The Sunday Post (Inverness)
It’s lights out for the Dons after Saints’ stunning 1-2
Aberdeen have been striving for consistency all season.
They were given a lesson in its merits yesterday by St Johnstone, whose incredible run of form continued with a perfectly crafted win.
The Dons enjoyed the bulk of possession at Pittodrie, but struggled to slice through Saints’ rigid rearguard.
Then the Perth side pounced.
Two goals in four minutes from Joe Shaughnessy and Blair Alston knocked the stuffing out of their hosts, who looked completely lost in the aftermath. Tommy Wright’s men are now unbeaten in eight games – a run that has included seven clean sheets.
And Perth chairman Steve Brown, having handed Wright a new, four-year contract just 24 hours earlier, must have felt a particular sense of satisfaction with how his afternoon panned out.
Aberdeen finished their midweek victory at Ibrox with their backs to the wall.
But it was Saints star Ross Callachan’s back that saved Aberdeen’s skin just three minutes into yesterday’s clash.
With the Dons rearguard reeling, Scott Tanser found himself with time and space on the left flank to shape a perfect cross for the late-arriving Callachan.
The midfielder was completely unmarked and should have buried a header past Joe Lewis.
Instead, his leap was awkward and he managed only to nudge a bizarre effort wide with his back. Having been caught cold, Aberdeen soon warmed up.
Former Saints hero Stevie May was slipped in on goal with 10 minutes on the clock, but slid his effort across the face of goal from a tight angle.
Graeme Shinnie was next to try his luck as Aberdeen tightened their grip on the game, firing a daisy-cutter wide of the post from the edge of the box.
Saints were mostly pegged back – but their trademark organisation served them well. And, when they broke, Tommy Wright’s side always looked dangerous.
Matty Kennedy saw a rasping half-volley from 10 yards superbly tipped over by Lewis. But the Dons kept plugging away in the face of an increasingly-physical approach from their visitors.
Max Lowe skipped past the static David Wotherspoon and flashed a ball across the face of Zander Clark’s goal eight minutes before the break, but there were no takers.
Then, on the stroke of half-time, Scott Mckenna’s header from May’s corner looked to be goal-bound before Clark swiped it clear at the last second.
The home fans claimed for a penalty two minutes into the second half when Lewis Ferguson hit the deck under pressure from Liam Craig, but referee Don Robertson quickly dismissed the appeal.
Saints were appealing next when Callachan tumbled under Shay Logan’s sliding tackle, but, once again, Robertson wasn’t interested.
Interestingly, having had the benefit of a replay, both Saints and Aberdeen’s official Twitter accounts suggested Callachan may have had a case, which in-turn suggests it must have been an absolute stick-on spot-kick.
Saints pressed on, however, and Wotherspoon almost saw a cross-cum-shot sneak in at Lewis’ back post.
The home fans were growing increasingly frustrated at their side’s inability to cut Saints open.
And the Dons were punished with 20 minutes to go when Shaughnessy leapt unchallenged to head Saints into the lead from Wotherspoon’s inswinging corner, which had been won by substitute Blair Alston.
Just four minutes later, Tommy Wright’s men sent a hefty chunk of Dons punters heading for the exits when Alston was afforded all the time in the world to stride from the halfway line and send a looping, curling effort over Lewis and into the net from 20 yards.
It was a stunning strike to cap off another stunning afternoon for Saints.
For Aberdeen, it provided only frustration.