Caley too strong for Saints

St Johnstone had enjoyed the better of the opening half hour with
Alan Maybury hitting the post and Andy Jackson seeing a shot
cleared off the line, but Chris Innes headed the visitors in front
in the 36th minute. Caley Thistle never looked in danger after
Doran struck in the 57th minute and Richie Foran soon added a third
as the Highlanders moved away from Hibernian. Saints have now lost
five games in succession without scoring and, although they endured
some bad luck in front of goal in the opening half, they showed a
distinct lack of belief when trying to get back into the game. The
defeat added to the gloom following the Scottish Cup semi-final
defeat by Motherwell by the same scoreline, for which goalkeeper
Peter Enckelman was the major casualty as St Johnstone made six
changes. Most of them were necessary though with centre-backs
Michael Duberry and Steven Anderson suspended and both Collin
Samuel and Jody Morris injured. Inverness made three enforced
changes with Innes, Grant Munro and Shane Sutherland coming in for
suspended pair Stuart Duff and Ross Tokely plus Jonny Hayes, who
has undergone ankle surgery. Jackson started up front alongside
Stevie May for Saints and took just 60 seconds to get a good effort
on target from the edge of the box but Ryan Esson got down well to
push the ball wide. Murray Davidson soon threatened for the hosts
with a deflected strike from 20 yards that went just wide. The home
side failed to make the most of several set-pieces and Inverness
had a half chance when Foran threw himself at Doran’s cross but
could not turn it on target. Maybury came very close with a
powerful first-time volley from 25 yards which bounced off the
inside of the post but Inverness threatened after Graham Gartland
was booked for pulling back Foran as the Irishman broke. Adam
Rooney just failed to connect from close range after Innes headed
on Doran’s long free-kick and Graeme Smith then saved Chris Hogg’s
header. The hosts came closer following Danny Grainger’s deep
corner. Gartland headed the ball back and Jackson hooked it past
Esson but Foran cleared off the line. However, they fell behind
when Innes ran on to Sutherland’s cross following a half-cleared
corner before heading unchallenged into the roof of the net from 12
yards. Chris Millar curled over from a tight angle and Saints
should have levelled before the break when Davidson flicked a long
ball past the visiting defence before running clear, but the
midfielder slipped the ball wide with only Esson to beat. Esson
saved from Jackson, Jordan Robertson – who was on for May – and
Liam Craig within five minutes of the restart but Saints quickly
lost their momentum and Doran scored a brilliant second. Maybury
failed to control a long ball to give the Irish winger the chance
to run at him and curl the ball into the far top corner from just
inside the box. Inverness comfortably defended their lead, which
Foran extended in the 70th minute when he collected Sutherland’s
header just inside the box and slid the ball past Smith from 14
yards despite having defenders in his way. St Johnstone have scored
just 18 goals in the SPL this season and they looked devoid of
confidence as they sought a way back into the game, although
Jackson curled just wide from 18 yards. Rooney could have made the
scoreline even more emphatic when he shot over from a decent
position.