Date: 17th May 2014 at 5:40pm
Written by: Vital Arabs

There was severe disappointment for Dundee United as their Tayside rivals St Johnstone claimed their first major trophy with goals from Steven Anderson and Steven MacLean in the Scottish Cup final at Celtic Park.

A mistake from goalkeeper Radoslaw Cierzniak allowed Anderson to head his side in front on the stroke of half-time and MacLean later settled the issue with six minutes remaining.

In truth the Tangerines were always well below their best but twice desperately unfortunate to hit the woodwork through Ryan Dow and Nadir Ciftci.

Saints’ leading scorer Stevie May cut inside and dragged an early opportunity wide of the near post before Cierzniak spectacularly turned over a James Dunne half-volley. The Polish shot-stopper then grabbed from Frazer Wright at the corner.

United responded with the strangely subdued Gary Mackay-Steven dragging wide after Ciftci knocked down Keith Watson’s free-kick. But the Perth side were still moving the ball better and Michael O’Halloran and David Wotherspoon each saw efforts blocked.

Scottish Under-21 midfielder Stuart Armstrong finally got into the game when slicing beyond the far post after the referee had played the advantage rule.

But United were too often long in their distribution, although a clever back-heel from Dow caused panic in the Saints area until Alan Mannus grabbed.

Dow continued to appear their liveliest forward and his corner was headed wide of the far post by Gavin Gunning before the Tangerines were unlucky not to take the lead just past the half-hour.

A flowing move witnessed the advanced Andrew Robertson producing a great cross and Dow glancing against the inside of the far post – with the ball somehow avoiding Mannus and rolling across the face of goal.

Another decent break involving Mackay-Steven, Dow and Robertson ended with the ball again dropping favourably for Mannus while Wotherspoon cleared behind after Dow helped back Watson’s cross.

Highly-rated recently capped Scottish international Robertson next covered the threat of O’Halloran before heading behind Brian Easton’s delivery.

And it was from the subsequent set-piece that Saints took the lead seconds before the interval, when Cierzniak completely missed Wotherspoon’s corner from the left and Anderson headed in at the far post.

The Tangerines were attacking towards their own supporters in the second-half and Dow was soon tripped just outside the area. But Ciftci’s flighted free-kick came back off the crossbar and Mannus hastily snatched on the line.

Saints believed they had extended their lead when Wotherspoon’s 53rd minute free-kick was headed on by the unmarked Wright and May netted after Cierzniak had blocked his first attempt. However, the free-scoring striker had forced the ball in with his hand and was duly cautioned.

United were lacking any real flow to their game and Ciftci struck a free-kick over after being fouled before Wotherspoon made a superb break in the opposite direction and Cierzniak blocked. Robertson immediately swept forward in reply but his curling effort was turned aside by Mannus.

Manager Jackie McNamara replaced the limping Mackay-Steven with Ryan Gauld and Brian Graham later took over from Paul Paton, In between times, Mannus parried away from the onrushing Dow and Watson hoisted over the loose ball.

Another opportunity for an equaliser arrived with ten minutes remaining when Gunning’s low drive fell perfectly for Graham to scoop wide of the post. Moments later Ciftci, now operating noticeably deeper, cleverly worked an opening but struck inches wide.

However, Saints finally delivered the knockout blow with only six minutes remaining when a fortunate deflection broke for McLean to poke home at the second attempt after Cierzniak had initially blocked.

The Tangerines tried to respond as Dow curled straight at Mannus and then crossed for unchallenged substitute Graham to head wastefully wide from close-range – but it simply wasn’t to be.

St Johnstone: Mannus, Mackay, Wright, Anderson, Easton, Wotherspoon (McDonald 85), Millar, Dunne, O’Halloran (Croft 73), MacLean, May

subs (unused): Cregg, Hasselbaink, Miller, Iwelumo, Banks

Goals: Anderson (45) MacLean (84)

Dundee United: Cierzniak, Watson, Dillon, Gunning, Robertson, Paton (Graham 77), Rankin, Armstrong, Mackay-Steven (Gauld 64), Dow, Ciftci

subs (unused): Wilson, Souttar, Gomis, El Alagui, McCallum

Ref: C. Thomson

Att: 47,345

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