St Johnstone 2-0 Dundee United

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.

As It Stood

TeamPWDLGDPts
1Celtic3428516689
2Aberdeen3419781764
3Motherwell3419411561
4Dundee Utd34159101554
5Inverness CT3415811553
6St Johnstone3415613951
7Hibernian3481016-1734
8St Mirren349718-1934
9Kilmarnock349619-1733
10Partick Thistle3471215-2033
11Ross County348719-2031
12Hearts348719-2416
View full Scottish Premiership table

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