Stenhousemuir 1-0 St Johnstone: Warriors shock Premiership side in competitive Viaplay Cup opener

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Stenhousemuir surged to a shock 1-0 victory over Premiership St Johnstone on Saturday afternoon in their competitive season opener in the Viaplay Cup group stages.

The Warriors defeated Steven MacLean’s side at Ochilview Park thanks to an excellent strike from second-half Euan O’Reilly – with the three points putting Gary Naysmith’s team at the top of group A after the first matchday.

In the early stages of proceedings, the home side kept the Perth outfit at bay and looked more than comfortable on the ball against full time opposition.

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The first real chance of the match fell the Warriors way when Matty Yates’ dangerous free kick should have been diverted goalward as it arrowed across the six-yard box but there were no takers.

Stenhousemuir winger Euan O'Reilly is hassled by St Johnstone's Max Kucheriavyi and Cameron Ballantyne  Photo: Alan Murray)Stenhousemuir winger Euan O'Reilly is hassled by St Johnstone's Max Kucheriavyi and Cameron Ballantyne  Photo: Alan Murray)
Stenhousemuir winger Euan O'Reilly is hassled by St Johnstone's Max Kucheriavyi and Cameron Ballantyne Photo: Alan Murray)

Graham Carey then had the visitors first effort at goal with a well-hit free kick from 30-yards that forced Darren Jamieson into a smart save.

As the half wore on, O’Reilly was causing the Saints a host of problems out wide, with his direct running proving difficult to deal with.

On 23 minutes, Mikey Anderson nearly opened the scoring for the hosts when his curling effort just missed the target after O’Reilly’s ball eventually found him in the box.

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The away side were limited to long range shots at goal with Alex Ferguson and Tony Gallagher both not doing enough to test Jamieson in net.

Just before the break, great work from Yates saw him put the ball into the six-yard box with Matty Aitken just mis-hitting the ball at the final moment.

Up the other end, St Johnstone’s golden chance came when Ryan McGowan lofted the ball into Stevie May’s path – with the forward’s shot from close range being expertly kicked wide by Jamieson.

In the second half, Stenhousemuir once again looked a complete match for their Premiership opponents.

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On 48 minutes, O’Reilly opened the scoring on the breakaway, slotting home past Ross Sinclair. Adam Brown did well in midfield to pick up a slack pass and find the winger, who fired home against his former club.

Brown himself then went close with a low drive across the box not long after as the Warriors went for a second goal.

Striker Aitken then missed a one-on-one chance when he latched onto a loose ball.

It looked like these missed opportunities would come back to haunt them with 20 minutes to go when substitute Ali Crawford was presented with a free shot at goal in the box.

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Luckily for the Naysmith’s side, the midfielder blasted over from inside the area.

Despite needing a goal, St Johnstone then huffed and puffed and couldn’t find a way past a resolute Stenhousemuir side.

The win leaves the Warriors top of group A on three points after Ayr United’s bonus point shoot-out win over Stirling Albion in the other fixture.

Naysmith’s side now travel to Cumnock on Tuesday night to face Lee Bullen's Ayr side.

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Stenhousemuir: Jamieson, Meechan, Jamieson, Bilham, Lynch, Wedderburn, Anderson, Brown, O’Reilly (48’), Yates, Aitken.

Subs: Lyle, Kirkpatrick, Berry, Taylor.

St Johnstone: Sinclair, McGowan, Gordon, Considine, Gallacher, Kucheriayvi, Ferguson, Carey, Wright, Ballantyne, May.

Subs: Mitov, Bright, Ellison, Klimionek, Steven, Parker, Mylchreest, McChrystal, Crawford.

Referee: Calum Scott.