St. Johnstone v St. Mirren preview
By Stuart Gillespie
Updated Friday, 21st January 2011
After a few weeks of depression, we head to Perth tomorrow on a high after rattling six goals past Peterhead on Tuesday night. Can we keep the spirits up with a good result tomorrow?
St. Johnstone are the sort of side we should be looking to beat. They are of similar size to ourselves and have only been in the top flight for a season and a half. However, we haven't beaten them in over five years and I don't hold out much hope for us tomorrow, despite what happened on Tuesday. They are a better team, with better players, and are doing much better than us in the league.
It is a sad state of affairs when I am so pessimistic about a trip to a team like St. Johnstone, but it's the truth. Before Christmas, they were by far the better side at Greenhill Road and looked the more likely to score a winner, which they did in stoppage time. They play football in a far better way and as a result seem to get more favourable results. Who'd have thought that would have been how things worked?
The worrying thing is, this is one of the easier away games we have coming up, with trips to place like Easter Road, Ibrox and Parkhead not that far away. Can you really see us taking anything from those places? Me neither, which means a victory tomorrow is crucial. The mood has changed a bit since Tuesday, but that was only Peterhead. This is a different kettle of fish entirely.
If I was Danny Lennon, I would stick with the side that won on Tuesday. Ignore the fact playing three up front may be a bit suicidal, the fact is it worked. We scored goals and won comfortably. Paul McQuade and Aaron Mooy were finally given a chance and both of them grabbed it, so it would be extremely unfair if they were dropped. However, with Michael Higdon back I wouldn't be surprised to see him replace McQuade, while we could pack the midfield by putting Paddy Cregg in for Mooy. If that happens, expect another goalless performance.
I'd also been keen to see Paul McGowan dropped but he finally came good on Tuesday night and hopefully he'll have taken a wee boost from that, although he could be dropped right back into midfield tomorrow. Aside from reshuffling the strikers and being a bit more defensive, it'll probably be the same team - Although Marc McAusland does seem to be back from injury. Definitely out are Garry Brady, Nick Hegarty and Gareth Wardlaw.
Derek McInnes is a good manager. He took over when Owen Coyle legged it to Burnley a few years ago, got the Saintees promoted and established them in the SPL. Ironically, he was then linked with the Burnley job last month. Instead of playing survival football, he has got his team trying to win results and push up the table as high as possible. When was the last time we got to enjoy something like that at St. Mirren?
Also frustrating is the fact McInnes has been able to attract guys we were more likely to see strutting their stuff in the Premiership a decade ago. Jody Morris has been a terrific signing who McInnes got because he'd played with him at Millwall, which is fair enough. However, how was he then able to add throw in rules expert Peter Enckelman, defender Michael Duberry and forwards Sam Parkin and Scott Dobie - and still make a string of other signings? Admittedly, Dobie hasn't been very good, but just been able to get guys of that calibre sends a buzz around the fans.
It's not all about the former Premiership stars though. They managed to raid the carcass of Livingston to sign Dave MacKay and Murray Davidson, who have both been superb and not had any problem adapting to the SPL after plying their trade in the lower leagues. The same goes for Liam Craig and Chris Millar, who have both hurt us in the past, while Alan Maybury has been decent on his return to the SPL after time down south. And no St. Johnstone preview would be complete without a mention of Family Guy star Cleveland Taylor, who is also a pretty handy winger.