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Aberdeen 0-2 St Johnstone: Player ratings and star man as Saints produce best performance of the season to stun Dons

Nicky Clark and Benji Kimpioka got the goals.

Nicky Clark scored St Johnstone's opening goal.
Nicky Clark scored St Johnstone's opening goal. Image: SNS.

Good things can happen when you least expect.

After St Johnstone’s worst Premiership performance under Craig Levein came the best.

The Perth side were everything at Pittodrie that they weren’t in Paisley.

A 2-0 win over Aberdeen, thanks to a Nicky Clark penalty and a Benji Kimpioka second half finish, was thoroughly deserved.

And it should be the springboard the McDiarmid Park men need to now make sure they don’t end up in a nail-biting relegation battle in May.

Livingston are up next and this display is the benchmark.

It was a much-changed Saints starting line-up from the weekend, with Ryan McGowan returning from injury and Sven Sprangler, David Keltjens, Kimpioka and DJ Jaiyesimi promoted from the bench.

For Sprangler and Jaiyesimi, it was their first starts since the last game against Aberdeen, over a month ago.

There was also a significant tactical alteration, with Levein deploying a back four.

Kimpioka did a good job of getting Saints up the pitch in the early stages, linking up nicely with Jaiyesimi.

DJ Jaiyesimi. Image: SNS.

It was a pity that on one such occasion it ended up with the latter whipping over an inviting cross from the left that had no takers in the box.

There was a taker when Matt Smith played a superb ball in from the other side on 16 minutes.

Clark was unmarked and onside just outside the six-yard box but rather than attempt a diving header or volley he tried to chest the ball beyond Kelle Roos, only managing to direct it straight at the Aberdeen keeper.

Better team

Saints were the better team for the opening half-hour – purposeful on the ball and disciplined off it.

Dan Phillips gave away a cheap free-kick 25 yards from their goal on 33 minutes, however.

And Jamie McGrath’s sweetly struck set-piece dipped inches over the bar after it took a deflection off a Perth head in the defensive wall.

Just as Aberdeen were making it an even contest, Saints scored the opener shortly before the half-time break.

Smith lofted a high ball to the back post from the left, which McGowan attempted to nod into the danger area.

The hand ball for the penalty. Image: SNS.

Richard Jensen was the man challenging the Saints centre-back in the aerial duel and when the header struck his arm, referee Don Robertson pointed to the spot.

After a long wait, Clark sent Roos the wrong way and tucked away the penalty low to the goalie’s right.

Nicky Clark scores from the penalty spot to make it 1-0. Image: SNS.

After Bojan Miovski came close just before the interval, Aberdeen started the second half strongly.

Saints weren’t sitting in, mind you.

They had a couple of promising counter-attacks and Smith volleyed a shot over the bar at the back post.

Big let-off

It should have been 1-1 on 58 minutes.

A long ball over the top put Leighton Clarkson through on goal but the former Liverpool midfielder shot straight at Dimitar Mitov.

Aberdeen were coming closer and closer to equalising.

And they were nearly gifted a goal by the usually reliable Mitov, who dropped a corner and then needed his captain, Liam Gordon, to come to the rescue by blocking a Miovski shot.

It wasn’t a Dons leveller that arrived next, though.

It was a second for Saints.

Jaiyesimi played a ball through the middle for Kimpioka to chase and when he got there first, his left foot finish was a composed one.

Saints saw out the game comfortably from there to secure only their second away league win of the season.


Saints ratings

Mitov 6.5, McGowan 7.5, Gordon 7.5, Clark 7.5 (Kucheriavyi, 80), Jaiyesimi 8.5 (Carey, 87), Robinson 7, M Smith 7 (C Smith, 90), Sprangler 7, Kimpioka 8 (May, 87), Keltjens 7 (Gallacher, 80), Phillips 7.5. Subs not used – Richards, Considine, K Smith, Franczak.


Saints star man – DJ Jaiyesimi

The on-loan Charlton man was superb in his wide left role.

DJ Jaiyesimi. Image: SNS.

He was a valuable out-ball on several occasions, beating defenders and combining particularly well with Kimpioka – crucially doing so for Saints’ second goal.

This looks like the position to bring out the best in him.

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