St Johnstone moved to within three points of Dundee United after dominating this dress rehearsal for the Scottish Cup final.

Steven Anderson's first-half header gave the Perth side a lead they would never relinquish.

And Stevie May's opportunist second made sure of a comprehensive victory

United rarely threatened, spurning what few opportunities they had and likely bidding farewell to their hopes of a top-three finish in the process.

But for St Johnstone, it was an ideal way to prepare for the Celtic Park showpiece next month.

The victory was more than merited, too. The hosts were the more roused of the two semi-final victors from the start and continued to play with a verve that United struggled to contain.

Indeed, from the moment Radoslaw Cierzniak pawed desperately at an Anderson volley during the opening exchanges, the Perth side were the more threatening. That Keith Watson had to clear a low David Wotherspoon cross out from under his own crossbar a few minutes later only reinforced that impression.

It came as little surprise, then, when St Johnstone made good on their ascendancy just after the half hour.

Steven Anderson scores

Steven Anderson nods the opener for Saints

United conceded a free-kick in their right-back area and Wotherspoon's delivery invited Anderson to rise unchallenged and nudge a header beyond Cierzniak.

That was the first goal St Johnstone have scored against United this term that did not carry the signature of May, but the striker was a persistent pest.

One fierce lash cannoned back off a post and another grazed the crossbar from the 21-year-old striker.

He would, unsurprisingly, get his fifth goal of the season against United, but had to wait until the final quarter of the game to do it. Wotherspoon released Dave Mackay down the right and, although Watson beat May to the cross initially, the striker reacted sharply to force over the line at the second attempt.

By that stage, it had seemed as if a second goal would elude St Johnstone.

Michael O'Halloran and Steven MacLean got in each other's way after Cierzniak flapped at a May cutback, May himself should have done better than lift over the bar after scampering on to a Wotherspoon pass, and the latter rattled a low drive against the inside of a post.

United did not even come that close, with chances scant amid a dreary display. Defensively shaken, overpowered in midfield and ineffective in attack, Jackie McNamara's side were nowhere near their best and rarely looked like disturbing what was a comfortable afternoon for St Johnstone.

Ryan Gauld jabbed straight at Alan Mannus, and the goalkeeper made two further fine saves, first to thwart Gary Mackay-Steven's attempt to lift a delicate lob over him, then from a towering Brian Graham header.

Substitute Ryan Dow enjoyed United's only other openings, twice directing efforts past the target, the first after an outrageous piece of Mackay-Steven trickery.

That brought a cheer from the travelling support, but the celebrations were enjoyed only by St Johnstone.

Lineup, Bookings (1) & Substitutions (5)

St Johnstone

  • 01 Mannus
  • 02 Mackay
  • 24 Easton
  • 12 Dunne
  • 06 Anderson Booked
  • 05 Wright
  • 10 Wotherspoon (Thomson - 89' )
  • 04 Cregg
  • 17 May (Miller - 85' )
  • 09 MacLean
  • 29 O'Halloran (Hasselbaink - 77' )

Substitutes

  • 11 Hasselbaink
  • 15 Banks
  • 19 Miller
  • 20 Brown
  • 23 Clancy
  • 25 Iwelumo
  • 44 Thomson

Dundee United

  • 01 Cierzniak
  • 12 Watson
  • 26 Robertson
  • 08 Rankin
  • 05 Gunning
  • 20 Souttar
  • 11 Mackay-Steven (Graham - 83' )
  • 06 Paton
  • 21 Ciftci
  • 19 Gauld (Dow - 61' )
  • 10 Armstrong

Substitutes

  • 02 Dillon
  • 09 Graham
  • 16 Wilson
  • 18 Dow
  • 25 McCallum
  • 27 Gomis
  • 29 El Alagui
Ref: John Beaton
Att: 5,223

Match Stats

Shots

11 8

On target

5 2

Corners

3 6

Fouls

13 14

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, St Johnstone 2, Dundee United 0.

90:00 +2:04 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, St Johnstone 2, Dundee United 0.

90:00 +0:57

Patrick Cregg (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

90:00 +0:57

Foul by Andrew Robertson (Dundee United).

88:47 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, St Johnstone. Craig Thomson replaces David Wotherspoon.

87:04

Hand ball by Steven MacLean (St Johnstone).

86:35

Attempt saved. Brian Graham (Dundee United) header from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal.

