Match Report - By Steven Mew
Premiership side St Johnstone proved too strong yesterday evening as the Saints swept City aside in the penultimate Betfred Cup group match at McDiarmid Park.
With both sides unable to progress further in the competition, coupled with the balmy conditions – the game had a real air of pre-season about it.
With Luke Watt and Fionn McLeod Kay ruled out through injury, along with Olly Hamilton being ineligable to play against his parent club - City were again short of bodies with Manager Barry Smith listing himself as a substitute. Striker Ross Crawford, however, returned to the squad after being unavailable for the last few matches.
The home side came flying out the traps and came within inches of opening the scoring with just two minutes on the clock when Chris Kane rattled the underside of the bar from O’Halloran’s cutback.
Two minutes later however, the Saints were awarded a penalty following a clumsy foul by McIntosh just inside the box. Full back SCOTT TANSER stepped up and confidently dispatched the penalty into the bottom corner.
Matty Kennedy was at the centre of just about every Saints move, with McMinn denying the winger on three occasions. O’Halloran was next to threaten when his surging run from midfield ended with him striking inches over the bar.
After defending for the best part of half an hour, City did come close when Dougie Hill’s header from a corner was cleared off the line and Knox couldn’t keep his header down from the rebound.
That would come as a warning to the hosts who had dominated proceedings, and they went on to put clear daylight between the sides on 32 minutes when they doubled their advantage. A ball floated to the back post was knocked back across goal by Davidson for CHRIS KANE who made no mistake from a few yards out.
With a few minutes of the first half remaining, City came close when McManus laid the ball off nicely for McCord on the edge of the box and his curling effort was inches away was nestling into the top corner.
Barry Smith made a change at the interval with Paul McManus being replaced by Ross Crawford who was making his competitive debut for the club.
In similar fashion to the first half, St Johnstone started brightly with both Duffy and O’Halloran failing the hit the target with their attempts whilst Scott Reekie had to be alert to head a lobbed effort off the line.
There was some concern for City shortly after the hour mark when Ryan McCord went down injured following a challenge and although he managed to come back on the park for a few minutes, he was unable to continue and was replaced by Lee Duncanson.
The home side added a third goal on 72 minutes. A cross from Ricky Foster on the right was flicked on by Davidson for ex-City loanee CALLUM HENDRY who placed his header beyond the reach of McMinn.
Saints were on easy street and they netted again just two minutes later. The impressive MATTY KENNEDY got the goal that his performance deserved when he played a neat one-two with Danny Swanson before slotting the ball past McMinn at the near post.
Kennedy thought he had his second when he netted from Hendry’s cross however the linesman had already flagged for offside.
As the game approached the closing stages, McMinn did well to push away a stinging effort from range by substitute Ali McCann.
City’s only real effort of note in the second half came in stoppage time when they won a free kick 25 yards from goal however Jamie Reid’s effort sailed harmlessly over.
Next up for City in the final Betfred Cup group match against Montrose at Glebe Park on Saturday.