St Johnstone ended a three-game winless run in the cinch Premiership as Ali Crawford’s first-half effort was enough for a narrow 1-0 victory over Dundee United at Tannadice.
United had plenty of chances to equalise but were denied time after time by Saints goalkeeper Zander Clark, who produced an inspirational display between the sticks.
St Johnstone have moved up to ninth in the table as a result but the defeat ended the home side’s seven-game unbeaten run in the league.
Before kick-off there was a minute’s applause for the late Rangers manager Walter Smith who also played and coached with distinction at United.
The home side had the first shot on target in the ninth minute but Dylan Levitt’s long-range effort flew straight to stopper Clark, who comfortably gathered the ball.
However, it was St Johnstone who took the lead in the 17th minute when United’s Jeando Fuchs was robbed of possession and Crawford took full advantage, sending a superb curling effort from 20 yards into the bottom corner past the diving Benjamin Siegrist.
The Tangerines struggled to carve out a response but finally had a big chance to equalise in the 29th minute. Levitt swung a corner in from the right with Ryan Edwards sending a powerful header goalward but Clark produced a stunning stop to deny the defender.
The Perth men had a great chance to increase their advantage just two minutes after the restart but Michael O’Halloran’s composure deserted him as he advanced into the United box and his shot flew high and wide.
However, the home side started to build some pressure around the hour mark with Clark producing another great reaction save from an Edwards header before Ian Harkes had a powerful shot blocked.
Shortly after, Nicky Clark found himself with time and space in the Saints box but sent his header over the crossbar when he really should have hit the target.
His namesake between the St Johnstone sticks then made another superb one-handed stop to keep out a header from substitute Peter Pawlett that looked certain to end up in the back of the net.
Saints were having to dig deep to hold onto their lead but as the clock ticked down, United became increasingly desperate to find an equaliser.
And they were denied yet again by that man Clark in the 84th minute with an incredible quickfire double stop from a Pawlett shot and a Clark header.
Just seconds before the final whistle, keeper Clark denied his namesake yet again.