St Johnstone 4 - 0 Stirling Albion: Saints take Group B

There was no final day drama at McDiarmid Park as St Johnstone emerged as winners of Group B in the Betfred Cup with a perfunctory win over League 2 Stirling Albion.

David Wotherspoon, left, celebrates his 90th-minute goal with team-mate Steven MacLean. Photograph: Graeme Hart
David Wotherspoon, left, celebrates his 90th-minute goal with team-mate Steven MacLean. Photograph: Graeme Hart

Despite the visitors from down the A9 having a theoretical chance of grabbing top spot themselves, the contest was as good as over as soon as Steven Anderson put the Perth men ahead with only four minutes on the clock.

What intrigue there was to be had almost immediately switched to whether a combination of results elsewhere and a glut of goals for Tommy Wright’s side would swing matters sufficiently to earn them a seeding as one of the best four group winners.

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Even this turned out to be something of a damp squib, however, as it became apparent that fortunes were not going their way in the other decisive games.

With that rapid-fire start given to them by Anderson, it initially looked as though Saints were in the mood for going for broke.

The traffic pretty much was heading down a one-way street for much of the first half with Steven MacLean then drilling the ball past Chris Smith on the tenth minute only for his effort to be ruled offside.

Eventually, though, the veteran striker got his name on the scoresheet as another Craig corner found the Albion defence wanting and he comfortably headed the ball home.

Having previously notched up victories over Falkirk and Elgin, the visitors had shown they did not lack a goal threat and they came close to clawing one back with a sublimely struck 30-yard volley from Bryan Hodge that just flew over the bar.

However, once again they succumbed to an aerial threat on the cusp of half-time, with Craig this time the scorer and MacLean the provider.

Grateful for the opportunity to regroup at the interval, Stirling played with more cohesion in the second half without exactly creating much in the way of openings.

They did pass up one excellent opportunity as Blair Henderson sent Darren Smith clear in the box but he stubbed his shot wide.

As the game progressed, however, the Premiership side predictably became ever more dominant but, despite a lot of studied probing, they struggled to add to their advantage.

Graham Cummins misdirected a couple of headers while unmarked in the six-yard box and had another ruled out for offside after Michael Coulson’s effort had been palmed away by Smith.

MacLean continued the pattern of profligacy, heading over with the Albion goal looming in front of him.

A hush fell over the ground after Smith, who had pulled off some decent saves, seemed to collide with a goalpost after gathering a corner. After a lengthy delay, he was stretchered off the field and taken to hospital in ambulance after 
full-time with his head in a brace.

Cammy Binnie eventually took over in goal for the visitors, and right at the end he was beaten by a fine curling finish by David Wotherspoon for Saint’s fourth of the afternoon.