December 29th- Tomorrow's game
at Partick is now officially in doubt with the Maryhill side having
requested a postponement due to plague at Firhill - and it's not even yer
typical Wegie diseases of scabies / cholera / black death / chavitis
that's causing the problem but the flu. Hopefully the game will get the
go-ahead (and based on precedent with Forfar that should happen)
especially since the Saints support can get a chance to say farewell to
Meanwhile Saints are acting as though the game will go ahead and the Cat wants to keep his place in goal. He told the Courier, "My last league game for the club was Stranraer on January 20, so its been a long wait to play again. The situation was doing my head in, to be honest. Sitting watching the games was a nightmare. It was bad enough at the start of the season when I was on the bench and we were doing well. But it was even worse when I was out injured and we were losing games. Now my opportunity has come around again I am determined to seize it. Ive had to wait 11 months. Hopefully Ill have an even longer time now in goal. But its up to me to ensure that happens and that I dont end up back where I dont want to be. Now I am back playing I have to make it as difficult to get me out of the team as it was for me to get back in there ". And as for his return performance, he's picked up a scar as well. "I collided with a Clyde player and I dont know if Ive bitten my lip when his knee has caught me, but Ive got this swollen lower facea good wee memento! I was a bit rusty on Tuesday and made a couple of errors through that, but Id only trained four to five days in the past six to eight weeks so there were always going to be timing issues. Im not going to say I was magnificent but I wouldnt say I was poor either. "
Owen is expecting to switch tactics more this season as well and said, "Theres no doubt about it, we are going to have to show a boldness about how we approach things. We had a horrendous couple of weeks there when we let ourselves down in terms of the results. And I had to find a way of getting us back to winning games and performing well. We went out and won the derby against Dundee but then went to Hamilton and gave a great performance without achieving the result. Having looked at that and chatted to my staff I decided to make changes, and if I have to do that again then I will. If I have to change personnel or systems to win games for St Johnstone FC then I wont hesitate."
5.15pm - One piece of loan news ahead of the transfer window opening at the start of next week and Saints have revealed that Kevin Moon's loan deal at Forfar has been extended until the end of the season.
It's depression time all round as with the sort of demonstration of west coast bias that will have Forfar fans spitting out their bridies, the SFL caved into the Partick luvvies and have agreed to postpone tomorrow's clash with Saints meaning another Saturday with no football and the prospect of Gretna extending their lead and Livi / Accies closing the gap while we no doubt will now face a midweek January trip in dodgy conditions to play Partick. Even worse is that the call-off has meant that the Saints support have missed out on a chance to say a proper farewell to Darren Sheridan and Paul Lawson who were due to play their final games for the club before leaving in the transfer window. Anyway best of luck to the pair of them in their future careers.
Meanwhile to whet your appetite for the transfer window - apparently Derek McInnes was training with Saints down the North Inch today. I bet the excitement is just doing your heads in eh?
December 27th- Mixed emotions from the manager after yesterday's win. Owen told the Courier, "Theres no doubt that it was an important win for us. We had to keep believing and, even though weve played a lot better this season, it says a lot for the players character and spirit that they kept going to the end. "
December 26th- After overdosing
on turkey and other festive grub (and drink), it's back to reality for
Saints fans today with the visit of Clyde. Savo
reckons it's time we began to kill off the opposition a bit more (and you
can't really argue with him given the number of points we've thrown away
in draws this season). The striker told the Courier, "Too often
we are dominating games and not winning them. We seem to play teams off
the park yet more often than not finish up drawing. We never seem to pick
up scrappy wins. Gretna can maybe not play well but still pick up a 1-0
whereas we dont seem to grind out victories. With us its
either comfortable wins or no win at all. There are times when scraping
through is no bad thing. We need to start winning regardless of our
He's not had his injury problems to seek either and went on, "Ive been on the bench for the last few games because that was as much as I could manage. The specialist I saw seems to think I dont need to have surgery at the moment. The suspicion is theres something floating about in the joint. Hopefully its just a tidy up job thats required."
For the rest of the squad, Simon Mensing is the big doubt with an ankle injury although the real debate will be over who gets the nod for the number one jersey with Cat now fit and ready to compete against an off-form Bryn Halliwell.
5.30pm - Savo and Peaso were on target as Saints scored twice in the last ten minutes to come from behind and beat Clyde 2-1 although the overall performance wasn't that great. Elsewhere and Partick's defeat at Dens mean we've gone to 2nd place on goal difference.
22nd- The transfer speculation is hotting up ahead of the window
opening at the end of the month. Derek McInnes is the only
confirmed target but Owen has admitted
there are three other names being targetted to join Saints, while
Stephen Dobbie(right) will be returning
from his loan stint at Dumbarton. Speaking to the Courier, he said, "We
were very close to getting Derek in the summer and I am hoping we can
entice him to come to St Johnstone now. There are other clubs interested
but we are giving it our best shot. As far as Stephen is concerned,
Dumbarton are desperate to keep him but as he is over 21 you cannot extend
a loan. If he does come back itll be up to him to push for a place
in the team. But to be fair he has been working harder and is in better
physical shape than he was previously. There is no doubting his natural
ability but he needed to get himself in better condition for that to shine
through." As for the other speculation it looks like we can
forget about James Grady as the manager went on, "As I
understand it James wants an 18-month contract and we wouldnt be
prepared to commit ourselves to that length of term"
On the departure side, Paul Lawson looks like returning to Sellik while Ryan Stevenson is set to sign for Ayr. Darren Sheridan will also be off to Barrow.
Looking to the Boxing Day visit of Clyde, Savo and Simon Mensing will both be fit despite carrying knocks. Owen said, "Simon hasnt trained since the Hamilton game because of an ankle problem, but given the game is on Tuesday rather than Saturday I would expect him to have had sufficient rest and treatment to be in contention. We had feared losing Stephen for a number of months but after visiting the specialist he has been cleared to continue for the present. The way his left knee has been swelling up was a cause for concern, but were told the situation is manageable and the plan is for him to get a bit of training in before Clyde. A lot of teams have switched to the 23rd allowing their players to have Christmas with the family. But the Saturday before Christmas is traditionally when clubs draw their poorest gates and a difference of maybe 300 fans turning up represents a lot of money. "
Another who will be available is the Cat although the finger injury means he'll have to play with a splint on it for the rest of his career. The goalie said, "Its not ideal but not a major hindrance either, and better this than the finger locking as it was doing"
December 20th- Last night's game
was postponed due to a frozen pitch so the Cat's
comeback is on hold. Elsewhere and the Retard has reported that
Savo may have to undergo an op to fix
his troublesome knee injury.
8pm - Apparently Saints managed a bounce match against Brechin on the all-weather pitch with the Cat coming through the game with no ill-effects. Owen told the Official Site, "It suited both clubs to have the game and it allowed me to give Willie McLaren, Willie Dyer, Andy Jackson, Steven Anderson and Paul Lawson a game and they all came through it well. Coupled with Kevin Cuthbert coming through successfully it has given me plenty to think about for the Clyde game." There was more good news for Savowith Owen saying, "Savo's specialist feels that an exploratory operation will need to be done at some point but sees no reason why the player cannot train and play on in the meantime so that is good news. We'll get through the festive programme of matches and make a decision on what we need to do from there."
December 19th- Saints are due to play Brechin in a Forfarshire cup tie tonight and the game will mark the return from injury of the Cat. He did make an appearance on the bench at the weekend at Michael McGovern appears to have ended his briefer-than-brief loan spell and returned to Parkhead. The game kicks off at McDiarmid at 7.45pm
December 18th- Not too much in the papers today with Saints obviously keeping their heads down after a disappointing result at the weekend (even Jason Scotland isn't having a rant). The only snippet isn't the most cheering either with the Retard linking Saints with a move for another "veteran" player with James Grady apparently set to move to McDiarmid after being told he's surplus to requirements at Gretna. Between him, Derek McInnes and Steve Tosh, it's good to see Owen planning for the future.
December 16th- In a change from
yesterday, the Courier reports that Kevin
James might now miss out. Savo is
the other major doubt so Peaso is in
line for a second start in a row. Peaso
told the Courier, "Having had a problem with the knee means I do
not exactly look forward to playing on plastic pitches. But I will take
the pain on Saturday night or the next morning if it means getting a game
and a win for the club. We have had a few bad results in recent weeks but
we got back on course by beating Dundee last weekend. I got my first start
in a wee while and it was nice to get my chance. I think I did quite well
and if I can work my socks off then hopefully I can stay in the team. In
fact, it would be great to have both a run in the side and for the boys to
go on a run of victories over the Christmas/New Year period. That would
really set us up nicely. The Hamilton game will be a real test but we have
a good squad with a positive attitude so hopefully we can come home with
the points "
7pm - Goals from Martin Hardie and Peaso were counter-balanced by some crap defending leading to a 2-2 draw with Accies and Saints now 8 points off the pace. Not a good afternoon overall....
Goran Stanic has publicly thanked
Saints and the fans for helping him after the recent death of his father.
The defender, who has been unable to travel back to Macedonia because of
red tape, told the Courier, "It has been so difficult for me but
I want to thank the gaffer, the other players and everyone else at the
club for helping me through this. Everyone has been really nice and you
appreciate that when you are so far from your own country. I am happy at
St Johnstone and there are good people here. I cant change what has
happened so I am just trying to be professional. Playing football is a big
part of my life and sometimes doing my job can help me stop thinking about
the bad things. I have not been able to get back for the funeral but I
still want to go to Skopje soon to see my family, especially my mother. "
He's set to play tomorrow and said, "Now we are back on course and we know we have the capacity to win this league. We know we have quality players and have never lost our confidence. But we also know it will be a tough game at Hamilton. They are a really good team and I remember that last season they finished third in the table, just behind us. I would include Hamilton in the group along with ourselves, Gretna, Partick and Livingston as promotion contenders. You also have the artificial pitch to cope with but maybe with all this bad weather it will be better than grass! ".
For his part, Owen said, "It is heart-wrenching for Goran and his situation puts things like football into perspective. I think everyone at the club has tried to give him every possible support. I stressed to him that if he needed time off then so be it, but he wants to play and has done really well for us. He is held in such high regard here and the way he has gone about his business during this difficult time speaks volumes for him."
The Saints manager has also confessed an interest in possibly signing former Arabs and TFOD midfielder 35-yr old Derek McInnes, who has been released after 6 months at Millwall (after turning down Saints last summer to go there).
Looking ahead to tomorrow and Savo is doubtful but Kevin James and Darren Sheridan should play although the latter is likely to have some protection on his bruised arm.
December 14th- There are still 48 hours to go before the last game before Xmas but Saints have doubts over three players for the trip to play Hamilton. Darren Sheridan and Savo were already doubts and they've been joined by Kevin James. The skipper only returned to the side last Saturday but apparently has a mouth abscess. Owen told the Courier, "Kevin has already been out for 12 weeks so it would be a blow to lose him again. And Darren has a degree of pain on his bruised arm so we wont know until Saturday if he is ready to play. And we will need to wait and see how Steven gets on this week, so we dont have our problems to seek ". The gaffer also refused to speculate on any possible move for Gretna midfielder Steven Tosh with the 33yr old ex-Saintee a surprise victim of apparent cutbacks at the medias favourite fairytale club.
December 12th- Having
rediscovered some form at the weekend of course now
Jason Scotland is dictating his
future and the Saints striker reckons if we get promotion he'll stay at
McDiarmid which is so magnanimous of him really. Speaking to the Courier,
he said, "There have been suggestions of interest in me from
Germany but I know nothing about that and dont think Id want
to go there or anywhere else. This is my fourth season in Britain and I am
relaxed and comfortable here. My friends and family tell me to stay in
Scotland. Some of them also tell me that with my name I wouldnt go
down too well in England! I think it would be best to take their advice.
Theres been no talks about contracts with St Johnstone as yet. But
the club know I want to get up to the Premier League. If Saints went up
that would be an enticement for me to stay here."
Not one to understate his abilities, he went on, "I think I am better than first-division level. But thats just my opinion. Other people made a different decision when it came to my work permit. If I get back to the SPL next season though Id be confident of performing in a way which shows I am up to that. Ive seen a couple of games involving Dundee United this year and believe the Premier League when I played in it with them two years ago was a better standard than it is currently. It would be easier to play in now."
"Not scoring wasnt something which was getting to me. I had a similar run last year and all strikers go through spells like that. What was playing on my mind though was the fact we werent getting results. As a striker, if you arent scoring and your team is winning then you are still okay. Out of the four games we played before Dundee wed have expected to win maybe two. And after the performance against Gretna we were desperate to go out on Saturday and prove that we were still contenders for the championship. To score twice was good but I thought when I was brought down by Bobby Mann in the second-half I was in the box and I was surprised the referee ruled the foul happened outside the area. I was also surprised that there was no booking for him and a sending off as I was going in on goal. After two good finishes earlier Id have been confident of scoring if Id got past him. And had we got the penalty then Id have been looking for the ball."
Meanwhile Owen reckons Saturday's win combined with results elsewhere was very important. He said, "Wed had a horrible, horrible couple of weeks. But how quickly things change. We might have fallen 12 points behind the leaders but all of a sudden Airdrie have won at home to Gretna, weve beaten Dundee and we are right back in the mix again. However, we have to take that on. Theres no point winning the derby and giving the fans something to shout about then letting ourselves down the next week. We need to get ready now for Hamilton.". The gaffer also admitted that Saints are planning to bring one or two players in on the transfer window with 20yr old midfielder David Weatherston at Queen's Park a possible target.
Bryn Halliwell is hopeful we've
turned the corner after the weekend win. The Saints keeper told the
Courier, "Hopefully its onwards and upwards from now on.
This is a massive result for us. Six points is still a margin but well
get our heads down now and try and claw that deficit back. Mistakes have
been costing us over the last few weeks and Ill hold my hands up, as
will people all over the park. Weve not been at our best recently
but we battled really hard for these points and the boys are ecstatic with
this result. Big Jamesie being back does
help us. After we beat Rangers weve gone through a sticky patch and
its good to have the big man involved again. People say that after
winning at Ibrox we shouldnt have gone to Airdrie and lost as we
did. But these things happen and look at what Airdrie have now done to
Gretna. When they beat us it seemed a fluke because everyone had written
them off but theyve demonstrated once again how all the teams in
this division are capable of beating each other. "
As for his own form he went on, "Since Cats been out injured our results havent gone well and my form had perhaps dipped a little bit. The manager made a decision which he knew I wasnt happy about, but he is there to make decisions and Ive just got my head down and its all turned around. The gaffer pulled me aside just before the team talk today and told me I was back in. Hopefully, as long as I continue to work hard, hell stick with me. "
Darren Sheridan was subbed at half-time at the weekend amid fears he'd broken his arm after Alex Rae did his usual thuggery - luckily a trip to PRI has diagnosed only severe bruising.
9th- Simon Mensing(right)
reckons a win today will go a long way to getting the season back on
track. The Saints midfielder told the Courier, "Any win at the
moment would be good, but because this is a derby game it would mean even
more to the fans. Its a great match for us to get back on track. I
didnt know how big the games against Dundee were until I joined the
club. Its a massive rivalry as far as our supporters are concerned.
There should be a great atmosphere and this is definitely one of the games
of the season. Hopefully, we can get the victory for the fans and
ourselves. Theyve got a few boys who are capable of causing us
problems, so well have to be on the top of our form for this one. We
should have beaten them at Dens Park earlier in the season but we let
ourselves down in only getting a draw. We dont want that to happen
again. We have to think about what weve done wrong because there
have been a few mistakes, but equally you have to say that weve been
unlucky on a few occasions. But that wont shape our season. Its
two bad weeks that are gone and now were looking to cut into that
Surprise, surprise and Savo and Martin Hardie are likely to play. Owen told the paper, "Which-ever players make it I know how we want to go about this match. Hopefully Dundee will come to attack, because if they do that will suit us. Theres no getting away from the fact that weve had a disappointing couple of weeks and were all hurting because were used to winning games. The bottom line is weve lost games because of horrendous individual errors but, apart from that, there hasnt been a lick of paint between the teams in the games weve lost. So you have to put things into perspective. This is a great opportunity to get going again and to bounce back. As a player, derby matches are the ones you really want to be involved in. Theres 20 games to go. We dont want anyone having a lead on us, but we can definitely eat into it "
7pm - Jason Scotland played his part in getting the season back on track with both goals in a 2-1 win over Scumdee, the win made all the sweeter by results elsewhere seeing us move up to 3rd.
Finally we actually had a kind draw in the cup as well with a home tie against Ayr United, game to be played on Saturday January 6th.
December 8th- Some good news for
a change and Savo managed a light
training session yesterday so is in with a chance of playing against his
old club tomorrow but as usual don't expect Owen
to make his mind up until the last minute. The Saints manager told the
Courier, Im hopeful that Savo could play but it will be a
last-minute decision. Hes probably only had about two or three
sessions in the last three weeks so I think we all know that hes not
100%. But we also know how important he is to the team and hes
shown his willingness to help the team when hes not been fully fit.
Martin Hardie and Goran Stanic should play but Kevin James is unlikely to be risked. Owen went on, It will be a terrific atmosphere in the ground. Dundee have hit a bit of form and I think its got the makings of a great game.
Owen's not mincing words about tomorrow's game though and it's importance to the fans. He told the Official Site, "It is the perfect game to have after recent disappointments. We know it has been a disappointing couple of weeks and we are determined to give something back to the supporters tomorrow. The hurt I have felt over recent results has been incredible - the fans will know what I mean - and it is much more difficult to take it as a manager than as a player. It will be late decisions again on team selection but whoever is picked will be ready."
December 6th - We won't be signing the Ghanaian trialist - he did ok in a closed doors game against TFOD (which we lost 4-2 despite leading 2-0) but his fitness is apparently short of what is required - with Owen on record as wanting someone who can go into the team straight away. Better news from the game saw Peaso score again (possibly leading to a starting jersey at the weekend) and Bryn Halliwell putting in a good show in goal.
December 5th- At least there's signs of activity ahead of the transfer window at McDiarmid. The Courier reports that Saints have a Ghanian midfielder on trial. The player had been on trial at Tannadump but wasn't taken any further and Saints will have a look at him in a closed-doors game. Owen meanwhile is looking for some "mental toughness" ahead of the weekend visit by Scumdee. He told the paper, "Its certainly been a disappointing couple of weeks, theres no getting away from that. Theres a danger of over analysing things, but at the moment we seem to be getting punished for every mistake we make, while not taking our chances at the other end. You get spells like this in football and now its all about how we bounce back. The players need to show mental strength and you definitely cant feel sorry for yourselves ". And things aren't helped by the news that Kevin James is unable to train at the moment after going over on his ankle last Friday.
Owen popped his head over the parapet
today after the weekend's defeat and told the Official Site. "To
say I am disappointed is an understatement. As with the previous three
matches it was individual errors that were our undoing and we have got to
eliminate those. We are gifting goals to the opposition at the moment and
that has to stop. However, I am not going to say that our failure to
collect more points is down to those errors alone. This is a team game and
at the moment we are not taking the chances that present themselves at the
other end of the park so with the combination of those two things its
not difficult to work out why we are failing to win games. Jim Weir and I
spoke with the players this morning and we are looking at having a good
week of training and getting back on the rails on Saturday."
As for the controversy over dropping Halliwell, the manager went on, "Bryn Halliwell had been having a sticky spell and so I gave Michael his chance and he is disappointed about the goals he lost but he is highly rated and will bounce back from that. We had a great support down at Gretna and it was very much appreciated. It has been a hard couple of weeks for everyone but I would ask the fans to stay with us in the weeks ahead and I know we will bounce back and give them more good days."
Paul Lawson has been confirmed as suspended this weekend and Goran Stanic's personal circumstances mean that it's as yet unclear whether he'll be available.
Paul Lawson is looking to leave Saints
with some points in the bag before he returns to Parkhead. Back from
suspension for a one-off appearance at Gretna today (before sitting out
the Scum match next weekend), the midfielder said in the Courier, "I
only found out for definite last weekend that I couldnt stay on past
the new year and it was disappointing. I had hoped to be here for the rest
of season and be involved in what we hope and believe will be a challenge
for the titlebut its not to be. Between now and the end of
December, though, my aim is to help Saints as much as I can. Winning at
Gretna would be a great start to my plan. The time here has gone in so
quickly and it has certainly been eventful. I have been injured, sent off
and played when we knocked Rangers out of the CIS Cup. I have really
enjoyed it and when I do go back to Celtic I will have benefited greatly
from being at St Johnstone. I have learned lot of things in that short
time so I want to pay the club back by giving my very best between now and
"The Rangers game was a great achievement and a phenomenal result. That may be, but victory at Gretna could be more valuable to the club in the long term because the league is the priority without a doubt. The gap will go to nine points if we lose but the way we are looking at it is that we could close it to three with a victory. I guess a draw would not be a bad result but we really would like to cut Gretnas lead. The two clubs have a wealth of experience in their ranks so it will be a fascinating match-up. A lot of the guys in both line-ups have played in the SPL and will be keen to get back. The quality is there in either side to achieve promotion, but hopefully we can do it."
Kevin James is in the squad but Martin Hardie and Savo are still doubts.
5pm - Loan keeper Michael McGovern started in place of Bryn Halliwell but was apparently at fault for the first goal as Saints lost 2-0 at Gretna with Saints now 9 points off the lead and the PA dusting down the crisis headlines. More to follow no doubt.
1st- Owen moved last night to get
cover in for off-form keeper Bryn
Halliwell with 22yr old Michael McGovern joining on a
month's loan from Sellik - he'll be on the bench at least at Raydale Park
We've got plenty of worries ahead of the game. Goran Stanic may still play - the left-back is awaiting paperwork before he can return to his father's funeral in Macedonia and if that means a departure after the weekend, he might be available for the trip. There are major doubts over Martin Hardie and Savo(right) while a reaction in training means that Kevin James will also be a late decision.
The skipper told the Courier he won't risk playing if he's not ready. He said, "Of course I want to play in such a big match for the club. However, we dont want to risk it for one game if that means there could be a setback and I would be out for longer. We have spoken about it, the manager and I, and there is no point in rushing back if Im not right. We wont be stupid about it. So it could be that Saturday could be just too soon but we will step up my training over the next day or so and monitor the situation. I have trained only sporadically for the last couple of weeks due to bad weather and underfoot conditions, etc, so it was good to get the game against the (United) under-19s. I felt tired afterwards but maybe it was a blessing that they were all younger players because they ran about non-stop and that really tested me. "
As fo the current bad patch, he went on, "Things have gone a bit pear-shaped over the last wee while. We have only got ourselves to blame for that. What we must do is dust ourselves down and get on with it. I have no doubt we have the players capable of winning at Gretna and that is our aimto win. Previously, when big games have come around like the Ibrox one, we have managed to deliver the goods. Beating both them and Dundee United in the cup was great but we have had a jolt of realism over the last wee while. So we are fully focused on the league and what would be great is if the fans could get right behind us. I believe there could be about 500 going down therewhich is terrificand hopefully we can give them something to cheer about "
Paul Sheerin will play - his wife has just given birth to a baby daughter and congratulations to the Saints midfielder.
Tickets for tomorrow's game are still available with around 450 of the 700 allocation sold already.
Top Of News
November 29th - It's been confirmed that Goran Stanic will miss out this weekend as he travels back to his homeland. Owen said, "We all want to win football matches but at times other things take priority". The club have also confirmed in today's Courier the imminent departure of veteran midfielder Darren Sheridan who will join Barrow in the transfer window. The manager went on, "Darren has a young family and its been a difficult situation for all concerned. We want to be as helpful as we can and have agreed with him that hell knuckle down until January when he can go with our blessing. Darren was on the bench last Saturday and theres every chance hell continue to be involved between now and when he leaves. " - something he may do a week on Saturday as it was also confirmed that Paul Lawson will be suspended for the Scumdee game after crossing the red line with his disciplinary points at Dingwall.
November 28th- Saints beat the
Arabs U-19 side 4-0 in a closed doors game yesterday as some of the fringe
players got a run out. But that was as far as the good news went with
Savo already a major doubt for the
weekend trip to Gretna. Owen paid a
visit to Clicheville and told the Courier, "We need to cut out
the individual errors which have dogged us over the last few weeks and to
take the chances weve been creating. Its also time for us to
show our character and mental strength. Theres no point dwelling on
the recent results. We require to focus on the positive which is that if
we win on Saturday the gap between ourselves and Gretna will be back to
just three points. Savo nearly missed
the Livi game and did well to last as long as he did. He wasnt at
his sharpest but gave every ounce of effort he had which I applaud him
for. However, he is now a major doubt for this weekend. "
4.30pm - The latest doubt is Goran Stanic. The Saints left-back has had to return to Macedonia after the death of his father and understandably there is a doubt whether or not he can make it back for the Gretna game. At least it puts a lot of things into perspective after the weekend and our thoughts and sympathies are with him.
November 27th- Saturday's goalscorer Martin Hardie seems to think the last week's results which have seen us take one out of a possible nine points are just a blip. The midfielder told the Courier, "We knew the kind of game we were going to get against Airdrie and it was just a battle in which they won all the second balls. During the week against Ross County if we had come in at half time 5-1 up, no one could have questioned that. Today Livingston scored first but if Jason Scotland had taken a first-half chance it might have been different. We have had a reasonable record at home for over a year so we are bitterly disappointed to lose this game. But its a competitive league and we will keep battling away and performances will soon turn again. We have Gretna next and, while its not going to decide the title, its going to be some game "
November 26th - Another morning after and another moan from Owen. The Saints manager gave his reaction to yesterday's pish on the Official Site. He said, "Our passing was poor in the first half and Livvy certainly shaded it and to say that I am disappointed with that is an understatement. I spoke to the players at half-time and thought we were much better at the start of the second half. Our passing was better and we were getting crosses into the box and to me it looked like a matter of time until we scored perhaps a criticism would be that at times we wanted to walk the ball into the net but then we switched off and left ourselves with a mountain to climb. Weve got caught with a sucker punch. It looked like a foul on the keeper from where I was standing but the referee didnt give it and we have lost yet another soft goal. To drop the three points is disappointing and to lose our proud 15 month unbeaten league record at home makes it doubly so. We now come in and work even harder to sort it out"
25th - Allan McManus(right) is
out to make up for the midweek disappointment at Dingwall. The stand-in
skipper told the Courier, "It was a tough one to take, especially
for me personally, because I was the one who let their player get a header
in at the death. Wed totally controlled the whole match up until
that point. In fact, the first half was probably the best weve
played all season in terms of possession, passing football and the chances
we created. Any neutral couldnt have complained if wed won by
five or six. The good thing is that weve got a chance to put things
right. Well have to be on the top of our game for this one. Lapses
of concentration have cost us recently and we need to be consistent. We
know we can beat anyone on our day. Were only one win away from the
top of the table and Saturdays fixtures mean that something has to
give. We want to get back to a situation where our fate is in our own
hands and we dont have to concern ourselves with other results. ".
In terms of injuries, all Owen would say was a few players, "wont be 100% but will be prepared to do their bit"
6.45pm - Saints title hopes took a pounding today along with our home record thanks to a 2-1 defeat to Livi. Martin Hardie got our goal but again slack goalkeeping cost us a goal and too many players just weren't willing to work. We've slipped to 4th as well and are now seven points off the pace after Gretna gubbed Partick 4-0.
November 24th - Confirmation
today that Paul Lawson is suspended for
tomorrow's home match against Meadowbank. To add to
Mensing and Martin Hardie are all
still carrying knocks from midweek. The Saints manager wasn't too unhappy
after the ddraw on Wendesday and told the Courier, "How it
finished 2-2, I dont know. I was looking for a reaction from the
players after a poor performance against Airdrie last Saturday and I got
that. There were a couple of individual errors which cost us the goals,
but I couldnt fault the effort of the players. If we perform like
that for the rest of the season well get a lot of victories. "
Despite an appearance on the bench on Wednesday, Kevin James is still lacking match practice so apparently won't take part tomorrow. Speaking on the Official Site, Owen said, "As I said yesterday, after the disappointment of the Airdrie performance I was very happy with the reaction of the players at Dingwall in terms of the football they played for most of the game. It was just a travesty that we didnt get the three points. But I brought the players in yesterday and we had a talk about it and worked on a few things and we are all geared up for the game against Livingston. I know we are heading into games against teams higher up the league but I think that more than ever this season there is nothing to choose between any of the ten sides so we just take each week as it comes." Darren Sheridan (who looks set to move to Barrow in the transfer window) is available after missing out midweek looking after his sick wife. The manager reckoned Savo should be fit despite having to limp off with a knock at Dingwall.
November 23rd - With the depression still hanging about after the players threw away 2 points at Dingwall last night, there is a chance to look forward to the semi-final. The preliminary arrangements for the sale of tickets for the semi-final have been announced. The club are likely to have around 3,300 tickets and these will go on sale first to season ticket holders and then to holders of a voucher which will be dished out at this weekend's home match against Meadowbank. No info on prices yet or when the tickets will go on sale.
November 22nd -
Savo says he's not bothered about
scoring against County at Dingwall tonight as long as we come back down
the A9 with all three points. Despite getting a goal at the weekend the
result was a disappointment and the Saints striker told the Courier, "The
most important thing is winning games, and although I got on the
scoresheet again that wasnt any consolationI would rather have
three points than a goal. Everybody at the club was disappointed with the
result and the performance. At least we have a chance to get it right
against Ross County. I feel any team that can string a few wins together
can make real progress and I want that team to be us. We still possess the
confidence in ourselves that was evident when we went to Ibrox and beat
Rangers in the CIS Cup. Now we have to show that we can bounce back from
what was a bad result at Airdrie. "
Savo, Simon Mensing and Martin Hardie all trained yesterday after picking up knocks and should be fit. Steven Anderson still has a chance of making it as well but is only expected to do light training before the game. Owen said, "I am looking for a positive reaction. We will have fans going up there who have worked hard in order to spend good money to see us. (apart from those of us that can't get away from our work!!!!) The players need to show them that they want to make amends. "
There is a pitch inspection at Dingwall today after heavy rain recently has meant some doubt according to the Retard.
9.45pm - Goals came from Paul Sheerin and Martin Hardie but a last-minute penalty (with Paul Lawson sent off for handball in the box) meant a 2-2 draw against Ross Co and only one point. Elsewhere Partick and Clyde shared the points in a 1-1 draw.
