Pars punished by on-song Saints

Smith, making his first start of the season in place of the injured

Paul Gallacher, punched Liam Craig’s corner into his own net in the

36th minute and spilled a shot to allow Francisco Sandaza to score

just after the break. Craig wrapped up the victory before the hour

mark as St Johnstone closed the gap on third-placed Motherwell to

five points. Smith, who was replaced as first-choice goalkeeper

despite helping the Pars to the First Division title, was one of

four changes to the side that lost 4-0 to Hearts last weekend. Paul

Willis came into midfield and Paddy Boyle and Jason Thomson

returned in defence but the Pars never looked like getting back in

the game after the opener as they continue to await their first

home win of the season. St Johnstone came into the game on the back

of three consecutive defeats, all at home, but their away form has

been a different story. Only Hibernian have beaten them on the road

this season and they have now conceded only two goals in their

other nine away games. Saints also had three key players back in

their team with captain Jody Morris and top goalscorer Sandaza

returning from injury lay-offs and Callum Davidson back after

illness ruled him out of last weekend’s defeat by Celtic. The Pars

made a decent start in blustery conditions and it could easily have

been St Johnstone goalkeeper Peter Enckelman who put his team in

trouble. The Finn raced well off his line as Andrew Barrowman ran

on to a Paul Burns pass on the right wing when there appeared

little immediate danger. Enckelman was easily beaten to the ball

but Barrowman could not take advantage of the open goal as he shot

two yards wide from the touchline. The wind was proving a challenge

as both sides struggled to mount meaningful attacks and Willis sent

a ball across the face of goal when his team-mates were calling for

a cutback after the midfielder worked his way into the box from the

right flank. St Johnstone began to push their hosts back but they

still could not carve a chance. Several Liam Craig deliveries did

not fall for a team-mate and Smith got down to hold Sandaza’s shot

after the Spaniard had outmuscled Alex Keddie outside the box. But

St Johnstone were gifted a 36th-minute opener when Smith’s first

game of the season turned into a personal disaster. The former St

Mirren goalkeeper came off his line to punch Craig’s inswinging

corner from the right but the ball spun the wrong way off his fist

and Willis could only help the ball into the roof of the net as he

attempted to clear off the line. Smith made a good save five

minutes later when he stopped Craig’s low, angled drive after the

St Johnstone midfielder had turned a defender to put himself clear

on goal. And the grounded goalkeeper’s luck turned as Sandaza hit

the bar from 10 yards from the rebound. Smith’s day got even worse

seven minutes after the break as he spilled a shot from Marcus

Haber to allow Sandaza to double St Johnstone’s lead. Haber got

reasonable power on his shot from the right channel after taking

Murray Davidson’s pass in his stride but Smith had got his body and

two hands behind the ball and should have held. Instead the ball

spun out and Sandaza was the only man to react, getting in front of

Thomson to slide home from close range. Dunfermline were pushing

more men forward but the game moved further out of sight in the

59th minute. Sandaza beat Thomson to the ball 30 yards out to leave

the home defence exposed and the Spaniard’s disguised pass to Craig

left the midfielder one on one with Smith. This time the

Dunfermline goalkeeper had no chance as Craig lifted the ball over

him into the far corner. Dunfermline brought on Ryan Thomson, Andy

Kirk and Liam Buchanan but an attacking spark failed to materialise

and St Johnstone saw the game out comfortably with Morris rested

for the final 15 minutes.