Saints v Hearts preview

Last updated : 01 October 2009 By Stuart Gillespie
It will not be easy. While we have managed to beat Hearts twice at Tynecastle since we were promoted back in 2006, we have only managed to take a couple of points from them at home. On paper, we shouldn't really have a hope. Our home form is terrible, we've won once in the league this season and we're facing the team that finished third last season and will be pushing for Europe again this year. Fortunately for us, football isn't played on paper - although it would certainly have made a few of our home games a bit more exciting.

It may be 23 years on, but Hearts fans are still annoyed about us apparently lying down to Celtic to let them win the league in 1986. Apparently it was our fault that a Bobby Ball look-a-like came on at Dens Park and scored twice in the closing minutes of the season to deny the Jambos the draw they needed to clinch the title. If they really want to point the finger of blame at us, they could argue they lost the league because we trounced them 6-2 earlier that season (note to younger readers: that's six goals in one game, not over the course of a season). Whatever, it should be ancient history - but it's not, although it won't add anything to tomorrow's game in terms of fight and competitive edge.

Fight was sadly lacking from our first half display against Celtic last week, with the second 45 minutes not seeing much in the way of improvement. It is time we changed our tactics and actually used a couple of wingers and passed the ball about quickly. Sadly, the only way we can be linked to sexy football is by trying to recreate Brazil's goal from the 1970 World Cup where every player touched the ball in the build-up - although all our players have to touch it twice. We should be playing it into space or over the top for the wingers and players like Craig Dargo to run on to, instead of persisting with our slow paced play that is relatively easy to defend against and hasn't worked. I'm not after attractive football, just a style of play that is effective in getting us wins.

After last week's disappointment, Tom Brighton and Andy Dorman must surely be recalled to the starting line-up, although it's hard thinking of many games where Brighton has started. It would also be nice to see Stephen O'Donnell start on the right of midfield, although that's probably asking too much. Whatever, we have to drop the approach of playing two defensive midfielders at home. It's probably time Hugh Murray made way as Shuggy missed pre-season and is starting to show the after effects of that. Elsewhere in the team, I'd go with the same strikeforce and defence as last week, although we'll probably see John Potter back from suspension.

It's a bit of a surprise writing a preview for a game against Hearts and talking about the same manager as last season, but that's what I find myself doing. Csaba Laszlo managed to get them into Europe last season, although that doesn't necessarily mean you get to keep your job in Gorgiania. He also managed to do it without a regular goalscoring striker, something perhaps the club is still missing. The likes of Andrew Driver contribute regularly from midfield, but you are perhaps in trouble when a Saints striker manages to score more in a season than any of your own players!

Driver is arguably the most talented player in the Jambos squad and it was a surprise he didn't leave in the summer. It'll be a rare treat seeing someone like him - a winger - at St. Mirren Park. However, he is not their only threat. If Laryea Kingston has decided to stick around then he'll cause us problems, while Michael Stewart is handy when not kicking folk. Up front, Christian Nade provides a big presence in more ways than one, while summer signings David Witteveen and Suso Santana look handy.