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Shaun Rooney header earns St Johnstone precious point as Dundee edge closer to the drop

Shaun Rooney celebrates his equaliser.
Shaun Rooney celebrates his equaliser.

Dundee edged closer to the drop after Shaun Rooney’s second-half header earned St Johnstone a 1-1 draw at Dens Park.

The point was a precious one for the Perth side as they kept the five-point gap to their Tayside rivals intact with only four matches left to play.

In front of almost 8,000 fans, the Dark Blues stormed into an early lead thanks to Jordan Marshall’s smartly-taken goal.

Saints, though, grew into the contest and more than deserved their second-half equaliser as Rooney nodded in after 68 minutes.

Heat is on

Dens boss Mark McGhee made changes at home in the run up to the contest, going without heating and on a diet – and vowed to go naked next week if his side grabbed victory.

There were no changes in his starting XI, however, as he stuck with the team that drew at Dundee United.

Saints boss Callum Davidson stayed away from any outlandish statements but he did make two changes from the day to forget at Celtic.

Frontman Nadir Ciftci and defender Dan Cleary coming in for Glenn Middleton and James Brown, who both dropped to the bench.

Dee-light

St Johnstone fans in the away end ahead of kick-off.

Both sets of fans were in full voice as the teams emerged from the tunnels, fully aware of what was at stake.

The hosts, though, started the better and got after St Johnstone from the first whistle.

That paid off 10 minutes in as Max Anderson’s good work on the right found Paul McGowan in the box. He turned and fed left-back Marshall to fire coolly into the far corner.

Dundee celebrate Jordan Marshall’s opener against St Johnstone.

It could’ve been 2-0 moments later as Paul McGowan sent an effort goalwards only for Dan Cleary to save the day with a timely block.

Saints were being patient with the ball but their inability to test the Dundee defence brought boos from the away end.

They did, though, take control of the game as the half wore on. A fierce Ciftci strike from 25 yards brought an impressive save from Ian Lawlor before Ali Crawford and Callum Hendry passed up opportunities before the break.

Pressure, pressure

St Johnstone continued to press for an equaliser second half as their hosts sat deep and defended their lead.

They were inches away from making it 1-1 as first Ryan Sweeney and then Cammy Kerr cleared goal-bound efforts within seconds of each other.

Shaun Rooney (centre) rises highest to nod Saints level.

Moments later it was all square as Melker Hallberg’s corner was nodded in by Saints cup goal hero Rooney.

They weren’t content with just one, however, as they continued to press forward, Hendry bringing a good low stop from Lawlor on 71 minutes.

The home side threw on Zak Rudden and Niall McGinn as they searched for the goal that would keep their survival hopes alive.

St Johnstone, though, held out to push their Tayside neighbours one step closer to the Championship.

Teams

Dundee: Lawlor, Kerr, Sweeney, McGhee, Marshall, Byrne (Rudden 75), Adam, Anderson (Mulligan 81), McGowan (McGinn 75), McMullan (McCowan 52), Mullen.

Subs not used: Sharp, Fontaine, McDaid, Elliott, Ibsen Rossi.

St Johnstone: Clark, Cleary (Sang 46), McCart, Gordon, Rooney, Booth, Davidson, Hallberg, Crawford (MacPherson 65), Ciftci (May 81), Hendry.

Subs not used: Parish, Mahon, Brown, Butterfield, Bair, Middleton.

Referee: Bobby Madden

Attendance: 7,937 (2,031 away)

Dundee goalie Adam Legzdins unlikely to return to action this season

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