It was simple. Avoid defeat and we were officially safe. It looked as if we'd manage that after equalising, then Jim Goodwin got himself sent off and we were up against it. That it took Dundee until 10 minutes from time to get their winner was more down to our defensive luck and their poor finishing rather than anything else. We were a man - and a forward down - by this stage and it was no surprise we didn't really look like getting our second leveller of the afternoon.
I wouldn't say this was down to players thinking we were safe and just phoning things in until their summer holidays as there was plenty of fight. It was an average performance but it looked like being enough to get the result we needed. Instead, things drag on for at least another week. Except, after the events of today, can you really see things being sorted in Edinburgh next Saturday - especially given our record against Hibs? I wouldn't be surprised if things are still dragging on when we play our next home game in three weeks time!
We made two changes to the Saints side from the game against Motherwell a fortnight ago and neither was a surprise. Lewis Guy was rewarded for his goal with a start, while Gary Teale was fit enough to come back into the team. Sander Puri and Dougie Imrie had to make do with a place on the bench. The good news was Paul Dummett hadn't had any toilet door problems and was also available for selection. He'd be part of a defence that would have to shackle lone striker John Baird, with Gary Harkins, Kevin McBride and James McAlister expected to get forward and offer support from midfield.
Baird could have opened the scoring with less than a minute on the clock, a combination of slack play and a good Lewis Toshney pass sending the former Buddie through, but his attempt to go round Samson came to nothing as the goalie managed to nick the ball away with his hands. After that we started to threaten, Teale's teasing cross being just out of reach of Thompson before David van Zanten tried to double his tally for the season when the wind caught his delivery and Steve Simonsen turned it over the bar. A clever low corner to Thompson almost paid off, but his shot was nodded off the line by Matt Lockwood. While all this was going on the Saints support were clapping and chanting for Stewart Gilmour - the eighth minute chosen to symbolise his opposition to the SPL's ridiculous reconstruction plans.
We weren't looking particularly solid at the other end though, Baird shooting wide with the help of a deflection before some comedy cuts saw McAlister play in Toshney, the defender getting a nose bleed as he shot wide when he should perhaps have passed. Dummett showed his toilet troubles were behind him when he got onto the end of Teale's corner but it was straight at the goalie - as was a Kyle Benedictus free-kick. We had a huge let off when Marc McAusland cleared McAlister's shot - although Samson may have had it covered - and McBride's long range effort hit the bar. As we scrambled the ball away it became clear Paul McGowan couldn't go on after kicking the ground while passing, so John McGinn replaced him.
We had a decent penalty shout turned down when Teale found Thompson unmarked from his corner, the issue being how many arms it had hit rather than whether there was a handball, but ref Craig Thomson wasn't having any of it. He was getting the yellow card out after Goodwin went straight through McAlister - the foul being so blatant you could tell it was coming as soon as the Saints skipper began his run! It quickly became apparent he hadn't hit him hard enough as a few minutes later a shocking McAusland header gifted possession to Baird. He found McAlister and he smashed it past Samson to boost Dundee's survival hopes.
We tried our best to stop the visitors enjoying a half-time lead, but Teale's free-kick was always going over before Thompson should perhaps have done better with his effort from the edge of the box - although he may have had a point when he claimed there had been a deflection. There was a half hearted shout for a penalty as the second half began but it was hard to see if there had been any sort of bad tackle or handball following van Zanten's cross. Thankfully we only had to wait a few minutes for our next chance, Teale finding Thompson from a corner and he headed the equaliser past Simonsen.
You're at your most vulnerable when you've conceded a goal apparently and Dundee suddenly got a bit more interested in attacking, Declan Gallagher heading wide from a corner when he should at least have hit the target. To add a bit more width we decided to bring on Graham Carey for Kenny McLean - who had had a poor game - before Dundee replaced Baird with Carl Finnigan. The former Saints trialist was soon bundled to the ground by Goodwin before a wee bit of a dispute between them, the ref deciding against booking them - possibly because he didn't want to give Goodwin his second yellow. We could have been ahead a minute later when an exchange of passes between Carey and Dummett saw Carey cross for McGinn, but the smallest man on the park's header was superbly parried away by Simonsen.
Goodwin was perhaps fortunate to still be on the park so he can have no complaints about finally being sent off following another foul on Finnigan. It was incredibly stupid considering he was walking a tightrope, Mr Thomson even pointing out the booking could have been for persistent fouling rather than the tackle itself. You had to wonder why we hadn't put Lee Mair on to prevent him being dismissed, instead we put him on for Guy when we already down to 10 men. Dundee responded by putting Nicky Riley and Ryan Conroy on for Matt Lockwood and Iain Davidson. They clearly fancied their chances of taking advantage of their numerical advantage and who could blame them? They had a shout for a penalty (although I'm not quite sure what happened") and Gallagher headed a corner wide before Teale was sent through by Carey, only for Simonsen to save his shot relatively easily.
We were struggling as Dundee pressed desperately for a goal, Harkins putting a shot into the side netting before Riley lashed one wide. Dundee then hit the woodwork again, Easton hitting the post this time, before we were able to make a rare break. McGinn did the right thing by passing to Thompson but after working an opening he should have shot, instead of trying to play a pass to Teale who was at the half way line! We were almost immediately punished, Dundee launching another attack and this time coming up trumps, Harkins' cross being headed towards goal by Finnigan, hitting the bar, dropping down and then away. The officials decided it had crossed the line and I couldn't really argue as from where I was it looked in.
We hadn't exactly been attacking before then and there was little chance of us drawing another equaliser, Carey's shot at Simonsen the only thing of note. There was one final chance in stoppage time, Conor Newton brought down by Benedictus as he tried to get away from the defender. He was only booked and Carey completely wasted the free-kick by firing his attempt at a cross straight out the park. It was a complete waste and our final chance of salvaging a point.
The battle to avoid the drop goes on - let's just hope it's not a repeat of two years ago when we wasted a similar chance to put things to bed and instead let them get a little too close for comfort.
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