By Blair McNally
St Johnstone suffered late on against Rangers, the Ibrox side defeating a resilient Saints side 2-1 at McDiarmid Park.
James Tavernier’s strike ten minutes from time was enough to see Rangers go top of the Scottish Premiership after Kemar Roofe’s penalty cancelled out Michael O’Halloran’s opener. Saints were missing ‘seven or eight’ players through injury pre-match according to manager Callum Davidson while Ibrox defender Filip Helander was injured.
One of O’Halloran’s many crosses created the first chance of the game for striker Chris Kane, however, he failed to connect. St Johnstone could have been down to 10 men, 19 year-old Hayden Muller flying high into a challenge with Ryan Kent, escaping with only a yellow.
Shortly after the break, O’Halloran had the home side in front in dramatic fashion. A long ball over the top led to the former Rangers forward beating Helander with pace. Retrieving the ball, he raced past the Ibrox man before smashing emphatically into the top corner.
Celebrations were short-lived as Rangers were awarded the opportunity of an equaliser. Ryan Kent’s quick feet proved too much for Muller as he clipped the Englishman, forcing referee Willie Collum to point to the spot. Roofe stepped up calmly, dispatching down the middle to bring the score level.
Tavernier was to find a late winner. The Rangers captain picked up the ball well outside the penalty box, and with plenty of room, he looped a good effort over a helpless Zander Clark in the Saints goal. Here are three things we learned.
This performance proved once again that no matter the circumstances, Davidson’s men can compete with the big boys. After losing star men Jason Kerr and Ali McCann on Deadline Day, many counted Saints out ahead of this fixture. Despite defeat, the introduction of various debutants provided hope.
Up against his former team, O’Halloran was head and shoulders above everyone. Evidently keen to prove a point against his old Ibrox employers, the pacey forward caused problems for Rangers all afternoon, ultimately leading to the opener with a terrific solo effort.
A fresh start
St Johnstone proved numerous critics wrong with a performance worthy of at least a draw. The away side weren’t on their A-game and the Saints took full advantage of that, taking the game to them throughout.
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