Saints v Kilmarnock Preview

Last updated : 30 January 2009 By Stuart Gillespie
Sadly, recent history is against us. For starters, we often struggle when we're in front of a full house. We almost lost the last game at Love Street in front of 10,000 fans and we could have a similar problem tomorrow in front of another capacity crowd. There will be expectation on us to win, and we never seem to do well in those situations. Plus, we haven't lost a home game since November. There's also the fact that Kilmarnock haven't won yet this year in the SPL - we're usually only too willing to help out in those situations! Finally, we lost the first ever game at Love Street to Celtic.

However, let's be positive - because there's a lot to be happy about. Namely, the fact that we're moving into a shiny, state of the art stadium and have no debt. Few clubs in Scotland, probably Britain, are in as good a position off the pitch as ourselves. Now it's time for the team to step up and match that.

Last week, we were unlucky to lose to Dundee United, somehow managing to concede twice in the last six minutes. Hopefully, there will be changes - especially up front - to prevent that from happening again. Billy Mehmet may have scored last week but he had some bad misses and could end up being dropped, with Jim Hamilton most people's favourite to replace him. The veteran striker was in superb form before his injury and would be welcomed back into the side. There will need to be a change in defence with Franco Miranda injured and the failure to bring in a replacement means Steven Robb will have to start there. The only other options are Tonet and Ryan McCay - probably not worth thinking about!

This means it's unlikely there will be any changes in midfield, although rumours suggest Steven Thomson will make his first league start for the club. Stephen McGinn is likely to keep his place, having today been called up to the Scotland under-21 squad, and there has to be some role for Hugh Murray. It would be a disgrace if he was not involved in the first ever game at the new ground, and wouldn't it be fantastic if he scored the first goal? On the injury front, Will Haining and Stephen O'Donnell are out.

Like Motherwell, Kilmarnock will be out to spoil the party (although whether the pathetic parade and some lunchtime fireworks counts as a party is anyone's guess). They have been struggling a bit in the league recently but will no doubt be looking forward to ruining the carnival atmosphere. Manager Jim Jeffries will be absent as he is undergoing surgery, meaning assistant Billy Brown will be the man in the roofless dugouts.

You could probably get good odds on Allan Russell scoring the first goal at the new St. Mirren Park tomorrow. The striker was with us for two years before leaving in 2005 for a spell in England. After 18 months he returned to Scotland and did well with Airdrie, earning him a move to Killie in the summer. He has done well for them in recent weeks, but that's not the only reason he's likely to score. Most of our former players end up haunting us - and he did exactly the same to former club Hamilton while with us. In truth, Russell isn't the only goal threat - the likes of Craig Bryson, Mehdi Taouil and Danny Invincible are also likely to cause us problems.

Despite that, there's only one possible way to kick off the new era - with a win. Here's hoping!