Scottish Premiership
St JohnstoneSt Johnstone1HamiltonHamilton Academical0

St Johnstone 1-0 Hamilton Academical

By Brian McLauchlinBBC Scotland at McDiarmid Park

St Johnstone climbed to seventh place in the Scottish Premiership with victory over an error-strewn Hamilton Academical at McDiarmid Park.

Accies' Scott McMann diverted Liam Craig's header into his own net after five minutes - the game's only goal.

Chris Kane, Steven Anderson and Blair Alston went close to doubling the dominant hosts' lead before half-time.

Darian MacKinnon and David Templeton's shots were the only chances of note for Accies, who remain ninth.

Saints overtake Motherwell, who have a game in hand, in the league standings, boosting their slim hopes of finishing the season in the top half of the table.

Accies are five points clear of Partick Thistle in the relegation play-off position having played two games fewer.

The victory was just St Johnstone's second in 12 league outings on home soil, but was more comfortable than the scoreline suggests.

They started in whirlwind fashion against an Accies side that struggled to find any rhythm, cohesion or accuracy to their play, winning two early corners.

Liam Craig heads on Blair Alston's corner and the ball finds the Hamilton Academical net via Scott McMann
Liam Craig met Blair Alston's corner, and the ball found the Hamilton net via Scott McMann

The second, delivered by Alston, was met by club stalwart Craig at the near post, and the ball nestled in the back of the net via Hamilton defender McMann.

Saints looked well capable of inflicting further damage from set-pieces, striker Kane seeing a shot blocked in a packed penalty area following another Alston corner, then defender Anderson dragging his effort wide when a more natural finisher might have hit the target.

Kane flashed a header narrowly over the bar from Alston's quickly-taken free-kick - and it wasn't merely set-plays that were causing Hamilton problems.

Scott Tanser showed tremendous pace and skill to evade the challenge of Dougie Imrie and his ball across goal was met by the advancing Alston. McMann, however, did brilliantly to block the midfielder's effort, denying Saints the second goal their play merited.

Accies boss Martin Canning cut an exasperated figure for much of the first half, and it was no surprise to see the away side's ineffectual strike pairing, Marios Ogboe and Rakish Bingham, withdrawn at the break for Antonio Rojano and Ross Jenkins.

The changes went some way to dragging Hamilton back into the contest, but it took the visitors almost 70 minutes to threaten Alan Mannus in the home goal, with MacKinnon's fizzing half-volley well smothered by the Northern Irishman.

Joe Shaughnessy beats Marios Ogboe to a header
Joe Shaughnessy was a powerful presence in the St Johnstone defence

Templeton's surging runs were a rare source of positivity for Canning's men, and the former Hearts and Rangers attacker teed up Rojan, whose shot was weak, then drove in an effort of his own from the edge of the box which was deflected narrowly wide.

From the resultant corner, however, it was Saints who stole possession and raced downfield, the break culminating in Kane forcing a good save from Woods.

Hamilton continued their desperate pursuit of a late equaliser, but in the end, it was a deserved victory for the Perth side, who sent the majority of the 2,037 supporters inside McDiarmid Park - a season low for St Johnstone - home content.

Post-match reaction:

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright: "Overall it was a good performance and we deserved to win it. We could've been more than one up in the first half and always at 1-0 you're a little bit nervous.

"We get caught at the edge of the box and let MacKinnon in but Alan makes a good save. But I thought we were the better team overall and deserved to win, and probably should've won by more.

Tommy Wright in the St Johnstone technical area
Tommy Wright was pleased with his St Johnstone side's display

"A clean sheet and hopefully that's the start of a run.

"Kane has done extremely well. He looks stronger [after returning from a loan spell at Queen of the South], he always runs the channels well, we know he needs to tidy up his finishing a little bit, but he's an instinctive finisher and someone hopefully that can play a big part in the years to come here."

Hamilton Academical manager Martin Canning: "It wasn't a great game from our point of view, we didn't play well enough.

"I didn't think there was much in the game, we had a couple of chances. Antonio should probably score. We had our chances in the game. Over the piece we probably didn't do quite enough to take something.

"First half was poor, the guys up top didn't hold the ball up at all. We talked about playing into our strikers' feet and letting them take the ball in or flick it on and they did neither.

"So the two of them didn't perform well and we had to change it. I thought second-half we were better but it's a poor goal to concede."

Line-ups

St Johnstone

Formation 4-4-2

  • 1Mannus
  • 5Shaughnessy
  • 15Kerr
  • 6Anderson
  • 3Tanser
  • 4Alston
  • 8DavidsonBooked at 7mins
  • 26Craig
  • 11WilliamsSubstituted forWillockat 72'minutes
  • 25Kane
  • 9MacLean

Substitutes

  • 7Millar
  • 12Clark
  • 17Johnstone
  • 20McClean
  • 22Watson
  • 23Gordon
  • 28Willock

Hamilton

Formation 4-4-2

  • 1Woods
  • 27WantBooked at 56mins
  • 5Tomas
  • 89SarrisBooked at 66minsSubstituted forMillerat 80'minutes
  • 3McMann
  • 7Imrie
  • 18MacKinnon
  • 22Lyon
  • 16Templeton
  • 9BinghamSubstituted forJenkinsat 45'minutes
  • 99OgboeSubstituted forRojanoat 45'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Jenkins
  • 8Miller
  • 10Redmond
  • 12Fulton
  • 15van der Weg
  • 20Rojano
  • 23Hughes
Referee:
Euan Anderson
Attendance:
2,037

Match Stats

Home TeamSt JohnstoneAway TeamHamilton
Possession
Home52%
Away48%
Shots
Home12
Away4
Shots on Target
Home2
Away3
Corners
Home12
Away3
Fouls
Home10
Away17

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, St. Johnstone 1, Hamilton Academical 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, St. Johnstone 1, Hamilton Academical 0.

  3. Post update

    Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Xavier Tomas.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Steven MacLean (St. Johnstone).

  5. Post update

    David Templeton (Hamilton Academical) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  6. Post update

    Attempt missed. Blair Alston (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high following a set piece situation.

  7. Post update

    Liam Craig (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Darian MacKinnon (Hamilton Academical).

  9. Post update

    Matty Willock (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Ross Jenkins (Hamilton Academical).

  11. Substitution

    Substitution, Hamilton Academical. Mikel Miller replaces Georgios Sarris.

  12. Post update

    Attempt missed. Liam Craig (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.

  13. Post update

    Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Dougie Imrie.

  14. Post update

    Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Xavier Tomas.

  15. Post update

    Attempt saved. Christopher Kane (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  16. Post update

    Corner, Hamilton Academical. Conceded by Joe Shaughnessy.

  17. Post update

    Attempt blocked. David Templeton (Hamilton Academical) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  18. Post update

    Joe Shaughnessy (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  19. Post update

    Foul by Ross Jenkins (Hamilton Academical).

  20. Post update

    Foul by Jason Kerr (St. Johnstone).

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