St Johnstone v Dundee Utd – Scottish FA Cup Final Preview
Jaymes Monte previews the Scottish FA Cup Final as Dundee United take on St Johntone at Celtic Park on Saturday at 3pm.
St Johnstone are without a win in four games (2D, 2L) and ended their Scottish Premiership campaign with a 2-0 defeat away at Inverness Caley Thistle. Previously, however, they had picked up a commendable point against Celtic, coming back from 3-1 down to score two goals in the final six minutes and earn a draw against the champions.
Top scorer Stevie May has not found the back of the net in any of his last three appearances, but had notched four in three games previously and has 27 for the season in all competitions. Steven MacLean is the only other player at the club to have reached double figures this season, scoring 10 goals in all competitions.
Dundee United also come into the game on the back foot, having failed to win any of their last three Scottish Premiership fixtures. The season ended with a 3-1 defeat at Celtic, while there was also a 3-1 defeat at home to Aberdeen previously. This young Terrors side have been understandably inconsistent this season, with a recent 5-1 thrashing of second-place Motherwell providing a juxtaposition to the aforementioned defeats.
Goals have come from throughout the United squad this season, with only Nadir Ciftci reaching double figures (11) in the league. Gary Mackay-Stevens, Ryan Gauld and Stuart Armstrong have all made notable contributions from midfield.
Tam Scobie and Murray Davidson remain sidelined for The Saints, while Stevie May will return to the starting XI having only been used as a late substitute in last weekend’s final game of the Scottish Premiership season.
United manager Jackie McNamara, who recently rejected an ill-timed approach from Blackpool, will be without defenders Callum Butcher and Curtis Good who both miss out with long-term injuries. McNamara himself will also be back in the dugout following a suspension handed out for an altercation with St Johnstone counterpart Tommy Wright back in March.
Dundee United won the first head-to-head of the season, 4-0 back in August. But the Tanadice club have failed to score in the three subsequent meetings, with St Johnstone winning 1-0, 2-0 and 3-0 and Stevie May being a particular tormentor.
May has netted five of St Jonstone’s six goals in this fixture this season, including a hat-trick in the game at McDiarmid Park at the turn of the year.
Given St Johnstone’s recent dominance in this fixture it’s difficult to see why they should be as big as 11/5 in the Match Odds market. Both teams have been inconsistent throughout the season, and it’s easy to see either team winning if they play their best football. But with United at a short 5/4 the value is with the Saints.
Stevie May commands particular attention in the goalscorer markets and is priced at an attractive 11/2 to score first and 6/4 to net anytime. It’s also 8/1 that he scores two or more and 33/1 he gets a hat-trick.
Former United starlet David Goodwillie gave a memorable performance the last time United were in a Scottish Cup final and current protégé Ryan Gauld has an opportunity to do something similar here. A raw talent that has been courted by some English Premier League clubs, he is priced at odds of 3/1 to find the back of the net.