Finally the tickets for Gretna go on sale at the club to season ticket holders tomorrow, Friday and Saturday with a general sale starting next Monday.
November 20th - Surprise,
surprise, Owen wasn't too happy after
Saturday's defeat in Buckfastania. The Saints manager told the Official
site, "We were really poor. Having said that, we lost a very soft
first goal, and goals change games. Airdrie hadn't particularly threatened
until that point. We went into a wee lull and lost another poor goal to a
set play - were weren't quick enough to the second ball and the striker
was very alert to it. We were 2-0 down and huffed and puffed a bit after
that. We got the equaliser and tried to push on, but it wasn't to be. I
thought we should have had a stonewall penalty at the end which might have
rescued us, but sometimes these decisions don't go your way. We were well
below the level we needed today and that sums it up."
With only 2 wins away from home all season, it's not exactly championship-winning form so hopefully we'll get back to winning ways this Wednesday with the rearranged trip to Dingwall.
Meanwhile midfielder Ryan Stevenson looks set to have his loan deal to Ayr extended until the end of the year - both clubs are happy but it still has to be ratified by the SFL.
6pm - Steven Anderson is still a doubt for the trip north after limping off at Airdrie. If he doesn't make it, the game will come too soon for Kevin James so expect to see Simon Mensing drop back from midfield to partner Allan McManus
November 18th - A bad day at the office today saw Saints drop to fourth after a 2-1 defeat at Airdrie with Savo getting a consolation for us after Bryn Halliwell was lucky to stay on the park in the first half when he brought down Prunty in the box. A total mess on the park today and hopefully it'll act as a bit of a wake-up call for the players.
17th - We face Airdrie tomorrow who are currently without a manager
following the sacking of Sandy Stewart at the start of the week.
Owen Coyle(right) told the Courier,"Its
a horrible situation. Sandy is one of my best mates and it will be surreal
not having him taking their team. I speak to him every day and he phoned
me early on Monday morning straight after he got the bad news. If Im
being honest, there was total disbelief on my part. I am not being biased
because hes my friend and because Ive known and worked with
him for years. Airdrie United have had nothing but success under Sandy. In
his first year (2002) they came within a minute of promotion from the
second division; then, when I was on loan from Dundee United, it was a
breath of fresh air to play for the team and we tore that league apart and
won the title by 11 points. The following season they finished fifth in
the first divisionnot bad for a promoted team. I then joined St
Johnstone, but even last year Airdrie consolidated their position while on
a reduced budget and having lost many players. They may be sitting at the
bottom of the table but I watched them at Hamilton last Saturday and only
bad luck beat them. They were a side still full of spirit and looked
capable of climbing the league. So I have no doubt Sandy was the right man
to address their problems and, regardless of who they now get, they will
be doing well to get a better manager than him."...plenty of
objectivity there then.
As for the game the gaffer is expecting a tougher encounter now. "The Airdrie boys will probably feel they let their manager down by not achieving the results they have been striving for. They will be keen to show something against us. They were always going to be tough opponents anyway and Broomfield is a notoriously difficult ground to visit. So we have to go there and impose ourselves on the game. It is up to us to perform and if we play to our maximum we can win. Beating Rangers has given everyone a lift and the players should have a great sense of belief because of what happened at Ibrox. But that game was over a week ago now and the semi-final against Hibs is more than a couple of months away. Our aim for this season has always been the title and we have an opportunity to make more progress by winning this game."
Jason is due back from international duty today while Andy Lawrie and Martin Hardie have only just returned to training after suffering from the flu.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
November 16th - Saints have
announced that the Gretna game in a fortnight will be an all-ticket affair
with Saints getting around 700 briefs. They're not on sale yet though but
prices are £12/6 for the terracing or £14/7 for the stand behind
the goal (which apparently has pillars to block the view).
And they've finally decided on the venue for the semi with Saints taking on Hibs at Tynecastle on Wednesday January 31st at 7.45pm. No surprise that the game is all-ticket but we're also going to be live on the BBC. Ticket details to be announced in that grand old traditional way of "due course".
November 15th - Good news for
Paul Sheerin yesterday with the Saints
midfielder picking up the SFL Division One Player of the Month award for
October. He told the Courier, "Im absolutely delightedthis
is the first league award Ive received. Its been a great month
for the club and for myself and Ive weighed in with a few goalsfour
in three games, which is the kind of return I would aim for. But its
all about how the team plays overall and its good that the team has
been playing well, with just the one blip against Clyde last month, and it
always helps as a player if those around you are performing well too. The
win against Rangers was a nice bonus and showed the self-belief in the
team that we thought we could go to Ibrox and catch them out when they
were struggling a bit. It would be great to continue in the same vein and
gain promotion, which is what the main aim is this season. "
Elsewhere and the Saints youth side went down 4-1 at home to Gretna to exit the Youth Cup last night.
Still no decision on the cup venue either or whether or not the game will be acceptable for the BBC (who must be very confused with no OF side in the semis)
14th- After a wee break it's bad news to return to with the
revelation that a operation on a finger has ruled
Kevin Cuthbert out for the next 8
weeks. Bryn Halliwell is still first
choice but it means a chance for U-19 keeper Gordon
O'Brien(right) to step up. Owen Coyle
told the Courier, "Its a blow losing
Kevin because he has been pushing
Bryn Halliwell really hard for the
first-team jersey and the form Bryns been showing has had a lot to
do with that. Well have Gordon
training with us and if he shapes up well then hell get the job. We
always have the option of trying to get someone else in if need be. "
Meanwhile the bulk of the Saints squad got their flu jabs apart from 3 or 4 who apparently turned chicken (and better not bloody get ill!!!). And the SFL are going finalise the date and venue for our semi-final against Hibs today with Tynecastle or Hampden the apparent alternatives.
Finally we'll be up against an unknown factor this weekend when we head through to Airdrie with the Diamonds punting their manager Sandy Stewart yesterday.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
November 11th- It's a nice
weekend off due to the Challenge Cup final involving Ross County - which
gives us all the more opportunity to enjoy the comments on Wednesday
night's historic win. Savo has spoken of
his goals on the Official Site and said, "Ive had a few
good moments in my career that I cherish but in terms of the result for
the team combined with my contribution to that result then it would have
to be the highlight. Ive actually won at Ibrox before when I
was with Dundee back in 2001 I was one of the scorers in a 2-0 win but
Wednesday was more special. I didnt have much time to think about
the first one, it just came to me and I had a split second to get it
right. The second one was obviously a bit different as I had a few moments
more to think about it but your instincts just take over and I was quite
focussed as I ran through on goal"
He also praised the fans and said, "It was the biggest travelling Saints support I have played in front of and to see the reaction at the end was very special. It has let all the players here see what the potential is if we can get it right in the long term and we are determined to have other days like that!"
November 10th- With the Saints
fans still on a high, Owen Coyle gave
his reaction to the cup draw. He told the Courier, "It is not
going to get any easier for us in this competition as Hibernian are an
extremely good side. In fact they are probably the best team left in the
competition and will no doubt be glad to have drawn us. We will obviously
go into the tie as underdogs but, having beaten Dundee United and now
Rangers, that suits us just fine. I do not think Hibs will underestimate
us. They will be favourites but we have a good team and they will know
As for Wednesday night, the manager went on, "It was a great resultit was a terrific performance and we could maybe even have scored more goals. Having said that if you had offered us 2-0 before the game we certainly would have taken it! I would classify it as my best result as a manager. The performance against United in the last round was tremendous but to go to Ibrox and beat Rangers, regardless of their current form, is a massive achievement. To my mind Rangers are a massive football club and Ibrox is one of the finest stadiums in Europeto win there was very special. I am loath to select any individuals but Steven's two finishes were absolutely top class. Having said that it was a great team effort and everybody played their part superbly. "
Meanwhile Geoff Brown said in the same paper, "It was a massively satisfying night and I must admit it was one result I really enjoyed. It is certainly not the case that we were hanging on at any point either. It was 2-0 but it could have actually been more. While Bryn had a relatively quiet night the Rangers keeper was kept busy throughout. We stopped at a hotel for a few drinks and it was just great. Owen had urged me to stop even though he does not drink. I think everyone was just on such a high and it seemed like the right thing to do. In my time here St Johnstone have achieved much, but never having seen us win at Ibrox made the evening extremely special for me personally. I am sure it was a night all the fans will savour as well. We are sometimes knocked for the quantity of our support but 1000 turned up in Glasgow and gave the team great backing. I would like to think this could be a platform for the team and fans alike to build on. "
And Steven Anderson paid tribute to the 1000 Saints supporters that made the journey saying, "The fans were absolutely brilliant on Wednesday. Playing in front of a big crowd in a big stadium could be a bit intimidating but they made loads of noise and their backing definitely helped "
November 9th- It's the morning
after and no doubt there are a lot of hangovers in Sainteeland.
Owen Coyle has spoken of the hoodoo
being broken last night. He told the BBC, "I don't think ayone
could argue about the result and we could have had a few more goals. This
is one of the stadiums where we aspire to be next season and I told the
players to go out with self-belief and give it their best shot. It is a
terrific result and all credit to the players. I said beforehand that I
wanted to represent the first division by playing some decent football and
we did that. I stressed to the players at half-time that if we had
self-belief then we could do something and we scored two goals and could
have added more. We merited our place in the last eight having beaten
Dundee United 3-0 in the last round and we merit our place in the last
four now. We needed two things to happen tonightus to be at our
maximum and Rangers not to be at their best, and to come to Ibrox and win
is a terrific result. "
Savo was just as confident about the semi-finals and told the Courier, "Well take anybody in the draw for the semi-finals because as a first division team you dont expect to be in semis of national tournaments. I guess I am being picky but its a pity I didnt get three! I have not scored an overhead kick before so that has to be one of my best and the second one was a ball over the top and I kept my composure. We all knew we could come here and not get beaten and it is a great feeling. "
6pm - The cup draw was made at 2pm today and Saints arguably got the hardest tie against Hibs with Killie v Falkirk the other semi pairing. The match is set for either Tuesday 30th or Wed 31st January 2007 at an undecided neutral venue.
8th- With Sellik falling victim at home to Falkirk last night,
Savo(right) believes we can go out and
win at the Death Star tonight. The Saints striker said in the Courier,"Ive
good memories of that game because going to Ibrox and winning isnt
something a team like Dundee does very often. But Lee Wilkie and Lee
Mair had money on 1-0 and they were telling me my car was going to be
vandalised when we got back to Dundee, although thankfully it wasnt
. It goes without saying that we are massive underdogsbut we have a
good team here. Weve got the ability to cause them problems and weve
also shown we have a decent defence. Itll be interesting to see how
things go. The first division is a good league. Ive also played in
the Premier League and find it easier to play in because you tend to get
more time on the ball and teams are generally less defensive. We played
well against Dundee United in the last round and well lift it again
on Wednesday and I think we will get a result. No-one is going to Ibrox in
a defeatist frame of mind. We arent expecting to be beaten and
looking just to enjoy the occasion. We are capable of getting into the
next round and thats the aim "
Paul Lawson will play after getting permisssion from Owen Coyle who said, "I spoke to Kenny McDowell, who spoke to Gordon Strachan, and weve been given permission to play Paul. The issue of involving him in cup ties was never discussed at the time he signed for us but it would have been wrong not to check whether Celtic were happy for us to do that.". As for the other injury worries, the manager went on, "Bryn Halliwell, Allan McManus and Simon Mensing all managed to do the warm-up this morning and Ive said to the three of them that if they can play at Ibrox Ill give them a weeks rest after that. I think theyll make it."
For TFOD it looks like Barry Ferguson will sit out. There's also a minute's applause before the game tonight in honour of ex-Gers player Bobby Shearer who died at the weekend.
Finally, Paul Sturrock was yesterday named manager of Swindon.
Midnight - Bloody hell - where do you begin. Simply one of the best nights to be a Saintee as we went and gubbed the Huns 2-0 thanks to 2 fantastic goals from Savo(right) to put our name in the hat alongside Falkirk, Hibs and Killie in the semi-finals. 1000 Saints fans saw a late kick-off and plenty of excitement (as well as winding up the home fans) and one of the best performances from a Saints side in recent years with everyone giving their all. Expect the usual media post-mortem for the OF this week but hopefully we'll get a wee bit of credit for showing that the "diddy" clubs can still take on the best of them! Bring on the rest!!
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
7th- Owen Coyle says we're not
changing our style of play just because we're off to the Death Star to
take on the Evil Empire. With The Forces of Darkness looking shaky after
losing at Tannadump, the Saints manager told the Courier, "This
is a brilliant opportunity for us and appropriate reward for the players
for the way in which they performed against Dundee United in the last
round. Well look to be just as positive on Wednesday although
whether well be allowed to do that is another thing. Ive gone
to Ibrox before as a player with teams whove sat in and hoped for a
0-0. From a spectators point of view that cant have been great
to watch and equally it wasnt great to play in. I want my players to
go there this week and try and show what they can do. We sold out our
allocation of 1000 tickets within a day and we owe it to the fans to be as
positive as we can be. These people have paid good money to follow us and
we have an obligation to give them something to shout about. This approach
could backfire on us but wed be wrong not to have a go. "
"People will look at the fact Rangers lost to Dundee United on Sunday and say that shows weve got a decent chance. But that match was away from home and the last couple of home games theyve played in Europe have seen Rangers turn in terrific performances. We are under no illusionsthis is a big ask. There is no doubt that if both teams play to their maximum Rangers will win. For us to win three things are going to have to happen. Well need to play out of our skins, Rangers will have to be slightly off the boil and well have to carry a wee bit luck. "
Meanwhile we've got a few injury problems with Bryn Halliwell, Allan McManus and Simon Mensing(right) all nursing knocks, the latter a back strain which has meant he's hardly trained in the last week and only just passed a fitness test for the Partick game. Owen said, "On Friday, Mensing, Halliwell and McManus couldnt take part in training which was a bit of a concern. But it sums up the spirit we have in the squad that they not only came in on Saturday prepared to go out and play but were terrific in the game. The three of them still arent right but given weve no match next weekend and theyll be able to recover, then Im hopeful theyll be fit for Wednesday. "
Jason and Paul Lawson are free from suspension but Saints are still waiting to see if Lawson has clearance to play. Willie McLaren is still cup-tied though.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
Bryn Halliwell spoke out after
Saturday's win about the ongoing speculation concerning
Owen Coyle and the Pars job. The Saints
keeper said, "Its natural that there should be speculation
linking Owen Coyle with other clubs and
I think it is only a matter of time before he works his way up. It would
be a massive loss if he went. He is a good coach and hopefully we can hold
on to him for a while yet. Good luck to him if he gets the chance, though,
because he has told the players that if any of us have an opportunity to
move on to a higher level he wont stand in our way "
As for the win, the manager himself told the Courier, "Our all-round performance was exactly what I am looking for. The spirit and sense of togetherness was brilliant. Weve been working for 18 months to bring that on and things are going in the right direction here. I am flattered if people outwith this club think I am doing a reasonable job. But I havent heard anything, nor have St Johnstone ". Elsewhere, the paper reports that Owen is apparently no longer a "favourable option" possibly because they've suddenly realised how much cash they'll have to splash.
4th - Steven Milne is expecting a
tougher game than the last time we met, sorry gubbed Partick. The Saints
striker told the Courier, "You wouldnt have thought they
would be top after wed beaten them 5-1 but they deserve to be there
and the table doesnt lie. Weve had too many draws since that
win and Partick Thistle have shown the difference winning rather than
drawing games makes by going top, despite two big defeats against
ourselves and Gretna (6-0). The lads are treating this as a big game and
we know we can go above them and maybe go back to the top of the league if
we win. Wed like to open up a gap after that but the most important
thing is being top after the last day of the season. Since the Dundee
United game Ive only been able to train once or twice a week and
played on a Saturday, which is not ideal because you lose some of your
sharpness. My knee was swelling up after a match and would only go down by
a Wednesday. I could only manage light training on a Thursday and a
Friday. Obviously that catches up with you. This is the first full weeks
training Ive had since then and Im feeling a lot better for
it. It certainly makes a difference to your game. "
Owen Coyle has still to decide between Peaso and Willie McLaren to start up front and he said, "Peaso has been training well and has given me food for thought, and Willie McLaren has been looking a lot better after the problems he had a couple of weeks ago. Willie made his debut against Thistle and was terrific, so he might get the chance again. Weve also got Darren Sheridan ready to come in. Its got the makings of a great game. Were doing well at home, Partick are top and there should be a good crowd to watch two teams going for the win. The last time we played Thistle we were behind them because they had made a great start. People have looked at their two heavy defeats but they have won a lot of other games and it doesnt surprise me theyre at the top at this stage. All credit to them for getting there but we know that if we win well go above them. "
7.30pm - In the end it was a so comfortable, we had our pipes and slippers out sort of cruising 2-0 win over Partick which saw us return to the top of the table with the goals coming courtesy of Sheerinho(right) and Peaso.
The bigger news though is that Radio Scotland today followed up the Dunfermline Free Press (one of the bigger circulation papers so it must be a big story) report that the Pars have targeted Owen Coyle to fill the vacancy as Lieshmans mouthpiece. There's been no official word from Saints but expect a strong report denying any approach has been made and criticising any club that would try and test the water by leaking stories to a wee paper. Given that the Pars have already balked at paying a rumoured 50 grand compensation to get John Robertson from Livi, it's interesting how much they honestly think they'd be let off with paying for a similarly rated manager who's under contract until 2009. Of course the real conspiracy theorists might say that it's interesting this sort of story surfaces the day we're due to play some West Coast media darlings and only a few days before we head to the Death Star to take on The Forces of Darkness.
8pm - OK the Official Statement is out at the club and quotes Geoff Brown saying, Owen is under contract here as a manager and as a registered player and we have received no approach from anyone for his services. If this is someone flying a kite with the notion of him moving then it is very naughty, particularly before a very important game for the Club and it is certainly not the way that this club would conduct its business. . The manager himself said after the game, "Im flattered if someone at another club thinks I am doing a reasonable job here but I havent heard anything and I dont know how these stories start. Having signed an extension not that long ago Ive got a contract here until 2009 and Im enjoying being here its a lovely football club. We are all striving to get back into the SPL and our aim is to do what St Mirren have done and get up a division and establish ourselves as a top division side. Im now 100% concentrating on the CIS Cup game with Rangers on Wednesday. Ibrox will be a great stage to play on and we want to be playing those sides every week and that is our aim"
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
3rd - Some good news for Saints with Kevin
James(right) on the mend and set to begin training next week with a
view to being available for a return to the first team in another three
For tomorrow's visit by Partick, it looks like Peaso and Willie McLaren are set to start in place of the banned Jason and Paul Lawson
Peaso has spoken to the Official Site of his chance tomorrow to finally start. The striker said, "There is never a good time for someone to be suspended as we are all in this together but obviously from a personal point of view I would relish being able to get a game from the start tomorrow in place of Jason. I need games now - that is the only way I am going to get match fit and hopefully tomorrow will be the start of something for me. I would love to get back among the goals against Thistle but as long as somebody scores them and we get a win that is main thing. Of course I would love to get a game at Ibrox next Wednesday but at the moment Im focussing on doing what I can against Thistle if selected." Elsewhere and the forgotten man at Saints in Neil Janczyk is back at the club after completing his 3 month loan spell at Raith Rovers.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
November 1st - No more word on team news for the weekend, but it looks like Peaso will start in place of the suspended Jason, while Darren Sheridan and Willie McLaren are both in with a chance of replacing bad-boy Paul Lawson. Saints are expecting a tough game with Partick unbeaten away from home this season.
Top Of News
October 31st- Expect some shake-ups to the side this weekend with Paul Lawson and Jason suspended. The former won't be punished by the club for his red card and Owen Coyle told the Courier, "We have spoken to Paul and while there may not have been a lot of contact he should not have lifted his hands to an opponent. Having said that we feel we really should not have lost the game to Clyde. What has happened has happened and we are just looking forward to what is a massive game against Partick Thistle this weekend. Against Clyde we had the two best chancesreally excellent opportunities which we should have taken. We lost what I consider to be a cheap goal and will just have to bounce back as best we can. Results meant Partick Thistle went top at the weekend and we are looking forward to testing ourselves against them on Saturday."
October 30th- Owen Coyle was staying fairly neutral about Saturday's red card. He told the Courier, "The linesman must have seen something to give it, hes not going to raise his flag for nothing."....not that it stopped Clyde boss Joe Miller saying how he saw the whole thing. The Saints gaffer tried to put a positive slant on things though, saying, "Im disappointed to lose our unbeaten league record. I thought we had the best chance of the first half with Hardie but Paul Lawson's sending off gave Clyde the initiative in the second half in terms of numerical advantage. In the second half we also had the two best chances of the game. It was a great goal by the lad Imrie but we could have defended the pass inside the full back better. "
29th - Saints head for Cumbernauld today to take on Clyde and
Simon Mensing(right) is another
looking to establish our position at the top of the table. He told the
Courier, "Its great to be top of the league and our goal
now is to stay there. It is better to be out in front than, as was the
case for us last term, chasing the leaders. There is still a long, long
way to go but the ideal thing would be to put space between us and the
likes of Partick Thistle and Gretna. There are a lot of teams in this
division who can beat any other on their day. You want the rest to take
points off each other while we keep on winning. We are now there to be
shot down but, to be honest, that is nothing new for us because even last
season teams seemed to raise their games against us because we were one of
the bigger names in the league. I guess we sent out a message with what
was a commanding performance against Queen of the South. We actually had a
couple of displays like that beforehand which werent reflected in
the scoreline. This time we managed to turn our chances into goals and
hopefully the good form can continue at Broadwood. The confidence is
certainly high and, although it is a hard place to visit, we are all
looking forward to the game."
7pm - A Pish afternoon all round saw Saints lose 1-0 at Broadwood to a bunch of cheats with Paul Lawson shown a straight red card in the first half for an alleged elbow. Results elsewhere mean we've been pushed back to third in a crappy day all round.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
October 27th -
Owen Coyle reckons
Peaso is finally back to his best
form. The Saints manager told the Courier, "I was really pleased
with Peters performance against Dundee and I have always said that
if fully fit he could be in any team in this division. He has been
desperate to get back among the goals and you saw that in the way he
celebrated scoring against Queen of the South. There is no better sight
for a striker than seeing the ball hit the back of the net and he was
obviously delighted. The boy has had so much bad luck on the injury front
over the seasons but, all credit to him, he comes in here every day with a
smile on his face. So it is great to have him as an option and the timing
is great ".
The last point is one to note since it's been confirmed that Jason is suspended for the Partick game a week on Saturday and Savo is still apparently suffering from a knee injury although has managed to train so merely faces the standard late fitness test ahead of tomorrow's trip to Cumbernauld. Speaking of the game, the gaffer went on, "We stepped things up last Saturday but it is one thing to get to the top of the league and another to remain there. Last season we were playing catch-up to St Mirren and couldnt really afford to slip up in any game after the new year. We were 13 points behind at one stage and it is certainly nicer being the ones in front this time. Hopefully, the mental strength we showed to hang on until near the end of the campaign will stand us in good stead this time around. And, although Clyde will be tough opposition, it is a game that we know we can win if every player does his job "
October 24th - Some good news to start the day with Saints progressing in the Forfarshire Cup last night with a 1-0 win over the Scum courtesy of a goal from Owen Coyle. The Saints side was a mixture of fringe players and U-19s. Elsewhere and Neil McCallum looks set to cut his loan spell at Alloa short after picking up an injury requiring an operation on his foot which rules him out until January.
23rd - Paul Lawson(right) was
pleased to get on the scoresheet at the weekend. He told the Courier, "I
have not really been known for my goalscoring I would like to think that
is something I can add to my game while Im at St Johnstone. I am
here to help the boys get back to the Premierleague any way I can. Being
at Saints is benefiting me already as I am getting first-team games rather
than Tuesday afternoon reserve matches and I am enjoying every minute.
Looking at Charlie Adam you can see how it worked for him. He got the
experience of playing every Saturday for St Mirren before going back to
Rangers. And it is nice to be in a team that is now sitting at the top of
the league. Everyone is confident and the boys are flying just now."
Owen Coyle also praised the midfielder. "I am a big admirer of his and he wants to make an impact here. He had a broken foot at Celtic but is getting closer to full fitness and we hope to take him on to the next level. You have seen his range of passing, short and long, and I knew he would be a valuable addition to our squad. He is on loan until the end of December and we will see what happens after that."
6.30pm - It's not all good news today though - Jason Scotland's booking from Saturday mean he's going to have to sit out the Partick game in a couple of weeks.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
October 22nd - Owen Coyle was a happy man after yesterday's win. He's quoted in the Sunday Times saying, "I think we have been threatening to get a result like that for some time now, but it was nice to get a clean sheet too and some of our link-up play was great to watch today."
October 21st -
Owen Coyle is looking to open up a gap
over the rest of the sides at the top today by improving on the recent run
of draws with 3 points today. He told the Courier, "Its
certainly very tight at the top and now is the time to go on a run. We are
unbeaten but I want to see the draws turned into wins. Theres a
sense of frustration at the moment because theres no doubt that we
should have won a lot of the games that we drew in the first quarter.
Looking back I dont feel there were any of the five draws where I
felt we were lucky to take a point. Against Hamilton and Clyde we had a
lot of chances, against Dundee we had the game won and threw it away as
far as I was concerned. The Livingston match was probably the most even of
them and last week, even though we scored a late equaliser, it would have
been an injustice if we had lost. Id probably mark us at about seven
out of 10 for the first quarter. I certainly couldnt have asked for
any more effort and commitment but I know we have more to come. The
players have now seen all the other teams and while they know there are
some good ones, they know theyre a match for them. So hopefully theyll
look at the first quarter and take confidence from it. I want our unbeaten
run to continue with draws turned into wins. "
It's going to be a tough game today though and he went on, "They went to Hamilton and should have won, and by all accounts they should have won at Partick Thistle as well. We have to focus on our own performance, make sure were on top of our game and not take anything for granted. When things are going against you at the bottom of the table youre a very dangerous team "
6.30pm - A masterclass of dominating football today saw us romp home as 5-0 winners over QoS with goals courtesy of a brace from Paul Sheerin and one each from Paul Lawson, Peter MacDonald and Savo. All of which leaves us nicely top of the league tonight on goal difference ahead of Partick Thistle with Accies and Gretna both dropping points today. Nice day overall really.
October 20th - Tickets are
almost gone for the CIS game and apparently TFOD are so scared they won't
give us any more so we'll have about 1000 Saintees to take on their hordes
Closer to home and Paul Lawson has responded to treatment with some light training and looks set to make the squad for tomorrow's game. Savo has also managed a full week's training and Owen Coyle used up his season's quota of cliches and told the Courier, "Savo put in a tremendous shift during the Gretna game but instead of taking it easy he has been flying this week"
Finally "commiserations" to ex-manager Judas Sturrock with the large-eared one the victim of a backstabbing exercise from the Sheff Wed board to find himself punted from the manager's role yesterday. Bet it feels rotten to get the ground pulled from under you like that doesn't it?
6.30pm - Tomorrow's game is an easy one on ppaer butBryn Halliwell isn't taking things for granted. He told the Official Site, "Anyone can beat anyone in this league and from what I have heard Queen of the South have been relatively unlucky not to win at least a couple of their games. Every game for Saints is massive because the situation at the top of the league just now is incredible with four sides all on the same points and others tucked right in behind. To be honest, we are very disappointed that we are not two or four points clear of that pack as we should have won a couple of the recent games but have had to settle for draws. We are proud to be unbeaten in the league but cannot afford to underestimate the challenge Queens will give to that record tomorrow." As for his own game the keeper went on, "I didnt get any pre-season games with Dunfermline so I came to Perth cold in respect of match practice and I have had to bed myself in. However, Im in the swing of things now and delighted to be playing regularly. The boys in defence have been great for me so far - I'm disappointed for Kevin James and Kevin Rutkiewicz but they are making their own progress in recovering from their respective injuries now and I have to say that Allan McManus has been superb and Steven Anderson has grabbed his chance with both hands. Allan has been round the blocks a few times and knows what it is all about but I think Ando, who is inexperienced in comparison, has done really well."
Paul Lawson is available tomorrow but Ryan Stevenson won't be near the ground - he's been allowed to go on a month's loan to Ayr United to get some match experience.
Finally, if you've not got a ticket for the Death Star forget it - the last of the Saints allocation was sold this morning.
October 19th - Not much to report other than the good news that we're actually selling plenty of tickets for the CIS quarter-final with a second batch ordered from the Death Star after the first one of 850 briefs sold out. Tickets are available to non-season ticket holders now priced at £18 for adults and £8 for concessions.
October 16th - Ex-keeper
Alan Main currently playing for Gretna
reckons Saints are favourites for the title. Playing down the ambitions of
Mileson's millionaires, he told the Courier, "I think they are
favourites. Theyve been in this division for a number of years and
know how it is. They usually concede very few goals and I think the team
that has the best defensive record will win the division. "
Owen Coyle meanwhile reckons the defence doesn't have its problems to seek after the three goals they conceded on Saturday. "We spoke to the players in the dressing room and they know that they should have done better. There were two or three individual mistakes within the first goal and again in the build-up to Gretnas second. If the visitors second had Coyle looking around in disbelief, the third was a hammer blow he believed his teamed showed character to recover from. There was no excuse for Simon Mensing having his hand in the air, but from our vantage point in the dugout there was a little push in his back that the referee didnt see. It was an opportunity to go three points clear and its passed us by, but we had the character to preserve our undefeated record. I think its over a year now since we lost at home in the league, though obviously Im disappointed to lose three goals. Weve drawn a number of games and theres no doubt a few of them should have been turned into wins. "
Latest news on Paul Lawson is that he has a sprained elbow and is already rated doubtful for Saturday's visit by QoS.
14th- Well someone at least is confident enough going into today's
game. After last night's 1-0 defeat for Meadowbank at home to Accies, a
winner today would go 3 points clear at the top and
Allan McManus told the Courier, "Our
last game was the draw at Dundee and I felt we let ourselves down in the
second half. We didnt turn up after the break and that wasnt
good enough. We came away from that match and the draw at Livingston
really disappointed not to win them. Maybe thats to do with the
standards the manager sets and the standards the players have set for
themselves, but whatever the reason, we are determined to win this one.
