Saints 1-1 Kilmarnock

Last updated : 31 January 2009 By Stuart Gillespie
The last time we were on Setanta Craig Dargo was basically assaulted by Artur Boruc. Referee Willie Collum gave a foul - then only booked Boruc. Today, Dargo was flattened by a different keeper - Alan Combe. Collum gave the penalty - which we typically missed - and only booked Combe. Replays later showed it was the wrong choice.

Worringly, Collum is supposed to be one of our top refs. If today's performance is anything to go by, I hate to think what the worst are like.

The penalty came just after Kevin Kyle had put Kilmarnock in front on his debut. Unfortunately, Combe - who shouldn't have been on the park - guessed right and saved from Jim Hamilton. It looked as if we would regret that, but late on Combe made the sort of mistake he often made when with Saints and Dennis Wyness scored the equaliser. A draw was probably a fair result - but we should maybe have won.

This was, of course, a historic day as it was the first game at the new St. Mirren Park. First Minister Alex Salmond was there, as were a number of former Saints captains, who placed the Love Street centre spot at the side of the pitch as a tribute to those who'd had their ashes scattered on the old pitch. Chairman Stewart Gilmour scored the first goal at the new ground (by scoring into some kiddy sized goals) before some impressive fireworks.

But, at the end of the day, it's the football we care about. Steven Robb replaced the suspended Franco Miranda and Hamilton came in for Mehmet. Saints started brightly and should have been ahead early on. Simon Ford twice nearly scored an own goal while Jack Ross was unlucky to see a shot blocked. Hamilton also curled an effort wide before a superb passing move saw Dargo play in Andy Dorman, only for his shot to go just wide.

He also saw a shot blocked before the inevitable happened at the other end. Gary Hay's cross was perfect and Kyle was effectively unchallenged to nod it past Howard.

We always struggle in front of a big crowd and it was looking like being another of those days. A few minutes later, however, came the perfect chance to equalise. Garry Brady released Dargo and he flicked the ball past Combe before being sent crashing to the ground. Somehow, Collum only thought it was worth a booking and showed Combe a yellow card while Dargo received lengthy treatment. Combe has a good record at saving penalties so perhaps it was inevitable he should save Hamilton's effort.

Things nearly got worse before the break, with Kyle twice seeing efforts superbly saved by Mark Howard. Manual Pascali also went close as Kilmarnock tried to kill things off before the break.

They failed and Saints took control of the second half, but failed to do much with their pressure. The visitors then introduced Danny Invincible, who started exposing the problems we have at the left as he skinned McGinn and Robb on a number of occasions. Fortunately, he failed to produce any sort of final ball - a bit like us. Killie did have a penalty claim when Kyle's backheel hit John Potter's arms, but it would have been a harsh award.

Surprisingly, the productive Dargo was replaced by Billy Mehmet straight after - a change that looked even worse moments later when Hamilton blazed a shot well wide from a great position. Mehmet amusingly skinned a few Killie players before setting up Garry Brady moments later, but his shot also went wide.

Strangely, there was no cavalry charge in terms of bringing on an extra striker. Instead, we had like for like changes with the below par McGinn and Hamilton being replaced by Steven Thomson and Dennis Wyness. Almost immediately the latter wasted a golden opportunity when Mehmet flicked the ball into his patch, only for him to shoot straight at Combe. Fortunately, the Killie keeper was about to go walkabout with comical results.

Saints were awarded a free-kick on the left. Robb whipped it in and Combe came for it, despite there being little chance of him getting near it. Sure enough, the ball bounced off Mehmet, then Combe, before falling for Wyness to hammer home the first goal by a Saints player at the new ground. It was the least we deserved.

We could have won it, but failed to threaten after that. Instead, we had Robb to thank for a point after he brilliantly cut out a Fernandez cross when it looked as if Invincible was about to prod home the winner.

Maybe we struggled at times because of the big crowd and poor refereeing, but some questions need to be asked. The substitutions were strange, McGinn is clearly struggling and Hamilton was pretty poor. Fingers crossed we have some more players in by Monday's transfer deadline.