No one would have predicted in May that Callum Davidson would end the year under pressure as his side dropped to the foot of the Premiership.
The crucial issue which sees St Johnstone supplant Ross County at the bottom of the league is number of goals scored. There can be no denying this has become a serious problem for the Perth side. They have struck just nine times in the league all season.
A late goal by substitute Teddy Jenks put St Johnstone further in the mire. To add to the home team’s gloom, it should not have stood. The on-loan Brighton & Hove Albion player used his arm to control an attempted headed clearance by Liam Gordon but was not about to hang around for Greg Aitken’s whistle, which never came in any event.
The referee either did not see the blatant offence or interpreted it as unintentional. Either explanation is baffling. Even Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass said that although he was yet to see a replay himself, the outraged reaction of the St Johnstone players meant there was a "high probability" it was handball.
Such unarguable misfortune proving so key to the outcome meant the reaction from the home fans was muted at the end.
There is mounting concern, however, and there is understandable dissatisfaction with the fare on offer. There was even a ‘mini protest’ – or so it seemed.
The Fair City Unity stayed behind and addressed their situation using gallows humour. “Relegation, relegation!” they chorused, later moving on to “going down with the Dundee, we’re going down with the Dundee…” They also reaffirmed their love for the club. “We love you Saintees, we do!” But such loyalty is being tested by a series of poor home performances that pre-dates these cup double winning heroics.
A St Johnstone official later delved into the newly stocked trophy room and produced the League and Scottish Cups. They were carried across the pitch to those fans who had remained behind. It emerged that this was a pre-arranged photo shoot. They could have picked a better day for it.
Davidson has plenty of credit in the bank at least. The focus is on chairman Steve Brown and what kind of business he will allow the manager to do in the transfer window.
St Johnstone hope to hand new signing Jacob Butterfield a debut in Wednesday’s trip to face Rangers at Ibrox. The team of 2021 are in severe need of some fresh inspiration as the end of the year nears. Midfielder Butterfield is the first of several new faces promised by Davidson.
There was plenty of evidence to explain why both sides have had their struggles so far this season. This was pre-Christmas fare with very little in the way of trimmings. It did provide some late away day fun for the visitors. Jenks struck with seven minutes left in front of the away stand and fans poured down to greet the goal. Aberdeen are enjoying the breaks just now, perhaps deservedly so after a nightmare run from late summer. St Johnstone quite obviously aren’t.
Chris Kane saw a header bounce back off the post from Ali Crawford’s cross just after the hour mark. Craig Bryson saw a header hacked off the line in the opening half. It’s now just one win in eight outings since St Johnstone recorded a 3-1 win here over Dundee at the start of October. The struggle is real.