After a fortnights break the boys are champing at the bit for
kick-off. Its the biggest game because its our next one but as
soon as thats over the next match after it will be the biggest.
Gretna have been classed as favourites since the start of the season and Im
not going to say any different. Well just go about our business
quietly. Weve got a belief that we can do well this season. Talk is
cheap, though, and any experienced player will tell you that. You have to
have a quiet belief as an individual and as a team and thats what we
have here. Its important that we maintain the consistency weve
shown so far because the most consistent team will win the championship.
If we keep our good form going weve got a really good chance. We
know that Gretna are favourites for the league but if we play to the top
of our game were confident of beating anybody. "
Owen Coyle is still being realistic about today's well-financed opposition. He said, "When you look at the players that they have at their disposal and the finance they have behind them I think they still have to be treated as favourites. Having said that, were sitting joint top and this match gives us the opportunity to go three points clear of one of our main rivals. Were unbeaten in the league and in the quarter final of the CIS Cup, which is a terrific situation at this stage of the season. Now were looking to build on that start. I was disappointed that we didnt win our last game against Dundee. Most people would say that a draw away from home against one of our nearest challengers is a good result, but I know were capable of winning these type of matches. "
Latest news is that both Savo and Willie McLaren are rated as "very doubtful", but Jason Scotland arrived home safe and sound and will be in the starting line-up. He'll be joined by Paul Lawson and the manager said of the on-loan midfielder, "I think he is ready now. Hes played a reserve game and a bounce game and has looked sharp in training. Hes is in serious contention to start tomorrow."
7pm - A cracking second-half saw all six goals as the points were shared in a 3-3 draw with Gretna although Saints really threw it away through some sloppy defending. Goals came from Paul Sheerin, Martin Hardie and a late, late deflection from Jason Scotland's freekick. Added to that Paul Lawson went off early on with an arm injury and it's disappointment all round although we're still 2nd in the league with Gretna just ahead on goal difference and Partick just behind us.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
October 13th - Another name for
the list of doubts for tomorrow has appeared overnight with
Darren Sheridan now coming into that
category for tomorrow's game. Owen Coyle
still knows what's required and told the Courier, "We want to
finish the first quarter of the season on a high. This is a
top-of-the-table match with Gretna and I want to make sure that whoever
takes the field against them is at their best. Its important that we
win as we will be three points ahead of them. We will remain focused and
are looking forward to meeting Gretna. They will be confident having won
here last season in the Scottish Cup, but Im sure we can achieve the
level of performance required to get the necessary win. "
7pm - Latest news is that Darren Sheridan is still a doubt for tomorrow having apparently been looking after his ill wife. Owen Coyle says that Savo and Willie McLaren will face late fitness tests and some other "unnamed" players are also doubtful due to injury. Jason Scotland and Andy Jackson were due back at McDiarmid today from international duty while Paul Lawson who's come off the bench for the last couple of games looks set to start in midfield while Peaso is another who could come into contention.
Owen Coyle has said that tomorrow's game is "massive for both teams" with any winner in with a chance of breaking clear at the top. There's also an additional edge to the game as we attempt to keep our impressive home record going - Gretna having been the last team to beat us on our own patch in the Scottish Cup last January.
12th - Saints don't have their troubles to seek ahead of Saturday's
big game at home to Gretna. As well as Kevin
James and Kevin Rutkiewicz, it looks
like there are real doubts over both Savo(right)
and Willie McLaren.
Owen Coyle told the Official Site, "Steven
still isnt training fully and hasnt done so since the Dundee
United game. Contrary to reports in some newspapers Im far from
convinced that he will be available for Saturday he needs to prove
to me that he can train and is capable of putting in a shift.
Willie McLaren had two teeth out
yesterday and it transpires that he been suffering from an abscess in his
mouth and it looks like the poison from that has been travelling around
his blood system for a couple of weeks which would explain why he has been
feeling a bit under the weather for the last three weeks. It is not ideal
preparation for the game on Saturday but we remain very focussed and are
looking forward to the game. Gretna will come to Perth fancying their
chances, particularly having won here last year in the cup, but we are up
at the top of the table along with them and Livingston on merit and I am
confident that we can turn in the performance needed to get the win."
Meanwhile Jason Scotland came off the bench for the T&T 2-1 win over Panama last night and should be back in time for the game
And if you want to add to the latest conspiracy theories, the latest ammo comes in the form of the September Manager of the Month award. Despite our good league form and dispatching and SPL side in the CIS cup for some strange reason it's gone to Clyde's Joe Miller.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
October 10th - Despite the recent breaks from competitive action, Saints are still sweating over some players ahead of Saturday's top of the table clash against Gretna. Savo is the main worry. He's apparently hardly trained in recent weeks and Owen Coyle said in the Courier, "Savo has been getting a series of injections on Mondays so we will have to wait until later in the week to see if hell be ready. If he isnt then we wont take a chance with him."
October 9th - With sod all
happening over the last week or so, Saints sprang back into life today.
The CIS Qtr Final tickets have gone on sale with season ticket holders
able to get their briefs this week prior to a public sale starting next
Monday. Prices are £18 for adults and £8 for
And just to add to the list of purchases this week the Saints away kit is out this Thursday at Asda's in Perth - I know, I know and it's still 2006!!!!
October 4th - Saints chalked up
a 3-1 closed doors win against Airdrie yesterday with
Peter MacDonald getting two and
Stephen Dobbie the other.
Owen Coyle said in the Courier, "It
was a good exercise and was important in that respect.
Peter scored two and was playing at
left-back, which was a culture shock to the team! We also had a couple of
youngsters playing due to Neil McCallum
(or does he actually mean Mark
Gallacher?)being away with Northern Ireland U19s and
Andy Jackson travelling with the
Republic of Ireland U19s. Overall I was very pleased with the game "
With a free weekend due to internationals training will be a bit lighter this week and the manager went on, "We have played around 14 matches this season already so its important to give the squad a chance to have a rest. So with that in mind we will be training tomorrow but I will be giving the players the weekend off."
October 2nd - Owen Coyle was a frustrated man after the weekend's draw. In a token wee comment in the Dundee-biased Courier, the Saints manager said, "It feels like a defeat. There was no fluency to our game in the second-half and our passing was really poor. You can play against 10 or seven men, but if you cant pass the ball from A to B your advantage is nullified. "
Top Of News
30th - Jason Scotland(right)
is set to head off on international duty after today's game and is looking
to leave on a high with a win over our local rivals. Speaking in the
Courier, he said, "I have played Dundee a few times now, both
with St Johnstone and Dundee United. I have yet to get a goal against them
and this would be a good time to put that right. My target will always be
to win the game and take the three points home but as a striker you also
want to get on the scoresheet. It is good being a St Johnstone player just
now because we are challenging at the top of the table and there is a good
mood about the place. We are looking forward to the rest of the season.
Dundee seem to have turned things around and have won a few games on the
trot so they will be dangerous opponents for us. However, we are playing
well, too, and feel we can go there and beat them "
He admits we'll miss Kevin James and Kevin Rutkiewicz and said, "It is not just that they are great players, they are also our captain and vice-captain respectively. But we have a good squad and the likes of Steven Anderson has shown that he is more than capable of doing a great job at the heart of the defence. "
He's set to take part in 2 friendlies against Nicuragua and Panama on the 7th and 11th and went on, "These two friendlies will give our new coach (Wim Rijsbergen) the chance to look at all his options and I hope to do well."
Savo is still a major worry for Saints and Owen told the paper, "Steven is still struggling to be honest, and we will just have to see how he is tomorrow. We also have one or two knocks to other players so the squad is tight, but we are still confident going into this game. I personally always enjoy visiting Dens Park for matches and I am sure there will be good backing for both teams. "
7pm - Another disappointing afternoon as 10 Scummers came back to scrape a 1-1 draw at Dense after Paul Sheerin gave us the lead with a cracking volley. On the plus side, Gretna's slip up at home to Airdrie and Livi only drawing at Clyde mean we're tied with them on 16 points, but third on goal difference.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
September 29th - Skipper
Kevin James has been philosophical about
his enforced layoff. The Courier quotes him saying, "I have seen
the scan results and the ligaments are strained but at least I dont
need surgery. I am determined to be as upbeat as possible because when I
think about what Kevin Rutkiewicz faces I
do realise the damage could have been a lot worse. What is bizarre about
the whole thing is that I had no idea I had hurt my knee because I was
unconscious at the time. I took a blow to the head and was out cold. I
only came to in the dressing room when the doctor was about to put
stitches in my head wound. The first thing I remembered was that I had
caused the goal we had lost and was more bothered about that than anything
else. Also, I have had plenty of stitches in my time and that wasnt
a problem. What did concern me, though, was that I felt the knee throbbing
and when that finally registered in my brain I knew the cut was the least
of my worries. The ironic thing is that, according to the medical people,
the knee damage only happened because I was unconscious when I hit the
ground. Had I been aware I would have been able to stabilise myself and
would not have jolted the knee. But I am not going to let it get me down
because I have had worse injuries in the past. It is a relatively short
period to be out and I will work hard to be fit as soon as possible. "
As for tomorrow's game Owen said, "In our division every game is a tough one and its the same story for our trip to Dens. However, if my players play to their maximum then we can go through there and win the game. We did it last season and I believe we can do it again. "
7pm - Steven Anderson reckons he's up for the trip to Dens tomorrow. Having come into some great form in recent weeks he's certain to start in place of the injured Kevin James and told the Official Site, "This is my chance to improve as a player and show the Manager that I am worth having in the team. The centre of defence is my preferred position although I've obviously been happy to play at full back when required. However, I'm more comfortable in the centre role and I'm hoping to make an impression in the next few weeks. I'm gutted for the two Kevins but I have to look after myself and grab the opportunity. Of course it is disappointing and frustrating when I lose my place in the starting line up but there are no complaints from me. Like any other player, it just makes me more determined to work hard and get back into the side and make the manager see what I can bring to the team. This is my chance to do that again. All the players are disappointed for Kevin James and Kevin Rutkiewicz, especially 'Dinky' who looks like missing the rest of the season. However, we are all determined to keep focused and win tomorrows game."
Steven Milne managed some training this morning but will face a late fitness test to see whether or not his knee will be able to stand up to the risk of disease from being within the vicinity of Bobby Mann.
Meanwhile the Ross County game scheduled for the 11th November will now take place on Wednesday 22nd with a 7.45pm kick-off.
September 28th - Not much good
news all over today. Kevin James is set
to be out for 4-6 weeks with knee ligament damage while
Steven Milne is now very doubtful for
the weekend derby. Owen has already
stated that if the striker doesn't train tomorrow he won't be included in
the squad for Saturday.
Elsewhere and Ross County's progress to the Challenge Cup final means that Saints will have a free weekend on the 11th November with the league encounter at Dingwall set to be rescheduled.
Finally and 19-yr old defender Johnny Black has left the club by mutual consent.
September 27th - It looks like the injuries as biting ahead of this weekends trip to Dens. Steven Milne is still suffering from the swollen knee that kept him out of the Livi game and Kevin James will miss out although the scan results on his knee are still due. Owen is quoted in the Courier saying, "We havent heard about the result of the scan on Kevin James but it looks like he will be out for a long period of time. It will be a big loss for us, especially with him being the skipper. But regardless of what happens we just have to get on with it. The players need to muck in. Theres one thing I wont have and that is players feeling sorry for themselves. Steven Milne has been struggling this week and if he doesnt train over the next couple of days then it isnt looking good for him "
September 26th - First up the
CIS cup tie has been confirmed for Wednesday November 8th with a
7.45pm kick-off. No word on ticket sales yet.
Kevin James is due to get a scan on his knee ligament today to see what damage has been done.
Finally Saints reserves beat their Partick version 1-0 in a league cup tie though it took extra-time to wrap things up.
September 25th -
Bryn Halliwell was still suffering
after the disaster leading to Meadowbank's goal on Saturday. The keeper
told the Courier, "I called for the ball then
Jamesie went to clear it and the ball
bobbled over his foot. Hes taken a fresh air swipe at it and it was
just a calamity goal. It wasnt good enough from either of us. We
both know that, and luckily Jason got
us level with his goal. We came away with a draw, but were
disappointed we didnt get the three points. Weve set our
standards higher than that. However, weve kept our unbeaten run
going, so weve got to put that behind us and look to the next game
Meanwhile Owen say's Saints have nothing to fear in the trip to Ibrox. "I think the managing director will be pleased from a financial point of view, but ideally we were looking for a home draw. Well have to go there and give everything weve got but its a very big ask. Regardless of how Rangers are playing theyre packed with quality players. Itll be a great experience for the players and if youve any aspirations of getting to the SPL it will give players a taste of whats on offer if youre good enough over the course and distance to win the first division against some very good teams. Well go there with a positive attitude, we wont be going just to shut up shopwe dont know how to play that way. I have to say we would have to play out of our skins and Rangers would have to have a poor evening for us to progress, but while were still in it well give everything weve got. "
23rd - Saints defender Goran
Stanic(right) is set to face one of his old clubs today as Saints
head for Almondvale. The Macedonian cult hero fae Letham told the Courier,
"Everything is changed there. The coaches, the manager, the
players are all different, so I wont know anyone. Its strange
that everything can change in just two years, but that is football. I dont
think Ill have any problem with them because I enjoyed my time there
and was well received by the fans. I spent a great year at Livingston but
that is in the past and all I want is to win for St Johnstone. This is a
very important game for us and we know it will be difficult, but we are
looking forward to it. ". He believes the defensive record is
playing a big part in our form this season and went on, "I think
we have improved defensively from last season because then we conceded too
many goals. We are working hard on the defence and I think it shows.
Although we have been missing Kevin James
and Kevin Rutkiewicz recently the boys who
have come in have done a great job. The forwards are also scoring more
goals but I think the most important thing is that we are strong at the
back. We have two great strikers in Jason
Scotland and Steven Milne, so we
know that if we keep it shut at the back we will win. We dropped too many
points with draws last year but if we can turn those draws into wins that
will be a big factor and will give us a big chance to win the league. "
Kevin James will be given a late test for his hip injury but Owen won't be taking any risks.
6.30pm- Saints came from behind to get a 1-1 draw against Livi thanks to Jason Scotland getting his 9th of the season. We should have taken all three points and the afternoon got worse when Kevin James was stretchered off after a collision in the first half. He's had stitches in a head wound but has also apparently tweaked a knee ligament and could be out for a while. And to round things off Gretna's 6-0 humping of Partick has put them back to the top of the table
Elsewhere and the CIS draw wasn't the kindest of affairs to Saints with a lovely trip to the enchanting delights of the Death Star awaiting as we head to take on the blue half of the Bigot Brothers in the quarter-final.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
September 22nd -
Owen says tomorrow's trip to Livi for
the top-of-the-table clash against "Ambitious" Meadowbank will
be our toughest game of the season. Speaking in the Courier, the Saints
manager said, "We need to be on our game in what will be our
biggest match of the season so far. Knowing John Robertson as I do, this
match will be difficult with both teams looking to win. The players were
on a high after the Dundee United game but you have to watch that they dont
get too high. Equally, if they lose you dont want them to get too
down. Well be watching the draw for the quarter-finals tomorrow but
must concentrate first on this game. We will pay Livingston the ultimate
respect but we want to win this one. If we do we will be three points
ahead of them. You only achieve that by hard work but I will make sure
that we have done the correct preparation. We are on a good run at the
moment and want to continue that ."
Willie McLaren is back in the squad while Kevin James faces a late fitness test although he's rated doubtful.
September 20th - Well amazingly
enough we've made a few headlines this morning after last night's rogering
of Brewsters Buffoons. The Courier manages to recover from the funereal
atmosphere to quote Owen after the game
as saying, "I was absolutely thrilled with the performance, the
energy and attitude from start to finish, and any neutral would say it was
a fantastic cup- tie. United had opportunities and Bryn Halliwell had
saves, but we got the goal and that put us on the front foot for the
second half. We had four first-choice players out tonight and when we get
them back it is going to be very positive for the rest of the season. "
Meanwhile Jason is even quoted in the Record where he said, "I said before the game that I didn't think the United fans would boo me. I was cheered as I went off which was nice to hear. I always had good times there and the fans know I always tried my best. I just treated it as another game and the transfer ticket into the next round of the Cup. We don't want to get carried away but I didn't think we would win by such a big margin. I thought it might have been 1-0 or 2-1 so to win 3-0 is a great night for the club."
The bad news though is that Kevin Rutkiewicz is set to have an op on his ankle today and will be out for several months. Speaking about the ankle injury, Owen told the Official Site, "I told the lads about Kevin prior to the cup game and they were all very disappointed as he is a popular guy. However, I think it acted as a incentive to some extent. I was thrilled with the performance. I thought the energy and attitude from start to finish was spot on and I thought it was a great game any neutral there last night would have felt that they saw a fantastic cup tie.When you think that we achieved that without Kevin James, Kevin Rutkiewicz and Willie McLaren it makes it all the more pleasing. The trick now is to maintain that standard in as many games as possible starting at Livingston on Saturday."
The draw for the quarter-finals has been confirmed as taking place on Saturday at 5pm. Geoff Brown told the Tully, "We've beaten a Premierleague side and being in the quarter-finals is also a financial boost, both from the point of view of at least one more gate and also increased money from the sponsor. It was a very good night for us and a tribute to everyone at McDiarmid Park. We really looked the part and our front two always looked like scoring."
19th - Steven Anderson is one
of the Saints players out to prove a point against his old club in
tonight's game against United. In today's Courier, he said, "It
was the right time to leave United and Ive never looked back on my
decision and wondered what if? I was a year older than Greg, David and
Garry but captained the youth team they played in. Im pleased for
them that theyve gone on to make the breakthrough. But Ive no
regrets about the choice that I made. United offered me a six-month
contract but thats not long in football and I wasnt wanting to
be playing in the reserves, which was all that was on offer at Tannadice
at that time. I felt it was worth taking a chance of getting a first-team
game elsewhere and it paid off for me. It was a gamble but sometimes you
have to take risks to get on. Its an opportunity from my point of
view to get one over on them and I think weve a good chance of doing
that. We are not conceding goals and gaining confidence from winning
games. And when you are doing that you are always going to be in with a
We've got plenty of injury worries though - as well as Kevin James missing and Willie McLaren being cup-tied, Saints have doubts over three unnamed players. Owen isn't looking for excuses though. "Dundee United have improved hand over fist since the start of the season, but this is a game to look forward to. Not only is it a release from the weekly grind of the league. It is also a chance to progress into the quarter-finals where who knows who might be waiting."
11.30pm - An absolutely glorious performance saw Saints pull off a supposed shock with a 3-0 shagging of the Tannadice Tinks courtesy of goals from Jason Scotland, Steven Milne and Simon Mensing to humiliate Eddie Thomsons Sweetie Boys and leave a lot of Saints fans smiling this week!
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
September 18th - Despite Saints
run of form, Bryn Halliwell isn't
happy with the goals we've lost. He told the Courier, "Although
we are defending well weve still let in a few goals that we shouldnt
have. The one which sticks out for me was the header against Ross County.
It shouldnt have gone in. But if we keep working hard at the back
then hopefully the boys at the other end of the park will do their jobs
and as a team well be fine. "
The Saints goalie also said that Jason Scotland needs to stop missing the easy chances. "Jay has done brilliantly for us in weeks gone by and strikers are going to miss goals. But if you dont put your chances away it can come back to haunt you."
17th - Speaking of yesterday's win, Owen
Coyle(right) told the Official Site, "We didn't pass the
ball today the way that we are capable of doing and that was
disappointing. There were glimpses of it but not for long enough. That
said, the three points was the main thing and we got them. They had
possession but I didnt think that Bryn Halliwell was over-worked by
any means and the one chance that they will point to is the trialist's
header at the back post. Other than that I thought we were comfortable. We
don't have a great record against Airdrie so to get three points in the
first encounter of the season is heartening. Although we lacked fluency we
still carved out enough chances to win the game more comfortably and had
Jason taken his two good opportunities we would have won more comfortably.
Hell have a few bruises to show for his efforts today."
Saints look to have some injury problems ahead of Tuesday's game with skipper Kevin James the main worry. Owen said, "Kevin James took a bad fall against Morton and hasnt trained and I can say at this stage he has little chance for Tuesday and even now is a worry for next Saturday. However, another two or three players came in and said that they wanted to be a part of it today even although they could well have come in and said Sorry gaffer, Ill not make it. That shows a great spirit. We are going to get games like today when we are not given the opportunity to play the way we want to and we have to be resolute in these circumstances and grind out the win and we did that today."
The manager is looking for a cup upset over another of his old employers. In an interview in the Scotland on Sunday, the Saints manager said, "We are under no illusions. We know we are up against a quality SPL side but it is a way for us to gauge how far we have come in a short time and how far we still have to go. We think we've got some good footballers but we are in no doubt how big a test this will be for them. Everyone wants to test themselves and players always want to play against better players or players with bigger reputations or play a team at a higher level. So from the players' point of view, they should be looking forward to these kind of games. From my point of view, we have already come a long way. When I joined here, the club were only a couple of games away from relegation to Division Two, so now we can gauge just how far we have come. "
"The bottom line is that we want to eventually get back to the where we think we belong and that's in the top division. We know we have improved but there is still a long road to go and the way we perform against Dundee United and in the coming weeks will give us an idea of just how long that road could be. I'm fortunate that I'm at a club where everything is there and it has been well run. That has helped me as a young manager but I'm still getting used to the helplessness of being on the sidelines. I can prepare the players but once they cross the white line it is up to them and that can be frustrating. But it is the same for Craig Brewster. He's another young manager and we are both doing our best."
"It's like everything else, when you are playing one of your ex-clubs, there's always nice memories but they won't matter when the match starts, we will both be determined to win the cup tie and I'm sure we will go at it hammer and tongs "
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
16th - Today's game against Airdrie will let
Martin Hardie(right) face up to his old
club (along with Willie McLaren and
Allan McManus). The Saints midfielder
told the Courier, "Unfortunately for Airdrie, the way football is
just now, theyre a selling club, and the manager here has brought in
players he knows. I actually scored my first goal for St Johnstone against
Airdrie, three or four weeks after moving, but we only drew that game and
it stalled our challenge to St Mirren. It was fine for me at Firhill last
week because I was well liked at Thistle. I scored a few goals in a
successful team so I think they took to me. Im not so sure about the
Airdrie fans tomorrow. Theres three of us now though, as well as the
manager, so hopefully Willie and Allan will take a bit of the heat off me.
He's looking for Saints to bounce back and went on, "Obviously we were disappointed to lose on Tuesday night and you dont get many opportunities to play in a cup final in your career, but the league has always been our priority. Were looking to bring our form of last Saturday back to Perth because against Thistle I think every one of us played well. The two strikers shared the five goals and we looked very good defensively. Apart from the penalty they scored they didnt look like getting past us. The Ross County match was our last home league game and we had a good win that day. The more wins we can rack up at home the bigger our crowds will get and that will build momentum for us."
Owen Coyle meanwhile knows what he wants to see at 3pm - he said, "From the first whistle I want us to start at a high tempo. Airdrie will be very dangerous opponents because there are so many links between the two clubs."
6.30pm - Not the best performance in the world but Saints picked up the three points in a 1-0 win over Airdrie courtesy of a cracking Savo finish just before the break.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
September 15th - Bad news on the
injury front with Kevin Rutkiewicz due to
see a specialist today to see if he needs an op on the ankle injury, or if
it's just rest that's required. According to the Courier, either way he'll
be out for several weeks yet. Owen Coyle
said, "Hell definitely be out for a period of time but well
just have to wait and see how long that will be. It will all depend
on the specialist deciding on an operation or rest. ". Meanwhile
Paul Lawson has begun running again and
is due to start training with Saints on Monday.
Both are definitely ruled out of tomorrow's visit by bottom of table Airdrie. Willie McLaren is set to face up to his old side. He spoke on the Official site of tomorrow's match against his former club. The winger said, "It's going to be a bit strange and quite hard tomorrow because obviously all the players and back room staff at Airdrie are very much my friends and I was always treated very well by the Airdrie support. However, I'm a Saints player now and thoroughly enjoying it and I'll be going all out to make sure the points remain in Perth. I enjoyed my debut at Firhill last week and although I could have done a couple of things differently I felt I did okay for my first game and am looking to build on that tomorrow and maybe get a wee goal. Tuesday was frustrating for me sitting in the stand as I'm not a good spectator and it was disappointing to go out of the cup but the league is the priority."
Saints apparently have injury doubts over three unnamed players and all face late fitness tests.
12th - After a quiet couple of days, Saints are back in Challenge
Cup action tonight with a difficult trip to take on Morton at Cappielow.
New boy Willie McLaren will sit this
one out as he's cup-tied while Steven Milne
is apparently a doubt due to a calf knock picked up at the weekend. Expect
changes to the side with the likes of Kevin
Cuthbert, Peaso and
Steven Anderson likely to get a run
out. Owen Coyle told the Courier, "Morton
away from home is a very difficult match, but I would still envisage
changing things around again. As keen as we are to win the competition I
think everybody knows that the league is our priority. I dont think
it will undermine our team in any way, though. I want us to make the
semi-final and well give them every respect. Morton are flying just
now and theyre probably a first division team in everything but
name. Theyve got a big support and good players, but I would expect
my players to be good enough to go there and win. "
11.30pm- Saints crashed out of the Challenge Cup losing 3-2 to Morton with Simon Mensing(right) getting both Saints goals to cheer up what was a pretty poor performance. Despite losing our first competitive game of the season, Owen Coyle told Radio Scotland after the game that it was "one too many" whilst criticising the defending at all the goals.
September 9th - Saints are
finally back in action today with the trip to take on rivals Partick
Fissel at Firhill (complete with ex-players Derek
Young and Simon Donnelly in the
Wegies line-up). There's no new injury worries for Saints.
Willie McLaren play at some point today and comeback defender Allan McManus thinks this could give us the edge. Speaking to the Courier, he said of the new signing, "Ive played with Willie many times and he can light up a game in the blink of an eye. He can play through the middle or on the wing and Im delighted hes a team-mate again rather than an opponent. Weve already got the likes of Jason Scotland and Paul Sheerin at the club and now Willie will give us pace, which is a huge asset in the modern game. He floats in and out of games but has unbelievable ability. If he plays as well as I know he can he could play at the very highest level. Its up to him how far he goes in the game. There isnt a better player in the first division. The only person who can slow Willie down isWillie himself but Im sure the gaffer will get the best out of him. "
As for the rest of the team he went on, "Were quietly satisfied with the start weve made. We look like a team which is hard to break down as a defensive unit and were creating a lot of chances in matches. At the start of the season we werent as clinical as we could have been but recently weve been taking our chances. "
Owen Coyle is just as optimistic. "I think were starting to come into a bit of form. Were eight games unbeaten and we probably should have won a couple of games which we drew. Now we have to make sure we take that form into the Partick Thistle match and keep our run going. Dick Campbell brought me from Motherwell to Dunfermline and I know all about his qualities as a manager from my time at East End Park. Hes signed some good players since they won promotion and already had a decent hard-working squad before that. Obviously, Derek Young has signed for them after spending a month with us so we know all about his strengths. Theyve also got Mark Roberts, who is their top scorer and was my strike partner at Airdrie. So I know him inside out as well. Theyre just two of a number of good players we need to keep under control. If we make sure we nullify their threat, hopefully the players we have who can hurt the opposition play to their maximum. "
6.30pm - Another excellent performance at Firhill saw Saints run out 5-1 winners over Partick with goals coming from a Jason Scotland(right) hat-trick and a brace from Steven Milne while Willie McLaren had a great debut. The result was made even better with the news that Gretna had been humped 4-0 by Scumdee.
September 8th - Not much change on the news front - both Allan McManus and Martin Hardie will be in tomorrow's squad while Paul Lawson has started light jogging.
September 7th - Mixed news for Saturday's game. Kevin Rutkiewicz has suffered a setback and is ruled out but Allan McManus is back in training and should be available no doubt leaving Owen Coyle with a tactical dilemma of which formation to go for. Willie McLaren will also make his Saints debut before returning to the stand for next Tuesday's cup-tie.
September 5th - There's been bugger all happening over the last few days but the latest injury news is that while Paul Lawson is 2-3 weeks away from getting a game, injured defensive duo Allan McManus and Kevin Rutkiewicz are both in with a chance of joining in the trip to Firhill, where of course we always score 4 goals.
September 1st - One final move
from the transfer stampede yesterday saw Kevin
Moon head off to Forfar on loan until Xmas.
Owen Coyle said on the Official Site,
"Kevin needs football at the moment and unfortunataly he is too
old for the Under 19 side. This move to Forfar will benefit him greatly
and I have every confidence that he will come back a better player, just
as Andy Jackson did last season."
Meanwhile the new signings have been speaking to the Courier about their move to Perth. Willie McLaren said, "If it wasnt Owen Coyle here, I think I would have stayed at Airdrie to see what happened, but hes a great guy and a great manager. This gives me a great chance and I want to play well enough for St Johnstone to help them win the league. I thought at the start of the season St Johnstone would be favourites, although Gretna have started strongly. ". He went into more detail on the Official Site saying, ""I know that Owen has been after me for some time and that previous approaches from Saints didnt result in a transfer. However, on Wednesday I was made aware of a fresh move for me and I am delighted that it has been sorted out. Im only 21 and I have ambitions in the game and would particularly like to try my luck in England. I enjoy my football and would like to broaden my horizons within the game and I would envisage that Saints would be my last Scottish club before going further afield. However, I would very much like to sample the SPL and I know that St Johnstone match that ambition"
Paul Lawson who is out for a fortnight with injury (already!!) is realistic about his future at Parkhead. He said, "I had been part of the first team at Celtic for over a year and there was only so much sitting on the bench I could take I need first team football to prove I can play at this level. I went to the manager on the first day of pre-season and suggested I go on loan and he agreed it was a good idea, but he wanted me for pre-season and I went to America and Poland and Japan, as well as playing in the testimonials against Newcastle and Man United. Unfortunately I didnt play in America and thats when I knew the writing was on the wall. When you look at someone like Charlie Adam at Rangers who was at St Mirren last year on loan, it shows you can get put yourself out there and be noticed and its up to me to do the same "
Top Of News
Peaso has been speaking about his
first goal in ages on Tuesday night. The striker told the Courier, "Scoring
that goal was the best feeling in the world and it definitely made all the
hard work worth it. I have had a terrible year and at times have felt very
low but this was always the light at the end of the tunnel. During the
summer I took two weeks off to go with my missus to Cyprus but even then I
was getting out of my bed every morning to go down to the beach for a jog.
