Stalemate for Saints and United

PA Sport
Johnny Russell was unable to spark Dundee United into life
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Johnny Russell was unable to spark Dundee United into life

St Johnstone are still seeking their first win of the season after their Tayside derby with Dundee United ended goalless.

Both sides created opportunities to score in an even first 45 minutes that saw Saints' on-loan Aberdeen winger Peter Pawlett and Stuart Armstrong denied by their opposing goalkeepers.

The second half was poor by comparison and it was no surprise that the stalemate continued right through to the full-time whistle. The result leaves the home side without a win in their last 14 competitive outings.

Dundee United manager Peter Houston was able to name in-demand striker Johnny Russell in his starting line-up after the Tannadice side rebuffed advances from Huddersfield for the 22-year-old and his Scotland Under-21 team-mate Gary Mackay-Steven on Friday.

Mackay-Steven was an absentee for the Perth encounter after undergoing a knee operation that is expected to keep him out of action for up to six weeks, with Stuart Armstrong brought in from the shock 3-1 defeat away to Kilmarnock last weekend.

United were the first to work an attempt on goal after just 90 seconds. Defender Gavin Gunning speared a great ball in to the feet of John Rankin 40 yards out but the midfielder's eventual right-foot shot trundled a couple of feet wide of the target.

Skipper Jon Daly fed strike partner Russell and his lay-off teed up Willo Flood perfectly, but the midfielder's powerful drive whistled just past the post. It was far from one-way traffic in the opening stages, however, with St Johnstone easing their way into the match and looking lively with Gregory Tade and Pawlett eager to impress.

Both keepers were then brought into the action in a two-minute burst. First, Pawlett nutmegged Barry Douglas in the 28th minute to create space on the right side of the box but Radoslaw Cierzniak was equal to the winger's stinging shot and beat it away.

The second period opened in frustrating fashion for both sides as neither managed to gain a stranglehold on possession. Tade lofted one half-chance over the bar on the turn after engineering space 14 yards out.

Rowan Vine then should have done better as Saints mounted a counter-attack that deserved more than his poor low cross. Seconds later Steven Anderson was throwing himself in front of Rankin's drive from the edge of the box, while Cierzniak had to block a low shot from substitute Hasselbaink in the 82nd minute.

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