there was precious little to get excited about on the pitch.

Under pressure manager Callum Davidson afterwards acknowledged the currently fragile relationship between supporters and team. It reached what is hoped will prove a nadir in Kelty on Saturday. There was no evidence of any abuse being aimed at anyone here. “The crowd could have quite easily turned on us,” admitted the St Johnstone manager. “The fans saw the lads try their hardest. St Johnstone fans accept that. If you try your best and keep trying to do the right things, they always get behind you. We need to keep doing that.”

Niall McGinn – warmly received

Another potentially uneasy relationship was under the microscope in Perth with Niall McGinn making his debut for Dundee after signing an 18-month contract earlier this week. The winger scored a contested penalty and then extravagantly celebrated in front of Dundee fans as the Dens Park side’s relegation from the top flight was confirmed against Aberdeen in 2013.

Nine years on he seems their best bet to help them avoid such a fate which means any such previous grievances are being quickly shelved by Dens Park fans. McGinn, who started on the bench, will have noted the warm applause he was afforded when he went to warm up for the first time with Charlie Adam after 20 minutes.

The pair joined the fray after 50 minutes and helped turn the game in Dundee’s favour, although the elusive goal would not come. “Niall showed touches of real quality,” said manager James McPake afterwards. “He is fit but not match fit. He looks after himself and you could see the quality when he came on. He will be a good player for us.” On the evidence of this 40-minute cameo, McGinn seems bound to start the crunch game with St Mirren at Dens Park on Saturday.

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