Running on the beach is actually good for my knee but I cant run on
concrete for very long so I was on a bike as well, just to mix it up a
bit. I knew that I had to make sure I was in top condition for when the
rest of the lads came back because if I slacked off at all I wouldnt
be in the picture at this stage. I have watched the team come together
more and more over the last year and I am confident that we will be
pushing for the title this season. We have a great squad of boys and the
spirit about the place is excellent so we are confident no matter who we
play. Our home form has been excellent and no one likes to come to
McDiarmid Park these days. The manager is still looking for more new
players because competition for places is healthy and the onus is on me to
keep pushing the likes of Jason and
Savo for their jerseys. "
Today sees the end of the transfer window and while things look like going to the wire, the latest rumour for Saints is that Owen Coyle is after Airdrie striker Bryan Prunty with the 23-yr old ex-Dons man rumoured to have put pen to paper on a deal last night.
6pm - A busy day all round for Saints today. First of all the Challenge Cup has finally thrown up an away tie for Saints with the boys heading for the delights of Greenock to take on Morton with the tie provisionally set for September 12th. Best to pack the body armour for that one.
With the transfer window closing faster than a Dundee fan running away from a bar of Lux, Saints finally got some new faces in today. In came Willie McLaren(left) from Airdrie in the sort of move that means we can all say "Liar, Liar, Pants on fire!" to Owen next time we see him and probably guarantees that the fifth columnists of the Scottish media won't believe another word he says in a press conference ever again. The 21-yr old winger signs up on a 3-yr contract after Saints splashed out a five-figure sum.
Elsewhere and the midfield was further shored up with a loan signing from Sellik in the shape of Scotland U-21 cap Paul Lawson(right). He's a 22-yr old who plays through the middle. Luckily we have 10 days before the next game giving him plenty of time to undergo quarantine regulations and see the nit nurse before he gets into the swing of life amongst us provincial folks - he'll be with Saints until the end of December.
Speaking of the new boys, Owen Coyle told the Official Site, "I think everyone is aware I am big admirer of Willie who was just breaking into the Airdrie first team when I went back to them from Dundee United and he is a player I have wanted to bring to Perth from day one. I feel our side is crying out for a winger but I was not going to sign someone just for the sake of it but in Willie I have got a player who will bring a variation to our game. We have signed him for three years and I look upon him as an investment as I am confident that he will become a better player during his time with us. He scores goals as well as creates them and I know a lot of clubs were interested in him but we put the money down and I would like to thank the Chairman and the Board for their support in that respect.". As for the other new boy (who at least was a surprise), the gaffer went on, "Ive admired Paul for some time now and wanted him in the summer but he was very much part of Gordon Strachans pre-season plans and he went to the USA, Poland and Japan with them. He is a central midfielder, the sort of player who can help us dictate games and he has a few Scotland Under 21 caps under his belt so we are getting a quality player. "
Owen Coyle was happy enough with last
night's win. Speaking in the Courier, the Saints manager said, "It
was a terrific performance. I felt we passed and moved the ball very
well and scored some good goals. I was delighted to see
Peaso get a goal. Hes
had a terrible run with injuries and to get a fit
Peaso would be like a new signing
for us "
With 2 days until the transfer deadline, the manager is still targetting new players with a striker and midfielder on the shopping list before midnight tomorrow. No names are being mentioned (as usual) but talks have begun with the players. One name not coming to Perth though is Willie McLaren who the club have confirmed is not one of the targets.
29th - Transfer rumours first and the latest name in the frame (not
for the first time) is Airdrie winger Willie McLaren. Any move
would cost Saints a transfer fee, especially with the player having just
signed a new deal with the Broomfield club. One player not hanging round
though is Derek Young who has left at
the end of his 1mth deal. Saints offered the midfielder a deal through to
Xmas but he wanted a longer-term.
For tonight's game, expect some of the players to be rested with Martin Hardie definitely missing out along with Kevin Rutkiewicz and Allan McManus, while Savo might also be dropped to the bench. Of course tonight marks the return of Billy Stark and one fo the few survivors from his tenure at the club, Ryan Stevenson(right) said in the Courier, "I thought Billy was a very good manager who was harshly treated by the fans here. I felt that if we had kept him another year we might have won promotion the next season. He obviously gave me my chance by bringing me to the club and Ive got that to thank him for. When he got the sack everybody knew it was coming but all the players were gutted for him, which says a lot, and everybody is happy to see him doing well at Queens Park. Mark Ferry was here as a youngster and is a really good player and tactically Billy knows what hes doing. Hell come here with a well thought out game plan and this definitely wont be an easy game for us. Theyll be high as kites after beating Aberdeen and will fancy their chances ."
Owen Coyle also praised his predecessor saying, "Queens Park have made a terrific start to the season and Billy has done a great job with them. He actually tried to sign me for St Johnstone and apart from anything else he is an absolute gentleman as well as a top football coach. I think he was probably unlucky to be managing Saints at that particular time in the clubs history. He had lost a lot of players when the club were relegated. "
11.00pm - No miraculous return for the former manager then with a convincing 3-0 win over Queen's Park enough to see Saints safely through to the Challenge Cup quarter-finals. Tonight's goals came courtesy of two excellent Jason Scotland finishes while Peaso hit one.
August 28th -
Paul Sheerin reckons Saints are
finally starting to hit some form. In today's Courier he said, "Its
certainly been really busy but the important thing was that we got our
first home league win, which we have done, and were still undefeated
for the season, which is also important. We want to get another win on
Tuesday to keep our run going and once weve got that out of the way
well get our break. Were looking forward to having a free
weekend before getting back into it but I dont know if its in
the gaffers plans to give us the weekend off or to have us in
working. I think that up until the Ross County match weve been below
par but weve now proved that were a far better side than we
had shown. If we can maintain that standard well do well but theres
definitely a lot more to come. " As for the weekend win he said,
"We probably missed easier chances than the ones we scored and its
very easy when youre going through a spell when youre not
taking chances to go into your shell. All credit to the players for not
doing that and showing their strength of character. Strikers will always
miss chances but you have to be brave enough to keep putting yourself in
goalscoring positions and Savo did that.
There were a lot of positives in that match and the team will take a great
lift from this. Winning with three goals was no more than we deserved. "
With the transfer deadline looming, the rumour machine has kicked in with talk of a move to Aberdeen for Jason Scotland, but given the lack of funds available in Pittodrie it has to be seen as just that. There is talk of Dons reserve player John Stewart moving to Saints on loan but again nothing more than talk just now.
For tomorrow's visit of Queen's Park, one player set to miss out is Martin Hardie who apparently played through the pain barrier at the weekend.
4.30pm- The CIS draw this afternoon threw up a nice wee local derby as Saints take on the Arabs at McDiarmid with the game set for Tuesday 19th September and setting the scene for both Owen Coyle and Jason Scotland to try and turn over their former employers.
August 26th -
Simon Mensing and
Martin Hardie are still rated doubtful
for today's match against Ross County, with Owen
Coyle set to make his team selection as late as possible. Meanwhile,
Derek Young is hoping to sign a longer
deal this week as his month-long contract comes to an end. The midfielder,
who seems to have done enough to warrant an exetended deal, told the
Courier, "This is a club waiting to get into the SPLeverything
is set up for it with a lot of players who have SPL experience, the ground
and the whole set upand if things pan out, Ill sign on again.
There has been a lot of talk over the summer, with people phoning my
agent, but nothings come of any of it and Im happy at St
Johnstone. I have managed to get involved in games and even started a
couple and Im getting my match fitness back, so hopefully Ill
sit down with the manager next week some time and see what will happen. "
"Hopefully I can start to get more chancesI seem to be setting up a hell of a lot and if I can just get myself into scoring positions Ill be looking to get on the scoresheet. It is frustrating for everyone, including the fans who have seen us miss a bucketful of chances and it does get a bit annoying, but wed be more worried if we werent creating anything. Were playing nice football and creating chances and hopefully one of these days it will come good and we will give someone a battering. "
The manager is expecting a tough game today though. He said, "They were unfortunate to lose to Gretna last week and will be disappointed they got knocked out of the cup at Alloa during the week, so they will have a point to prove to their manager. We know they will be dangerous and we will give them every respect and we have to show what we are capable of doing to see us right. It is ridiculous the amount of chances we have been missing and we need to make sure we take a percentage of those in order to finish with the three points. People are speaking about the strikers but it is a team thing we work together and we have been creating chances for each other. On Tuesday night against Elgin Kevin James could have had a hat-trick and Martin Hardie missed a header right under the bar, so its not just the strikers. As long as we start taking these, sooner or later well get the rewards. "
Elsewhere and ex-Saintee Ryan McCann has signed for Clyde
6.30pm - Two from Savo in the first half had us cruising before they pulled one back but a late Paul Sheerin goal wrapped up a convincing 3-1 win over Ross County.
August 25th - Team news for tomorrow sees Saints short in defence with Allan McManus definitely out, Kevin Rutkiewicz very doubtful and now Simon Mensing and Martin Hardie both carrying knocks from the midweek cup-tie and rated doubtful. On the plus side Jason Scotland is back.
24th - More on the aftermath from the cup game and today's Courier
has Owen Coyle(right) looking for
patience from the home fans. The Saints manager is quoted as saying, "You
can understand the fans getting frustrated, and rightly so, but its
important to understand the lads are passing and moving well and creating
opportunities, and that they stay with them and give them support, and I
think we saw that in extra time when there was goal after goal. I remember
my time at Bolton when we played Gretna, who were in the Unibond League,
and we were 2-1 down with eight minutes left at Burnden Park in the first
round of the FA Cup. We went on to beat them 3-2I got a doubleand
from that, as a division one club at the time, we went on to knock out
Arsenal, the holders Everton and Aston Villa."
As for Tuesday he went on, "We got opportunity after opportunity and coming off the two draws in the league the lads were feeling a bit of frustration, so we said to them to just be patient and the goals will come. And when they did come, they came by the barrel-load, but no doubt we should have given the kind of performance we gave in extra time a lot earlier. They rode their luck in the first half, we hit the woodwork twice, some good saves and some misses, but in cup football there were a few shocks elsewhere and we certainly werent one of them. Id be more worried if we werent creating opportunities. Were creating chances in abundance, so hopefully the lads will get a lot of confidence from hitting the back of the net so often and we can take that on into Saturday. "
August 23rd - Speaking in the
Courier after last nights extra-time win, Owen
Coyle said, "There were shocks throughout the round tonight
and the positive thing is we are not one of them. We must have had between
30 and 40 shots tonight but the keeper has made some wonder saves and weve
had some bad misses. Id be more worried if we werent creating
opportunities but were creating them by the barrowload. "
Confirmation this afternoon that Neil Janczyk has joined Raith on loan for 6 months.
22nd - Owen Coyle says he still
has faith in his strikers despite the lack of league goals. He told the
Courier ahead of tonight's CIS tie, "I remember when I signed for
Dunfermline they had bought me to keep them in the Premier League and I
went a number of games without scoring. Youve got to have the
conviction that you know youre a good player and that you will start
to take your chances. All of our strikers have shown their pedigree over
the years. Goals will come round for them again and hard work is the key
to everything. The one thing you dont do is feel sorry for yourself
.We have good finishers at the club, but at the moment were not
passing up half chances, were passing up golden chances. Were
talking about one on ones with the goalkeeper and I would be expecting us
to be finishing better. Its not just the strikers who need to be
more clinical, its a team thing. There are a lot of positives at the
moment, though, such as three clean sheets in the league, and were
on the right tracks. "
Don't expect many changes tonight with a strong Saints side expected to face Elgin. The manager said, "This is a very important cup tie purely from a financial perspective. If we get through this round we will draw one of the top eight clubs. Its important that we pass the ball, create opportunities and make sure we hit the back of the net. Elgin have had a mixed start to their season. Their cup form has been better than their league form and well give them every respect. The pressure will be on my players but theyll be ready for it. "
Kevin Rutkiewicz and Allan McManus are out through injury while Jason Scotland(right) is suspended. The latter has spoken out about his red card and said, "Throughout the game defenders were on the back of me and the referee wasnt protecting players like myself. Defenders come through strikers and in many games you dont get protection from referees. I was just protecting myself and I didnt try to elbow him. The player who comes in for me will want to impress and if he scores Ill have to prove myself again and might have to come off the bench. Its been disappointing that I havent scored in the league yet. None of the strikers are off the mark, which is bad for the team, but my confidence is still there."
As usual, admission tonight is a tenner/fiver and restricted to the Main Stand only.
11.45pm - It was another late night at the office but Saints eventually beat Elgin 4-0 after extra time. Goals came courtesy of a penalty from Paul Sheerin, Ryan Stevenson, Steven Milne and an own goal from Elgin defender Steven Mackay.
August 21st - Latest injury news
isn't too good with Allan McManus
suffering from a groin tear which will leave him out for "several
weeks". Kevin Rutkiewicz won't be
rushed back tomorow but will hopefully be in with a chance of making the
County game at the weekend. Also missing tomorrow is
Jason Scotland although his one-match
ban after his red card means he's back this weekend - the club have also
said they're not fining the striker as they felt the red card was harsh.
Finally, Neil Janczyk is apparently being lined up for a 6-month loan deal to Raith.
August 20th - Confirmation last
night that Stephen Dobbie has left the
club to join Dumbarton on loan until January.
Meanwhile Owen Coyle vented his spleen on yesterday's game. He told the Official Site, "Its very frustrating not to have won that game given the number of chances we created. We set out with a positive formation and despite their 4-5-1 set-up we created chance after chance and their keeper has made several blocks to deny us. I thought it was a stonewall penalty when Jason was fouled in the first half. It was a better performance today and we just needed to be a bit more clinical in our finishing. The boys need to know that if they keep putting themselves in the positions they did today then the goals will come and that is what I have told them in the dressing room.". As for the sending off the manager said, "I didnt see a lot in it. The lad has come through the back of him and Jason hasnt liked it and the referees assistant has deemed it a sending off offence."
There's no word yet on the injury to Allan McManus.
19th- Kevin Rutkiewicz is
definitely ruled out of today's visit by Accies but Saints are hopeful
he'll only be out for 10 days or so. Meanwhile
Paul Sheerin(right) is in the Courier
emphasising how important home form is this season. The Saints midfielder
said, "I didnt play overly well in the first two matches
compared to the standards I set last season. So I was happy to put in a
good performance against Raith Rovers on Tuesday night. Im one of
those who would rather be playing than give somebody else the opportunity
to take your place. If Im given the option of resting or playing, Ill
definitely play. It will breed confidence if we can keep winning these
home games. Building on these results will bring in good habits, no matter
what the competition is. I think weve got a lot more to give than weve
shown so far this season and hopefully we can improve against Hamilton. It
will probably be a similar type of match to the Clyde game a fortnight
ago. Teams know that if they come here and open up theyll leave
themselves open to the likes of Jason
Scotland taking advantage, so its understandable that they are
cautious against us. "
No word on any transfers but apparently both Neil Janczyk and Stephen Dobbie have been asked about by other managers for a loan deal.
6.30pm - Despite making plenty of chances, Saints had to settle for a 0-0 draw at home to Accies with Jason Scotland seeing red late on for lashing out with an elbow, although that was about the only thing the ref got right all afternoon.
August 17th- There was some good
news for Saints yesterday with the scan on Kevin
Rutkiewicz ankle revealing it's just a sprain.
Owen Coyle told the Courier, "The
ankle is badly sprained rather than broken and that is a big boost for us.
I did fear the worst, to be honest, we have our fingers crossed that he
wont be out for too long. It could be anything between one week and
four but it could have been a lot worse. "
6pm - The Challenge Cup threw up another home tie - this time we're playing host to Queen's Park on Tuesday August 29th. The game's set for a 7.45pm kick-off and in line with current crap-crowd policies at the club, only the West Stand will be open with admission set at a tenner again - not much to pay to shout abuse at Billy Stark for 90 minutes is it?
Owen spoke today about last nights win
and the manager said on the Official site, "I thought we started
slowly and lost a terrible goal due to a couple of bits of lax play. Peter
MacDonald was careless with his header and Steven Anderson should have
been more alert. I thought Paul Sheerin was instrumental in getting us
back into the game and he plays football the way I want it to be played
and he was unlucky not to get a couple of goals for himself. I thought we
controlled the second half without creating much in the way of clear cut
chances. I thought the players showed character in abundance to keep going
on from losing Ryan and getting the win."
Steven Doris also came in for some praise "I thought Steven was lively and effective when he came on and it was disappointing he had to go off again. Steven has had terrible luck hes not long recovered from a knee injury picked up in an Under 19 game at the tail end of last season. Its the same with Kevin Moon I gave him a game against Raith Rovers in the same competition last season and he then suffered a run of bad luck injury-wise. However, Stevens injury doesnt appear too serious, just a turned ankle and I am determined to give these younger players bits and pieces of games to get them to the stage where they are involved regularly."
Derek Young looks set to start against
Raith Rovers in tonight Challenge Cup tie. Owen
told the Courier, "If I was Derek I would have thought that my
performances as a sub against Clyde and East Fife would have earned me the
right to start last Saturday. I knew it would be a very physical game at
Dumfries, though, so I decided not to bring Derek in. He and a few
others will get their chance against Raith ."...expect to see
more of the fringe players line up, although
Andy Jackson will miss out due to
being away on U19 interational duty.
Kevin Rutkiewicz will definitely miss out as Saints await the result of a scan, and while Raith look set to also give fringe players a runout they've also made an approach to take Neil Janczyk on loan for the season.
Admission tonight is £10/£5 with again only the Main Stand open. But if you can't be bothered traipsing up to the ground to back the lads, BBC Sportsound is covering the game live, no doubt giving the pundits plenty of chances to get the players mixed up.
Weekend goalscorer Simon Mensing isn't taking things lightly though. He said, "Weve just got our first win in the league and we want to keep winning games now to build up momentum. Obviously, we also want to win this competition. The last thing you want is to lose to a lower league team and in these matches you have to make sure youre on the top of your game. "
Finally, the home kit will be on sale in Asda from 3.30pm on Friday....
11.30pm - Plenty of action tonight as Saints went to extra-time before disposing of Raith by a 3-1 margin with goals courtesy of a Kevin James header in between a brace from Steven Milne. The downside though was the red card for Ryan Stevenson, while youngster Steven Doris who had come off the bench limped off during extra-time.
12th - Looking ahead to today's trip west to Palmerston,
Peaso(right) is hoping to get a
starting jersey instead of sitting on the bench. The Saints striker told
the Courier, "I had two weeks off when I went to Cyprus but apart
from that Ive been at the ground every week since the end of April.
Ive been working with Jim one to one, building up my fitness
gradually and making sure the knee is OK. Now, when Im out on the
park I dont feel anything. I think the fact that I threw myself into
two tackles in a minute when I came off the bench against Clyde shows that
Ive totally forgotten about the knee when Im playing. A lot of
it is a mental thing. When I first came back from this injury I was scared
of turning, but the more games I play and the more training I do the less
I think about it. I feel Im ready for a start now. I felt really
good in the 45 minutes I got against East Fife on Tuesday night and I
think I could take that into maybe 70 or even the full 90 minutes. I
really want that start after doing reasonably well in my two subs
appearances, and hopefully Im in contention for tomorrows
" When I first came here I was just a young boy and there was real competition then. But apart from that season this is the most competition there has been. Id love to score as many goals as I can this season, but helping the team win is my main aim. If youre not out there you dont feel part of it and only players who have been out injured for a long time know what that feels like. There are no grudges when a team is selected and whoever is playing up front will be wished all the best by those who arent. It wont be one player who goes up to the Premier League, it will be all of us. Weve all got to chip in with goals over the course of the season."
Saints should be at full-strength and Owen isn't looking for excuses. "Its important that the players make sure they are on the top of their game from the outset. You cant just press a button during a match and expect things to happen for you. If you dont spring out of the traps youre chasing games and we need to make sure thats not happening."
8pm - A Simon Mensing header early on gave us a deserved 1-0 win at Palmerston but the price we paid was Kevin Rutkiewicz limping off late on.
11th - It's Geoff Brown who's
in the Courier today and the message isn't great reading with part-time
football looming on the horizon for Saints if things don't improve. The
club announced an operating loss of £426,000 last year,
although the sale of Florence place turned the final figure into a profit
of £717,000, and the chairman said, "The day has to
come when first division teams must go part-time. Its definitely
heading that way unless there is a turnaround in our results and some
financial income that is not arriving at the moment. That is the way that
it almost certainly has to go. If I was sensible wed be part time
already, but even as a part-time team we couldnt survive without
other ways of bringing money into the club. It takes £3000 a week
just to open the doors at McDiarmid Park and you cant take that
away. I am a person who for the life of me cant understand what the
hue and cry is about full- time football. In 1989/90 when St Johnstone
came to McDiarmid Park we won promotion to the Premier League with a
part-time team. There were only 11 full-time teams in Scotland at that
time and I see no good reason now why there should be more than that. I
dont believe that turning from part-time to full-time for a
footballer makes a great difference. The financial side of the club is of
paramount importance and the directors and staff remain committed to
increasing all areas of our income stream, and this is borne out by the
fact that 74% of the clubs revenue now comes from off-the-field
activities. Football clubs within the Scottish Football League are finding
it extremely difficult to sustain full- time football but with the
combined effects of directors, management, staff and supporters, we shall
hopefully maintain this situation at McDiarmid Park. Football and finance
will remain intertwined for the foreseeable future. We have always
maintained a prudent approach to the running of our business and this will
stand us in good stead in future years. Once again, the football position
for the forthcoming year is likely to be competitive but I am hopeful that
St Johnstone will be competing for promotion and give our supporters
something to cheer "
At least he ended on a cheery note saying, "These latest figures arent good, but we own our stadium, have assets and still dont have an overdraft. The club is still stable."
Looking ahead to tomorrow and injury knock victims Darren Sheridan and Kevin James , the former managed to train yesterday and the skipper was hoping to return to training this morning.
6pm - Owen laid out his target for the weekend on the Official Site. The manager said, Were heading down to Dumfries determined to get the three points. We were disappointed not to get the win against Clyde last Saturday when I felt over the piece we deserved it but we need to get goals to win games and that will be the priority tomorrow. The season is in its absolute infancy so everyone is just finding their feet at the moment but getting at least one win in the opening few weeks of the season is important as you dont want any wee gaps appearing at the top of the table unless were the team at the top!. Confirmation too that both Darren Sheridan and Kevin James managed a light training session this morning.
August 10th -
Owen is in the Courier today talking
about the expectations for Jason Scotland
this season following his brace on Tuesday night. The manager said, "It
was pleasing to see Jason score, especially after he missed a few chances
against Clyde. But there is still so much more to come from him, which is
an exciting prospect. ". Elsewhere and Kevin
Rutkiewicz has been credited for the East Fife goal.
Darren Sheridan and Kevin James missed both games due to injury but are expected to be fit for the weekend.
5.45pm - The 2nd round of the CIS cup draw saw us seeded today and it's new territory as well with Saints getting a home draw against Elgin City, one of those sides we've never faced before so therefore more than likely to ruin our cup hopes. The tie is set for Tuesday August 22nd at 7.45pm. Saints have confirmed that as for the East Fife game, only the Main Stand will be open with admission again set at £10/£5
August 8th - More from
Derek Young in today's Courier as he
looked forward to tonight's CIS 1st round match against East Fife. The
midfielder said,"Its been a weird summer. Hamilton have
been good enough to let me train with them but the only game I played was
a trial match with Blackpool, which wasnt ideal. Saints have five or
six games this month so hopefully I will get my chance. Ive had
injuries over the three years I was with Dunfermline, but Im fit now
and Im looking forward to this challenge. The manager here has been
fantastic and hopefully we can get something sorted out at the end of the
month. This is one of the top teams in the first division and Ive
been treated brilliantly so far. I really enjoyed my time on the pitch on
Saturday and it would have been the icing on the cake to have scored the
winner when I came close with a shot near the end. "
Owen was a bit more blunt saying, "We need to make sure were in the draw for the next round because were looking for a good cup run."
In terms of team news, Steven Anderson, Martin Hardie and Kevin Rutkiewicz are all back in the squad. And remember tonigh'ts game is a tenner/fiver to get in with only the West Stand open and no season tickets allowed.
11.30pm - One from Martin Hardie in between a couple of goals from Jason Scotland saw us eventually run out 3-1 winners over E Fife in the CIS Cup though the scoreline was at times flattering as Saints again struggled to get going. After the game Owen told the Official Site, "The first half was very poor indeed and we spoke to them at half time about the pace of the game and that seemed to have the desired effect. The second half saw the sort of good passing game I am looking for and I felt Derek Young and Peter MacDonald provided the spark that had been missing in the first half. Jason took his goals very well but I have stressed to him after the game that I know he has so much more to offer and he has to work towards that. Credit to East Fife who are a decent side who played with a freedom that comes with having nothing to lose but once we started knocking it from side to side after he break I felt the goals would come."
7th - Allan McManus(right)
provided the Monday morning comments after the weekend draw. Too many
dropped points cost us last season and the new defender said, "The
gaffer has spoken about that to us because it happened last year, I
understand. Its up to us to make draws winsespecially at homeif
were going to challenge for the title. Theres no point in us
worrying about Gretna or any other team this early in the season. But we
know that if we have aspirations to win the league, well have to
step up the standard that we showed today. They started better but in the
second half it was one-way traffic. We coped with what they had to throw
at us and, from a personal point of view, it was good to get a clean
sheet, but frustrating not to get a win.".
As for Derek Young, who will sign a one-month deal today, Owen said,"Theres no doubting his ability, as everybody could see today. He had his injury troubles at Dunfermline and we have to make sure hes fully fit. Well assess this over the month and take it from there."
6.45pm - As expected Derek Young signed a one-month deal today and told the Official Site, "Its good to have the next month sorted out and Im keen to play my way into something longer term. It has been an unsettling summer not knowing where I will be playing my football and Billy Reid at Hamilton was good enough to give me pre-season training facilities and I cant thank him enough for that because my fitness would really have suffered otherwise. We had the chances to win the game on Saturday but I know just from seeing the lads in training for the past week or so that they are capable of more than that and Im sure things will come together quickly. I would love to be a part of that and having the cup games as well as the league fixtures in August is good from that point of view as it gives my additional chances to show what I can do.
August 5th - Well the big day
has finally arrived as we actually have a football game to go and watch
which has some meaning. Saints are favourites going into today's opener
against Clyde but that doesn't mean anything to the skipper.
Kevin James is looking for us to get off
to a winning start and told the Courier, "Consistency is going to
be the key for us this season. We need to get off to a good start and
continue it. Last season we beat Queen of the South in the first match but
didnt take it on. We saw what happened last year with St Mirren. If
you get a good lead its hard to be pegged back in a cut-throat
league like the first division. We want to be in the position St Mirren
were and lead from early on."
"Weve got a tighter squad but the gaffer has made quality signings and there might be a couple still to come. Theres now competition for places in every position. I think the manager didnt feel we had that last season. Players in the starting 11 will have to perform well to stay there, myself included. I dont think were favourites, which is a good thing, but we know we can win the league and we just have to prove it."
With Steven Anderson, Martin Hardie and Kevin Rutkiewicz all suspended, Jim Weir is set to step into the breach and Kevin James has no worries on that score. "To be fair Jims one of the fittest guys at the club and St Johnstone fans know that hell give his all if he does play. The manager and Jim know that once theyre on the pitch theyre players the same as everybody else. Theyre not treated by me as manager and assistant manager. "
For his part, Owen is happy with the preparation and said, "Its been the only hindrance really. Those three have probably not played as many matches as they would have liked but weve tried to make sure were as prepared as we can be for the Clyde match. You always want to get off to a good start and turn it into a good first quarter of the season. We cant wait to get going. Ive got to decide on my best 11 and I have to do that every week. Its not nice if you dont get selected but you can either feel sorry for yourself or work harder on the training ground to convince me that you should be in the starting 11."
6.30pm - A pretty uninspiring opener saw Saints draw 0-0 with Clyde with Derek Young appearing as a trialist in the second half. We had plenty of chances but failed to capitalise and at times looked like eleven strangers. It was simply not good enough and with Gretna crushing Accies 6-0 there's a lot of work for the manager to do.
After the game, Owen told the Official Site, "We were very poor in the opening fifteen minutes and Clyde carried a real threat at that stage. To be fair, the middle period of the first half was much better and we really should have got a goal with Jason and Steven Milne passing up good opportunities. fell to Jason and Andy Lawrie. Andy could have that chance put in front of him another fifty times and he would score. Over the piece I felt we should have won, we certainly created the chances to win but overall we did not reach the standards required and that is very disappointing. I thought Derek acquitted himself well and he nearly grabbed a goal. I would like to see more of him so I will hopefully get something sorted out at the start of the week."....the something is apparently a one-month contract.
August 4th - Confirmation that
Derek Young is on trial at Saints is in the papers today. The main
focus us on Bryn Halliwell and the
new keeper told the Courier, "I played 13 games for Dunfermline
but that wasnt enough. For me to keep progressing I need to be
playing and Ive come to a great club to hopefully do that. Im
desperate to get back to the SPL and I hope its with St Johnstone.