84:47 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, St Johnstone. Gary Miller replaces Steve May.

82:08 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Dundee United. Brian Graham replaces Gary Mackay-Steven.

81:41

Steve May (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

81:41

Foul by Keith Watson (Dundee United).

79:52

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Frazer Wright.

79:13 Booking

Booking Steven Anderson (St Johnstone) is shown the yellow card.

79:05

Foul by Steven Anderson (St Johnstone).

79:05

Ryan Dow (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

77:49

Foul by Steve May (St Johnstone).

77:49

Ryan Dow (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

76:26 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, St Johnstone. Nigel Hasselbaink replaces Michael O'Halloran.

75:39 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! St Johnstone 2, Dundee United 0. Steve May (St Johnstone) right footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by David Mackay.

73:12

Frazer Wright (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

73:12

Foul by Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United).

72:37

Foul by Steven Anderson (St Johnstone).

72:37

Ryan Dow (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

71:13

Attempt missed. Steve May (St Johnstone) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

68:42

Attempt saved. Gavin Gunning (Dundee United) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

68:25

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by David Mackay.

66:00

Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

65:57

Foul by Steven Anderson (St Johnstone).

64:40

David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone) hits the left post with a right footed shot from the centre of the box.

63:15

Attempt missed. Ryan Dow (Dundee United) right footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the left.

62:39

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Steven Anderson.

61:44

Attempt missed. Ryan Dow (Dundee United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

60:07 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Dundee United. Ryan Dow replaces Ryan Gauld.

59:40

James Dunne (St Johnstone) wins a free kick on the left wing.

59:40

Foul by Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United).

57:00

David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

57:00

Foul by Andrew Robertson (Dundee United).

56:01

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Paul Paton.

54:46

Attempt missed. James Dunne (St Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

53:22

Attempt saved. David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

52:39

Frazer Wright (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

52:39

Foul by Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United).

50:01

Hand ball by Steven MacLean (St Johnstone).

49:11

Steve May (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

49:11

Foul by Paul Paton (Dundee United).

48:55

Steven Anderson (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

48:55

Foul by Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United).

46:31

Patrick Cregg (St Johnstone) wins a free kick on the right wing.

46:31

Foul by John Rankin (Dundee United).

45:00

Second Half begins St Johnstone 1, Dundee United 0.

45:00 +0:04 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, St Johnstone 1, Dundee United 0.

42:59

Attempt blocked. Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

41:58

Steve May (St Johnstone) hits the left post with a right footed shot from outside the box.

38:53

Foul by James Dunne (St Johnstone).

38:53

John Rankin (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

37:09

Attempt missed. John Rankin (Dundee United) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

36:42

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Patrick Cregg.

36:05

Foul by James Dunne (St Johnstone).

36:05

Paul Paton (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

35:16

Attempt missed. Steve May (St Johnstone) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

34:26

Foul by Steven MacLean (St Johnstone).

34:26

John Rankin (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

33:40

David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone) wins a free kick on the left wing.

33:40

Foul by Andrew Robertson (Dundee United).

31:50 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! St Johnstone 1, Dundee United 0. Steven Anderson (St Johnstone) from a free kick with a header to the bottom right corner.

31:23

David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

31:23

Foul by Keith Watson (Dundee United).

29:26

Foul by James Dunne (St Johnstone).

29:26

Paul Paton (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

28:48

Steven Anderson (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

28:48

Foul by Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United).

26:33

Foul by David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone).

26:33

Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

21:28

Attempt blocked. Steven Anderson (St Johnstone) header from the centre of the box is blocked.

21:27

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Radoslaw Cierzniak.

20:19

Attempt missed. Gavin Gunning (Dundee United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

19:58

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Steven Anderson.

19:44

Attempt blocked. Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

18:00

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Frazer Wright.

16:35

Foul by James Dunne (St Johnstone).

16:35

Ryan Gauld (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

12:30

Frazer Wright (St Johnstone) wins a free kick on the right wing.

12:30

Foul by Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United).

7:44

Steven MacLean (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

7:44

Foul by John Rankin (Dundee United).

6:21

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Paul Paton.

6:10

Attempt blocked. Steve May (St Johnstone) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.

5:57

Attempt saved. Steven Anderson (St Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

2:12

John Rankin (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

2:12

Foul by Steve May (St Johnstone).

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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