St Johnstone left it late to secure a brilliant Scottish Premiership top six position, a goal from Rangers loanee Glenn Middleton sealing the 1-0 win over Ross County.
The winger appeared from the bench to score a pivotal first goal since arriving from Rangers, Hamilton’s late 1-1 draw with St Mirren meaning it’s an eighth top six spot in 10 years for the Perthshire Saints, Ross County remaining 10th.
St Johnstone penned Ross County in during the first half, with Staggies goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw doing well to deny Ali McCann with a 20-yard effort. touching the ball around the post in what was a goal-bound effort.
Laidlaw was required to be at the rescue for County again with Guy Melamed threading through an excellent ball, finding Chris Kane but the Staggies custodian dismissed any St Johnstone threat.
The visitors rarely troubled St Johnstone but on 65 minutes, an Iain Vigurs free kick found Keith Watson who was free in space to pick out Coll Donaldson, but the defender didn’t do the positive move any justice, sending a shot over.
Callum Davidson’s side continued to question Ross County with a host of low balls troubling the Staggies defence. But the system implemented by John Hughes’ team made it a frustrating afternoon for the home outfit before success finally followed.
St Johnstone opened the scoring with five minutes to go and it was well overdue. Stevie May did well to find Rangers loanee Middleton free in space, who slotted the ball home to end a frustrating spell for the hosts and a deserved victory in the process, top six secured for the second consecutive season. Here are three things we learned from the game.
Leave it late
It was one-way traffic at times in this game with St Johnstone being productive and innovative in their approach, asking Ross County loads of questions but the final product left a lot to be desired.
That was until the 85th minute thanks to Middleton, Davidson’s winter transfer from Rangers based off this contribution alone.
Top six for Saints
St Johnstone got what they wished for at the start of the day which was top six football. This didn’t look being the outcome until late on with Middleton guiding St Johnstone in front alongside the late Hamilton equaliser.
It’s a fantastic achievement for Davidson’s side who have enjoyed a hugely successful debut season under him, backed with the recent League Cup victory. It’s just-reward for the job Davidson is doing McDiarmid Park.
Close for Ross County
The defensive shape Ross County had was fantastic, thwarting the likes of Melamed, May, Middleton and Shaun Rooney for large periods of the match until that winner on 85 minutes. It’s disappointing for Hughes’ men but they know there’s a long way to go in this relegation scrap and a lot of points at stake during the split.
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