It was a bit stop and start for me last season and Allan did very well for
Dunfermline. Im 25 and I need to be playing regularly. I certainly
wasnt going to sit around for another year. Ive come here to
push Kevin Cuthbert and hopefully to
play more games. Kevin has played all the pre-season games but Ill
work hard and well see what happens. Its not up to me who will
play against Clyde on Saturday, like it wasnt up to Allan McGregor
when he signed at Dunfermline. Ive been training hard, though, and Im
raring to go. "
In the same article Owen admitted that he hadn't decided on who starts tomorrow in goal (aye right). "Weve got two top keepers at the club now. Both are vying for that position and neither of them is guaranteed it. Kevin Cuthbert has done very little wrong in pre-season. We tried to get Bryn last summer but we couldnt offer him SPL football and he went to Dunfermline, which we understood. Over the last three weeks he has made it clear he wanted to come here and the financial sacrifice he made has shown me he has the desire to be the best keeper he can be. "
Saints have also confirmed that Neil McCallum has joined Alloa on loan for 6 months and the manager said, "Neil scored a good goal in a pre-season match against Cowdenbeath and looked really sharp. There were a couple of clubs interested in taking him on loan. Hes too good for our under-19s now and it would be questionable if hes ready to force his way into our first team at the moment. It didnt do Andy Jackson any harm last season and Im thinking along the same lines with Neil because hell come back a better player. "
3rd- Going by the grapevine, it's likely to be a busy day at
McDiarmid today. Bryn Halliwell has
apparently just got some paperwork to sort out before he signs while a "mystery"
player with plenty of SPL experience is rumoured to be set to sign ahead
of the weekend visit of Clyde. Elsewhere youngster
Neil McCallum is set to head to Alloa
5.45pm - Confirmation that Bryn Halliwell(right) is officially a Saints player with the goalie signing a 1-yr deal with Saints. Speaking on the Official Site, Owen Coyle was happy at getting his man at last. He said of his new keeper, "I'm very pleased to have this sorted out prior to the start of the campaign. I wanted to bring him to the club a year ago but Dunfermline were able to offer him better terms but I am delighted he is here now as it gives me the two top goalkeepers I require."
As for the player himself, "Geri" said, "I'm delighted to finally have everything sorted and I am very much looking forward to the season ahead. I still want to improve my game and progress as far as I can and to do that I need to be playing regularly and I have come to Perth hoping to do that.". So smiles all round then.
The speculation continues elsewhere though with sources pointing to ex-Sheep midfielder and current Pars player Derek Young (part of the mythical twinset) as the target but as usual Owen isn't saying a dickie bird.
2nd- It's looking more and more likely that Bryn Halliwell
will be a Saints player in the next 48 hours with the ex-Pars and Clyde
keeper training with Saints yesterday. Owen
Coyle(right) wasn't tempting fate though and told the Official Site,
"It's no secret that I would like to bring Bryn to the club and
we are making moves in the right direction but these things take time.
However, I'm optimistic we can get things sorted out.".
The last day off before the league opener occurs today but the manager is still busy and is looking ahead to the season. He's quoted in todays Courier saying, "At the start of last season we were coming off what had been a very poor season for St Johnstone. Theres no doubt about that. Weve certainly not had to make nearly as big a change of personnel this time around and were hoping that will prove to be to our advantage. Weve kept the players who did well for us last season and added to the squad as well. Our aim is to make sure were a better side than we were last year and to keep improving."
As for the season he said, "I think the league will be even more competitive this year than it was last. Dundee and Ross County will be improved teams from last year, as will Queen of the South. With all due respect to Brechin and Stranraer, you could probably have tipped early on that they would have difficult seasons. But I would be loath to say which clubs will struggle this time. Gretna have come up with their big spending power and John Robertson will be looking to make a quick return to the SPL with Livingston. We wont be looking at any of our rivals, though. Our focus is on St Johnstone and how we can keep improving. Our attitude last season was to not look too far ahead and it will be the same this season. Everything has been geared to Clyde at McDiarmid Park for our league opener and getting the boys in peak condition for that match. Weve purposely worked them very hard over the summer, with 23 days of training and only one day off. Well not be helped against Clyde by the fact that we have a few suspensions carried over from last season, but once we get that match over well hopefully have everybody available. Im happy with the squad Ive got but Ill be looking to add to it before we kick off "
Owen Coyle is still keeping quiet as to
the name but he expects the goalkeeping situation to be resolved in the
next couple of days. Coincidentally, Pars keeper Bryn Halliwell is
hoping to negotiate his severance deal with the East End Park club in the
same period allowing him to sign for another club.
In terms of signing targets though, the Saints manager isn't having too much success and told the Courier, "I had an English Premiership player lined up and two from SPL clubs. Whether its a backing of my judgment or not, the three of them are all in their respective first teams now and the situation has changed."
With the opening league game only a few days away, Owen is looking to sharpening things up on the training park after the weekends goalless end to the pre-season friendlies. He went on, "There were a lot of pleasing aspects about the game, such as the shut-out, the possession we enjoyed and the number of chances we created. The disappointing aspect was that we didnt take any of them. There must have been about 25 chances and we could have been much sharper in the last third. Ive stressed to our strikers that there has to be a cutting edge to go with our good play. Well be working on that through the week, but I would have been more worried if we hadnt created chances "
Top Of News
July 30th - Yesterday's final friendly didn't exactly fill folk with optimism. I wasn't at the game but you can read the Official Site report of the 0-0 draw at Striling to depress yourself. From the lineup though it looks like Jim Weir is set to start in next week's league opener against Clyde thanks to Kevin Rutkiewicz and Pamela having to sit the game out through suspension.
29th- More mixed news on the signing front. The Norwegian trialist
has headed home and won't be offered a deal. Owen
Coyle told the Courier, "Hes only 19. Hes got
plenty of pace but at this moment hes not ready to play in the St
But there could be a new face at Forthbank today with the same paper reporting that Saints are close to finalising a deal for Pars keeper Bryn Halliwell(right). The manager is playing his cards close to his chest and would only say, "Discussions have been ongoing for the last few weeks so Id be hopeful of having someone in place soon. The noises Ive been getting would suggest its going to happen, but you can never be certain until its confirmed. "
July 27th- The mystery Norwegian
trialist is set to get a run out from the start against Cowdenbeath
tonight. Latest information is that he's a 19-yr old who can play central
or wide midfield. With only 9 days to go until the start of the season,
the lack of new faces is becoming a bit of a worry especially since we
only have one established keeper. Despite being linked to Bryn
Halliwell, nothing concrete has happened before although
Owen Coyle has said the Pars man is one
of "one of a number of keepers" being looked at. The
manager told the Courier, "Ideally we want two top goalkeepers at
the club for the start of the season and Bryn is certainly a top
goalkeeper. Well just have to wait and see if that happens."
22.00 - Another poor performance saw us draw 3-3 at Cowdenbeath with goals coming from Martin Hardie, Stephen Dobbie and Neil McCallum. The mystery trialist got the second 45 but realistically suffered from a lack of service from midfield. We've still got a lot of work to do....
July 26th- It was apparently a
disappointing performance at Glebe Park last night as Saints
1-1 with Brechin with a Paul Sheerin
penalty sparing the blushes of a strong Saints side. Apart from that the
main talking point was the appearance of a trialist winger (apparently
from Norway and called "Tommy") for the last 15 minutes on the
7pm- Owen Coyle wasn't mincing his words today and told the Official Site of his disappointment at the performance at Brechin. The Saints boss said, The standards achieved last night were certainly below what I am looking for and what we have set out to achieve in each match but there were reasons for that and Im reluctant to be too harsh on the boys. That was their fourth match in seven days in a period of pre-season training where they have had just the one day off in three weeks. You need that sort of commitment to attain the fitness levels required but it does take its toll eventually and it will be a younger side with some fringe players that will feature at Cowdenbeath tomorrow.
Finally it's been confirmed that Steven Anderson, Martin Hardie and Kevin Rutkiewicz are all suspended for the league opener.
July 24th- The CIS Cup was drawn
today and with Saints missing out on a bye thanks to Gr*tna being in
Europe, the draw sees an "exciting" 1st round tie. Yup it's East
Fife at home and the club expect such a large crowd that they're only
going to open the West Stand for the game with admission priced at £10
and £5. If you can't bear to miss out on making every game of the
wonderful cup run that's sure to ensue, make sure you're up for this one -
the game's set for a 7.45 kick-off on Tuesday August 8th..
And speaking of the weekend's trip Owen Coyle wasn't that happy. He told the Official Site, It was good to get into the scoring habit and I was pleased to see so many different players get on the score sheet. However, I was less than pleased at the loss of three goals at Inverurie yesterday. I know it was down to lack of concentration because we were so much in command but Ive had a long chat with the players this morning and said that they need to get that sort of thing out of their system there will be games in the season ahead when we will dominate the opposition for long spells and we simply cannot afford to switch off like that in a league game and end up playing catch-up.
July 23rd - The goals poured in at Inverurie today with Saints chalking up a 9-3 win against the Locos. Goals were spread throughout the team with Paul Sheerin getting a couple of penalties, Andy Jackson scoring a hat-trick, Steven Anderson getting a double and singles from Darren Sheridan and Jason Scotland.
21st- Owen has expanded on his
reason for letting Stephen Dobbie and
Scrabble go in today's Courier. The
Saints manager said, "I just feel that they wont be playing
in my team and I would be doing them and the football club a disservice if
I allowed them to sit on the sidelines and not play. Ive got young
players coming through, such as Andy
Jackson and Willie Dyer, who will
be pushing for places in the first team this season. People arent
always going to like what youve got to say but Ive been up
front with them all along. I told them at the end of last season that wed
see how pre-season went and then have a chat. I decided now was the right
time to make the decision. "
Meanwhile there won't be any new signings ahead of this weekend's trip to the north-east although both the possibles mentioned (Bryn Halliwell from the Pars and an unnamed loan attacker from England) may still join the club. The manager went on, "I had hoped that we would have had a couple of new players on the trip. Everything was sorted with the goalkeeper from our end but the player and his club need to come to an agreement. If they do then it will happen. We also had an attacking player lined up to come on loan from the Premiership. I watched him three times last year and had hoped that wed have him here for pre-season. But hes forced his way into the first team plans there at the moment, which doesnt actually surprise me."
11.30pm - Saints kept up their winning run with a 7-0 win at Fraserburgh in the first game of this weekend's North-East tour. Goals rained in from with a first-half hat-trick, Kevin James, Savo, Andy Jackson and a late one from some old bloke called Jim Weir(right). Owen told the Official Site after the game, "It was a good exercise and was another step in getting the fitness levels to where I want them. Its been a good day all round as we had a good training session in Perth this morning, travelled north and then got this good win tonight. It sets us up for Sunday and the match against Inverurie who I am sure will prove to be tougher opponents."
Not such good news for Willie Dyer though - he's with the squad up north but won't play this weekend after going over on his ankle in training.
And finally, Kevin Fotheringham will make an earlier-than-expected return to McDiarmid next month after signing for Raith Rovers this afternoon.
20th - Saints have got a decent draw in the Challenge Cup with
Raith the visitors to McDiarmid in the first round - the game is set for
Tuesday 15th August at 7.45pm.
Two bigger pieces of news today were the launch of the home new strip (as modelled by McManus and Lawrie with sponsors logo for Wimpey on a nice big white hoop (that and the switch to blue shorts has not exactly pleased many of the Saints fans.
But the main news today was that Saints also announced that out-of-favour players Stephen Dobbie(far left) and Neil "Scrabble" Janczyk(left) are free to find other clubs. Both have been out of the side for long spells last season and despite good starts to their Saints career haven't managed to keep a first team place although in my opinion, Scrabble certainly had as much to offer to the side as some of the players who were awarded new deals in the summer. Speaking of his decision, Owen told the Official Site, "I've told the lads that they are not part of my plans for this season and I don't want them kicking their heels all season when they could be getting regular action at another club. They are talented players who could do a good job at another club." .....all of which means the shopping list for new faces has probably got another couple of positions to be filled. Where's the new faces then?
July 19th - Last night's
friendly at Alloa didn't quite go according to plan with a 2-0 lead being
blown and Saints ending up
2-2, with our goals coming from Kevin
James and Paul Sheerin with
James and Goran
Stanic picking up minor knocks into the bargain.
Elsewhere and the hunt for new faces continues with Owen hopeful of someone coming in next week. He told the Courier, "Ive put out a couple of inquiries about players and basically it is now a case of waiting to see what happens. Its no secret that Im after a goalkeeper and would also like another attacker. I would hope to have somebody lined-up by next week ". The former might be helped by the likelihood of the Pars signing a Dutch goalie and freeing up Bryn Halliwell.
18th - There are a few sitting out tonight's game at Alloa with
Martin Hardie and
Stephen Dobbie all set to be rested as
they suffer from minor knocks. Speaking on the Official site,
Savo is looking ahead to a good season .
He said, "It was going well for me last season, I was getting on
the score sheet reasonably regularly and I started every match until
January when I picked up a knee knock. It soon became apparent that
surgery would be needed and I had that at the end of January and
thankfully I was able to get a bit of first team action towards the end of
the campaign but it was a big blow to have my first season with Saints
disrupted in that way. Ive had a full pre-season under my belt and
although I have a minor thigh strain picked up at Forfar, Im
expecting to be fit for the two games up in the North East this weekend.
The two goals I got at Station Park were not the hardest Ive ever
scored but it was good to get on the score sheet nonetheless."
Owen isn't worried about the injuries though and he said, "All the knocks are strains are minor in nature and just what you would expect at this stage of the proceedings but Ill not take a risk with any of the guys there are plenty more games in the build up."
July 17th -
Owen Coyle seemed to be happy enough
with Saturday's win. He told the Courier, "There were a lot of
pleasing aspects to the game, though it showed areas we have to work on as
well. Im delighted with the goals we scored and I think its
fair to say we could have scored a few more. The boys were getting
the ball down and passing it around and thats the way we aim to
play. McManus and
Lawrie acquitted themselves well,
though Im still looking to bring new faces in. Presseguer showed he
is a very gifted player but we still have to decide whether his abilities
are going to add to the squad we have. "...hopefully that means
he'll be getting a longer run out in the game against Alloa tomorrow
7pm - So much for that then. Saints aren't going to follow up on the trialists at the club, goalkeeper Chris Howarth and Spanish midfielder Exposito. Speaking on the Official Site, Owen Coyle said, "Both boys have acquitted themselves well but I have to be absolutely certain that the players I bring in are exactly right for my current requirements so I've chosen not to pursue these guys.". Which is fair enough and while the rumoured move for Bryn Halliwell looks like being back on the cards, the Saints midfield still needs strengthening with little sign of anything happening on that front.
July 15th - No word on the
international clearance for the trialists yet but new signings
Allan McManus and
Andy Lawrie are set to feature.
Elsewhere and we've been linked to a move for another keeper (the confidence in Kevin Cuthbert is amazing) with ex-Clyde keeper Bryn Halliwell rumoured to be set for a move from the Pars to Gods Chosen Ones.
10pm - Goals galore this afternoon with Peaso, two from Steven Milne, Andy Jackson and Martin Hardie seeing us through for a 5-1 win at Forfar.
July 14th - Expect to see Chris
Howarth and Manuel "Exposito" Presseguer line up
against Forfar tomorrow. With the players impressing in the midweek game,
Owen Coyle wants another look at them in
action. The gaffer is still looking to add to the squad after a fairly
sparse group of arrivals in the close season and he told the Courier, "We
are still looking to enhance the squad and hopefully we can get two or
three new faces in before the start of the season"
Meanwhile the hot gossip is that the new Saints strip is apparently ditching the white shorts with an all blue affair (with a white band on the chest) set to grace the hallowed turf next season.....that's assuming Xara get the strips out of course.
1pm - Well the latest is that the trialists may not play as they need international clearance. Also likely to miss out tomorrow is Ryan Stevenson who picked up an ankle knock in midweek, while Jason Scotland may be rested having only arrived back in Scotland this week.
July 13th - Saints went down 4-2 to a Hibs side yesterday afternoon in 3 30-minute closed doors sessions. Owen Coyle was happy enough though and told the Courier, "All the players got an hour or so over the course of the game and it was good to see Peaso back in action. All we can do now is see how he reacts and take things from there. He certainly wont be rushed as he is one player I want to be sure is available to us for the season ahead. "
July 12th - Training is going
well this week but one player not going to be making an appearance for
Saints is Alex Burke who signed for St. Mirren yesterday. Chris
Howarth and Manuel "Exposito" Presseguer are both
set to take part though in a closed doors game against an SPL side this
Closer to home and the injury situation is clearing up with Kevin Rutkiewicz, Peter MacDonald and Stephen Dobbie all on track to be fit for the start of the season.
July 10th - Saints have a couple
of new faces this week on trial. As well as goalkeeper Chris Howarth
from Bolton who's here with a view to a loan deal, we've also got Manuel
Exposito Presseguer, a 24-yr old Spanish left-winger recently at
Barcelona B. On the Official
Saints Site, Owen Coyle said, "Manuel
has been recommended to me by the same people who put me in touch with
Goran Stanic so well have a look
at him in training and see how he gets on in a closed doors game against
Finally admission for the first pre-season game at Forfar has been pegged at £6 for adults and just 3 quid for kids this weekend. Kick-off is at 3pm.
July 8th - Not too much happening on the transfer front. We've got another trialist in for pre-season as ex-County winger Alex Burke tries to win himself a deal. Otherwise, the main news is off the park with the grapevine kicking in about the new strips rumoured for a mid-August release as Xara once more treat Saints fans with the same care as a Dundee board looks after the finances. The strip seems to be set to be like the Well won with a broad white band round a blue top - well at least they wont call us the hoops!
6th - Ryan Stevenson(right)
finally committed to a 1-yr contract today although he tried to brush off
the delay which has seen the contract offer sit on the table since the
days when England were optimistic about Big Sven. He told the
Official Saints Site, "It's
been a stressful summer. I'm more than happy to have signed - and after
all this time, it's just great to be here and a massive weight off the
shoulders. I just wanted to get everything right this time with the
contract. Last summer I was a bit unsure about staying, since the previous
year I hadn't got on too well with the manager. I'd thought about moving
on just because of everything I'd been through. But the gaffer wants you
to be part of everything, and you enjoy coming to training since he's just
one of the boys. The training teaches you to enjoy yourself - some of the
previous seasons weren't nearly as good for that. Even with the double
sessions just now, I'd be happy to keep training longer because it's so
good.The manager wants me to build on my football awareness - when to make
the right pass, when to make a run, just general decision making. Ideally
I'd like to play in central midfield, or nearer the front, but if I get
another season like last year I'd be more than happy. Last season was my
best here by far - playing as many games as I've ever played. The travel
can be a nightmare, and it does take its toll - but it's good to come to
work with a smile on your face. It does make a big difference."
Owen Coyle put a smile on his face as well and said, "I'm delighted to have Ryan on board, and put the situation to bed.Although to be fair, there was never really anything to stop Ryan from signing here. It was evident in spells last season how much he'd improved his game, and we were always keen to keep him here to continue that progression.We will give Ryan the platform and hopefully get him up to that next step."
July 5th - With very little
happening in Sainteeland the only news of note today in the Tully was that
Aussie midfielder Mark "M-Ro"
Robertson who was training with us is heading back to the Land of
the Sheilas and a move to Queensland Roar. Owen
Coyle told the paper, "Mark informed us he was going back
to Australia. Hes a lovely boy who thanked us very much for helping
him out in the last week or so".
With the number of possible irons in the fire reducing by the day, the lack of additions to the squad which the manager has admitted we need is becoming more and more annoying. As is the continual delay with Ryan Stevenson who is again reported to be signig by the end of the week. Frankly its maybe time to cut our losses there and put the wage towards someone that might want to play for the club.
July 1st - There's not much more
news from the pre-season training. Despite hopes being built up, it seems
that Ryan Stevenson has still not
signed a contract and surely patience must be running out at the club.
Meanwhile there's a final pre-season friendly on the calendar with Saints trip to take on Stirling Albion at Forthbank on Saturday the 29th ensuring the McDiarmid pitch will remain untouched by a ball until the league opener.
Finally with the start of the month marking the beginning of the 2006-07 campaign the Referee Votes and Media Falsehoods are now up and running.
Top Of News
June 29th - Well it looks like
Derek McInnes didn't rate friendship too highly with the Arabs
midfielder signing for Millwall instead of Saints saying that the "conditions
of the deal were better" (ie more dosh). Also in the Record, Daniel
McBreen is apparently set to head south rather than Perth-wards with
Owen Coyle quoted as saying, "From
speaking to Daniel I think he wants to try his luck in England."
Elsewhere and the Sun yesterday reported that Owen Coyle has spoken to Bolton to solve the keeping problem. 20-yr old Chris Howarth, a former England schoolboy cap, is said to be set to join Saints for pre-season and if we're happy enough he'll join on loan from the Reebok for the coming campaign. No word on the extent of the keepers friendship with the Saints manager which makes a change.
7.30pm - Pre-season was back underway today and Owen Coyle told the Official Site, "It was great to have the boys back in and hear the voices around the place again. You can't beat hearing some of their stories from the summer break! Seriously though, I am very pleased with the shape the boys have come back in. They were all given a training programme to work on through the summer and it looks like they have all adhered to it. We now have four weeks of preparation to get us ready for the start of the season" . Jason won't be rejoining the squad until July 12th and the gaffer went on, "As everyone knows, Jason has been involved over in Germany so it is important that he gets some rest and recovery time now and although he didn't get a game for Trinidad I'm sure he will come back a better player for the experience of being at the World Cup."
Two new faces at training today were ex-midfielder Mark "M-Ro" Robertson who is getting a chance to probve himself and Bolton keeper Chris Howarth. Owen said,"Mark is a player I hold in high regard and I know he had a couple of spells with Saints before during Billy Stark's time and was well thought of. He has had a couple of injury concerns in recent months and all I have said to him is that he can come and do his pre-season with us, feature in a couple of bounce games and we'll see what develops from there. He will certainly get the chance to show me what he can do. Chris is a 20 year old goalkeeper who is currently on the books of Bolton Wanderers and he has been recommended to me by the same people who told me about Matt Glennon. I've spoken with Bolton and basically if he takes my eye then there is scope for him spending the season on-loan with Saints." As for Ryan Stevenson(right), he was there and according to the manager looks set to sign a new deal.
June 28th - There's not too much
happening just now with the youths back for pre-season training yesterday
and the main squad due in tomorrow. The Derek McInnes saga is
still dragging on with Owen Coyle having
had discussions with the Arabs midfielder and awaiting a final decision.
The Saints manager told the Courier "I spoke to Derek last month
to see if he was getting things sorted out but Ive never heard back
from him, so its a case of waiting to see what he says. He is a
friend of mine outwith football and I know there has been a bit of
interest in him. Im still very keen to bring him here but he has
other financial options that may be better than what we can offer."
Of course Owen Coyle isn't short of friends to sign and expects more moves before the season gets under way. He went on, "I have a few targets in mind who have to give me an answer but it would be naive of me to name them. There are a number of people I have contacted but we may be facing clubs with more financial clout than ourselves."
June 26th - It looks like one of our signing targets will make a decision soon. Arabs midfielder Derek McInnes has apparently finally reached a settlement with the club to leave Tannadump. While the exact number of penny chews he's managed to wangle out of Eddie Thomson hasn't been revealed, the ex-TFOD tanned-man is being linked both with Saints (well he is a mate of Owen Coyle) and St Mirren. Either way a decision is expected soon.
June 25th - Right it's less than 3 weeks to the first pre-season friendly so it's time to pick over the bones for last season. A huge thank you to the "interesting" nominations but get the black ties out and pop the champagne as the 2006 TOSSAs are now out
June 24th - With the manager's patience running out it seems that there is someone interested in Ryan Stevenson. Ayr United have apparently made an approach to the player and while Saints might offer a better class of football, the midfielder now lives on the West coast and it seems that he disnae like travelling. Either way, if he does quit Saints despite the offer on the table, we'll be entitled to compensation.
June 23rd - The 2006-07 Fixture List is out and Saints kick off a hopefully enjoyable season at home to Clyde - the season rounds off with a trip to Accies but it's a farily favourable fixture list with home ties for Boxing Day and Jan 2nd and not too many trips to frozen back-of-beyonds during January and February.
June 21st -
Jason Scotland's World Cup ended last
night as T&T went down 2-0 to a lucky Paraguay side with the Saints
striker not coming off the bench for any of the three games.
Meanwhile Owen Coyle seems to be losing patience with Ryan Stevenson. The 1-yr deal on the table for the midfielder appears to fall short of the player's demands both financially and in duration. But the Saints manager told the Courier, "We start back training next week and need a decision on whats happening by then. Our offer isnt what Ryan was looking for and he is within his rights not to accept it. But if he moves elsewhere, because of his age, the club concerned will have to pay compensation."
Finally, the TOSSAs will be out this weekend so if you've still to vote, get the nominations in by Friday night please.
June 15th - It looks like we'll
see our first signing today with Andy Lawrie rumoured to be set to
sign a 2-year deal today after being freed by Falkirk last season. And the
27-yr old defender could be joined by Stranraer keeper Barry John Corr.
The ex-Well and TFOE goalie is the latest name linked with a move to
Saints to replace Matt Glennon.
Owen Coyle is keeping his cards close to
his chest though and only told the Courier, "Barry is someone I
am considering but, truth be told, there are three or four other
goalkeepers in my thoughts as well. I made an inquiry about the lad a few
weeks ago but things havent moved on since then. "
1.45pm - Confirmation that Andy Lawrie(right) has signed for Saints today. Putting pen to paper on a 2-yr deal, the right-sided defender told the Official Site, "To be honest, as soon as Owen got in touch I thought this would be a great move for me. St Johnstone are a big club and I told him there and then I would be signing. I went on my holidays and now we've been able to tie up the loose ends. The manager's training is brilliant and he's got real enthusiasm for the game. He's got a lot of respect in football and you see that by the amount of players who are following him. He's still looked upon as a player himself and I think he can relate to players because of that. There can be a generation gap with some of the old school managers but Owen is one of the best new managers coming through. This move has been talked about before but it never happened. I'm delighted that it has now. It will be a new challenge and the set-up here is great. You can get stale after being at the same club for 11 years and this new challenge is probably something I've needed. There will be a lot of players here I already know from playing with and against. It will be a tough league to get out of next season but we'll have a strong squad and obviously the goal is to win promotion". Also signing up was Steven Anderson who finally agreed a new 1-yr deal today.
Of the moves, Owen Coyle said, "Ive wanted Andy here from day one and we are getting a player who has pace and power and at 27 years of age still has his prime years just ahead of him. Im pleased Steven has signed up as he is dependable and has a lot to offer. Hes learning all the time and I felt that last season some people forgot the fact that he is only 20 years old and very inexperienced. But Ive known him since he was 17 and I am pleased to have him here for another year. Its our job to develop him further". No word though from Ryan Stevenson who has yet to respond to the deal currently on the table.
June 13th - No official news
over the last week but plenty of rumours, reports and general gossip.
First up and Matt Glennon has finally
rejected Saints to sign for Huddersfield Town. Not a major loss and while
it means we have to hunt down a new keeper for the start of the season,
hopefully it means Kevin Cuthbert's
loyalty will be rewarded. Of the departure, the manager told the Courier,
"We just cant compete with the money being paid down there.
But Matt did well for us and he goes with our best wishes. I knew there
was every chance wed lose him so Ive already been looking for
another keeper and well see what develops."
Elsewhere and the bad news is that Danny Griffin has gone to Scumdee after being released by the Sheep at the end of last season- pity as signing him would have been an excellent PR move for a player whose talent is well known to all at Perth. With the list of transfer targets currently being mentioned on the grapevine consisting of the likes of Derek McInnes, Falkirk striker Daniel McBreen and defender Andy Lawrie it's looking more and more likely that the manager is unwilling to take a risk is signing players outwith his recent clubs. Andy Lawrie looks to be the next signing with the defender back from holiday while the Courier today also reports that Steven Anderson could be set to sign a new deal this week.
June 5th - Little Saints news
over the weekend but one ex-Saintee making the headlines is
Simon Donnelly who we'll see more of
next season after the former TFOE-striker signed a 2-yr deal with Partick
Meanwhile with bugger all happening apart from that tournament in Deutschland, the Temple is taking its annual break - abnormal service to be resumed on Tuesday 13th.
June 2nd - Owen Coyle isn't holding back now the latest phase of wheeling and dealing has begun. With Saints still linked to Derek McInnes who is trying to wheedle his way out of a Tannadump contract and get some compensation, the Saints manager told the Courier, "I would love to bring Derek to St Johnstone but cannot wait about. I can see where everyone is coming from in this matter but if it cannot be resolved very soon then Ill have to pursue other options"
1st - Owen Coyle is back in the
swing and in contract negotiations with Steven
Anderson, Ryan Stevenson,
Matt Glennon and
Darren Sheridan(right), wth the
gaffer telling the Courier, "Things have gone pretty well".
Of the four, Darren Sheridan is
believed to be close to signing a 1-yr deal but
Matt Glennon, who gets married this
weekend has apparently had talks with Tranmere Rovers about a move.
Meanwhile Jason Scotland played the full 90 minutes last night for the Soca Warriors but they went down 3-1 to Slovakia in another World Cup warmup match.
7pm - Well one of the four has his future sorted out as Darren Sheridan(right) put pen to paper on another 1yr contract today. Owen Coyle told the Official Site, "Im pleased to have secured Darrens services for another year he did a great job for me last season and that was reflected in the Player of the Year awards he picked up. I know he had other options back home in Manchester but my understanding is that they were at a non-league level and Darren, understandably, wants to play at as high a level as possible for as long as he can. I think it says a lot for us as a club as well because Darren stays in digs in Glasgow through the week and heads back south after each game on a Saturday thats not an easy thing to do week after week particularly when you have a large family as he does so he wouldnt be staying if he didnt think we were a good club to be at."
Top Of News
May 30th -
Owen Coyle was back from his holiday
this week and the preparations for pre-season have begun with
Peaso back early in order to get
himself fit. Plenty of signing rumours doing the rounds and of the
existing squad, Matt Glennon has
already gone on record to say he wants his future sorted out before he
gets married this weekend.
Meanwhile the so-called rebel First Division clubs are set to announce their proposals for the future of the league at a press conference today. Bet you can't wait eh?
Away from Saints and Paddy Connolly has left the Beanos to sign for Brechin as player-coach.
Finally if you want a bit of a laugh, our favourite World Cup start's got his own ad spots on Jason's Irn Bru site.
Jason Scotland banged a goal in T&Ts
warmup 3-2 win over Austria Vienna.
Closer to home there's nothing much happening on the transfer front. Peaso has been linked with a tenuous rumour linking him with Huddersfield but thats about it as far as domestic news is concerned (other than Alex Rae becoming the latest deluded idiot who thinks he can drag Scumdee out the mire)
5.45 - Saints have finally confirmed the pre-season schedule. Six away games against lower-league opposition sees us take on :
Bet you can't wait eh?
May 22nd- Congratulations to the Saints U-19s side who won their League Cup yesterday with a 3-1 win over Alloa. Apart from that there is very little happening in terms of Saints news.
