17.5 C
London
Thursday, July 7, 2022

St Johnstone 4-0 Inverness CT (agg 6-2): Perth side preserve top-flight status in Scottish Premiership play-off final

Stevie May scored a minute into the second half for St Johnstone

St Johnstone emphatically sealed top-flight football for a 14th successive season against Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Scottish Premiership play-off final.

With the sides tied 2-2 following Friday’s first leg, Stevie May came off the bench to put the hosts in front 51 seconds into the second half.

Cammy MacPherson’s first St Johnstone goal gave Callum Davidson’s side some breathing space before Callum Hendry and Shaun Rooney made sure of victory with identical chips.

Inverness had been the better side in the first half but remain in the Championship for a sixth campaign in a row.

With much for St Johnstone to lose, their play was hurried early on. MacPherson was booked for taking out Kirk Broadfoot and Dan Cleary’s rushed pass back sliced wide by goalkeeper Zander Clark.

Inverness midfielder David Carson followed MacPherson into the book after catching James Brown late as the opening half became ever more scrappy.

Brown nodded clear Wallace Duffy’s dangerous header and a further chance came the visitors’ way when Billy Mckay released Austin Samuels into the box, Clark saving well.

Saints could not find space in behind the Caley Thistle defence as they had in the first leg and a chance that fell Hendry’s way was snuffed out before the break.

Then, the pivotal change. Glenn Middleton was withdrawn injured by at half-time, heralding May’s arrival.

And Saints’ three-time domestic cup winner made his mark on the final with the opening goal, pouncing on the rebound to strike after Melker Hallberg’s header was saved.

The visitors had most of the second half to respond but soon found themselves two down. MacPherson collected Brown’s pass on the edge of the box and his powerful drive took a nick off a defender past Mark Ridgers.

Inverness had to replicate their feat of coming back from two down in the first leg and Samuels tested Clark before Aaron Doran swiped an excellent chance wide.

And Reece McAlear, who scored twice on Friday, found his way to goal blocked by desperate St Johnstone defending.

While the visitors threw players forward, Hendry peeled off to receive Hallberg’s pass and stay onside. The forward had a clear run at goal and lifted the ball past Ridgers.

St Johnstone were not finished there and Rooney, who scored the opening goal of the play-off final, took Cleary’s pass and produced a carbon copy of Hendry’s finish just two minutes later to secure a resounding victory.

Man of the match – Melker Hallberg

Melker Hallberg makes a block for St Johnstone against Inverness
The midfielder (left) made his presence known in both halves of the pitch as St Johnstone battled to victory

What did we learn?

St Johnstone’s season started juggling domestic and European matches following the previous term’s domestic cup double. It has ended with a close shave with relegation.

While a handful of Premiership managers have lost their jobs in recent months, Davidson has emerged as the obvious argument for keeping faith with an incumbent, his animated celebrations at full-time exuding both joy and relief.

The last thing he or anyone else associated with the Perth club will want is another relegation fight next term.

Inverness had defied the odds time and again in their three play-off ties – coming from behind to oust Partick Thistle, beating Arbroath on penalties after having two players sent off and scoring twice to peg back St Johnstone on Friday.

But getting a win at McDiarmid Park proved to be a bridge too far for Billy Dodds’ side.

They will start the next campaign as one of the favourites to win the second tier but will have at least one major obstacle in newly relegated Dundee.

More to follow.

Line-ups

St Johnstone

Formation 3-4-1-2

  • 1Clark
  • 5Cleary
  • 6Gordon
  • 16Mahon
  • 19Rooney
  • 18MacPhersonBooked at 5mins
  • 8Davidson
  • 2Brown
  • 29Hallberg
  • 14MiddletonSubstituted forMayat 45′minutes
  • 22Hendry

Substitutes

  • 7May
  • 11O’Halloran
  • 12Parish
  • 15Gilmour
  • 23Çiftçi
  • 26Craig
  • 27Sang

Inverness CT

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Ridgers
  • 2Duffy
  • 15BroadfootBooked at 71mins
  • 6DevineSubstituted forHardyat 82′minutes
  • 5Deas
  • 8CarsonBooked at 20minsSubstituted forHarperat 74′minutes
  • 4WelshSubstituted forAllardiceat 81′minutes
  • 23McAlear
  • 24Samuels
  • 9Mckay
  • 17ChalmersSubstituted forDoranat 65′minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Harper
  • 10Doran
  • 18Allardice
  • 20Hardy
  • 21MacKay
  • 28Hyde

Live Text

Around the BBC iPlayer bannerAround the BBC iPlayer footer