Jan 4 2013 Perthshire Advertiser
If the Tayside derby was designed to blow away the Ne-erday cobwebs and energise the McDiarmid patrons, it failed dismally in its task.
But midfielder Liam Craig managed to blank off-field uncertainty shrouding his future workplace by calmly rolling home a first half winner which ended a five game run on home turf without a victory.
A derby scalp is always a good way to enter a New Year, even if this one won’t live long in the memory.
Craig’s goal was untidy, in keeping with a tedious game of few chances and precious few moves of consequence.
Both teams looked as if they had overdone the celebrations, with the derby proving more wearisome than wonderful.
For Saints, there was the consolation of a home win to edge back into the top six and the first back to back shut outs of the season.
For Dundee, it was a miserable start to 2013 and the prospect of a rapid return to the First Division seems inevitable.
The Dens Parkers were on a hiding to nothing when they were elevated abruptly to the top division to fill the gap created by Rangers.
Quite simply, they are a First Division side masquerading as SPL material.
Any rare glimpses of class were provided by the home side, although only rarely did they threaten to make veteran keeper Rab Douglas regret extending his career.
The Dens goalie effectively presented Saints with the all-important winner in the 33rd minute and his attackers only once hinted that they might muster an equaliser.
Although defender Declan Gallagher should have exploited another slow start by the Perth outfit, only to completely miss a header in front of goal in the fourth minute.
With Frazer Wright going on to be dominant in central defence, and also clipping the crossbar with a second half header from a Craig corner, keeper Alan Mannus was only worried on one occasion.
Nish had a chance to release a shot but he delayed and Tam Scobbie, a first-half replacement for injured Callum Davidson, arrived out of nowhere to gobble up ground and provide a vital block.
Dafties among the east stand home support let off two smoke bombs and police moved in quickly.
But they weren’t convincing enough to mask the poverty of the on-field action.
The goal which sent the Saints fans home content with the result, after six draws in nine games counting down to the end of 2012, was created by a Gregory Tade cross inside the penalty box.
Defender Gallagher got a touch to divert it towards his keeper. Peter Pawlett, whose loan from Aberdeen has been extended to January 20, leapt towards the ball and did enough to distract the advancing keeper.
It wasn’t a good day for the winger, who was booked again for taking a dive, but this ambitious challenge proved crucial.
When Douglas spilled the ball it sat up perfectly for Craig to roll home his fourth of the season.
Easter Road may well be his next career halt but for now his focus remains on St Johnstone, emulating a Dens derby strike earlier in the season.
Douglas complained at the interval but none of his colleagues had mustered-up a protest at the time of the incident.
Tade sought a penalty, in vain, after being barged off the ball by Gallagher in the 55th minute and around the hour mark the best piece of football in 90-plus minutes saw a swiftly delivered Dave Mackay free-kick fired past the post by Rowan Vine on the turn.
Saints coach Tommy Wright and Dens manager Barry Smith earned themselves a dressing down for a second half tiff.
Full marks for working up in a froth to break the tedium.