Saints v Hamilton Academical Preview

Last updated : 30 October 2009 By Stuart Gillespie
There is, of course, every chance this could turn out to be yet another false dawn, especially with the tough November we have. However, another win tomorrow would almost certainly gibe Gus MacPherson the manager of the month award for October for the second year running (although that led to a pretty poor November).

This is a game we must win if we are looking to progress. The home jinx stuff is behind us. Hamilton will almost certainly be battling relegation this season, it's just a case of whether we'll be joining them in the fight. Sure, things are rosy at the moment, but they can change quickly. We have been clinical in recent weeks (although the defence was dodgy last Saturday) and we must do that against Hamilton tomorrow. There are worries we'll give them a boost as they're on a poor run as that's the St. Mirren way. However, if we play like we did in the games against Motherwell that shouldn't be a problem.

The guessing game in team selection this week is who'll play up front. Billy Mehmet's presence is a given, it's just a case of who'll be alongside him. It won't be Craig Dargo or Tom Brighton as they're both injured. Michael Higdon scored on Tuesday night but did so while battling illness. If he's still unwell, or not fully recovered, then he may be left out as well. That means Mehmet on his own up front or we partner him with Andy Dorman. We did the latter against Hamilton at the end of last season and it didn't really work. The other options aren't ideal either - a first ever start for Sean Burns or Conor Ramsay, or the end of Dennis Wyness' loan spell with Queen of the South. Let's just hope Higdon is fit enough to play.

There could be one other change to the team as the chances of Allan Johnston managing two starts in a few days are slim. I was quite surprised he started on Tuesday and also by Steven Thomson's complete omission from the squad, although it seems he had a virus. If he doesn't return, one of Garry Brady or Stephen O'Donnell could end up playing if Johnston can't cope with two games so quickly and so close together. The rest of the team is likely to be the same, with Chris Smith, Mo Camara and Steven Robb again watching from the sidelines.

When we last played Hamilton we were still in relegation trouble, although fortunately the Accies only scored one of the three goals they needed to find to send us down. Things haven't gone well for them since. High profile players such as James McCarthy, Brian Easton and Richard Offiong have left, although young James McArthur is still there for the time being. All three departures generated some cash, but most SPL clubs have told Hamilton gaffer Billy Reid where to go when he's tried to spend it. The free transfer signings haven't been too inspired so far - two left by "mutual consent" within weeks of arriving! Leon Knight, who used to be good in Championship Manager, may be decent once he starts scoring while former Saint Gary Mason might not be too bad in midfield.

The more experienced members of Hamilton's squad from last season are still there. Tomas Cerny is a good keeper - although he was one of many who tried to kill Craig Dargo last season - and cost the club a fair bit of money. Mark McLaughlin is solid at the back while Simon Mensing has proved to be a surprise source of goals. Alex Neil is also a danger in midfield and is just returning to fitness. So while Hamilton are struggling, they still have plenty of dangerous players and are certainly not a team to be taken lightly.