Collin Samuel's first half double set super Saints on their way to a comfortable win.
The Diamonds could have opened the scoring after just seven minutes when a nice move saw Stephen McKenna feed Simon Lynch on the edge of the box.
But the striker, starting in place of the injured Paul Di Giacomo, could only fire a shot straight at Saints keeper Alan Main.
This was to prove a key moment as the hosts took the lead in the 13th minute following a horror error on the edge of his own area by Darren Smith.
The Airdrie midfielder failed to clear a Bobby Donnelly header and hitman Samuel took advantage by firing a low effort into the far corner of the net.
Diamonds shot-stopper Stephen Robertson did well to block a Steven Milne strike before Kevin Moon jinked past Willie McLachlan and lashed a shot wide.
Kenny Black's men had claims for a penalty waved away in the 29th minute. Main couldn't gather Steven McDougall's high free-kick delivery, and in trying to recover, appeared to impede McKenna.
Referee Brian Winter said no spot-kick, however, and Airdrie's misery was compounded seven minutes later when an intricate move culminated in Samuel netting from close-range.
With a minute remaining of the first half, Saints had a penalty appeal of their own wrongly turned down after Moon was shoved in the box by John Baird.
There was little goalmouth action in the second half but Paul Sheerin made it 3-0 a minute into injury time when he converted a Milne cut back.
The only positive for boss Black to reflect on was news filtering through of Dunfermline Athletic's thrashing of Clyde - a result that keeps Airdrie off the bottom of the table.
St Johnstone: Main, Irvine, Rutkiewicz, McCaffrey, Byrne, Moon, Craig (Hardie 88), Sheerin, Samuel (Swankie 63), Holmes (Barrett 78), Milne. Subs not used: Millar, McLean(gk).
Airdrie: Robertson, Smyth, Donnelly, Nixon (Maguire 79), McLachlan, Smith (McDonald 70), McKenna, McLaughlin, Lynch (Watt 76), Baird. Subs not used: Lovering, Hollis(gk).
Referee: Brian Winter.
Sammy paves the way to comfortable win
Collin Samuel, Liam Craig and Derek Holmes were recalled to the starting line-up for this afternoon’s vital match against Airdrie United at McDiarmid Park.
Chris Millar, Graham Barrett and Gavin Swankie were the players making way –all three dropping onto the bench. Martin Hardie was deemed fit enough for a place in the dugout.
Although Saints were quick to attack from the kick off – Stephen Robertson was called into action in under 30 seconds – if truth be told it was the visitors who asked the questions in the opening five minutes and the Perth defence were kept busy as the Diamonds surged forward in what seemed like acres of space.
The league’s basement side might have got some reward for that early pressure in the 7th minute when the ball was fed to Simon Lynch who turned and had an unchallenged opportunity to test Alan Main but his effort was straight at the Perth keeper when he really should have done much better.
Collin Samuel enjoyed an early foray into the Airdrie penalty area with some quick footwork but was unable to fashion a scoring opportunity. However, the same couldn’t be said four minutes later when he gave Saints a 13th minute lead with a splendid goal.
Wide left of the penalty area, the Trinidad man pounced on a wayward header from an Airdrie defender after a Gary Irvine thrown in had been knocked on and he was quick to set up the shooting chance with his drive aimed perfectly across the face of goal and into the far corner of the net. A great goal and a real boost to Saints after a shaky opening few minutes.
Taking confidence from the early lead Saints started to dominate the match with Paul Sheerin and Kevin Moon having shots at goal but neither came close to testing Robertson.
Kevin Moon turned provider in the 26th minute when he fed a great ball into Collin Samuel 12 yards from goal but with an Airdrie defender at his back Saints’ goalscorer couldn’t find a way through. However, the Trinidad man was clearly in the mood because just moments later he was quick to try his luck from 23 yards and his vicious shot cannoned off keeper Robertson.
That loose ball immediately ended up at the other end of the park where United won a free kick and when Alan Main failed to gather the kick cleanly he got involved in a race and challenge for the ball with Stephen McKenna with each player claiming they had been impeded by the other – nothing was given either way.
Back up to the Airdrie goal in this entertaining spell and a Liam Craig free kick was met at the back post by an unmarked Stuart McCaffrey but his deliberate header aimed at Robertson’s near post was pushed behind by the Airdrie keeper.
