The stats just get worse and worse for Jim McIntyre’s men – eight defeats on the trot and yet another Tayside derby coming and going without them as much as nicking a goal let alone a point as a gleeful St Johnstone supporter could hardly wait to remind them.
Of all the matches where you might have expected the Dens Park side to fight for their lives and bust a gut this would surely be it. Instead they went down with barely a whimper. St Johnstone had little to play for but the main reason they spent this game in a comfort zone was due to the sheer insipidness of their opponents. Second half goals from Scott Tanser and Callum Hendry secured the victory in typically unfussy fashion for Tommy Wright’s men and they could have a had a few more if they’d been more clinical.
After the game it was hard not to feel sympathy for the disconsolate McIntyre who, with results for Hamilton and St Mirren also conspiring against his side’s survival hopes, looked as if he had the world, or at least the rest of the Premiership, on his shoulders. “There were a lot of key areas in the game in which we weren’t good enough today,” he lamented.
“In the first half I thought we fought our corner, but in the second once the goal goes in it’s all about digging in. It’s a really disappointing day, especially after what I’ve seen from the players in training.
“We’ve made it really difficult for ourselves. We’re not stupid – we know we probably need to win four on the bounce to give ourselves a chance.”
Considering the need for points lay almost entirely with Dundee the only real encouragement they would have drawn from a turgid and disjointed opening 45 minutes was that they went in at the interval on level terms. What enterprise there was on show came from St Johnstone, and in particular the teasing crosses supplied by the sublime left boot of Matty Kennedy.
The Saints winger tormented the visitors throughout and early on provided a succession of opportunities for his colleagues to try to apply a finishing touch to. Callum Hendry at least drew a save from Seny Dieng from one of them by sending in a decent downward header. Otherwise though it was ragged to downright untidy, and aside from a stinging shot from Paul McGowan which flew a foot or so over Zander Clark’s goal, Dundee offered little to suggest that they were going to score their way to Premiership survival.
It didn’t take long after the interval however for this sunny afternoon in Perth to be obliterated by a huge dark cloud for the visitors. Darren O’Dea put in a clumsy challenge on Hendry and from 25 yards out Tanser hit a majestic free kick which Dieng could only get finger tips to in a futile attempt to prevent it hitting the back of the net.
Was there a rolling up of the sleeves and a new found sense of urgency within the Dark Blue ranks? If there was it was beyond normal means of detection. Moves frittered out invariably well out of range of Clark’s goal and a sense of hopelessness prevailed. This was well and truly compounded when Richard Foster’s crossed was meet by the diving Hendry to score with an angled header to double St Johnstone’s advantage and send many of the visiting support traipsing towards the exits.
“It was a good performance and a dominant performance,” asserted Saints manager Tommy Wright. “We’ve already amassed more points than we had last season and I’m pleased with how the players have performed overall this season.”