On this day in 1998 St Johnstone met Celtic in a Premier League match at McDiarmid Park.
Earlier in the Season a Nick Dasovic goal had given Saints a well earned 1 – 0 victory at Parkhead and, despite losing by 7 – 0 to Rangers the previous Sunday, Saints were in 4th position in the League just 3 points behind the green side of the Old Firm.
Manager Sandy Clark was without the suspended Paul Kane and made a number of other changes when he selected the following team that day: – Alan Main, John McQuillan, Gary Bollan, Nick Dasovic, Darren Dods, Allan Kernaghan, Philip Scott, John O’Neil, Roddy Grant, Keith O’Halloran, Miguel Simao. Subs Allan Ferguson, Paddy Connolly, Stuart McCluskey, Kieran McAnespie, Nathan Lowndes.
Saints were clearly fired up for the match and completely dominated the first half. As early as the 4th minute they had a strong penalty claim turned down when Boyd brought down Simao in the box. On 20 minutes Dasovic brought a fine full length diving save from the hoops keeper.
Other than an O’Donnell 30 yarder which had rattled the crossbar Celtic had rarely threatened the home goal.
Grant had spurned a great opportunity before Saints eventually broke the deadlock.
There were 4 minutes of added on time at the end of the first half when Simao edged Saints ahead. The referee awarded a disputed free kick when Riseth was adjudged to have obstructed “Roddy”. McAnespie’s cross was met firstly by Dods and then at the far post by Kernaghan who headed the ball back across goal to the waiting Portugese striker and Miguel fired the ball into the roof of the net from close range. 1 – 0.
Celtic started the second half with the Manager’s half time team talk ringing in their ears and Henrik Larsson equalised on 52 minutes.
At this point many Saints fans would have expected the worst. However, this Saints team had an abundance of both character and commitment gradually re-establishing their midfield dominance. O’Neil being particularly prominent.
What proved to be the winning goal came 12 minutes from time and was something of a gift from the unfortunate Riseth. Instead of clearing the ball when he had time to do so, he decided to pass the ball across his own penalty area. McAnespie was both surprised and delighted to accept the gift as his diving header flew into the net for 2 – 1 Saints.
Kieran would not have known at the time but this was the 300th goal that Saints had scored in Premier League matches dating back to 1975.
A well deserved victory which lifted confidence after the Rangers debacle.