St Johnstone 1-0 Inverness CT- Match Report

St Johnstone 1-0 Inverness CT: Match Report - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game as it happened.Graham spot-on for SaintsA controversial second-half penalty from Brian Graham earned St Johnstone a 1-0 victory over 10-man Inverness Caledonian Thistle and stretched their unbeaten run to seven matches.The on-loan Dundee United striker calmly converted from the spot in the 62nd minute after referee Brian Colvin ruled Graham had been brought down by Inverness goalkeeper Dean Brill.The decision infuriated the visitors, whose anger spilled over minutes later when midfielder Ross Draper was shown a straight red card following a clash with Simon Lappin.Inverness were within a whisker of an equaliser when David Raven kissed the outside of the post with a fierce drive but Saints were not to be denied a fifth straight win and a first success against Caley Thistle in their last five matches.Inverness were clearly eager to make an early impression following their surprise, and heavy, 4-0 loss to Partick seven days earlier and mounted an attack straight from the kick-off.Some neat interplay led to Draper being presented with a sight of goal after just 18 seconds but he harmlessly pulled his half-volley a couple of yards wide from the edge of the area.The opening exchanges were largely disappointing, with neither team really able to stamp their authority on proceedings, but it was the visitors who carved out the first meaningful chance after 12 minutes.Aaron Doran fed the overlapping Graeme Shinnie on the left and the Caley Thistle skipper's chipped cross was attacked by Ryan Christie, but the youngster's header slipped just wide of Alan Mannus' right-hand upright.St Johnstone, who were without the influential James McFadden because of a hamstring strain, gradually appeared to gain the upper hand in terms of possession as the half progressed and should have threatened the breakthrough with an opportunity in the 25th minute.Graham outmuscled and outfoxed Draper, but when his cross fell for Lee Croft the winger was wasteful with a shot that flew high over the crossbar.Saints forward Michael O'Halloran, scorer of five goals in his last six matches, could not quite find his range four minutes later as he blasted a shot on the turn high over the target.He then found an incisive foray into the box halted by a sliding challenge from Draper which drew howls for a penalty from the home support but was deemed within the laws of the game by Colvin.Inverness were not without their opportunities, with Christie shooting too straight at Mannus 10 minutes before the interval and Doran's fierce drive being deflected dangerously wide three minutes later.But it was St Johnstone who finished the half the strongest and they twice came close to the opener.In the 42nd minute, a corner eventually fell to Dave Mackay on the left side of the area and his shot on the turn slipped past Brill, only for Shinnie to boot the ball off the line.Two minutes later, Graham slipped a pass through for the breaking O'Halloran and he outstripped Raven but Brill dashed from his line to blocked the forward's effort from the edge of the box.There was more zip about the play at the outset of the second period without either team really threatening to break the deadlock.With 57 minutes gone a heavy touch from Saints midfielder Murray Davidson gave fellow substitute Marley Watkins a sight at goal for Inverness but, although on target, his drive lacked the power to beat Mannus from 20 yards.The match then exploded to life on the hour mark with a controversial opening goal for the home side.Christie was horribly short with a pass back and Graham reached the ball first before tumbling theatrically as Brill advanced.There appeared little contact but, to the visitors' horror, referee Colvin pointed to the spot.After skipper Shinnie had been booked for the strength of the Inverness protests, Graham ignored the arguments to coolly slot the penalty high into the net.Four minutes later, things went from bad to worse for the Highlanders when Draper was sent off.The midfielder claimed he had blocked Simon Lappin with a push but was shown a straight red card for what the St Johnstone players looked to claim was a forearm smash.Spurred on by a sense of injustice, Inverness went within a couple of inches of the equaliser with 18 minutes remaining.Doran spotted the overlapping Raven careering down the right flank but the full-back's powerful effort shaved the outside of the post with Mannus well beaten.Brill pulled off a superb save two minutes later at the other end to deny David Wotherspoon at his near post, and as long as there remained just one goal in it Inverness knew they still had the possibility of rescuing something from their trip south.However, the visitors failed to create another opening as St Johnstone saw out another hard-fought victory

Source : PA

Source: PA