After missing out on a European place last season, St Johnstone are beginning to look like their old selves once again. This win lifted them into fourth place and they have now lost only one of their nine matches this season.
It was a strangely perfunctory performance, however, with manager Tommy Wright’s men being no better than they needed to be to see off the feeble challenge from their hosts. After going two goals to the good, they moved back down the gears, rousing themselves only when Accies threatened to salvage a point during the closing stages.
Even so, Wright expressed his satisfaction with a job well done.
“It’s never easy coming here, although I must say that their pitch played well and it suited us – let’s just hope it stays in that condition,” said the Irishman.
“It was a wee bit slippery at times but we passed the ball well on it and, if I’m being honest, we were a wee bit wasteful at times when you look at the great positions we got into.
“We should have been more than two goals ahead before they scored and, at 2-1, we should have extended our lead but we saw the game out comfortably enough and I don’t recall Zander Clark having a save to make.”
Hamilton started brightly and, in the 15th minute, Rakish Bingham bundled Jason Kerr off the ball before testing Clark’s reflexes with a low drive. That early promise faded, however, and the visitors had begun to dictate the tempo of the play by the time they made the breakthrough eight minutes before half-time.
Matthew Kennedy’s shot from the edge of the penalty area was going nowhere but spun off a defender, allowing David McMillan to throw himself at the ball.
Gary Woods acrobatically kept his header out but, unfortunately for the goalkeeper, Blair Alston was left with a simple finish from a few yards out from the rebound.
Bingham briefly gave the home side hope when he stroked home from 15 yards after being set up by Scott Boyd but the goal merely served as a wake-up call for Saints, who regrouped and should have scored again.
Woods left his 18-yard box to reach Chris Kane’s through ball ahead of Alston but his clearance went straight to Kane, who shot wide of the unguarded net from 25 yards. Unfortunately for the long-suffering home support, that was that in terms of goalmouth incidents and they remain third-bottom, ahead of St Mirren on goal difference.
That, though, did not provide solace for manager Martin Canning.
“It was really poor defending for both goals,” he said. “It should have been 0-0 at half-time but we were punished for our mistakes. The second goal was a case of switching off and ball-watching and the first one was a comedy of errors.
“Take nothing away from St Johnstone, who did well, but I’ve told our players that we beat ourselves today; we shot ourselves in the foot.”