St Johnstone striker Nadir Ciftci limped off in the opening stagesSt Johnstone are showing “definite signs” of recovery, says manager Callum Davidson, after halting their 10-game losing run in a stalemate with Scottish Premiership relegation rivals Dundee.
Both sides struggled to prise chances from a dour derby that maintains Dundee’s two-point lead at the bottom.
The hosts – the better side – gained a first point in nine league outings.
Dundee, who had a Charlie Adam drive cleared off the line late on, end a run of six straight top-flight defeats.
Podcast: Dramatic night of Premiership actionReaction & as it happened”I’m not sure about easing the pressure, but it’s a start,” said Davidson. “I told the players what I wanted and they delivered, apart from winning the game.
“For 80 minutes we put a real good show in. I’ll take that positive and I need it every week from them.”
Both clubs gain ground in the survival battle, with Ross County – now four points above second-bottom Dundee – and Livingston each losing.
With so much at stake, the importance of this game understandably was not matched by the spectacle.
St Johnstone were reeling from a humiliating Scottish Cup loss to fourth-tier Kelty Hearts that piled more pressure on manager Callum Davidson amid a wretched losing streak.
Davidson’s side need all the help they can get to improve a scoring record – 11 goals in 22 league games – that is by far the worst in the division.
But they lost striker Nadir Cifcti, on just his third appearance, to a hamstring injury early on, with Chris Kane taking over.
Fellow striker Callum Hendry, recalled from his loan spell at Kilmarnock, toiled away manfully and threatened a second-half breakthrough.
He barrelled in from the left, sold Liam Fontaine a dummy, and got a low shot away that was blocked by the legs of Dundee keeper Adam Legzdins. It was a rare moment of attacking excitement from either side.
Home defender Jamie McCart sent a header into the arms of Legzdins in the opening stages, while Zander Clark gathered a Max Anderson effort at the other end.
Niall McGinn was pitched in for his Dundee debut shortly after the interval as James McPake sought some attacking impetus. Leigh Griffiths almost provided it, with his effort parried away by Clark at the near post.
Murray Davidson dragged wide for St Johstone, but the visitors finished the stronger and Adam drove down the left and drilled across goal, with Jamie McCart on hand to make a crucial intervention on the line.
Man of the match – Cammy MacPhersonThe St Johnstone midfielder was full of industry and tried to get his side on the front footWhat did we learn?St Johnstone’s revival has to start somewhere and Davidson will believe this battling point can be the launchpad for a rise to survival.
His side showed the defensive diligence that was the foundation of their double cup success last season, but a lack of attacking quality continues to be a glaring problem. On that front, Davidson will be anxiously hope for positive news on Ciftci’s injury.
Dundee were dreadful for much of the opening hour but, similar to the hosts, can take the positive of stopping an alarming run of defeats.
Adam jolted the visitors to life following his introduction off the bench, while McGinn and fellow new signing Jay Chapman will also be pushing for a start at the weekend.
What did they say?St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson: “Nadir is a big player and that’s what’s happened this season. It didn’t look good when he was walking.
“I’ve probably torn my hamstring 12 times in my career and that was about four to six weeks, but that’s just me. Fingers crossed it won’t be too long.”
Dundee manager James McPake: “We had a few moments of quality and another night could have won.
“But there wasn’t much in the game and we’ve shown commitment. People were right to question that last week, but tonight it was there and we were just unfortunate that we couldn’t convert a chance.”
What’s next?St Johnstone are in Premiership action away to Aberdeen on Saturday (15:00 GMT), while Dundee host St Mirren at the same time.
Player of the match
with an average of 7.25
St JohnstoneSquad number18Player nameMacPherson
Squad number6Player nameGordon
Squad number22Player nameHendry
Squad number24Player nameBooth
Squad number5Player nameCleary
Squad number2Player nameBrown
Squad number34Player nameButterfield
Squad number8Player nameDavidson
Squad number1Player nameClark
Squad number4Player nameMcCart
Squad number23Player nameÇiftçi
Squad number9Player nameKane
Squad number7Player nameMay
DundeeSquad number77Player nameMcGinn
Squad number2Player nameKerr
Squad number17Player nameMcCowan
Squad number18Player nameMcMullan
Squad number8Player nameByrne
Squad number5Player nameSweeney
Squad number24Player nameAnderson
Squad number26Player nameAdam
Squad number1Player nameLegzdins
Squad number10Player nameMcGowan
Squad number4Player nameFontaine
Squad number7Player nameJakubiak
Squad number16Player nameElliott
Squad number29Player nameGriffiths
Line-upsSt JohnstoneFormation 3-5-2
1Clark5Cleary6GordonBooked at 65mins4McCart2Brown8Davidson34Butterfield18MacPherson24Booth23ÇiftçiSubstituted forKaneat 10’minutes22HendrySubstituted forMayat 85’minutesSubstitutes3Gallacher7May9Kane12Parish14Middleton15Gilmour16Mahon21Crawford26CraigDundeeFormation 4-2-3-1
1Legzdins16Elliott4Fontaine5Sweeney2KerrBooked at 76mins24Anderson8Byrne18McMullan10McGowanSubstituted forAdamat 51’minutes17McCowanSubstituted forMcGinnat 51’minutes29GriffithsSubstituted forJakubiakat 82’minutesSubstitutes7Jakubiak11McDaid12Chapman15Mulligan19Robertson21Lawlor26Adam30Sharp77McGinnReferee:Bobby Madden
Live TextMatch ends, St. Johnstone 0, Dundee 0.
Second Half ends, St. Johnstone 0, Dundee 0.
Foul by Christopher Kane (St. Johnstone).
Cammy Kerr (Dundee) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Alex Jakubiak (Dundee) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Niall McGinn.
Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Paul McMullan.
Foul by Christopher Kane (St. Johnstone).
Max Anderson (Dundee) wins a free kick on the left wing.
James Brown (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ryan Sweeney (Dundee).
Attempt blocked. Cammy Kerr (Dundee) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Foul by Jacob Butterfield (St. Johnstone).
Cammy Kerr (Dundee) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Daniel Cleary (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Niall McGinn (Dundee).
Substitution, St. Johnstone. Stevie May replaces Callum Hendry.
Christopher Kane (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Christie Elliott (Dundee).
Substitution, Dundee. Alex Jakubiak replaces Leigh Griffiths.
Foul by Callum Hendry (St. Johnstone).