St Johnstone 1-0 Hamilton: Scott McMann own goal handed hosts win
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 28/03/18 10:18pm
Scott McMann's fifth-minute own goal handed St Johnstone a scrappy 1-0 win at home to Hamilton.
Saints kept alive their slim hopes of sneaking into the top six and climbed above Motherwell in the Ladbrokes Premiership after doing just about enough to see off a disappointing Accies.
McMann inadvertently diverted the ball into his own net after just five minutes to give the hosts a lead they never looked like giving up, eventually going on to claim a second win in three matches.
Buoyed by their recent form - a win over Dundee and a point against Hibernian - Saints were quick off the blocks in the opening minutes.
The on-loan George Williams was a lively presence in attack for the hosts after being given a free role by Tommy Wright and it was the attacking midfielder who won the corner down the left that led to the opener.
Blair Alston's whipped delivery was flicked on by Liam Craig and the ball appeared to deflect in off McMann under pressure from Steven MacLean to give Saints an early lead.
Chris Kane almost doubled the lead five minutes later as another Saints corner caused chaos in the Accies defence, the ball eventually dropping to the in-form striker whose poke was cleared off the line by Rakish Bingham.
There was little to separate the two sides after that, with the visitors unable to make any significant impression in the final third in what was a poor first-half performance in which they were lucky not to be further behind.
Two changes at the break from Martin Canning saw the visitors come out with much more intent, but there was little encouragement for the visitors until the final quarter of the match.
With 20 minutes to go, Alan Mannus was finally called into action and he was unconvincing as he came to punch a Dougie Imrie corner and could only find Darian McKinnon on the edge of the box, and the midfielder's well-struck half-volley was saved on the line by a grateful Mannus.
David Templeton, who was unusually quiet, then whipped a free-kick straight at the keeper before seeing a low drive from outside the area deflected wide.
Imrie's near-post header almost caught Mannus out in a manic six-minute spell, before Saints broke down the other end and Kane saw a fierce effort well-saved by Gary Woods.
Hamilton's threat fizzled out in the final 10 minutes, with Saints happy to hang on and pick up another three points, moving them above Motherwell into seventh in the table.