It was a case of déjà vu for the Dons at McDiarmid Park, plenty of possession adding up to not very much in the final third as they slipped to single goal defeat.
Following the 1-1 draw at Hibs on Saturday, there were three changes to Jim Goodwin?s starting XI for the game at St Johnstone, including a first start for striker Michael Ruth. Adam Montgomery and Funso Ojo also came into the side. Ross McCrorie missed out under the head injury protocol after coming off in the final seconds at Hibernian, Marley Watkins missed out with injury and Jonny Hayes started from the bench. Joining him there was fit again Matty Kennedy, Jack Milne, and there were first appearances in the matchday squad for 17-year-old striker Liam Harvey and 16-year-old midfielder Dylan Lobban. Missing from Saturday?s squad were Christian Ramirez, who has been given an extra week?s break over the close season, and Teddy Jenks who has returned to Brighton.
St Johnstone drew 1-1 at Livingston at the weekend but following Dundee?s win over Hibs on Tuesday, were not mathematically safe of the automatic drop. There were three changes for the Saints, Callum Booth, Cammy MacPherson and Stevie May all missing out, replaced by James Brown, Jacob Butterfield and Glenn Middleton.
The opening exchanges were even enough, but the Dons won their first corner in the eighth minute. Connor Barron?s delivery picked out Lewis Ferguson standing all alone, but he headed wide rather than back across goal.
The hosts were on the break on 14 minutes after a mazy Montgomery run ended in him slipping. St Johnstone got the ball up the other end pretty quickly only for Middleton to fire wide from 25 yards.
Hendry was more accurate on 17 minutes, a crisp first-time finish to a sharp Saints move to give them the lead. A long ball opened Aberdeen up, Hallberg played it on to Middleton who pulled the ball back from the by-line to Hendry who was left free to clip the ball across the goal and into the far corner, Joe Lewis left helpless.
It could have been worse a couple of minutes later, Lewis having to tip a Middleton free-kick over the bar as Saints turned up the heat. Hendry was booked on 24 minutes for a high boot that caught Barron in the face.
Aberdeen weathered the storm and started to produce some better football of their own, Dante Polvara putting in a dangerous cross that Rooney scooped over his own bar on 32 minutes. The corner was a carbon copy of the earlier one, Barron finding Ferguson deep at the back post but this time, he put his header into the gloves of Clark.
Vicente Besuijen cut inside from the left on 38 minutes, his shot taking a deflection that took the sting out of it, the ball bobbling through to Clark. A minute later, McCart scythed through Ferguson on halfway and went in the book.
There was a nice move from the Dons on 43. Jack MacKenzie sent Rooney for a bag of chips and passed inside to Besuijen and on to Barron. His low drive from 25 yards was only just wide of goal as Aberdeen began to exert some control.
David Bates took one for the team a minute later, taking Hallberg out as the Saints looked to hit on the break and going into the book.
Half-Time: St Johnstone 1 Aberdeen 0
There was plenty of good possession from Aberdeen at the start of the second half, without finding that clear opening for themselves. Jonny Hayes was brought on, replacing Polvara on 55, moments after Davidson had been booked for a lunge on Ferguson.
Saints should have doubled the lead on 57 minutes, Rooney in acres of space at the back post from a left wing corner but with the goal gaping, he somehow put his header wide.
Hendry nearly grabbed his second after Aberdeen gave the ball away in their own half on the hour, Hendry coming inside onto his right foot and shaping a 20 yarder just wide of the far post.
Kennedy and Connor McLennan were the next changes for Jim Goodwin?s side, Ruth and Montgomery making way on 66 minutes.
Within two minutes, a long ball from Barron set McLennan away, only for him to be hauled down by Gordon, who was shown a yellow card. Barron took the free-kick from nearly 30 yards, straight down Clark?s throat.
Hayes went down clutching his hamstring on 72 minutes, Harvey coming on for his debut. Rooney went in the book for dissent after 77 minutes. Good possession from Aberdeen created panic on 83, Barron threading a ball through to Harvey, his low cross hacked clear in the six-yard box.
The hosts made their first switch after 84 minutes, MacPherson and Bair replacing Hallberg and Hendry. Ferguson went in the book three minutes later for a foul on Rooney as the game ebbed away from Aberdeen. Butterfield was replaced by Craig with the game into added time as the final formalities were completed.