May 19th- The off-the-field
politics surrounding the SFL continue today with the news that
Geoff Brown has decided not to stand
for re-election as vice-president of the SFL.
Meanwhile Matt Glennon has told the Courier he can't commit to the 1-yr deal on offer yet. Speaking to the Courier before his wedding this summer, the keeper said, "I have been talking to a few clubs here and in England but nothing has happened so far. I know Owen wants me to stay and I have talked to him a few times but I have to make sure I choose the right club at the right time and do the best for my family. I get married on June 3 and have a little girl so these decisions are important. We go away on honeymoon to Mexico after the wedding and I hope my future is sorted out before then. "....of course whether or not the offer is still on the table when he comes back remains to be seen. Elsewhere and Derek McInnes might be off to the States according to latest reports.
May 18th- Another friendly has
been announced with the annual pilgrimage to Forfar's Station Park set for
Saturday July 15th (as opposed to the usual midweek fun).
On a sadder note, ex-Saints youngster Aaron Lofting sadly passed away recently at the age of 24.
Meanwhile it wouldnt be the summer without another off-the-field spate of infighting about league reconstruction. With Livi, Accies and Clyde all intent on setting up an SPL2 after a meeting last week that Saints didn't attend and the SFL without a sponsor or TV deal the war of words has begun in earnest with Pearse the Paddy mouthing off in the papers against Peter Donald. For Saints, chairman Geoff Brown went through it all with the SPL shambles a few years ago and isn't happy about the dirty linen being washed in public. He told the Sun,"If there are problems to be resolved, then we should do it between ourselves. The last thing you want when you're hunting a sponsor is disunity like this. The last time we had this with the SPL is was down to Celtic looking to go to the Premiership and in my eyes that cost us a TV deal. This sort of atmosphere does no good at all and what annoys me more than anything is the ones making the noises are the ones who know the least about what is going on. Going public right now is absolutely ridiculous in my eyes. The fist meeting only had six clubs so we'll see where we are when the whole First Division is there."
May 17th- Still not much
happening at McD over the last few days but as well as Derek McInnes,
we're also being linked with Aussie midfielderMark
Robertson, who has a loan spell at the club a few years ago whilst a
Scumdonian before heading to Stockport. Nothing concrete though and as for
the four who have still to give answers to the contract offers (Steven
Anderson, Ryan Stevenson,
Matt Glennon and
Owen Coyle is still waiting.
Meanwhile, Jason Scotland is set to appear on a series of Irn-Bru adverts about his involvement in the World Cup, including a video diary which you can see at http://www.itsphenomenal.co.uk.
May 15th- While there's not much
to report from Saints, yesterday confirmed our final league opposition
next year with Partick rejoining the 1st Division after their win over
Peterhead in the play-off final.
Of transfer targets Derek McInnes, apparently St Midden are also interested although wage demands seem to be a major stumbling block.
Owen Coyle is in the Courier today
speaking on the Derek McInnes rumour. With Saints linked to the
well-tanned midfielder, the manager would only say, "Derek is a
player I know very well, both on a professional and personal basis, but
until such times as he is released by Dundee United we are not in the ball
Elsewhere and the first couple of friendlies have been confirmed with a trip north to play Fraserburgh on Friday July 21st and Inverurie on Sunday July 23rd.
Finally, Jason Scotland got 21 minutes off the bench of the Soca Warriors 1-1 draw with Peru on Wednesday increasing his chances of making the final squad.
May 11th- Not too much
happening. The only news on the contract front is that
Paul Sheerin is expected to give his
answer to the 1-yr deal on the table today.
7.45pm - It's just been confirmed that Paul Sheerin has signed for another year. Elsewhere and rumours have Derek McInnes is joining from the Arabs in a player-coach role while Matt Glennon and Darren Sheridan have been linked with Gretna.
May 10th- So much for the
grapevine then. No Lawrie signing yet but
Owen Coyle has admitted to having "informal
talks" with his former colleague. He told the Courier, "Andy
is away on holiday at the moment so nothing can happen for a few weeks.
But he would be a fantastic signing for the club and Ill be doing my
utmost to get him. The problem we may face is that we arent alone in
being admirers of him. ". Unfortunately the same can be said of
another Bairn being freed with striker Daniel McBreen another
player that the manager apparently wouldn't mind seeing at McDiarmid next
Elsewhere and Stephen Dobbie is set to undergo a hernia op although he'll be fit for the start of pre-season training.
May 9th - According to Owen Coyle, there's been no news on the contract front but the grapevine has revealed that we're set to sign Falkirk right-sided defender/wing-back Andy Lawrie today on a 2-year deal. Nothing has been officially confirmed though.
May 7th - It's that time of year
again and the close-season boredom has hardly kicked in but the
Season Ticket Forms are out for 2006-07. No
price change this year but the bad news is that cup-ties are now excluded.
And closer to home, another end of season tradition starts today - yup crayons at the ready and cast your votes for the 2006 TOSSAs. Voting's going to run until I get bored and find time to the awards.
May 5th -
Kevin Rutkiewicz spoke today of his new
2-year deal. The defender is quoted on the Official site as saying, "I'm
delighted to have it sorted out so quickly. I had no desire to leave the
club and there were just a couple of wee issues to be resolved which was
done quickly. I'm about to head off around Europe over the summer months
so it's nice to be able to set off on my travels knowing that my future is
sorted out. Hopefully the second year of my deal will see us all enjoying
football in the SPL! My first season here was a disappointing one for
everyone at the club and given that we under-performed so badly, to some
extent it has been an easy stride to move a few places up the league
table. The next stage, moving just one place further up the league from
runners-up to champions, is going to be much harder but the Manager will
obviously strengthen the squad. I'm sure Allan
McManus will prove to be a great signing, and after a summer break
we should go into next season with confidence."
Meanwhile there were another couple of departures with youth players Paddy Deery and Ross Fox leaving the club today. But Willie Dyer, Kevin MoonStephen DorisNeil McCallum and Daniel O'Donnell have all signed 1-yr deals.
4th - More changes today with the arrival of
Allan McManus(right) from Airdrie in
one of the worst-kept secrets in Scottish football. Joining on a 2-year
contract. After clinching the deal to play for his old team-mate, the
ex-Jambo told the Official Site, "Im delighted to be here.
Owen first spoke of his desire to bring me to St Johnstone when Airdrie
were up at McDiarmid Park in March ironically, I was suspended for
that game! and once I knew of his interest it wasnt a big
decision to make to come here. We then had to make sure everything was
done properly and I made sure Airdrie United were kept informed of what
was going on. It wasnt the best-kept secret in the world that I then
signed a pre-contract agreement and that situation is never easy but Im
delighted that we can announce it now. I cant speak highly enough of
Sandy Stewart and all the lads at Airdrie. They have some brilliant young
players and will be a force next season. I didnt appreciate what I
had when I was playing at that higher level you only really realise
how fortunate you are as you get older. But Ive never felt fitter in
my whole career than I do now and I take pride in the way I train and
play. I would love to get back to the top league level and with great
respect to Airdrie United I believe I can do that with Saints. I spoke to
Martin Hardie about the club and he
said it was a good place to be. I have to do what is best for my family
and although Sandy offered me a contract with the promise of some coaching
experience, I feel this is the best thing for me."
For his part, Owen said, "I have played and worked with Allan at Airdrie. He is a player that has done the business at a higher level than the division he is in just now and he has the determination and desire to get back to that level. He will bring further height and presence to the defence and with Kevin Rutkiewicz and Kevin James both here next season I am well down the line of getting the defence I want. It gives me useful options such as moving Simon Mensing into the middle of the park when it is beneficial to do so. Everyone knows the feelings I have for Airdrie and that will never diminish. But Hardie and McManus were both out of contract and I wouldnt be doing my job if I didnt try to get them, knowing as I do that they will improve my options here at St Johnstone. Sandy Stewart and I are great friends and he respects that I have to do what is right for this club. I would have liked to have brought Willie McLaren to Perth as well but they have done well to keep him on board there and I wish them the best."
There was another signing as well as Kevin Rutkiewicz signed a new two-year contract. The manager said, "Im delighted that Kevin has committed himself to the Club for two years, he had a great season for me. Im speaking to the others I want to keep here and well see how it goes in the next few days. As much as I want to keep any of them, they have to show me the same desire to want to be here."
Finally the club has started posting out the season ticket renewal forms so expect these to arrive over the weekend.
2nd - The first changes at the club have been announced with
Owen signing up
Goran Stanic for another year. The
manager said in the Courier, , "Were delighted that Goran
has agreed to stay with us for another year. Hes been fantastic for
us this season, especially in the second half of it. ", and
Goran himself saying, "Its
been a good season but hopefully there is even better to come next season.
Last season was probably my most consistent since I arrived in Scotland
and now I want to get to the Premier League with St Johnstone. "
The downside for the manager was handing free transfers to Ryan McCann, Kevin Fotheringham and John Henry as had been widely expected. Owen said, "John Henry is a really close friend and that made it even more difficult. Weve all got families to look after and it is a horrible thing to have to do. I couldnt guarantee John football week in and week out, which is what hes looking for at this stage of his career. Im sure that all three of the players will get new clubs, and I think Queen of the South are very interested in John. Ryan and Kevin have both got fantastic ability but have suffered with injuries while Ive been here. "
Of the remaining players who are out of contract in the summer, offers have been made to them all (that's Matt Glennon, Darren Sheridan, Kevin Rutkiewicz, Steven Anderson, Ryan Stevenson and Paul Sheerin) with the manager saying, "Ive spoken to all of them, but ultimately it will depend on whether we can agree terms with them"
5pm - Another contract was sealed today with Kevin Cuthbert agreeing a 1-year deal. Speaking on the Official Site, Owen said, "I'm delighted that Kevin has signed on again. I've said before that he is a first class keeper and he reacted to losing his place to Matt Glennon in the way I would have expected of him and he has been a first-class professional. We need two quality keepers on the books and I'm very pleased that Kevin will be one of them."
1st- Savo(right) was glad to end
the season on a bit more of a high at the weekend after doing his bit to
spoil the title party. He told the Courier, "It was great to get
the win and spoil their party a bit and it was quite important to finish
the season on a high like this. It gives us all confidence going into next
season, showing we can beat anyone, although it is going to be tough again
with Gretna and Livingston coming into things. The boys are all looking
forward to next season alreadywe will have had another year together
and we know exactly what we have to do to go one better than this year. Weve
been on a great run, but it was just too little too late, and even for
myself, the end of the season has maybe come a bit too soon because Im
back scoring goals again. But that means Ill go into next season
with confidence. "
Owen Coyle echoed the comments saying, "To finish second gives us a springboard for next year and hopefully we can use that to take the next step. Today was always going to be a competitive game because of the fact we have pursued St Mirren all the way, and Im just delighted to get the win. "
One player who has already reported to have left the club is Jamie Winter who has returned to the Sheep following his loan spell. But another moving in the opposite direction (at least if you believe the Sun) could be ex-Jambos defender Neil McFarlane who has been deemed surplus to requirements by Bernie Winters Pittodrie side and freed.
Top Of News
April 30th- The rumour machine
has kicked into gear with the first departures set to be announced this
week. Latest on the grapevine is that we're likely to see
Ryan McCann and
Kevin Fotheringham leave with the
latter heading to Iceland. Also out the door is apparently
John Henry, who seems set to sign a 2-yr
deal with Queen of the South despite being offered a deal at Saints
(presumably we offered him just 12 months). Finally the future of
Matt Glennon remains unclear with some
believing he's set to return to the North of England.
It's not all about who's leaving though and with Owen Coyle admitting that he wants a striker on board, reports have us linked with former Celtic and Dons striker Bryan Prunty who has had an excellent season at Airdrie. This deal will cost money though so expect some offloading of the existing front men to compensate.
April 29th - With the irony of
habing to watch chairman Geoff Brown
present the Division One trophy to St. Mirren at full-time today,
Darren Sheridan is hoping to take
some of the pain out of the day with a victory. In the Courier, the
midfielder said, "Well be taking this game seriously and were
going there to win. Were trying to spoil their party as much as we
can. The games with St Mirren have all been tight battles but I dont
think weve had any luck against them. In our last match their keeper
pulled off some great saves. I think we play the better football but theyre
a strong, well-organised team who defend well and dont concede many.
I thought we were going to push St Mirren a bit closer but they never
seemed to have a bad run and weve got to hold our hands up and
congratulate them for that. Considering the fact that there were so many
new players here at the start of the season, it is a big improvement to
come runners up after what I heard happened here last year. "
Elsewhere and the first transfer rumours have begun with Saints reportedly linked in the Courier to Dundee left winger Steven Robb, one of the player believed to be set to face the axe as part of the cost-cutting at Dense Park.
6.45pm - A second-half shot from Savo sealed the three points in a 1-0 win at Love St as Saints spoiled the home sides championship party with the youngsters in Neil McCallum, Kevin Moon and Willie Dyer looking impressive with the latter two getting a longer runout than planned after Ryan Stevenson and Simon Mensingwent off head knocks in the first half.
28th - It looks like some of the youngsters will get a chance
tomorrow with Neil McCallum and
Willie Dyer set to get a chance at last
at Love Street tomorrow. Also in the squad is Johnny
Black(right) whileMartin Hardie
and Kevin Rutkiewicz are suspended, the
latter undergoing a minor op yesterday. Savo
is the usual doubt but despite the weakened squad
Owen Coyle wants to take the shine off
the hosts day. He told the Official Site, "Its St Mirrens
day and it is fully deserved but we have every right to feel proud of what
we have achieved in the league this season and Ive told the players
this morning that I want us to go down there tomorrow and finish our
season on a high. Its not about taking the gloss off their day
nothing does that when you win the league but it is about St
Johnstone finishing the season in a positive manner and maintaining what
has been an excellent run of league form since the turn of the year."
Meanwhile contract negotiations have been opened with several players.
April 27th - Despite taking the lead thanks to a penalty from Stephen Dobbie, Saints went down 2-1 at Love Street last night in the Reserve League Cup Final. On the Official Site, Owen Coyle said, Its disappointing because it is a game we should have won. We looked comfortable at the interval and we have had the chances to score more than we did but theyve scored a spectacular goal to level the game and then a clinical finish has won it.
April 26th- No contract confirmations yet but one player Owen Coyle has been praising is young striker Andy Jackson who has enjoyed loan spells at Cowdenbeath and Forfar this season. The Saints manager told the Courier, "Im hoping that well see in training that hes taken another step towards the level we think he can reach. Andys got a lot of attributes that I like. The reason we put him out on loan to Cowdenbeath was for him to get first team football and score goals. He did that at that level and then we decided to step him up a level at Forfar. Again, hes stepped up to the mark and I think hes getting better and better in every game he plays. It will be up to Andy how far he goes in the game. If he comes back and shows what hes got in pre-season, he will definitely get opportunities here."
April 24th - With the season all but over, thoughts are turning to contract renewals. Midfielder Paul Sheerin is one of those whose deal runs out in the summer but he's optimistic about his future at McDiarmid. In today's Courier, he said, "I feel much happier this season. It was a long slog last year but the gaffer has come in and freshened everything up. His enthusiasm rubs off on most players. No doubt we will strengthen for next year and there will be boys out of contract who will be sorted out in the next few weeks. The gaffer told me earlier in the season he was happy with my form and said last week we will get things sorted next week, so well take it from there. We were third bottom last season and weve made a massive improvement to finish second this time and Im desperate to stay."
22nd - Despite the looming World Cup and recent press comments,
Jason Scotland(right) has been more
than happy with his debut season with Saints and according to the Courier
is looking forward to the future. The striker said, "With two
games to go were gutted to be only playing for second place against
Hamilton tomorrow, rather than for the title. We still need to give our
all to put in a good performance for our fans. It hasnt quite worked
out for us this season and we have just missed out on promotion but
hopefully next time we will finish top. If I get a game in the World Cup
other clubs might be watchingbut Ill be happy to come back
here and win the first division with St Johnstone. I havent won
anything in Scotland and Id be delighted to help the club into the
SPL. I wasnt getting a regular game last season with Dundee United
and then came all the work permit stuff, but Ive come back and
scored goals. People might say I can only do it in the first division, but
I would like to prove that I am good enough for the SPL, playing in a team
where I get a good run of games from the start. It would be different
playing with St Johnstone in the SPL to coming on as a sub with United.
The season wasnt looking good for me after I was refused a work
permit. I didnt know where I would end up playing football after
that. St Johnstone showed me a light at the end of the tunnel and now Ive
been nominated for player of the year and Ill hopefully be going to
the World Cup. The season has ended on a high note after a bad start."
As for the last couple of games he'll still give his all. "You
watch Sky Sports News and see that so many players are getting injured
like Michael Owen and Totti, and could possibly miss the World Cup. But an
injury could happen at any time in training. Ive got my back against
defenders most of the time during games and one of them could go through
me, but its not something you can think about during a game. I want
to show good form in the last two games and then in the World Cup training
camp so hopefully I get into the team for the first match in Germany. "
As well as Martin Hardie sitting on the naughty step after last week and missing out, a bout of sickness has left John Henry a doubt in midfield while Savo gets the usual late fitness test. Both Kevin Fotheringham and Ryan McCann are back in full training though. Priority for Owen is getting the point to secure 2nd place today with all talk of contracts and departures banned until next week. The manager said, "Its very important that we finish the season off with a good performance in front of our own fans. Our last league defeat at home was in August and we want to go into next season on the back of a good finish to this one. "
8.30pm - Simon Mensing did the business today with a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Accies which secures second place, although the game had more than a touch of the end-of-season air about it. Owen was happy enough and said on the Official Site afterwards, "I thought we shaded the game overall and their keeper has made three or four great saves. We got off to a nightmare start with a silly error but I thought we played some good passing football in the opening half hour although to be fair to Hamilton they had a couple of half-chances. Overall Im disappointed not to win but Im delighted to have secured second place and we have to build on that now. Players will leave the club and others will come in but I wont sign people for the sake of signing them they have to better than what we have already".
April 21st - With tomorrow being
the last home game of the season Saints have announced that any season
ticket holders can get a friend in for free. A point will secure second
place this season and Owen won't settle
for anything less. He told the Courier, "Myself, the coaching
staff and all the players are determined to finish in second spot, which
would be a placing that would represent a significant improvement on last
season and would be the clubs best finish since they came down from
the SPL. It would be great if there was a good crowd and a great
atmosphere as we go about trying to beat Hamilton to secure that second
spot and Ill be delighted if as many season ticket holders as
possible can bring a friend along. Finishing second brings other benefits
to the clubnot least a seeded place in next seasons CIS Cupso
it certainly isnt being treated as any sort of meaningless end of
season fixture by anyone here."
Elsewhere and Alan Kernaghan was finally punted by Scumdee yesterday following the completion of his mission. It won't be the last we've heard of it though with the Irishman set to battle for compensation for the remaining year on his contract which for some mysterious financial reason, the Marrs seem unwilling to agree to.
April 20th - It looks like the
SFL got it wrong - Rustybitz is allowed to
play this weekend but he is suspended for the St Mirren match and the
first game of next season (hopefully he'll still be here).
Martin Hardie misses out this weekend
though as well as joining Rustybitz in the
stand at Love Street and for the first game of the 2006-07 season.
Meanwhile congratulations to Jason Scotland who is one of the nominees for the SPFA Division One Player of the Year.
April 19th - Confirmation yesterday that as well as Martin Hardie sitting out the game against Accies after his red card at Palmerston, defender Kevin Rutkiewicz will also be stuck in the stand after his booking took him through the penalty points barrier. The length of his ban isn't known yet and Owen said, "We knew that Martin would receive an automatic ban but will have to wait and see how long Kevin will be out. He will definitely miss the final game of the season at St Mirren though. We have to concentrate on beating Hamilton here and trying to get six points to ensure that we finish in second place before we think about next season."
April 17th -
Owen Coyle wasn't slow in voicing his
opinion of the referee after Saturday's game saw 7 Saints players booked
as well as Martin Hardie sent off for
dissent. The Saints manager said in today's Record, "The referee
clearly showed it was not a penalty and indicated with both his arms that
it wasn't a penalty. But the assistant had his flag up and I think this
put the referee in a difficult position. After a discussion he reversed
his decision. But his gesture initially that it wasn't a penalty was so
blatant I couldn't see how he could possibly overturn that. Things just
went against us in this game and I think we merited more than we got but
we'll take our medicine and carry on. We've shown we're a capable team and
we're hoping to be a better team next year. My players were frustrated and
while I can't condone that I can understand what their frustration was
because of the clear indication it wasn't a penalty."
As for Kevin James own goal, the manager went on, "I've got to feel for Kevin. But the players have been tremendous to take this championship to just two games to go."
And congratulations to the U-19s with a 5-0 win over East Fife yesterday with goals from Chris Kenny, Bobby Barr, Kevin Moon, Ross Fox and a trialist.
15th - Saints head off to Dumfries today knowing full well that
nothing less than 3 points will do although even then we still need the
Midden to fail to beat the Scum. Kevin
Rutkiewicz knows the importance and he told the Courier, "Our
motivation for the last few games has been the same every week make
sure we take care of things at our end and hope that St Mirren drop
points. Then, whatever happens, we will be able to say that weve
managed to win matches when the pressure has been on at the business end
of the season. That will stand us in good stead. I dont think Dundee
will be going into this game wanting anything other than a victory. I dont
know Alan Kernaghan or Billy Kirkwood personally but I do know that theyre
both winners. Theyve got ties with St Johnstone and Im sure
they would want to see us take the title if it wasnt going to be
Dundee. Its a long shot but hopefully well still be in there
fighting next week."
The defender is feeling optimistic about the future though and went on, "The fact that the club are prepared to commit to the coaching staff by giving them new contracts shows how far weve come this season. The direction were going now is definitely the right one. Weve come this far already with a new squad and who knows what might have happened if the manager had been in the job a bit earlier. Hes brought a new belief and confidence to the players. The manager spoke to me at the start of the season and told me how it was. Hed signed Kevin James(right) and Mark Campbell and said that Id be playing second fiddle but that if my chance came Id get a fair crack of the whip. Id had a couple of shaky moments on and off the pitch last season but I said to him then that I felt I was as good as the players hed brought in. I got that chance against Partick Thistle, played a pretty solid game and things went on from there. The turn around for me has been massive but, more importantly, the turn around for the club has been even bigger."
Injury-wise, Steven Anderson is still out and there will be late fitness tests for Darren Sheridan and Savo.
7.30pm - It wasn't quite a disaster but from going down 2-0 early on and having Martin Hardie sent off we fought back to 2-2 thanks to goals from Kevin James and Paul Sheerin before eventually losing 3-2 to QoS at Palmerston thanks to a freak Kevin James own goal. Elsewhere the Scum failed to drag themselves up losing 2-1 at Love Street and clinching the title for the Paisley men. So while it was a brave fight from us in the end it wasn't enough and it's congratulations to St Mirren and best of luck in their SPL campaign next season. For Saints though the rebuilding will no doubt start this week as the contracts are renewed and decisions made about next season. Either way there's no doubt the fighting spirit and attitude that's been instilled into the side this season has been a breath of fresh air and we're in much better shape for 2006-07.
April 14th - Even more good news
today with the announcement that Owen Coyle
got the Bell's Manager of the Month for March. Tomorrow's trip to
Palmerston wasn't far off his mind though and the gaffer told the Courier,
"St Mirren still have one game to win and theyre up and all
credit to them as they have been very consistent. But its still
there to be won and we will go to Dumfries to play against another team
who are on a good run. However, if we play to our capabilities we should
return with three points. "
Elsewhere and after completing his mission to screw up the tinks at Dens, Stuart McCluskey is ending his undercover role and heading to Australia in the summer.
13th - Smiles all round today as Owen
Coyle and Jim Weir signed new
contracts (see the pic on the right) to keep them at Saints until May
2009. Accompanied by a smiling Geoff Brown,
the chairman told the Official Site, "Im very, very pleased
to have sorted this out and to have Owen and Jim on contracts which will
take them through to May of 2009. As a Board of Directors we were not
particularly pleased with events over the four years prior to Owens
arrival but in a remarkably short time he has turned the fortunes of the
Club around and I see this announcement today as an indication of our
determination to go on and get Owen to take us on to better things. As
Saints fans will know our previous experience with a player/manager failed
miserably but I was delighted to capture Owens services and it has
been a very interesting experience for me to work with him. We have an
excellent relationship to say we speak regularly is an
understatement! and I think he has done a tremendous job up until
Owen Coyle said, "Im delighted to be offered the chance to extend my stay here and in many ways it is a compliment to the work Jim Weir and I have put in. Jim and I hit if off from day one and I think everyone can see a degree of improvement in the team but there is a great deal still to be done. The Club have given me every backing and in the Chairman and Stewart Duff I have two men who have a huge wealth of experience and skill that I have been able to tap into. I have targets to enhance this club much further and I wont stop until I get where we want to be for St Johnstone Football Club. It would have been nice to have taken the club up in one go but it was always a big ask. I inherited a team that was struggling but over the months weve been able to offload some of the players and bring in some hopefully better ones and it has led to an improvement but Im not happy where we are I want us to be moving forward as a club all the time. Its a wonderful club and great set-up and I want to take it into the top league where, I believe, we should be."
As for the assistant, Jim Weir said, "Im delighted to be a part of what is going on just now and its an absolute pleasure to be working with Owen. In my twenty years in the game he is as good a guy as I have worked with, his enthusiasm is infectious and I share his desire to get this club moving forward."
And there was more good news with Jason Scotland selected for the provisional Soca Warriors side for the World Cup in Germany.
April 11th- The big news today
is that Saints have offered extensions to the contracts of
Owen Coyle and
Jim Weir taking them through until 2009.
Geoff Brown said, "We want
them to stay here for a long time yet and will be speaking to them about
extending their contracts. We had to bring players in en masse last summer
- this year we will be on the lookout again but not in the same numbers."
. Reports suggest that the club are hoping to get the managerial team
to sign up sometime this week, although Owen
Coyle is staying tight-lipped on the deal. He told the Evening
Tully, "This is a fantastic club and I felt privileged to get the
job when handed it a year ago. There is a lot of room for improvement and
Im striving to get better all the time. Ive only made a start
here and am looking to continue the progress Ive made. Managing St
Johnstone is a challenge I have thoroughly enjoyed. I knew when I came
there would be a large turnaround of staff and the fact were
unbeaten in the league this year shows the team have built an
Elsewhere Peaso is due to see a London specialist about his knee injury. The striker has already written off this season but is looking to plan a comeback in time for the new campaign.
10th- In the aftermath of the Brechin win,
Ryan Stevenson(right) reckons if
we're not going to get the title it'll be down to our early season form.
He told the Courier, "We have now gone unbeaten since the turn of
year and our form has been really good. It is when you look back to
earlier in the season and see the points we dropped in games against the
likes of Stranraer that you think of what might have been. We seemed to
lose or draw matches which we dominated. It will be a right kick in the
teeth if when we go to Love Street on the last day of the season St Mirren
are celebrating picking up the league title. That would be hard to take.
It is like down south where you have Man United chasing Chelsea but I dont
think there is a great chance of them catching them. All you can do is win
your own games. It is looking a bit like a mission impossible for us but
we can only concentrate on ourselves and aim to finish the season as well
as we possibly can. We just had to get the three points off Brechin and
not bother too much about the performance. The good thing for us was we
got two early goals and it could have been more. I had a great chance
myself but I think I booted the ball out of the stadium, while
Savo had one or two. But overall we are
happy with 2-0 and we go on from here. We need Dundee to get something off
St Mirren and it will be strange for our fans to be wanting them to win
but thats the case now."
Owen Coyle was just as happy and said, "I could not have asked any more of my players as both their spirit and character were terrific. I am delighted with the progress of the club. We flirted with relegation last year, finishing eighth, so we have taken it on. It is now important that we keep going well until the end of the season. "
Matt Glennon is still keeping the
faith in the title race. He told the Courier, "Kevin
Cuthbert mentioned the other day that it could still be my goal
which gets us into the Premier League. Id like to notch maybe one
more before the end of the season just to be sure! Ill certainly be
going up for a corner if were drawing in the last minute because it
has to be wins for us now. Were definitely still hanging in there
though and we have to make sure that we do our job against Brechin. St
Mirren are away to Ross County and the Brechin match is one we should be
winning, whereas St Mirren are by no means favourites to beat Ross County
at their place. St Mirren lost to Hamilton last week and in my opinion
Ross County are a stronger side than Hamilton. So Id like to think
that theyll drop points tomorrow and if they do then the pressure
really will be on. "
Owen Coyle wasn't mincing his words either with the final team selection still subject to some late fitness tests. "Anybody who is called upon knows theyve got a job to do and that we have to carry on the good form weve been showing. St Mirren lost last week and theyve got a difficult game tomorrow, but weve all got difficult games in this league. All we know is that if we win well take things on for at least another week. "
8pm - It wasn't the prettiest or most convincing of wins but first half goals from Savo and Jason Scotland saw us run out comfortable 2-0 winners at Brechin this afternoon - a result that officially relegates the Glebe Park men. The depressing news though was the same scoreline in Dingwall allowing St Midden to maintain their 8pt advantage, a result that means they have to lose all their remaining games for us to have a chance of catching them.
7th - Speaking to the PA, Owen Coyle
said of the injury problems ahead of tomorrow, "It's a long list,
but we've been here before this season and there are guys eager to come
in.". The trio from the Stranraer game (Steven
Anderson, Goran Stanic and
Darren Sheridan) have been joined on
the treatment table by Ryan Stevenson
with an ankle knock. Owen went on, "If
even one or two of them make it for the Brechin trip I'll be happy."
