Cup Double Train rolls on for St Johnstone

A first half strike from Guy Melamed was enough for St Johnstone to book their spot in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup after a 1-0 victory over Dundee. Jamie McIntosh reports.

(Photo Credit – St Johnstone FC)

Pre-Match

When the draw for the Scottish Cup third round was made back in January, a “Tayside Derby” was definitely one of the ties that stood out. 

Dundee were fortunate to see off Bonnyrigg Rose in the second round, but they came into this tie on the back of a comeback victory against Dunfermline last weekend. 

Manager James McPake made four changes to the side that started in that 3-2 victory. Charlie Adam, Shaun Byrne, Cammy Kerr and Danny Mullen replaced Osman Sow, Jason Cummings, Paul McGowan and Christie Elliott. 

St Johnstone are looking to complete a cup double having defeated Livingston in February’s Betfred Cup final and they should come into this game fresh and raring to go after the international break. Last time we saw the Perth Saints they secured a top six finish with a   1-0 home win over Ross County. Callum Davidson made just the one change to the side that started at McDiarmid Park a fortnight ago, with Stevie May returning in place of Chris Kane.

The Match

Dundee’s matches have usually featured goals, however there was no such thing in the opening 15 minutes and very little in the way of chances in general. Danny Mullen was playing up top on his own today, meanwhile Stevie May and Guy Melamed were looking to run in behind the Dundee back-line. 

St Johnstone found the opener on the 20-minute mark and it was a typical Saints goal. Stevie May made a brilliant run up the right channel, the pass took Fontaine out the game, May cut the ball back for Melamed, whose effort wasn’t the cleanest, but trickled into the bottom corner to give the visitors the lead. 

There hadn’t been much between the sides so far, but Dundee’s efforts had mainly come from distance with Byrne, Adam and McDaid all firing shots wide of Zander Clark’s goal. 

Referee Craig Napier waved away a St Johnstone penalty claim on the half hour mark when a tangle of legs between Lee Ashcroft and Stevie May saw the forward hit the deck. 

Dundee went even closer from distance ten minutes before the break. Paul McMullan had worked his way in off the right wing, before shifting the ball back on to his right foot and letting fly 25 yards from goal. Clark was beaten, but the crossbar prevented Dundee from drawing level. 

St Johnstone should’ve doubled their lead on the break three minutes before half time. May found Wotherspoon who slipped in Melamed, he tried to take it round Legzdins, but the Dundee stopper denied the striker and kept his side in the cup tie. 

That was the last action in a first half of few chances, McMullan’s long-range effort and Melamed’s chance at the end of the first half were the only clear-cut chances. Melamed’s goal was the difference between the sides after the first 45 though. 

Dundee appeared to have drawn level when McMullan’s cross was dropped by Clark and the ball rolled backwards towards the goal where Danny Mullen was standing, and he tapped it into the empty net. As soon as he did so however the far-side linesman raised his flag and the referee made a signal for offside, in bizarre and slightly confusing circumstances the goal was disallowed. 

Despite Dundee being the side chasing the game Callum Davidson was the first man to turn to his bench, introducing Chris Kane and Craig Bryson in place of Liam Craig and the goalscorer Melamed. 

James McPake did make a change moments later, but it was an enforced one. Lee Ashcroft was unable to continue, and he was replaced by Paul McGowan, as Dundee switched to a back three. Jason Cummings was introduced minutes later in place of Max Anderson as Dundee went in search of the equaliser. 

St Johnstone once again went close with twenty minutes to go, McCann teed up Booth, but the full back’s effort flew high over the bar. 

Dundee desperately needed a goal and when Mullen was wiped out by Clark, Craig Napier had little option but to point to the spot. Clark made amends however, getting down low to his left to thwart Adam’s well struck penalty and keep the visitors in the lead with just over 15 minutes left to play. 

It had been an afternoon to forget for Adam and he was replaced by Jonathan Afolabi with ten minutes to go. 

St Johnstone once again missed a glorious chance to kill off any Dundee resistance, when substitute Glenn Middleton was slipped in on the left-hand side. He dragged his effort wide of the far post though and the visitors lead remained a slender one. 

The missed chances didn’t come back to hurt the visitors who defended their one goal lead with considerable ease after the penalty miss and booked their place in the draw for the fourth round of the Scottish Cup, which will be made tomorrow. 

Post-Match

Dundee manager James McPake explained that he was proud of the way his players performed against Premiership opposition despite the result seeing his side knocked out of the Scottish Cup. 

“I thought to a man, my players were excellent today. They gave everything for the football club and left nothing out on the pitch and I think they’re very unlucky not to be in the next round, but credit to Callum and St Johnstone, they defended very well and that’s why they’re in the hat and we’re not.”

St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson shrugged off claims of a cup double and insisted that he is just happy to be in the next round of the competition. 

“Coming to a place like this, with the players they’ve got, they’re a premier league squad in my opinion, players like Charlie Adam in the middle of the park, we knew it would be a tough game, nice and warm today, which dried the pitch out and made it harder for both teams to play football on, so I’m absolutely delighted to be in the next round.”

League action returns for these two sides next weekend, with St Johnstone hosting Aberdeen in the opening round of split fixtures, meanwhile Dundee host Morton as they continue their playoff quest. 

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