Saints v Saints preview
By Stuart Gillespie
Updated Friday, 10th December 2010
At Christmas time you look forward to a certain Saint paying you a visit, so youngsters everywhere will wake up tomorrow hoping they have been good enough to be taken to see two Saints strut their stuff at Greenhill Road.
Yes, it's battle of the Saints time again. However, for the purposes of this preview, St. Mirren will be referred to as Saints and St. Johnstone will be refereed to as Saintees, their genuine but camp sounding nickname.
We are long overdue a win against St. Johnstone. You have to go all the way back to 2005 for the last time we managed to take three points from them, and back another year for the last time we did it in Paisley. Our form against them since they were promoted has been woeful and was summed up in April when we threw away a 2-0 lead with half an hour to go. This is the sort of game we really have to win if we want to continue the progress we have seen in the last few weeks. With a trip to Ibrox coming up, we could end up back at the bottom pretty quickly so a victory is vital.
The good news is Michael Higdon will be back from suspension as he missed the dire game at Hamilton. Hopefully his punishment for his dismissal involved having to watch the game on DVD several times. He'll probably join Gareth Wardlaw up front, with Aaron Mooy dropping out of the side. After all the hype, the Aussie has been a bit disappointing - although he has rarely featured in his correct position since his arrival. The return of Higdon is likely to be the only change as Paul McQuade, David Barron and Paul Gallacher aren't deemed fit enough to start. Hopefully they can make it to the bench.
The return of McQuade would be a boost as it would give us some sort of attacking option on the bench. So too would the return of Craig Dargo, who is apparently back in training - although I'll believe it when I see it. Still, if he were to appear on the bench it would be welcome news. Still missing, with various ailments, are Lee Mair, Hugh Murray, Nick Hegarty and Garry Brady. I've no idea if Steven Robb is fit or not, but with his track record there's a fair chance he isn't.
St. Johnstone haven't been doing particularly well this season, especially if you compare it to last year when they had a decent chance of storming into the top six. However, they still have more points and wins in the league than us so clearly Derek McInnes is doing something right! McInnes has done a great job in Perth, continuing the work started by Owen Coyle, and you have to think it's only a matter of time until he moves on to bigger things. No disrespect is meant to the Saintees and I think he has the right connections to win a move down south like Coyle.
It's those connections that have enabled him to land some pretty impressive signings for the Saintees. Jody Morris has been the pick of the bunch and it's a surprise no one else has managed to snaffle him away, especially back in England where he could probably earn some more cash. His displays in midfield have been excellent and he seems to have put his wild boy days behind him. Other former Premiership stars include Scott Dobie (maybe stretching the definition of "star" there a wee bit), Sam Parkin, Michael Duberry and Peter Enckelman, who you may remember comically conceded a goal from a throw-in while at Aston Villa.
The Saintees also have some other handy players, including Cleveland Taylor who, surprisingly, is not the chap from Family Guy. Chris Millar, Murray Davidson and Liam Craig are also handy midfielders, while Collin Samuel can cause problems when he's in the mood - a bit like Higdon really! At the back they are strong too with guys like Dave MacKay, Danny Grainger and Graham Gartland.
This will be difficult, but the Saintees are beatable. It's about time we got one over on them.