Timely win for St Johnstone offers them boost ahead of Hibs - while St Mirren rue red card and loss of key player for Hampden

No sooner had they learned they were being spared two 3-0 losses handed to them in controversial fashion due to alleged Covid protocol lapses, St Mirren contrived to fall to a largely self-inflicted defeat.

St Johnstone striker Chris Kane celebrates making it 1-0 during his side's Scottish Premiership win over St Mirren. It is the Perth club's first league win since 6 November (Photo by Roddy Scott / SNS Group)

Slackness which allowed Chris Kane to score 28 seconds after half-time was compounded by a red card to Cammy MacPherson ten minutes later as St Johnstone took advantage of this chance to secure a long-awaited three points. It sets them up well for next weekend’s Betfred Cup semi-final against Hibs. What it does for St Mirren remains to be seen. They have their own cup dreams.

They will at least be able to call upon MacPherson, which is something. The red card he collected was the result of two yellows – he is suspended for the next league match rather than next Sunday’s cup clash with Livingston. However, manager Jim Goodwin did reveal that key midfielder Jake Doyle-Hayes picked up a muscle injury and will miss the big day at Hampden.

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The visitors should at least take some solace from a bright reaction to going down to ten men. While the loss of MacPherson certainly did not aid their chances of taking something from the afternoon, they were probably the better side from then until the end of the game, which is something for St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson to ponder.

The home team looked slightly toothless and lacking in the wide areas though Davidson wasn’t complaining about the end result. It’s a while since St Johnstone have played poorly and won. Indeed, it’s a while since they have won a league game full stop – November 6, in fact.

Goodwin was unhappy on two fronts – he felt there had been a handball by Guy Melamed in the run-up to the game’s only goal while he also contended MacPherson got the ball in the incident that led to the midfielder’s second booking.

Chris Kane put the hosts in front 28 seconds into a much more dynamic second half after a mostly forgettable opening 45 minutes. One detail from that opening half did remain relevant, certainly in referee Steven McLean’s view, was a yellow card shown to MacPherson for a foul on Melamed on the stroke of half-time.

A foolish lunge on the same player ten minutes after the re-start saw MacPherson depart the proceedings after a slight delay, when it seemed McLean might spare him.

St Johnstone enjoyed marginally the better of the first half – which is the first and last time anyone will use the word “enjoyed” in relation to that opening 45 minutes. Blame could not even be attached to the conditions. As cold as it was, the pitch looked better than it had any right to at this time of year. Things improved markedly after the break – almost immediately so indeed.

A fine pass from Melamed – after the ball seemed to hit his hand following a Joe Shaughnessy header – sent Kane in and Jak Alnwick made a brave stop from the striker’s first attempt to score. The ‘keeper very nearly saved the next shot as well after Kane was given a second opportunity from the rebound. However, the ball squeezed under Alnwick and retained just enough pace to cross the line before any St Mirren defenders could intervene.

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