So that means Willie Dyer should be in
with the manager saying, "Willie acquitted himself well at
Brechin in December. He has had to be patient, but it would have been the
same for any player, whatever his experience, because Goran has been so
consistent. But I would have no fears about fielding Willie or any of our
youngsters. I know they will come in and do a job.". Also in the
squad are Stephen DorisNeil
McCallum and Kevin Moon who did
well during the week for the youth sides. The manager knows what has to be
done though and said, "We are in a good vein of form and that
must continue. Three out of the four remaining games are away from home
but that doesn't matter at this stage. And away from home teams are
obliged to come and have a go at us. That suits us fine. We have to take
care of our job and hope something happens elsewhere. But I know the fans
will be very vocal at Glebe Park. They will be gathered together, just as
they were at Dens, and that backing drives the lads on. "
Savo(right) meanwhile is hopeful of a starting jersey. He said, "If I'm playing it will be good to start again. I was really tired after getting an hour against Stranraer but I'm ready to play. The knee injury required a tidy-up. It's not the same problem which troubled me at Plymouth and that's a relief. We had to be cautious but I feel fine now. I want to play better next time round. The First Division is even more difficult for a striker than the SPL. It is faster and more physical. But now I know what it's all about. It would be brilliant if we could take it down to the last game of the season. We just have to keep winning and hope St Mirren drop points and feel the pressure building. The Brechin game will test the depth of our squad and with Michael O'Neill getting the managers job they will be trying to make an impression. But we know we are capable of winning if we produce our best form."
April 4th - Ex-Saints midfielder
Michael O'Neill was appointed Brechin
boss last night so there won't be any upset to the Saints backroom. And
another ex-Saintee in the news was Scott
Paterson who has signed for Gretna until the end of the season.
Meanwhile, long-term injury victims Stephen Dobbie, Ryan McCann and Peaso have all been ruled out of the manager's plans for the rest of the season. And the trio of injured from Saturday's win over Stranraer (Steven Anderson, Goran Stanic and Darren Sheridan) have been described as "only having a slim chance" of making the trip to Brechin this weekend, although the manager is slightly more hopeful that Kevin Fotheringham might return to the side.
April 3rd - As you'd expect both Savo and Jason Scotland(right) are in the media having some fun over the claim for the second goal. In the Courier, Jason Scotland said, "As a striker, I saw the ball was heading for the line and I had the chance to claim it. I had a goal drought before and was determined to go on a good streak, so Im delighted to get the hat-trick and hopefully next Saturday I will continue. We just need to keep winning and hopefully something will happen.". Savo, meanwhile is happy that we're still in the hunt. He said, "At the start of the season we had a lot of new players and it maybe took a little time to gel. Now everyone knows each other, theyre all working hard for each other and weve been getting results. St Mirren have hard games coming up and weve still to play them, so we have to keep winning to give ourselves the best possible chance of taking it to the last game of the season."
April 2nd - Plenty of injury
worries for Saints after yesterday's win. As well as
Steven Anderson and
Goran Stanic limping off in the
first-half, Darren Sheridan also
picked up a knock. Speaking to the Official Site last night,
Owen said, "Steven
has a problem with his hamstring and Goran
was troubled with his groin so I decided to take them both off so as not
aggravate their injuries any further. Darren
has a hamstring problem as well and wasnt mobile in the final 20
minutes but we couldnt take him off as we had used all three subs.
The injury problems never seem to lessen any but I have young kids ready
to take their places if need be."
As for the game, the manager said, "I thought we were nervy late on in the game but I thought the win was well deserved. Barry John Corr had four outstanding saves. I was well pleased for Steven Milne who ended up getting a longer spell on the pitch than he might have anticipated but I thought he was terrific.". Of his own booking the gaffer said, "I didnt touch the player at all and simply said to the ref hes fallen over and to be fair to the lad Gilfillan and Barry John Corr, they both said to the ref that I hadnt made contact but the referee saw it differently and I was booked for my trouble."
1st - Today's match against Stranraer still sees a lot to play for
and Owen is expecting the West Coast
side to make it tough for us. He told the Official Site, "Stranraer
do tend to sit in and make things difficult, especially when they are away
from home, but I think I have the players to break that down now. I have
no doubts that we will create opportunities and the key thing is that we
need to take them when they come along.It is very important we finish this
campaign strongly, not least to make sure we can take advantage of any
slip by St Mirren. There are fifteen points available and I see no reason
why we can't take them all. If I saw anyone who I thought didnt have
their mind on the job then they wouldnt play. Reputations dont
bother meI will only pick players who want to pull on a St Johnstone
Kevin Fotheringham has definitely been ruled out along with Stephen Dobbie through injury though Kevin James(right) should return after missing the last two games. Also set to play today is Savo and he told the Courier today that we're still to see the best of him. The Saints striker said, "This is a really difficult league to play ina lot of people have said that its harder than the SPL You dont get much time, its quite fast and physical. Its taken a year for me to get used to this division but hopefully I will be better equipped to score more goals next season. We need to be professional and put pressure on St Mirren. If they drop points we have to be in the position to capitalise."
Off the park and Saints have announced a new sponsorship deal with Wimpey the builders. The 3-yr deal will see the sponsors name appear at McDiarmid and on the strips for next season (which hopefully means the new kit will be out this summer and not nearer Xmas).
Meanwhile the new front-runner for the Brechin job also has Saints connections. Michael O'Neill, currently assistant at Cowdenbeath seems to be the latest darling in the Courier with Jim Weir apparently out of the running. Either way they're not announcing their new manager until the middle of next week.
Finally, ex-Saintee Graeme Jones has finally hung up his boots. Currently at Accies, he was planning to retire from playing at the end of the season anyway but injury has curtailed his plans. The Temple would like to wish him all the best for the future.
6.30pm -A hat-trick from Jason Scotland saw us through in a nervy 3-2 win over Stranraer with the win boosted by the news that St Mirren had slipped up at Love Street going down 2-0 to Accies.
Top Of News
29th- Jim Weir(right) is described
in the Courier today as the "front-runner" for the Brechin job
with the candidates interviewed last night (Ex-Saints players
David Hannah and
Gary Bollan are also on the shortlist).
Elsewhere and Kevin Fotheringham looks set to miss out this weekend, but Kevin James looks set to return.
March 28th - Plenty of talk from
Owen Coyle on the title challenge in the
Courier today but the manager is staying tight-lipped on the situation
regarding Airdrie defender Alan McManus who is strongly rumoured
to have signed a pre-contract agreement with Saints. The gaffer did speak
about the run-in though saying, "St Mirren just have to win two
out of their next four matches to become champions. But we have to keep
winning ourselves. It would be pretty annoying to let things go if St
Mirren slip up, because you never know in football. So we will be doing
our utmost to gain 15 points from our remaining matcheswe have to
soldier on. "
Elsewhere though the Courier reports that Jim Weir is apparently still in the frame for the vacant Brechin job with the Glebe Park board interviewing the short-list of 6 and hopeful of having someone in place by the weekend.
March 27th -
Darren Sheridan say he wants to be
around at McDiarmid next season. Despite what was possibly his worst game
of the season at the weekend, the midfielder told the Courier,"Ill
keep playing as long as I can and if the manager wants to keep me, Ill
stay. I watch guys like Teddy Sheringham, who is older than me, and he
plays more with his head than his legs and knows when to run and use his
energy, and I can still learn from people like that and watch how they
play, still at the top level, and as long as my legs keep going, Ill
keep going. If we finish runners-up its a good season because there
has been a big improvement from last year and I think we can be
thereabouts next year as long as we keep improving like we are. There have
been games we have dominated and we have only drawn throughout the season
and they have ultimately cost us the title because we should have been a
lot closer. To win a league you need a bit of luck and we have not had
that, other than last week when the keeper threw one in, while St Mirren
seem to have a bit more with a lot of 1-0 wins. But I dont want to
take anything away from them and ultimately it is down to us."
Meanwhile, Kevin Fotheringham is confirmed as having picked up a hamstring injury.
March 26th - Owen Coyle was happy enough after the game yesterday despite the slip in standards at the second-half. He said, "I'm delighted with the three points, that's all we could have asked for. In the first 45 minutes, we played the best football we've played for a while this season. We were quite poor in the second half though, Clyde had opportunities to get back in it. When there's only one goal in it, there's always a chance but Matt Glennon's save made the difference, and you can see why we brought him here. We're lucky to have two top-class keepers at the club. We're on a terrific run just now all we can do is concentrate on the progress we're making. You have to remember we were flirting with relegation last season and we're showing vast improvement over that. We're delighted with the progress made this season and hope to keep that going next year. St Mirren have the league within their grasp, anyone would want to be where they are with a few games to go they've been consistent all season, shown strength of character and have kept it going all along."
25th- After an impressive return to the first team last weekend,
Kevin Fotheringham is hopeful of
keeping his place today as we hope to see St Middens 11-point league
blown(!). Ever the optimist, Fozzy
told the Courier, "We were something like 10 points clear with
nine games to go and we got caught by Inverness. You never give up. There
have been bigger shocks than that in football. However, we know we must
win every single game, theres no question about that. Even if we do,
St Mirren will only need seven or eight points. But they have some
difficult matches coming up and there will be pressure on them. ".
As for his own form, he went on, "I was quite pleased since it
was my first league start for over a year. The injury that has troubled me
was a pelvic one. I went for an operation and it seemed to settle it. Then
I kept breaking down and eventually we got to the root of the problem. My
pelvis was rotated and it just needed to be manipulated back into place. Ive
been fit since November and I think Ive just missed one weeks
training. I played in the Gretna Scottish Cup game and tweaked my
hamstring slightly, but apart from that Ive been fine. The form the
boys have been in has made it difficult for me to get a game but, as Ive
said before, Ive no gripes about not being selected because the guys
in my position have been playing well. Then last week big
Kevin James got injured and the manager
asked me to go and play in his position and I felt I did OK. "
Meanwhile, Owen Coyle knows what has to be done today. He said, "As far as catching the league leaders, all we can do is keep winning our games in the hope that St Mirren slip up. We have six games left and we are capable of going and winning those six games and thats what we are aiming to do.". Kevin James won't be involved though with the manager not wanting to risk an early return for the defender.
6.30pm - A scrappy game but in the end Simon Mensing(right) scored the goal in the 1-0 win over Clyde. Not that it helps with a red card at Love St seeing St Mirren win 2-1 over 10-man Airdrie. Elsewhere and Gretna will be in the First Division next season (surprise, surprise) after clinching the 2nd Division title today against Alloa.
March 24th - A decision will be made today whether or not skipper Kevin James(right) returns to action against Clyde tomorrow. Simon Mensing will return from suspension though. Meanwhile, Andy Jackson is celebrating this week. As well as notching his first goal for Forfar during his loan midweek, he was also called up by the Republic of Ireland U-18 squad for their double-header against Hungary. He told the Courier, "Its pleasing to be selected again and hopefully I can continue to impress and maybe this time even grab a goal. It was good to get off the mark for Forfar on Tuesday and hopefully it will set me up for a productive run in the last few weeks of the season. ". Owen Coyle also praised his young striker saying, "Everyone is delighted for Andy and pleased his development is continuing and he is enjoying, and benefiting from, playing regularly at that level."
March 23rd - Owen Coyle has denied reports that Jim Weir is about to be replaced as assistant by Arabs Tony Docherty. Weir has already been linked with the vacant Brechin job but Owen told the Courier, "I have never heard so much rubbish. Jim and I work well together and I have been delighted with his work ethic."
March 22nd - Saints head to
Raydale for a 1pm kick-off this afternoon in the Reserve League Cup
semi-final against Gretna. Meanwhile results elsewhere didn't go our way.
The Midden won 3-0 at Brechin putting them eleven points clear with 18 to
play for, while Ross County's draw at Stranraer at least means we're keep
second place on goal difference.
7.30pm - A strong Saints reserve side (ie practically the whole bloody first team) won through to the Reserve League Cup Final with a 2-0 win at Gretna today, and we go on to take on Accies or the Paisley tinks in the final. Goals from Owen Coyle and Savo sealed the win. On the Official Site, Owen Coyle said, "The team did well and I'm very pleased. I'm delighted for the young boys such as Willie Dyer, Neil McCallum and Johnny Black who all performed well and it was good for Steven Milne and Simon Mensing to get a full game under their belts. We now have the boost of having the chance to retain the trophy and younger boys will again get their chance to be a part of that."
March 21st - Kevin James could be in line for a possible return this weekend. Owen Coyle told the Courier, "There is definitely a chance that Kevin will be available and we also have Simon Mensing free of suspension. So we are in better shape selection-wise and we will also give Steven Milne 90 minutes against Gretna in the Reserve League Cup semi-final on Wednesday. ". The Midden play their rearranged game against Brechin tonight but the Saints manager isn't concerned. He went on, "Whatever happens up there happens. All we can do is concentrate on ourselves. There are 18 points available to us between now and the end of the season and I am confident we can win a fair few of them. We will see where that takes us "
March 20th - Kevin Fotheringham was happy to see us get the 3 points on Saturday, even if the winner was a bit different. The Saints defender told the Courier, "Wed a bit of good fortunate at the goal but I think we deserved it. Weve not had much of a rub of the green this year and were due some. Their keeper was moaning that Jason touched him but I dont think Jason was within five yards of him. For some reason hes flapped at the ball and pushed it in the net. I just couldnt believe it but thats a World Cup goalkeeper for you. Weve just got to hang onto St Mirrens coat tails and hope they slip up. They are in pole position and if they dont slip up fair play to them. But heres hoping my old club can do us a turn. Ill be phoning Paul Deas to see if he can sort something out for me! "
March 18th - Not much change
from yesterday's team news although Kevin
James has apparently moved into the "very, very doubtful"
category. Owen Coyle is expecting a
tough one though and told the Courier, "Dundee are not in the
Scottish Cup semis by accident. They have some talented players. We will
need to be at our best to win, but, if we play to our maximum, Im
confident we can. "
7.30pm - Darren Sheridan will get the credit but Scumdee keeper Kelvin Jack has his share of praise from Saints fans tonight thanks to his blunder helping us to a 1-0 win at Scumdee with the three points seeing us safely into 2nd place eight points off the pace. Still who cares!!!
17th - It's been another quiet week for Saints but the hype is
building for the last "derby" of the season as we don the NBC
suits and head into the lice-ridden trailer park that is Scumdee. That
also means it's cliche time for Owen Coyle
with talks about drinking at the last-chance saloon etc in terms of our
title aspirations (our hosts tomorrow of course gave up about October).
The Saints manager said in the Courier, "Three points against
Dundee is a must for us. But Im giving up nothing yet. As a team weve
come a long way in the space of a year because this time 12 months ago we
were flirting with relegation. But there are games weve merited
taking more points from than we haveand thats been the case a
couple of times with Dundee. To be fair to them, they are a decent,
hard-working side with some very good players. But I do feel that if our
lads are on top of their game then they are capable of beating Dundee. I
also think it is in our favour that this time we are playing at Dens where
the onus is on them to attack us. "
Kevin James will definitely be out with the latest hamstring injury possibly ruling the skipper out for three weeks. Kevin Rutkiewicz(right) is set to take over the skippers armband. Owen Coyle said, "Losing Kevin James is a big blow as he has been outstanding for us and is a great leader. However, in Kevin Rutkiewicz we have an ideal replacement as he has also done really well this season. "
Savo is set to be on the bench as well and he told the papers, "Its really only our supporters who view this as a derby. When I was with Dundee, playing St Johnstone was basically just another game. United was the derby and thats still how the Dundee support see it. But for St Johnstone fans this is the big one which I didnt realise when I came here. Finding myself on the bench last week took me by surprise to be quite honest. Id only trained for a couple of days and was originally only travelling to be part of things again. But after doing well in training on the Friday it was decided at the last minute to put me on the bench. That worked out okay though and, with a full weeks training under my belt since, Im certainly up to taking on a similar role this week. "
7pm - Latest news is that Stephen Dobbie is a confirmed absentee tomorrow with the striker suffering from a groin strain.
14th -Savo(right) looks like
being part of the Saints side making the trip to the disease-infested ruin
that is Dens Park this coming weekend. Owen
Coyle said in the Courier, "Steven looked lively in the 15
minutes he was on at Dingwall. Wed like to get him a game this week,
but the weather could scupper that. He will at very least get a full weeks
training and that would allow him to be on the bench again for Dens Park.".
It's not looking as good for skipper Kevin
James who is already rated doubtful with a hamstring injury. As for
the title race, the manager said, "What happens with St Mirren
happens, we cannot influence that. What weve got to concentrate on
is doing our utmost to take as many of the 21 points weve left to
play for. Weve lost only one of our last 15 games and at our best
are capable of winning all seven weve got coming up."
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
March 13th - Goalscoring hero
from Dingwall, keeper Matt Glennon was
still deflated despite his heroics. He told the Record, "It's not
only my first goal, it's the first time I've even managed a touch on going
up into the box. My reason for remaining up was that we might as well lose
3-1 than 2-1. Thankfully, the ball came over
Jason Scotland's head and I
controlled it and stuck it in. I just wish it had been the winning goal.
The title race is never over until it's mathematically impossible but I'd
admit it is going to be very difficult now. "
Manager Owen Coyle meanwhile was a bit more critical of the referee's performance after a soft penalty for the home side and one denied to Saints as well as two chalked-off Kevin Rutkiewicz goals. The gaffer said, "David Cowan clearly handled Darren Sheridan's free-kick. It was a disgrace - one of the most stonewall penalties I've ever seen. I could kind of understand Ross County's penalty to go 2-1 up, although it was a bit harsh as Sean Webb and Martin Hardie were going at it 50-50. Kevin Rutkiewicz also had the ball in the net twice and while he might have climb ed on their man for the header, he reckons the second one wasn't offside. We put the ball in the net three times in the second half and only one stood. I've got a lot of time for Steve Conroy as a referee but, like players, they have poor games. I've been in football for 25 years and I'm struggling to recall as soft a penalty award as the one that put County 2-1 ahead."
March 12th - Good and bad news on the injury side of things from yesterday's game. Steven Milne made a long-awaited return off the bench in the second-half but on the downside, Kevin James went off just prior to County's first goal with what appears to have been a pulled hamstring.
11th- OK so I missed the game but thanks to an unexpected
Matt Glennon(right) equaliser two
minutes from time after we'd taken the lead through a Lauchlan og then
seen County come back to lead 2-1, Saints drew
2-2 at Dingwall. Unfortunately it was possibly the worst result as
St Midden scored an injury-time winner against Queen of the South to
stretch their lead to seven points. Still if you want something to smile
about, sympathies go out to next week's opponents Scumdee who conceded 7
away to Airdrie.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
March 10th - Saints headed up
early today for an overnight stay in Inverness before tomorrow's match at
Dingwall. Owen Coyle told the Official
Site, "It's a chance for the guys to bond a bit more. However
well we get on in the day to day routine and however good an atmosphere
there is in training, an overnight stay always aids the process of
improving team togetherness but more importantly we performed abysmally in
the first half the last time we were up at Dingwall and I don't want a
repeat, so hopefully not having a long coach journey on the Saturday
morning will help.Ross County are an excellent side and Gardner Speirs has
got them playing very well indeed so we will need to be on top of our game
to get the three points." There's no more injury worries although
Simon Mensing will miss out due to
MoM last week Goran Stanic told the Official site, "It's another big game for us but then the last eight have all been like that. All season we have been behind St Mirren so it's nothing new to us to go into a game knowing that we can't really afford to slip up. Victoria Park is not an easy ground to play on but it's up to us to adapt to the dimensions and make it difficult for them. The most important thing is how the team is playing rather than individual players but I think the team are playing well despite not winning every game and in that respect, yes, I am content with my own contribution although you always look for improvement."
7th - Owen Coyle(right) has
finally admitted that this weekend's trip to Dingwall is a must-win game.
He told the Courier this morning, "I dont think anyone is
under any illusions. Teams are going to drop points between now and the
end of the season. Starting Saturday, what we, given we are trying to
close a gap, have to ensure, is that we arent one of those sides! We
need to go to Ross County and get all three points. And maybe the fact the
match is up there will suit us. A lot of teams come to McDiarmid Park with
the approach that theyd be happy to leave with a point. And too
often we add to our problems by gifting the opposition a goal of a start.
This is a game both teams will be out to win. That could be to our
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
March 6th - Martin Hardie was happy enough to get off the mark with his goals tally at the weekend but still felt he could have done more. The midfielder told the Courier, "I thought I should have had another goal or two. I was disappointed with the two chances I missed early on. The first shot wasnt hard enough and the second went by the post. They were both on my weaker side. I was relieved when the one in the second half went in because the gaffer said to me at half-time that I had to hit the target. I enjoy scoring against anybody but the fact that it was against my old team makes it a wee bit special. But, first and foremost, Im disappointed we didnt win the game. I felt in the second half we threw everything but the kitchen sink at them. I think the performance we put in in the second half merited at least a point, but we didnt turn up really in the first half. We have got to pick up for next week. We go to Ross County and you never get an easy time up there. We have to take our second-half performance into next week for the whole 90 minutes. "
4th - No more updates on the weather situation yet but keeper
Matt Glennon(right) wants to close the
gap on leaders St Midden and Ross County who are both sitting at home
today after their games at Brechin and Stranraer were called off. The
goalie told the Courier, "After winning at Hamilton a fortnight
ago we would have gladly played the next day, never mind the next week.
Thats how you feel when things are going well. It was a great result
for us because Hamilton havent lost in the league or the cups to
anybody at their place apart from St Johnstone, and weve done it
twice now. Weve got undersoil heating here so hopefully the game
will be on. If youre on a bad run youre quite happy when games
are off but we dont need breaks just now. Were in form and we
want to keep playing. "
"I definitely think that the pressure is on St Mirren. They had such a big lead at the top and theyre now seeing it being pegged back. Theyve just lost to Gretna in the Scottish Cup, theyre not scoring many goals, and they can see Ross County and ourselves chasing them down. We have to gain four points on them in nine games before we play them on the last day of the season and we can definitely do that. Were in with a real shout. The lads are buzzing and we want this game to go ahead so we can get stuck into Airdrie."
He also reckons that Jason Scotland could be the difference between the sides in the run-in. "When hes on his game theres not a defender in the league who can stop him. Im sure hell score a lot of important goals before the season is over. Weve talked about it a few times and Ive told him hes not got a chance against England. There will be more and more chat as the World Cup gets closer. Ive not known Jason for long so Im being quite kind to him just now!"
No more Saints team news, but Airdrie are set to lose Prunty and McManus through injury.
8pm - Goals from Martin Hardie and Kevin James salvaged a point in a 2-2 draw with Airdrie in a game which we really should have won in the end but thanks to a poor first-half performance were 2-0 down just after the break. After the match, Owen Coyle told the Official Site, "We didnt play well at all in the first half although we actually had the best of the goalscoring opportunities. I thought we were awful naïve at the throw-in which led to their first goal. We changed formation for the second half but again we lost an early goal and I thought Darren Sheridan who has been absolutely fantastic for me this season was also naïve for their goal. He should have cleared the ball when he had the chance and then having failed to do so he gave the free-kick away. The free-kick gets a deflection and were two goals down. I cant fault the application in the final half hour. Two goals down and with supporters understandably unhappy it would have been easy for the players to hide but they fought back to get a hard earned draw. Overall though it is very disappointing not to make in-roads on the teams above us when they were out of action today and St Mirren and Ross County will both be delighted. When you are chasing teams you just cant afford to drop points like we did today."
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
March 3rd - As usual
Owen Coyle is expecting a tough match
tomorrow. Speaking on the Official Site, he said, "There is a
full quarter of the league programme to go and so much can happen in that
time. Its pointless worrying about who St Mirren are playing or how
Ross County are getting on we concentrate 100% on what we need to
do each and every game and if, come the end of April, we have done enough
to overhaul everyone else, then great."
No more word on team news. Darren Sheridan's return from the flu means that Martin Hardie may move up front again. Elsewhere and Steven Anderson showed no effects from the closed doors game (a 4-1 win over Livvy) and looks set to start in place of the suspended Simon Mensing.
Despite the media reports, there's no word yet on a pitch inspection but most of Scotland has already suffered from the snow today with the Midden's trip to Brechin an early casualty.
March 1st - Steven Anderson played ina bounce game yesterday for Saints as part of his comeback from injury. Owen Coyle is still pretty hopeful of having him back in the side at the weekend and told the Courier, "Steven featured in the game and well now look to see if there is any reaction to his injury in the next couple of days. Hopefully hell be okay and will come into contention for the weekend. "
Top Of News
February 28th - Well with little happening in Sainteeland (apart from a few wee gloating smiles at Gretna's cup win), the action returns this Saturday with the visit of Airdrie and their lovely supporters. Darren Sheridan has recovered from the flu to come back into contention and Steven Anderson is hopeful of making a return from injury - he's likely to step in to replace Simon Mensing who starts his spell in the stand.
February 22nd - There's not been much happening with the first team players given a few days off after the Accies win, mainly due to the fact that cos we were so crap in the cup we have another fitba-free weekend to look forward to this coming Saturday. It was confirmed by Owen Coyle, that Darren Sheridan missed out on the Accies win due to being one of those players suffering from the flu.
February 18th -Simon
Mensing plays his last game for a while today but spoke in the
Courier of the side's chances without him. He said, "Ive
been disappointed at the number of games Ive had to miss this season
with injury and suspension. Theres nothing worse than sitting in the
stand when youre fit to play. It will be especially frustrating to
miss out on three games at this crucial stage of the season, but hopefully
the boys will keep doing well. Im looking to go out with a bang
against Hamilton, both personally and with the team getting three points,
then for the lads to keep our good run of form going. We were disappointed
after the St Mirren game that we hadnt got the win we deserved. But
we can take confidence from dominating the league leaders and the guys
firmly believe that promotion is still on for us. Weve got more
confidence in the dressing room than ever and were looking forward
to the run-in. There are only 10 games left and not much margin for error.
Owen Coyle backed up his player saying,"We did everything except get the ball across the line against St Mirren. Actually, we did manage to get it across the linebut the linesman chalked off a perfectly good goal from Jason Scotland. We controlled the match from start to finish and weve taken confidence from that. The players know the title is within their grasp if they continue to churn out good performances. Hamilton will be very difficult opponents. Theyve lost one game at home all season, and that was against us, so we know were capable of going there and winning.". As for our World Cup hopeful, the manager said, "Jason Scotland needs to keep performing well for St Johnstone and give everything to be sure hes in the squad. Ive told him that the coach is looking at three or four fringe players in their next friendly, so it isnt set in stone that he will make it. If he works hard he will go to Germany on the back of good performances for St Johnstone. "
We've got two unnamed players suffering from flu and it looks like Peaso will be replaced by the manager on the bench with the latter unwilling to risk him on the Accies rubber surface.
7pm - A couple of goals from Kevin James and Jason Scotland in a good all-round performance saw us beat Accies 2-1 this afternoon although wins for the Paisley mob and Ross County mean we're still in 3rd place.
February 17th - It's the usual Friday for Saints with two players doubtful for tomorrow's trip to Hamilton with the flu. Steven Anderson is definitely out but should be fit for next week to step in for the suspended Simon Mensing who has his last game for a month tomorrow. The better news is that Peaso managed to train yesterday after his setback this week.
February 15th - Peaso has suffered what's been described as a "minor setback" in his comeback causing Saints to ditch plans for a closed doors game this week to help him. The manager said, "Peter had trained hard for four days beforehand and unfortunately suffered a slight reaction to playing. Its nothing serious but we are going to take it easy with him this week before stepping things up again and hopefully involving him in a friendly next Thursday."
14th - There's no Valentine's love between
Simon Mensing(right) and the
authorities today. Saturday's booking against the Midden has pushed the
Saints player through the points barrier again. He can play at Hamilton
this weekend but then sits out the following 3 games (Airdrie, County and
the Scum). Owen Coyle said of the news
in the Courier, "Simon has been a wee bit unlucky. For instance,
the sending off at Airdrie on Hogmanay was harsh as the referee blew the
final whistle 10 seconds later."
Apart from that there's little in the way of news with the usual suspects still out through injury and despite his return from the bench on Saturday, Peaso still needs to get games under his belt with the club trying to fix up a bounce game this week to help this.
13th- Martin Hardie(right)
insists the title race isn't over yet despite our failure to close the gap
at the weekend. He told the Courier, "The boys are a bit gutted
not to have won the game. Apart from a wee, 10-minute spell in the
second-half we dominated from start to finish and we are really
disappointed not to get three points. But theres still a long way to
go. The gap might be seven points but as we have to play St Mirren on the
last day of the season theres only really four points to be made up
between now and then. And, hopefully, Ross County, who are also up there,
can do us a wee turn. You never give up. Just look what happened in the
Premier League last year! If we can chip away at St Mirrens lead so
that we go to Love Street on the final day still in with a shout you dont
know what might happen. "
"St Mirren came for a draw and when a team as good as they are sit in it is difficult to break them down. It is vital you take your chances in games like these and the one Kevin got was a dream for the big man. As soon as I saw him running onto the ball I thought it was going in the back of the net. Unfortunately for him, and the rest of the boys, it wasnt to be but I am sure if a chance like that comes along again hell bury it. I didnt think Jason was offside at the goal. When he received the ball he was onside but the linesman has looked after hes taken his touch and moved a yard forward. "
7pm - Owen Coyle gave a more considered comment today on the Official Site after the game. Planning the closing stages of the league campaign, the manager said, "I've watched the 90 minutes on video over the weekend and it just emphasised to me how much control we had of the game. Bar a five minutes spell when our errors allowed St Mirren to create a few chances, we dominated proceedings and had it not been for great goalkeeping, bad luck with Paul Sheerin's effort and a goal that clearly should not have been disallowed we would have taken the three points. I've said to the lads that there are lot of positives to be taken from the game and if we can dominate the long term league leaders as we did on Saturday then we have nothing fear in the run-in to the end of the season. There is still just over a quarter of the season to go and I've told the players today that Saturday was two dropped points and nothing more. I won't entertain thoughts that it was our only chance to catch St Mirren."
11th- It's time for another rallying call from skipper
Kevin James(right). Speaking in the
Courier ahead of today's game against the Paisley Pretenders he said, "I
think we were a wee bit fragile earlier in the season when things werent
going well. Were now stronger physically and I think were
stronger mentally as well. This will be the test of it. Were more
ready for this match. Looking back I think we got complacent after a good
start to the season and had ups and downs after that. Hopefully our poor
performance against Gretna in the Scottish Cup was the turning point and
hit home with the players that we need to win the battle before we can
play football. The manager has told us that this is when we have to show
our mettle. Weve grown up as a team
Martin Hardie and
Jamie Winter have added quality and
strengthand I think were ready for this. Theyve got a
few strong boys and Im sure it will be another physical contest. Its
been the story of our season that when weve had the chance, we havent
taken it. This time, we have to take it."
