Mind the gap as silky St Johnstone stroll to victory over dismal Dundee

Liam Craig celebrates after making it 2-0 to Saints.
Liam Craig celebrates after making it 2-0 to Saints.

It should be a sobering statistic for Dundee fans that their team sit no fewer than 24 points behind St Johnstone as we head into the new year.

The gap between the two teams looked every bit as wide as that when they met at Dens Park on Saturday.

This was one of those 2-0 wins that should have been 5-0, such was the dominance of the visitors over the hosts.

As if what happened during the game wasn’t worrying enough for the Dark Blues, let’s look at the words uttered post-match by Scott Tanser, who opened the scoring for Saints after just 35 seconds.

After being asked if he had expected a tougher battle in this all-Tayside fixture, Tanser replied: “For where they are in the table, I thought they’d put up more of a fight.

“They need to pick up points but we just dominated.”

It is fair to say the Dark Blues can’t afford to have many more opposition players talking like that over what remains of the season.

The sad thing for Jim McIntyre’s men, though, is that it was fair comment.

At no point did they look like making a game of it.

Dark Blues defender Darren O’Dea, to his credit, didn’t even attempt to put a spin on it.

He said: “Listen, St Johnstone were the better team from first minute till last.

“They won the game, deserved to win the game and could have won it by more.

“That was it.

“You would need to go to every individual player and ask them what they think during a game.

“Me, personally, the longer it stayed 1-0 – and we were lucky it was still 1-0 – I just thought the message was we had gotten away with one.

“We had to improve in the second half but we didn’t and St Johnstone thoroughly deserved to win.

“That’s not good enough on our part.”

There was an incredible start to the game as the Perth men took the lead after just 35 seconds.

It was a disaster for the Dark Blues as Tanser’s cross from the left floated over the head of keeper Jack Hamilton before hitting the back post on its way into the net.

Saints, backed by over 1,800 fans, were well on top and made it 2-0 on 58 minutes.

The goal came from a short corner on the left. David Wotherspoon played the quick ball to Matty Kennedy, who whipped in a beauty of a cross.

The ball flew across goal and was scooped into the net by Liam Craig, with the home defence absolutely sliced open.

It was fitting for Craig that he scored on what was his 362nd appearance for the club, now second in the all-time list behind Steven Anderson.

It all left boss Tommy Wright a happy man.

He said: “I thought we were excellent.

“That was as good a performance as I’ve had from any of my teams.

“We got a bit of luck with the first goal but after that we dominated totally.

“The players were relentless. For 90 minutes they were at it.

“The quality of the play, the energy and the desire to make things happen pleased me.

“At 1-0 you are always concerned about not getting the second goal but once we did the game was over.

“The only thing I can be negative about is that we probably should have had more goals but that’s six away wins now without losing a goal.

“It’s unbelievable stuff really and this performance really was top-class.”

Wright picked out one player for particular praise.

He said: “Matty Kennedy was outstanding. People are lining up to kick him now but he’s a strong boy. He can play left, right or up front so he’s been a great addition to the squad.

“You could say Matty was the jewel in the crown of a day with a lot of top performances.”

Wright, who had a spiky relationship with former Dundee boss Neil McCann, then had a few words for his opposite number McIntyre.

Wright said: “Jim has a big job on his hands and I think he knew that when he took it on.

“He wasn’t left with much, to be fair.

“Jim is the best man Dundee could have to get them out of trouble and I would back him to do that because he’s an experienced manager.”

As for McIntyre himself, he didn’t hide his disappointment and reiterated the need for new faces when the transfer window opens later this week.

The Dens gaffer said: “We were poor and were second best throughout.

“St Johnstone were miles ahead of us and we were lucky it was only two.

“We had four players today who made contact with the St Johnstone boys and that’s not enough.

“If you are seeing players not committed, not seeing that fighting spirit and seeing people disappear – because clearly that is what happened – then it’s very frustrating.

“That tells me a lot about it, you learn every day.

“Everyone knows we have to get players in and this underlines it again.

“The team needs strengthened. It’s as clear as day that’s what has to happen.

“We need to bring a freshness to the squad and the board know that, they’re not daft.

“We need to get the right types now and I am very confident I’ll get the backing we need.

“It’s a sore one to take because we have given stronger performances to our punters lately but that wasn’t good enough.

“The supporters are rightly disappointed with us as a group because it wasn’t good enough.

“But it will get better.”