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Friday, 8 February, 2002, 11:50 GMT
Dundee edge out Saints
Fabian Caballero and Paul Hartley challenge
Dundee 1-0 St Johnstone

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A deflected shot from former Real Madrid man Kiko Torres was enough to give Dundee maximum points against struggling St Johnstone at Dens Park.

A dull match saw both teams struggle to play good football on a heavy pitch with high winds also making life difficult.

The Saints gave another spirited performance but lacked invention in the final third of the pitch.

The Perth side remain stranded at the foot of the table, 11 points behind Hibernian.

With Dundee manager Ivano Bonetti in Italy getting married, team selection was in the hands of his assistant and brother, Dario, who made three changes from the side that lost out to Partick Thistle in the Scottish Cup on Wednesday.

The injured Beto Carranza dropped out along with Steven Milne and Khaled Kemas who both started on the bench.

In came youngster Mark Robertson, Fabian Caballero and the club's top scorer Juan Sara.

Saints manager Billy Stark welcomed Nick Dasovic back from Gold Cup duty with Canada but the midfielder could only make the bench.

The home side came close to opening the scoring in the first minute when Gavin Rae's powerful header from a Temuri Ketsbaia corner had Saints goalkeeper Alan Miller diving to his left to pull off a good save.

Moments later, Dundee goalkeeper Julian Speroni had to be quick off his line to block at the feet of Paul Kane as the midfielder shaped to slot home from 10 yards out.

A turgid game saw a glimmer of excitement in the 23rd minute when Dundee's Fan Zhiyi gave the fans something to shout about when he stepped up to hammer a 30-yard drive which beat Miller but cannoned off the post and away to safety.

On the half-hour mark, Dundee had a lucky escape when Martin Maher's shot was deflected onto the crossbar and, moments later, Sammy Youssouf came close with a header which landed on top of the net.

In the 35th minute, Caballero was substituted for Steven Milne and with no sign of an injury and the Argentine looked unhappy as he trudged to the dressing room.

Dundee took the lead in the 41st minute after Torres set Rae up on the left-hand side and when the ball came back inside the Spanaird shot from 25 yards and, with the aid of a deflection, the ball flew past Miller.

Ketsbaia tried his luck with a drive a minute before the break, forcing Miller into another good save at his right-hand post.

At the interval, Saints boss Stark introduced the experienced Graeme Jones for the disappointing Keigan Parker.

However, the home side made the brighter start to the second half and Ketsbaia rattled the bar with a 30-yard shot.

Grant Murray and substitute Willie Falconer, on for Youssouf, both had headers for Saints which failed to trouble keeper Speroni and this was as close as the struggling bottom club came.

Saints continued to battle hard but found Dundee disciplined and organized, as keen to hold on to their lead as add to it.


Dundee: Speroni, MacKay, Zhiyi, Del Rio, Smith, Robertson, Rae, Torres, Ketsbaia, Caballero (Milne 36), Sara (Artero 67).

Subs Not Used: Langfield, Garrido, Kemes.

St Johnstone: Miller, Murray, Weir, Dods, Lovenkrands, Maher, Lynch, Kane, Hartley, Parker (Jones 45), Youssouf (Falconer 83).

Subs Not Used: Cuthbert, McCluskey, Dasovic.

Booked: Parker.

Attendance: 6,344

Referee: I Fyfe

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Scotland's Chick Young
"There was alot of good football"
St Johnstone boss Billy Stark
"We were more adventurous today"
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