St Johnstone’s Premiership survival chances are on the rise after a dramatic and late, late comeback win against Motherwell.
So too is the profile of their two-goal hero, Callum Hendry.
Courier Sport picks out four talking points from a match that will live long in the memory.
Callum Hendry heading for St Johnstone folklore
In keeping with most of what has happened to St Johnstone in the last couple of seasons, the Callum Hendry story has a bit of a logic-defying feel about it.
Here is a player twice sent out on loan, both times on the back of getting plenty of first team chances it has to be stressed.
He missed out on four Hampden wins and two trophy lifts and when he returned to Perth for a second time the team he rejoined was on its knees – bottom of the league and riddled with self-doubt.
Some have played a significant role in things improving after the winter break.
The same can be said of those who were already there.
But none of them come close to the sort of season-changing impact Hendry has made.
It really has been truly astonishing.
There aren’t any medals handed out for escaping relegation.
But if Saints do manage to save their top flight status, Hendry’s part in it will go into club folklore along with the effort of his team-mates in winning two cups.
Callum Hendry scored a brilliant stoppage-time winner as St Johnstone came from behind to beat Motherwell 2-1 👏 pic.twitter.com/AyWC01pfc8
— Sky Sports Scotland (@ScotlandSky) March 19, 2022
Remember the passes
The spotlight was, of course, shining brightest on the star man.
But the support role of a couple of unsung characters warrants a mention.
For Hendry’s opening goal, Ali Crawford’s floated diagonal ball which landed in the path of Melker Hallberg without the need for him to break stride was perfectly weighted and not in keeping with the standard of passing football that had preceded it on either side.
And after that, even though he didn’t get the chance to put his creative stamp on the game again, Crawford made sure he closed down his opponents, put himself in the right positions to stop counter-attacks and, as the Opta statistics show, made more tackles than any other Saints player.
Like Crawford, Jacob Butterfield has been a great divider of opinion among the Perth fan base.
A bit like Liam Gordon’s pass for Guy Melamed’s Bergkamp-esque finish against Hamilton last season, Butterfield’s first touch and looping volley ball over the top for Hendry’s van Basten-esque one was integral to a Saints goal of the season story.
The right direction
To indulge the superstitious among us, sticking with the all blue strip clearly hasn’t been the worst idea.
Saints have won two, drawn one and only lost one (narrowly but playing pretty well) while the white shorts have been left in the kit man’s cupboard.
Another, more important, change has happened on McDiarmid Park match-days of late, though.
And it’s the Perth side shooting towards the Ormond Stand in the first half and the North Stand in the second.
— St. Johnstone FC (@StJohnstone) March 19, 2022
Maybe it’s because I’m old enough to remember the siege of Airdrie keeper John Martin’s goal in the greatest game the ground has witnessed but trying to find an equaliser or winner in that direction when the game is heading towards its conclusion just feels right.
There’s the benefit it gives Saints in having the loudest of the home supporters closest to the goal they want to score into.
And there’s the benefit it denies their opponents, with their fans at that end as well.
A glimpse into the future?
The preparation was guided by Callum Davidson, the team selection was made by Callum Davidson and the substitutions were called and timed by Callum Davidson.
This was a Callum Davidson-led win like any other.
But it was also an insight into what life after him may look like.
Whenever Davidson leaves, Steven MacLean will be a strong contender to follow on.
That he struck the right notes in his pre and post-match media duties came as no surprise.
Nor did the fact that the players were receptive to his messages in the dressing room and from the touchline.
With Liam Craig taking a prominent role alongside MacLean, Saints fans may just have been given a glimpse into life after Davidson.