SHAUN Rooney scored several important goals in St Johnstone’s march to double success last season. His second-half equaliser at the Kilmac Stadium could prove just as important, cancelling out Jordan Marshall’s opener and killing off relegation rivals Dundee’s hopes of closing the five-point gap between the sides.

Whether it was psychology or distraction, Mark McGhee depriving himself of heating and a decent meal perhaps had the desired impact on the performance, at least in the first half, but not on the result.

While the draw keeps Dundee alive, the fact remains that they have yet to win a game under their new boss. There are now just four games remaining, with a trip to beleaguered Aberdeen up next.

St Johnstone's Shaun Rooney rises highest to equalise against Dundee at the Kilmac StadiumStats from FotMob

“The result was fair, “ said McGhee. “We couldn’t get out in the second half.

“The first goal was everything I’d seen in training and everything I had hoped for. I thought we would kick on from that and that this would be the day to get the win. In the second half, we weren’t able to do that.”

“The one thing I am saying is that we are not conceding. We can win a game. If we win next week, then who knows? Maybe we can win another. We will keep going until it’s mathematically impossible for us to get the points we need.

“The players have got Monday off and I have told them to come back ready to prepare for Aberdeen in the same way.”

There was no need to crank up the thermostat as supporters basked in the sun. Feeding off the intense atmosphere from both sets of supporters in the almost 8,000-strong crowd, both sides were hungry from the off in a frantic end-to-end start to the game. The pyro in the away end meant the first few minutes were watched through a plume of smoke.

St Johnstone’s Jamie McCart had the first real effort on goal but saw his looping effort dip just over the bar. Dundee’s positive 4-3-3 threatened either side of that and was rewarded when Marshall put them ahead in the 11th minute. Charlie Adam, so often the orchestrator, switched the play with a sweeping pass out to Paul McMullan, who cut back for Paul McGowan. He laid off to Marshall at the edge of the box, who guided it into the bottom corner past a stationary Zander Clark.

McGowan then played a lovely one-two with Danny Mullen at the edge of the box but saw his shot headed wide, while Ryan Sweeney will be disappointed not to hit the target with a header after Clark misjudged a corner.

Amid the constant drumming and singing, the St Johnstone’s support began to vent its frustration as their team repeatedly knocked the ball around on halfway, directionless. They ended the half the stronger, with Dundee United cult hero Nadir Ciftci unleashing an effort from 25 yards, well tipped over by Ian Lawlor, and Callum Hendry skewing another effort wide.

That momentum continued after the break but prompted manager Callum Davidson to bring on Tom Sang, moving Rooney into the back three.

It was Rooney who restored parity, rising highest in a packed six-yard box to nod Melker Hallberg’s whipped corner into an open goal, with the keeper in no man’s land. We have missed him this season and I thought his second-half performance was excellent.,” said Davidson. “I also thought he led the group and I am delighted he got the goal.

“He is going to be a valuable player for us in the next four games.”

With their tails up and the fans behind that goal trying to suck in another, Hendry worked a half-yard at the edge of the box but his low strike was pushed round the post by Lawlor. From the subsequent corner, Rooney fired just wide on the turn.

Dundee came back into the game and finished stronger, but the introductions of Luke McCowan, Niall McGinn and Zak Rudden weren’t enough for them to make a second breakthrough, as St Johnstone seemed caught between holding out and going for the killer blow.

“It was a really hard one,” continued Davidson. “I think you could sense a bit of hesitation from my players there. But we are delighted with the courage and character they showed especially after going 1-0 down.”

Dundee: Lawlor, Kerr, Sweeney, McGhee, Marshall, Byrne (Rudden 75), Adam, Anderson (Mulligan 81), McGowan (McGinn 75), McMullan (McCowan 52), Mullen.

St Johnstone: Clark, Cleary (Sang 46), McCart, Gordon, Rooney, Booth, Davidson, Hallberg, Crawford (MacPherson 65), Ciftci (May 81), Hendry.

Referee: Bobby Madden

Attendance: 7,937