However, there was nothing the former Saints keeper could do to prevent a second goal in 36 minutes and it was no surprise that it was Collin Samuel who scored it, running onto a Steven Milne flick from a Richie Byrne ball down the left and connecting with a difficult ball sufficiently well to put it behind Robertson.
Kevin Rutkiewicz had to receive treatment for a head knock after taking an accidental boot to the face and while he was off the field Derek Holmes had a shot deflected away as Saints tried to finish the game before the interval.
Two minutes before half time Kevin Moon looked to have a great shout for a penalty turned away when he was taken off the ball as he chased a great Collin Samuel pass into the box but the referee turned the appeals away much to the annoyance of Derek McInnes on the touchline.
The opening ten minutes of the second half were a bit of a sparring match as both sides tried to gain an early initiative.
The 63rd minute saw Gavin Swankie replace Collin Samuel – no doubt linked to his recent injury and lack of match practice.
Steven Milne curled an effort wide of goal after a neat series of passes as Saints tried to kill off their visitors.
It’s fair to say the second half was flatter than the first in terms of entertainment with precious little action to enthuse over and it was the 73rd minute before there was something of note to report on – Kevin Moon having what looked like another good appeal for a penalty turned down when he was pushed off the ball as he burst into the box.
With 13 minutes to go Graham Barrett was introduced to the proceedings at the expense of Derek Holmes and with six minutes left he chased a through ball from the hugely impressive Kevin Moon but, stretching as he fired in his effort, couldn’t find the target.
Alan Main was pretty much untroubled throughout the second half although he did need to watch closely as a McKenna 30-yarder zipped not far wide of his post with four minutes remaining.
Martin Hardie was given the final three minutes of the match, replacing Liam Craig and he got the chance to celebrate a goal with his team mates when Paul Sheerin added a third 90 seconds into injury time. Steven Milne and Graham Barrett exchanged passes in the penalty area before squaring to the unmarked Sheerin to knock the ball into the net to give the score line a degree of realism.
Samuel Is Ready To Do A Runner.
By: Kenny Macdonald Reports.
DOUBLE tops goal hero Collin Samuel reckons Saints could be set for a title-clinching winning run after dumping the Diamonds and moving four points clear.
The last time Samuel hit a brace was at the start of Saints' outstanding 22-game unbeaten run and he hopes for more of the same after yesterday's haul.
Title rivals Partick Thistle face Dundee today but Samuel says he won't be watching.
The hitman smashed in a superb double in the first half to virtually seal the points and Paul Sheerin tapped in a third from a few yards in the final seconds of the tussle.
Samuel said: "It's a relief to be back from my (dead leg) injury and it is good to be back on the score sheet.
"The last time I scored two goals was at Ross County when we started out on our unbeaten run so this could be the start of another winning run."
He added of rivals Jags: "We only care about ourselves and take it from there so I won't have an eye on their game.
"All that matters is we have shown a great response from last week's defeat at Livingston and showed great character."
Diamonds striker Simon Lynch had the first chance in seven minutes when Stephen McKenna played him in with a sublime ball but Lynch jabbed at it and the ball flew straight at keeper Alan Main.
Saints surged back with the opener following a defensive disaster from Darren Smith.
He allowed a cross to float over him and turned to see Samuel pounce to fizz a shot past Stephen Robertson into the bottom corner in 13 minutes. Airdrie's No.1 then blocked Stevie Milne at the far post before racing out to deny Samuel in 27 minutes.
The Saints star was thwarted again by Robertson when he fired in a snap shot from 22 yards that swerved at the last moment forcing the keeper to divert brilliantly with his legs.
Saints had a let-off on the half hour whenMain failed to control a ball in the box and wrestled with Stephen McKenna to save the situation.
Saints went 2-0 up in 36 minutes as Milne flicked a neat ball in to Samuel's path on the left of the penalty area and he rifled home.
The Perth men ended the first half with a strong penalty shout as John Baird tripped Kevin Moon who was closing in on goal but again ropey ref Brian Winter waved play on.
The second half was a nonevent until Sheerin reached a Milne cut back to tap home.
Saints boss Derek McInnes said: "I got a great reaction after last week."
Diamonds gaffer Kenny Black said: "I have no complaints. We should have had a penalty at 1-0 but they should've had a penalty ."
MoM: Samuel (Saints).