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.