St Johnstone grabbed three points at the death over 10-man Kilmarnock as they won 2-1 on their Ayrshire travels.
Alex Dyer’s side had the better of the chances during the first half but the saves of Elliot Parish kept the Perthshire Saints level. Aaron Tshibola got the scoring underway in the second half with a tap-in. Moments later Ross Millen had Killie playing with 10 men and Saints punished them, scoring through David Wotherspoon from a Liam Craig lay-off before Michael O’Halloran capitalized on an error to secure a dramatic three points.
Whilst no wins from their opening three games, there was optimism at Kilmarnock heading into their fourth. A very good draw with Celtic and a decent point away to Ross County midweek had them in positive spirits as they entered a match with three points very much in their minds.
St Johnstone have had, through no fault of their own, a stop-start time of it so far, getting a decent point away to Dundee United on opening day before missing a week of action due to Aberdeen’s positive COVID-19 tests. Callum Davidson’s men were coming into the back off this one looking to recover from a 3-0 defeat midweek to Rangers. The game was very even in the opening 15 minutes, Killie holding most of possession.
It needed some quality as things got scrappy in the middle. The first opportunity coming from a mistake, Dicker playing it over to the top for Nicke Kabamba, who was denied a free shot at goal by a superb Liam Gordon tackle as the Killie striker had the goal at his mercy.
Stuart Findlay was next to have a chance from an unorthodox source, blasting a free kick low but Parish did well to parry it aside. Parish again answered St Johnstone’s prayers, denying Burke from close range with a fantastic one-handed save. Broadfoot was next to have a go with a header off the bar and as the first half came to a close, it was clear that Killie were in the ascendency.
Davidson’s men had the first chance of the second half though, again from a set-piece. Scott Tanser forced Danny Rogers into a good save with feet as the away side came close for the first time. A return to a Killie chance was next but again Kabamba was denied, Parish again making a good save.
Tshibola had put so much into the game for Killie and deservedly got a goal for his efforts just after the hour mark. A long ball over the top allowed Mitchell Pinnock to round Parish, Tshibola sliding it into the empty net.
Just two minutes later though things got so much tougher for Killie to hold out for three points. A dodgy touch from Millen had the ball escape him, launching into a lunge that had him given his marching orders. It was a setback for Dyer as his team looked pretty comfortable before that.
St Johnstone had to throw what they had at their 10-man opposition. Hendry had a free header but it went harmlessly wide as Saints came knocking at the door, albeit without much thud. Killie were living dangerously though.
Hendry came close again with a swiveled effort as another chance went begging but one didn’t. A ball into the box wasn’t properly dealt with by the Kilmarnock defence, Aaron McGowan unable to clear before Craig put it on a plate for Wotherspoon as Saints levelled.
O’Halloran got his big moment right at the death, Findlay with an awkward backpass that Rodgers was hesitant to collect, allowing O’Halloran to stick home an important winner. It’s a big first win for Davidson as Dyer is left waiting for his first victory of the season. Here are three things we learned.
Errors cost Killie
Whilst they were disadvantaged with 10 men, Killie shot themselves in the foot during this one. They were so comfortable before the red card and then a couple of lapses in concentration cost them.
The red card was avoidable, they couldn’t clear their lines for the first goal and a second was cause by a poor backpass and goalkeeper hesitation. For a team usually solid at the back, they will be disappointed with the manner of the goals they conceded.
Red changes it
Kilmarnock were in the driving seat as Tshibola made it 1-0. They were in the ascendency before Millen got himself a red and the controls soon fell kindly in Davidson’s lap. His side managed to take their numerical advantage.
They pinned Killie back as the home side tired, getting their equalizer and then sucker punch winner. Dyer will be frustrated as it looked for large spells in the first hour that Kilmarnock would get a first win, but the red card changed the dynamic of this one.
Saints show resilience
At 59 minutes St Johnstone would have bitten your hand off for a point as Kilmarnock were in full control, but after a relentless last half hour of dominance, they did superbly well to claim a win.
With one win in nine games against Kilmarnock before this match, St Johnstone may have been content with a point prior to this game. After an average first hour, they seized upon the initiative and Davidson will be thrilled with the victory.