Saints and Terrors in stalemate

St Johnstone and Dundee United fought out a goalless stalemate in a Scottish Premier League Tayside derby that could have gone either way.

Last Updated: 22/02/11 at 22:30

Duberry: In action against Dundee United

Duberry: In action against Dundee United

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With Saints keeper Peter Enckelman denying United's Johnny Russell with the only real chance of a poor first half on Tuesday night, the match burst to life in a vastly-improved second period that might have seen either team snatch the victory.

Midfielder Murray Davidson was denied once by United keeper Dusan Pernis and watched agonisingly as another volley slipped narrowly past, whilst David Goodwillie brought out a great save from Enckelman following a meandering run.

However, despite a frenetic finale to a see-saw 90 minutes, both teams had to settle for a point in a 0-0 draw.

St Johnstone were dealt a blow in the build-up to the match when striker Sam Parkin was ruled out for the rest of the season with a fractured ankle sustained in training on Tuesday.

He was one of three changes manager Derek McInnes made to his starting line-up to face Dundee United as he sought an answer to his team's surprisingly lacklustre display in going down 2-0 to Inverness at the weekend.

However, it was United who were the first to threaten with only three minutes on the clock as both teams felt their way slowly into the match.

Goodwillie's intelligent back-heel on the left flank found Craig Conway, restored after a knock, in support but his inswinging cross was just out of the reach of David Robertson and Russell and slipped agonisingly wide of the far post.

At the other end, Collin Samuel flashed a shot across the six-yard box but, playing as the only striker, there was no-one on hand to take advantage.

It did serve to give Saints heart as, on a heavily-sanded pitch, they denied their visitors possession with a compact five-man midfield.

Yet, the Perth men had Enckelman to thank for maintaining parity with a magnificent save in the 20th minute.

David Robertson beat the offside trap wide on the right to latch onto Paul Dixon's crossfield pass and his header would have been bundled in from six yards by Russell had Enckelman not dived acrobatically to his left to divert the youngster's effort round his left-hand post.

The scrappy play continued until half-time, with no-one able to take a hold of the game in a congested middle third of the pitch.

But United began the second period on the front foot and won a corner within seconds of the restart.

Keeping up the pressure, full-back Keith Watson had 25-yard drive deflected over and Sean Dillon headed over from Conway's resultant corner.

The flurry of activity around the home goal sparked the match to life and this time it was Tannadice keeper Pernis who was responsible for keeping the score-line blank.

Davidson sent a powerful volley through a forest of legs but Pernis got down brilliantly at his left-hand post to turn the effort round for a corner.

As play continued to rage from end to end, United skipper Scott Robertson somehow managed to divert Liam Craig's net-bound shot over from close in before Goodwillie, booked moments before for a kick at Steven Anderson, brought out a smart save from Enckelman on the break.

Davidson again threatened to break the deadlock with 61 minutes gone but his volley from David Mackay's right-wing cross drifted inches wide of Pernis' right-hand post.

Russell then tried his luck from range but his 30-yard drive bounced safely into the outstretched arms of Enckelman, who had to watch carefully on the tricky surface.

Neither team looked satisfied to settle for a point in the closing stages and it was United who looked most likely as the clock ticked down.

And they were left to rue substitute Danny Swanson's failure to pick out Russell during an injury-time break that was followed by Enckelman gleefully grabbing Swanson's 25-yard drive.

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