Scottish Premiership
St Johnstone2Kilmarnock1

St Johnstone 2-1 Kilmarnock: Wotherspoon strike consigns visitors to eight league matches without a win

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Highlights: St Johnstone 2-1 Kilmarnock

David Wotherspoon's late strike earned St Johnstone a Scottish Premiership victory over Kilmarnock to consign Alex Dyer to a fifth straight loss as boss.

Ali McCann slid in the opener after just seven minutes for St Johnstone.

But Chris Burke converted a penalty to level after drawing a foul from Callum Booth, though the contact looked to come outside the box.

And the match looked set for a draw before Wotherspoon's cultured intervention won it for St Johnstone.

Tommy Wright's side move above Ross County into eighth place in the Scottish Premiership, level on points with Kilmarnock who have lost seven straight league matches and are without a Premiership win since 23 November.

Kilmarnock's slide now alarming

Frantic, feisty, agitated - this was a fairly typical Premiership encounter between two of the division's lowest scorers.

Kilmarnock boss Dyer has consistently talked up his side's attitude and performances since he replaced Angelo Alessio, but his record was four league losses from four prior to this match and he knew more than anyone the need for a result to stop the rot.

All does not seem well at St Johnstone either as manager Wright bemoaned a lack of transfer activity this month before the match, and though Matty Kennedy's fast-tracked departure to Aberdeen will free up some funds, his influence is sure to be missed.

Regardless of pre-match blues, St Johnstone started well and the switch to a 3-5-2 formation allowed them to get down the side of Kilmarnock for the opening goal after just seven minutes. Left wing-back Scott Tanser hugged the touchline and whipped in an inch-perfect cross for McCann to slide into the bottom corner.

A goal settled neither side though, which led to an open, if erratic game with precious few chances. Burke's feat of being the heartbeat of Kilmarnock from the right-wing is seriously impressive, especially at 36, and his jinking run forced a trip from Booth and a penalty, which he duly dispatched to level.

Replays, though, showed the foul was outside the box. The fortune buoyed Kilmarnock and Zander Clark had to leap into action to prevent Burke's free-kick, which he won himself, from hitting the top corner, and the St Johnstone goalkeeper also did well to save Dario Del Fabro's header.

But their reliance on Burke is concerning, and their momentum halted after the break as the quality of the game worsened. St Johnstone reverted to a back four but it made little difference to the bitty nature of the match.

New signing Nicke Kabamba registered some nice touches, but overall Kilmarnock stalled in attack.

St Johnstone were not much better, though Callum Hendry made a difference when he came on, but they could at least rely on the quality of Tanser's deliveries, and another pearler created Wotherspoon's winner as Niko Hamalainen could only clear the ball into the midfielder's path.

His response was remarkably composed, as he used the speed of the ball to gently caress it past Jan Koprivec and win the match.

Dyer might continue to big up his team but talk, as they say, is cheap, and Kilmarnock's slide may prove costly.

St Johnstone graphic

Man of the match - David Wotherspoon

BBC Scotland's Tyrone Smith at McDiarmid Park

This was always going to be a tight game, a real battle, the kind of game where cool heads were required - step forward Wotherspoon.

He delivered a composed display from start to finish in the middle of the park, an area where things were often frantic.

He had the vision to pick the important passes at the important times, and his goal - which won the game - was the icing on the cake.

'We're not good enough' - reaction

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright: "Today was about getting back on track and finishing the day level on points with Kilmarnock and I couldn't have asked for any more from the players.

"For the penalty, it's not in the box. He throws himself in. I'm just glad the players were able to put that behind them in the second half."

Kilmarnock manager Alex Dyer: "We're not good enough at the moment. I'm not saying they are not giving 100% but it's 100% of what they've got and, at this time, it's not good enough.

"It's not a quick fix. It's about working hard on the training pitch and trying to get one or two [new players] in."

Line-ups

St Johnstone

  • 1Clark
  • 15Kerr
  • 23Gordon
  • 24Booth
  • 19Holt
  • 7WrightSubstituted forRalstonat 45'minutes
  • 18McCann
  • 10WotherspoonBooked at 23mins
  • 3Tanser
  • 9KaneSubstituted forHendryat 61'minutesBooked at 89mins
  • 14May

Substitutes

  • 2Duffy
  • 11Swanson
  • 12Parish
  • 21Ralston
  • 22Hendry
  • 26Craig
  • 50Northcott

Kilmarnock

  • 24Koprivec
  • 2O'Donnell
  • 26Del FabroBooked at 78mins
  • 17FindlayBooked at 89mins
  • 14Hämäläinen
  • 8Dicker
  • 6Power
  • 29Burke
  • 10KiltieBooked at 90mins
  • 11BunnSubstituted forBrophyat 73'minutes
  • 27Kabamba

Substitutes

  • 5Johnson
  • 9Brophy
  • 12Branescu
  • 15El Makrini
  • 20Wilson
  • 22Millen
  • 25St. Clair
Referee:
Alan Muir
Attendance:
2,609

Match Stats

Home TeamSt JohnstoneAway TeamKilmarnock
Possession
Home54%
Away46%
Shots
Home13
Away8
Shots on Target
Home4
Away3
Corners
Home6
Away3
Fouls
Home13
Away16

Live Text

Match ends, St. Johnstone 2, Kilmarnock 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, St. Johnstone 2, Kilmarnock 1.

Booking

Greg Kiltie (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Anthony Ralston (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Greg Kiltie (Kilmarnock).

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Gary Dicker.

Booking

Stuart Findlay (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card.

Booking

Callum Hendry (St. Johnstone) is shown the yellow card.

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Stuart Findlay.

Goal!

Goal! St. Johnstone 2, Kilmarnock 1. David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner.

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

Jason Kerr (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Greg Kiltie (Kilmarnock).

Booking

Dario Del Fabro (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Callum Hendry (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Dario Del Fabro (Kilmarnock).

Attempt saved. Callum Hendry (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.

Callum Hendry (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Stuart Findlay (Kilmarnock).

Attempt blocked. Stevie May (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Jason Holt.

Callum Hendry (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Stephen O'Donnell (Kilmarnock).

Substitution

Substitution, Kilmarnock. Eamonn Brophy replaces Harry Bunn.

Anthony Ralston (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Gary Dicker (Kilmarnock).

Attempt blocked. Nicke Kabamba (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Harry Bunn with a headed pass.

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Jason Holt.

Hand ball by Callum Hendry (St. Johnstone).

Foul by Jason Holt (St. Johnstone).

Greg Kiltie (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Callum Hendry replaces Christopher Kane.

Attempt missed. Jason Kerr (St. Johnstone) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by David Wotherspoon with a cross following a corner.

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Dario Del Fabro.

Foul by David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone).

Stephen O'Donnell (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone).

Alan Power (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Attempt missed. David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

Anthony Ralston (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Nicke Kabamba (Kilmarnock).

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic22191261144758
2Rangers20172154114353
3Motherwell2313283427741
4Aberdeen2210663027336
5Livingston238783531431
6Hibernian237883137-629
7Kilmarnock2365121929-1023
8St Johnstone215881836-1823
9Ross County2257102245-2322
10St Mirren2254131730-1319
11Hamilton2346132340-1718
12Hearts2228121835-1714
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