As for the preparations, he went on, "Our free weekend last week has helped us prepare for this match and it has helped to build up the anticipation. You still have to say they are favourites because they are coming here as league leaders. I dont see it as a league decider. A draw wouldnt be fatal but we certainly cant afford to lose. Were definitely going all out for the win though, because if we cut the gap back to just four points it really is game on. The gap was 12 points not so long ago. Weve done well to get it to sevenand to get it to four would be a great achievement. It would be important from a psychological point of view to see how St Mirren would react to defeat and the pressure growing."
Owen Coyle said of the game, "Weve given ourselves an opportunity to get right back into the mix. Id hate to think that the hard work of the last few weeks would count for nothing. Were coming up against a very good St Mirren side that has been building for the last three years. But were the top goalscorers in the league and it has the makings of a great game. Theyll be thinking that if they win it will put St Johnstone to bed and it would suit us if they come here to try and win the game."
6.30pm - Despite dominating the play, hitting the woodwork and getting a goal chalked off for offside there was no joy in the end for Saints as the big game finished in a 0-0 draw with St Mirren which unfortunately drops us down to 3rd place after County's win over Accies. The big plus though was the return from the bench of Peter MacDonald although he missed a chance to cap his return with a last minute goal.
10th - Steven Anderson is
definitely ruled out of tomorrow's match and Owen
Coyle(right) has classed himself as doubtful due to a thigh strain
(with Martin Hardie the most likely
candidate to move up front). But there's another two doubts who the
manager won't mention. He told the Courier, "It might go a long
way to deciding who wins the league but it wont settle it.
Throughout the week weve been concentrating on the fact that its
another three points on the line, the same as any other Saturday. But we
want to make inroads into St Mirrens lead, and this is a chance to
do that. Theres no mistaking its a big game."
Speaking of tomorrow's game, the gaffer told the Official site, "In the course of any season you look back over the campaign and pinpoint certain games that are pivotal in the success or failure of the season and tomorrow will undoubtedly prove to be one of those games. If we win we will be just four points away from St Mirren, a gap that was twelve points just a matter of weeks ago. However, we are facing a very good St Mirren side that has been three seasons in the making and they have topped the league for the whole season because they are a quality side but I happen to believe that I have a set of players who can go out tomorrow and get a win. Top versus second is the best game you can have in any league and the players need no motivation from me for this one."
And going back 16 years, Owen spoke of a similar game when he was part of the Airdrie side to come to Perth and be put to the slaughter 3-1 in what is one of the classic games McDiarmid has seen. He said, "It was one of the best games I have ever been involved in and what I recall is the passion and the support shown by the Perth people that day and if anything they got louder and more supportive when Stevie Gray gave Airdrie the lead. They definitely played a big part in getting their team back into it that day. I know the crowd wont be as big tomorrow but the fans really can make a difference. I need them to back the team for the whole game and give their vocal support and show the belief that my players have and hopefully those players can reward the supporters."
February 9th - Little to report
with Steven Anderson apparently now
doubtful for the clash with that Paisley mob this weekend. There are a
number of players carrying minor knocks and Owen
Coyle says "they're being monitored".
Meanwhile the club have confirmed there will be a minutes applause as tribute to Don McVicar at Saturday's game.
7th- After a quiet cup-free weekend the hype is building for this
Saturday's visit of the Paisley mob. Not much has been happening at the
club but the Saints youngsters were unlucky to lose 3-0 to Celtic in the
Youth Cup with two of the three goals coming in the last three minutes.
Looking ahead to the league game though and Kevin Rutkiewicz(right) managed his first full training session in weeks yesterday after daily visits to a specialist in Edinburgh last week. Not so good news for Simon Mensing and Steven Anderson who both missed out with minor knocks.
February 3rd- With no match this
weekend thanks to the Scottish Cup continuing on it's merry way without
our presence, Saints were trying to organise a bounce game today to let
Owen Coyle see
Martin Hardie in action. He told the
Courier, "Martin knows most of the boys here anyway, having
played against them a few times, so he has had no trouble settling in. I
am keen to get a game arranged for him and the rest of the boys before we
play St Mirren a week on Saturday."
Elsewhere David Hannah signed for Bury yesterday until the end of the season.
6pm - Saints won 4-2 in a bounce game with Livi this afternoon - goals came from a Martin Hardie double, John Henry and Stephen Dobbie. Owen Coyle told the Official Site, "It wasnt ideal because I wanted to play it on the main pitch but ground conditions dictated otherwise. However it was a good game on the all-weather surface. Five or six of the players I would expect to face St Mirren didnt feature but the boys that needed a game got a game. "
February 1st- Saints failed to
make any more captures before the midnight deadline last night with Sam
Morrow going to Livi in a swap deal and a late, late attempt to sign
Coagieville striker Tam McManus on loan rejected by the player (he
still harbours dreams of playing in the SPL with that mob from Dens the
poor deluded soul!).
Meanwhile Owen Coyle has spoken about the signing of Martin Hardie. He told the Courier, "Hes a player Ive been chasing from day one. I tried to buy him in the summer but at that time the transfer fee was too big. We had to be patient and, six months down the line, weve got our man. He will add a tremendous physical presence to our midfield, as well as a goal-scoring threat. I played with him at Airdrie and have been impressed with his performances in their games against us this season . On a couple of occasions weve lost games because we were out-muscled in the middle of the park. Were doing our best to make sure that doesnt happen again. "
6pm - There was some sad news today with former player Don McVicar passing away last night. Only 43, he had been suffering from Motor Neurone Disease for the last four years although his fighting was reminiscient of the sort of player he was. A hard tackling left-back, he had two spells at Saints coinciding with the Championship wins in 1982/83 and 1989/90. He had a cracking shot, took a wonderful long throw and wasn't afraid to get stuck into the opposition. Like the late Drew Rutherford, Don was never going to be the best footballer around but as a loyal club player his like was hard to beat and it's sad to say that we're unlikely to see his sort again in the modern game. There are few players from that era who will be remembered with the sort of affection and respect that Don McVicar will be. Deepest sympathies go from Saints fans everywhere to his wife and family on their loss.
Speaking of Don, chairman Geoff Brown said, "He was one of the best left-backs to play for the club.". And Tommy Campbell, who signed him for Arbroath and Forfar, commented, "Don was the most likeable rascal I've ever met. But he was a good player, too."
Top Of News
31st - It looks like a busy day at McDiarmid. Latest rumours as to
transfer window arrivals see Hibs striker Sam Morrow coming in,
while Martin Hardie, who is already reported to have signed a
pre-contract agreement looks close to making the switch a few months
earlier. In terms of departures, as well as Andy
Jackson's loan deal being rubber-stamped for Station Park, it looks
like David Hannah could be heading for
a trial at Bury
And with the delights of a cup-free weekend this Saturday, Saints have arranged their Youth Cup tie against Celtic for McDiarmid on Saturday at 1pm.
6pm - The first permanent move of the transfer window today saw Martin Hardie(right) (already reportedly having agreed a pre-contract deal with Saints) move from Airdrie for an undisclosed fee. The 29-yr old midfielder has signed a deal until the summer of 2008. Speaking of his move to Saints, Mad Mental Martin told the Official site, "I'm glad to be here and I'm joining the Club at an exciting time. It's no bad thing that there is not a game this weekend as it will give me a chance to have over a full week with the lads and get to know them prior to the big game against St Mirren. It would be an added bonus for me if we can get back to the SPL this season but whatever the outcome I'm pleased to be here and determined to help get the club back to the top league either this season or next. I enjoyed my SPL experience with Kilmarnock and got a taste for it again recently when Airdrie beat Dunfermline in the Scottish Cup."
We're still apparently after Sam Morrow but latest is that he's in talks with Livi.
Elsewhere David Hannah agreed a settlement to free him up and has been released from his contract with the ex-skipper apparently at Bury on trial. And another departure is out-of-favour defender Mark Campbell who has signed for Raith Rovers.
January 30th -
Kevin Rutkiewicz was the hero of the
weekend as it's been revealed he's hardly trained in the last fortnight
due to a groin injury. With a free weekend coming up, he's due to see a
specialist and told the Courier, "Ive been carrying a groin
strain for a couple of months now. Ill be going through to Edinburgh
to see a specialist all next week and get intensive treatment. Hopefully Ill
be good to go against St Mirren in a fortnight. If an operation is needed
Ill try and put it off until the summer. The pain comes and goes and
Im missing out on training. Luckily Im naturally fit but its
important at the moment that I keep my lifestyle in order because Im
not able to train. I like a pint on a Saturday night if we get a victory
but thats been put on the backburner at the moment! "
As for the weekend win, he said, "The way things have gone today it has shown a light at the end of the tunnel and now we have to keep the pressure on St Mirren. Theyll come here still as strong favourites to win the league but if we get a victory it will bring us back to just four points behind. The free weekend we now have will give us the chance to sort out the wee knocks that some of the boys are carrying and then well go at St Mirren with all guns blazing. Its the big one and will be the acid test for us. "
Meanwhile reports have again linked us with a loan move for Hibs Sam Morrow with Owen Coyle saying after Saturday's game, "Fingers crossed we might have another player in for Tuesday but it depends on their club especially the way their result went today, and how they see the rest of the season going. But it's our job to go for the best players if they're available, so we'll keep looking. "
7pm - No moves for anyone yet but Andy Jackson has joined Forfar on loan until the end of the season.
January 28th -
Jamie Winter is a definite starter
today but there are late fitness tests needed for
Simon Mensing and
Steven Anderson. Of the Brechin game,
Ryan Stevenson said in the Courier,
"A few of the boys are struggling with injuries at the moment and
were just looking to get through this game with a win. Then weve
got a free weekend so we can have a couple of weeks to get some rest
before the St Mirren match. Ideally, Ross County will do us a favour and
take points off St Mirren but all we are concerned about is making sure we
do what we have to do against Brechin and get the three points. If were
going to put a serious challenge together we have to look at going all the
way without losing."
6.45pm- A good solid performance saw us run out 3-0 winners over Brechin with goals from Kevin Rutkiewicz, Kevin James and Paul Sheerin. And just ot add the icing on the cake Ross County did us a favour by leaving Love Street with all three points and cutting back the Paisley lead to seven points - setting up a nice calm encounter in a fortnight then?
27th - Matt Glennon finally
signed this afternoon and goes into the squad tomorrow against Brechin.
The 27-yr old keeper joins us from Falkirk and trained with the lads this
morning. He's on a deal until the summer which is perhaps a bit of a
Looking ahead to tomorrow Owen Coyle wants the players to be focussed as they chase their third win in a row. He told the Tully, "There is no doubt well need to be at our best. Brechin are a better team than their position indicates and are always looking to get the ball down and play."
26th - Another day with little in the way of real news. One new
name in the frame is 20-yr old Aberdeen midfielder Jamie Winter
who, according to Auntie Beeb, is set for a loan move to Saints.
3.45pm - Well that's it all started then. First up is the signing of Jamie Winter(right) on loan until the summer although going by the manager's comments there's about as much chance of this one being made permanent as there is of finding a Lib Dem leadership candidate who's not got a skeleton in the cupboard. Speaking on the Official Site, Owen Coyle said, "Im delighted to have him on board for the remainder of the season. I tried to sign him when I first came to the Club but it was clear that Jimmy Calderwood at Aberdeen rates him very highly. That remains the case and Jamie is here on the clear understanding that he will definitely be returning to Pittodrie in the summer because Jimmy holds him in very high regard. I had to pester Jimmy over a long period of time to get him to allow Jamie to come here but he agrees that it would be best for Jamie to play week in, week out for a spell something he has not been doing recently for Aberdeen". The player himself is happy with the move and commented, "The Club are doing well and Im delighted to bring what I can offer to Saints for the remainder of the season. I like to get on the ball, pass it and play significant roles in building moves up. I would like to add a few more goals to my game and Ill be doing my best to achieve that while Im with Saints."
But there were some departured with Mark Paston having his contract cancelled and Steve McManus released from his so he can sign for Montrose. Of the pair, the manager said, "Stevie is a lovely lad and he goes with our best wishes. He needs to play regularly and I think the move to Montrose may well be a step down the leagues which will lead to a step back up in the future. He looked to be breaking through around a year ago but over the course of that year we have brought in better players to the Club and he has found himself stifled a wee bit so its a good move all round. Mark Paston has been released from his contract after suffering a shoulder injury that will require a lengthy period of recovery. Weve made an offer to Matty Glennon at Falkirk but I need to know in the next day or so what he intends to do as I will need to move on if he chooses not to come to Perth."
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
January 25th - Still no decision
from Matt Glennon and Saints have seat a 48-hr deadline for a
response to their latest offer. According to the Courier,
Owen Coyle said, "We need to
know whats happening in the next couple of days.
Mark Paston needs a shoulder operation
and will be out for two months. That leaves us with only
Kevin Cuthbert. If Matt isnt
going to be coming here well have to move on and sort something out
before the transfer window closes. "
In the door marked EXIT, Bury are the latest club showing an interest in David Hannah, with the ex-skipper having rejected moves to Forfar and Alloa.
January 24th - The big news from
the start of the week is that Saints are currently in talks with Falkirk
keeper Matt Glennon about a possible permanent move to McDiarmid.
The 27-yr old Englishman is out of favour with the Bairns but a lot
depends on whether he's willing to fight to be number one with
The Cat. Owen
Coyle told the Courier, "We spoke to him last week and we
have re-opened discussions this week. We have made him an offer. You dont
need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that we cant match the
wages of a Premierleague club so well just have to wait and see. "
There's also the possibility of another couple of signings and the manager said, "The two deals have been agreed with the clubs and the players concerned but in both cases were waiting for the clubs to get somebody else in before the deals can happen." - one is a loan deal (possibly Jamie McCluskey or Sam Morrow from Hibs and the other is a permanent move. It definitely won't be Leeds full-back Steven McKeown who's gone back to Elland Road.
Finally congratulations to Andy Jackson who's been called up to the Eire U-18s.
21st - Paul Sheerin(right) is
expecting a tough match today as we try to beat Stranraer for the first
time this season. He told the Courier, "Weve dominated the
two games but drawn both because they make it difficult by defending deep.
It will be a heavy pitch with the weather recently and weve a long
journey down, but we have to put these things to the back of our minds and
get on with the job. We needed a reaction after the Gretna cup game and
got that last week and it has boosted our confidence again. I would agree
with the manager that the next two games are absolutely vital. If we can
pick up six points and, hopefully, St Mirren slip up somewhere along the
way, it will set things up nicely for meeting them and hopefully pulling
ourselves even closer. Against a team like Stranraer, when they sit deep,
the onus is on the midfielders like myself to get hold of the ball and get
it to the strikers in good positions which we maybe havent done
enough in our other matches against them. "
Ryan Stevenson and Fozzy face late fitness tests but Goran Stanic is expected to play and Darren Sheridan is due back.
7.45pm - Goals from Jason Scotland and a great finish from Simon Mensing saw us run out comfortable 2-0 winners at Stranraer with the three points and the goalless scoreline from Accies v St Mirren ensuring that we move up to second place.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
January 20th - Some bad news
first for ex-Saintee Lee Hardy who has
had to retire from the game at the age of 24 due to a persistent ankle
injury. Currently at Accies, all Saints fans send him best wishes for the
Closer to home and there's still no signing moves although Owen Coyle is hopeful of someone by the weekend. Meanwhile the injury-hit SPL club looks more and more like Hibs with youth striker Dene Shiels set for a spell out to have an eye removed. In terms of departures, out-of-favour David Hannah could be set to a move for either Alloa or Forfar.
January 19th - Not much in the news today. Apparently Steven McKeown impressed Owen Coyle in the closed doors game and a decision will be made on any loan deal for the right-back by the weekend.
January 18th - Things are finally starting to move today. Reports in the Courier suggest that Martin Hardie has agreed a pre-contract agreement while a loan deal for the rest of the season for an unnamed SPL player has been held up due to injury problems at the SPL club. Saints played a closed-doors game yesterday to allow the manager to have a look at Steven McKeown with a possible loan deal on the cards there as well.
January 17th - With the transfer
window at the half-open/half-closed stage, Saints have finally made some
moves with Leeds Uniteds Scottish youth right-back Steven McKeown
who's up training at McD this week. Owen
Coyle said on the Official Site, "Progress is slow because
understandably the clubs of the players I am pursuing are reluctant to let
them go until they themselves have a replacement sorted out. As is so
often the case in transfer windows, you need other moves to go through
before you can secure the one you want".
Elsewhere and it's mixed news for the injury list. Steven Milne is confirmed as being out for 4-6 weeks following his op. But both Ryan Stevenson (hip knock) and Kevin Fotheringham (hamstring) should be fit for this weekend's trip to Stranraer.
Owen Coyle seemed to be a happier man
after yesterday's win. He's quoted on Clyde's website as saying, "I'm
delighted with the result especially as five or six important players were
missing. After our cup result I was looking for a reaction and I hope the
fans appreciated it. We stood up to everything Clyde threw at us and made
the clear cut opportunities. I felt we were well worth the two goal half
time lead. The game should have been dead and buried at 3-0 but we lost
another deflected goal and some of the guys are fragile in confidence and
we needed to dig deep but even then we missed some sitters. I felt we were
the better side over 90 minutes and fully deserved the points. I've been
confident all week we would get a result here. Now I want to freshen up
the team with some new signings and it will be a boost to get some of our
injured players back. I won't give up on the league yet as there are still
a lot of points to be played for and I've seen teams lose huge leads
Scorer of the third goal Kevin James said in the Sunday Mail, "If the gaffer gets a sniff of anyone giving up the ghost they'll be out the door - and that's a fact. This was a big win for us because we've let the gaffer, Jim Weir and the fans down in recent weeks - especially in the Scottish Cup defeat by Gretna last Saturday. But hopefully that performance goes some way towards making it up to them. I thought the attitude was excellent in getting us to 3-0 up but for some reason we seemed to decide to cut our own throats and let them back into it. It was nice to get a goal but I need to be scoring more often. That's only my second of the season, although I am claiming six or seven assists."
14th- Kevin James(right) is
looking for an improvement at Broadwood today. The Saints skipper told the
Courier, "Everybody has their own ideas on team selection and the
gaffer will know himself that, if he can make a contribution, he should
play. Were going through a wee sticky spell at the moment and he
might give us the spark that we need. Losing Steven
Milne on top of Peter MacDonald
being out long term is a massive blow, and the gaffers record speaks
for itself. He was probably our best player when he came off the bench
against Gretna and it wouldnt surprise me if he started tomorrow. If
you have a striker like that at your club, you use him. But hes the
one who gets paid to make these decisions."
As for the dressing-room after the Gretna game he went on, "Its the angriest Ive ever seen the manager. He was chewing wasps, and thats putting it lightly. He had every right to be as angry as he was. On Monday we watched the whole game on video and I felt sorry for the supporters who had to watch it all on Saturday. It was tough viewing for the lads but as a team we have to learn from our mistakes. Nobody could turn round and have any argument because the fact that Alan Main didnt have a single save to make is not good enough. The boys have taken the managers points on board and we are due him and Jim Weir one, as well as the fans of course. If the boys are honest with themselves a team talk wont be needed tomorrow. Last week should be fresh in all our memories and I certainly dont want to come into a dressing room like last weekends again. Were due a performance and we need it now. Excuses have gone. Weve played together for five or six months and things need to improve. Were hanging on to St Mirrens coat-tails and we need to get back winning straight away. "
Owen Coyle is looking for a big improvement as well. He said, "There might be boys whose confidence is a bit fragile but this is when were looking for them to show character. I want players who say to themselves, Ive been off form for a couple of weeks and now Im going to do something about it. For me our next three games before we play St Mirren are massive. Good results would set us up for that match. Well be giving them every respect because they were outstanding. Lets be honest, Celtic were flattered to lose 2-1. But the game doesnt hold any fear for us. If our players are at the top of their game we can win ."
There's no sign of any new signings ahead of the game although there are strong rumours of a signing this weekend. Simon Mensing is back in the squad today after suspension.
7pm - A cracking game saw us 3-0 up thanks to a Paul Sheerin penalty and goals from Jason Scotland and Kevin James(right) before letting Clyde back for a nervous last half-hour with Saints beating Clyde 3-2, a result that puts us up to 3rd.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
January 12th -
Owen Coyle has spoken today of the
post-mortem that took place on Monday following the Gretna game. The
manager said on the Official Site, "I was hurting badly on Monday
and the players should have been as well. I can get passionate and
emotional about my football and I need players at this club who share that
and who have a desire and hunger to be the best that they can be. We had a
meeting where a few things that needed to be said were said and I've
stressed to them how important the next three league fixtures are. St
Mirren's lead is big but not insurmountable and with two matches against
them still to come we could trim the gap by six points just in those two
games but first we have games against Clyde, Stranraer and Brechin and it
is imperative that we win them." Back to the Cup though and he
said, "You look around and see Celtic, Dundee United, Kilmarnock,
Livingston, Motherwell and Dunfermline all out - that's half the SPL and
it is great chance for smaller clubs to make an impact on the competition
and we could and should have been a part of that." Looking ahead
to the weekend though he went on, "I've told the players that
this has to be pay back time for the supporters. We let a good home crowd
down last week and I want the faithful and tremendous travelling support
to see a different St Johnstone at Broadwood. Clyde will get respect but
we've beaten them once down there this season - days after they had given
Rangers a run for their money at Ibrox in the CIS Cup - so there is no
reason we can't go down there and deflate them a bit following their
tremendous win over Celtic."
Steven Milne is due for an exploratory op on his knee tomorrow but a one to three month spell on the sidelines is likely. As for the signings, while Owen wasn't making much in the way of comment, according to today's Sun, Saints have made a move for Airdrie's Martin Hardie. The 29-yr old midfielder is set to sign at least a pre-contract agreement for a summer move but there is still a chance that he could be signed during the window. We've also been linked with Hibs youngsters Jamie McCluskey and Sam Morrow
January 11th - There's been
little happening on the transfer front although
Owen Coyle apparently took in a Premier
Reserve game yesterday and had someone else watched at another match. A
bounce game was scheduled for this afternoon but no trialists are
Meanwhile Geoff Brown has been speaking in the papers about the current situation. With plenty of criticism of the club coming from the online community, the chairman spoke out in the Evening Tele saying, "The fans can be rest assured we are working hard to rectify matters. The last three games, in particular, have been very disappointing. Some of our recent displays have been very poor and I can't blame the fans for venting their anger. Owen Coyle has brought in a lot of players, but there's no way any manager can get a 100% success rate with all the players he brings in. Weve also had Peter MacDonald, Steven Milne, Simon Mensing and Darren Sheridan out, and that's a fair bit of our backbone away."
January 10th - First up and two
ex-Saintees set to try their luck at Gretna are
Kieran McAnespie and
John O'Neil who have gone to the Borders
for a trial.
Closer to home though and Owen Coyle was still angry in the Courier this morning. The Saints manager said, "There are real chances for the provincial clubs following the draw and it is really disappointing to think St Johnstone are not part of it. I am still hurting over the nature of the defeatit was massively disappointing. "
As for any radical changes / departures in the next few weeks he went on, "Things are said in the heat of the moment but I do not really want to say any more about that. We will just have to see what the team lines are over the next few weeks. We are actively looking to freshen up the team but I am not going to mention any names at the moment. The performance was really poor, I cannot state that strongly enough. It fell way below the standards I expect and we will just have to pick ourselves up again as we have another hard game this weekend "
The good news is Simon Mensing is available after suspension for Saturday's trip to Broadwood.
7th - Jason Scotland(right) is
expecting a tough time today. In today's Courier, the Saints striker said,
"It will be a hard game but we need to take one game at a time.
It would be great for St Johnstone to get into the last 16 of the cup.
Getting to the final with United was great and I will never experience
such a feeling againexcept in the World Cup! But I do remember
certain moments from the cup run including scoring against Hibs in the
semi-final. But this is a different team with different players and
hopefully we can do well for the club. You never know what can happen but
we can beat anyone on our day, whether that be a first division or SPL
side. At the start of the season I wasnt fully match fit because I
missed pre-season training. I was in Miami and then went back to Trinidad,
but now I am feeling fine. Its all about confidence and playing week
in, week out. If you are on the bench it is harder and you can miss a few
games. I had a foot injury that I picked up against Airdrie and didnt
perform as well as I can against Dundee on Monday, but Ive got back
the confidence to take on defenders."
The manager was just as full of praise and Owen Coyle said, "Jason is capable of turning games, but you need to give him plenty of quality ball. Gretna will be looking forward to this game and rightly so. I know several of their players, having played with James and Chris at United, Steve Tosh and Jamie McQuilken at Falkirk and Andy Smith at Airdrie. Plus you have ex-St Johnstone players Alan Main and David Bingham, so there are a lot of links between the clubs. But I think thats what makes the cup so special. It is a great opportunity to progress and I know what its like to reach a final, having done so with Airdrie, but it will be hard. Gretna have only lost one league game this season so their confidence will be sky high. There will be a great atmosphere and a good cup run gets the whole community behind you."
Just a reminder that season tickets are valid for this game and elsewhere admission is a tenner for adults and a fiver for kids.
7.30pm - Another disastrous home performance saw us go down 1-0 to Gretna and end the Scottish Cup hopes for another year. The game was simply a shocker from a Saints point of view with little in the way of fight or hunger from a side which still seem intent on playing the ball in the air at every opportunity. The boos at full-time told their own story. After the game the manager said, "I'm disappointed - we expected to win the game but we were poor. It's gut-wrenching. We lost a terrible goal - we're gifting goals to the opposition every week. It was just a big lump into the box and over the keeper's head. We gave ourselves a mountain to climb, and although Gretna defended with their lives in the second half, they played well on the counter-attack. I think I've been very loyal to a lot of players but some of them have let me down for the last time. It's been obvious for a number of weeks we've been carrying a few players with injury - it's easy to hide, but we need people with strength of character. We need people to stand up and be counted, but today too many were posted missing, there were a few loose cannons out there. I asked the players to tell me in the dressing room who acquitted themselves well and nobody put their hands up - nobody played anywhere near their potential. They'll come back stronger for it. "
6th - With Savo ruled out of the
cup-tie this weekend it looks like the manager himself will be up front.
Owen Coyle(right) told the Courier, "Losing
Steven Milne as well as Peter MacDonald is a blow because they are two of
the top strikers in the division. But theres no point feeling sorry
for ourselves. Well just need to get on with it. Gretna have
received a lot of plaudits, and rightly so. Theyll come here looking
to measure themselves against a side from a higher league and people may
well be looking at this tie as a possible source of a cup upset. But
weve got good players at this club and well be well prepared."
Savo will undergo an exploratory op next week but already it's looking like a one to three month lay-off.
Polish striker Tomas Moskal trained and played in a closed doors game yesterday but the club want a closer look before any decision is made.
7pm - The good news is that Scrabble might be able to play tomorrow having responded well to treatment. One definite returnee though would have been Darren Sheridan. Speaking on the Official Saints Site, he said, "I've been missing it badly and I'm really pleased I can play tomorrow. The only up side of the suspension has been that the gaffer has been good enough to respect my long-distance family commitments and I have been able to spend Christmas and New Year down south with my girls. Watching the television during the games has been murder though - I'm not a great follower of football on a vidiprinter! A good cup run lifts everybody doesnt it? The financial implications can also be good so we need to buckle down and get a result tomorrow. They are a good side and we'll respect them but we are a good side in our own right."....unfortunately checks this afternoon revealed that he's actually got a cup suspension to serve after being booked twice last season so he's out tomorrow as well.
Finally the club have confirmed that Tomas Moskal has left the club and won't be pursued.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
January 5th - First of all
Simon Mensing is still suspended this
weekend thanks to a booking in the tournament last year as a Clyde player.
And just to add to the bad news, Scrabble's
ankle ligament damage is worse than thought and he'll be out for a few
weeks. Steven Milne is practically ruled
out of this weekend already and sees a specialist today about his
cartilage problem but if it's as expected he'll be missing for a similar
length of time.
On the transfer front reports are that an unnamed Polish Striker is on trial at the club this week. Meanwhile from Dingwall the story is that a "substantial" (i.e. more than the £40,000 the Paisley mob offered) bid for John Rankin has been submitted.
January 4th- No more
confirmation on the latest injury problems but
Scrabble is set to be out for at least
a week. At least both Simon Mensing
and Darren Sheridan are available for
the cup match this weekend.
Meanwhile with the transfer window open, the rumours have started flying about with Ross County's John Rankin (denied by the Dingwall side), Stranraer's Allan Jenkins (denied byOwen Coyle) , Falkirk striker Daniel McBreen and Hibs teenage winger Jamie McCluskey all being rumoured to be the subject of possible moves Perthwards over the next month or so.
January 3rd - The injury list is
mounting ahead of the cup-tie at the weekend with
Neil Janczyk almost certainly ruled
out and Steven Milne a major doubt after
limping off with a cartilage knock yesterday.
Back to the game though and speaking on the Official Site, Owen Coyle said, "Im very frustrated by that today. It was a hard fought game and I thought Dundee started marginally the brighter team but from the middle of the first half onwards I felt we dictated play and should have done more with the possession we had." - he wasn't too happy about some of the referee decisions either saying, "It was a blatant hand ball. To be fair to the referee he agreed that it had been handled but he explained to me that he felt that the ball had played the man rather than the other way around. I thought John Henry was definitely fouled as well the boy got on the wrong side of him and dragged him down."
2nd- Saints don't have their troubles to seek going into this
afternoons derby match with the Scum. Simon
Mensing's stupidity means he joins Darren
Sheridan in the stand and Jason
Scotland is rated "very doubtful" after limping
off at Airdrie.
But one man who knows what this means is Kevin Rutkiewicz and he told the Courier, "It was a real blow to lose to Airdrie and once again we have contrived to give ourselves a mountain to climb. There are no excuses and we should be doing better. We are not giving up on catching St Mirren yet, however. There are four months of the season to go and a lot of points to be had. So we are going to go hell for leather to get wins in the bag and the good thing is we do not have to wait long to get out and play again. The Dundee match is a great opportunity for us. We hope to bounce back and get the win that will please our fans. Certainly, we are not feeling sorry for ourselves. "
Owen Coyle doesn't have his problems to seek and said, "We obviously dont have our problems to seek. Jason was kicked about four times before he finally picked up the foot injury and I would say he is in the very doubtful category. This happens in football, though, and there is no point mumping and moaning about it. We wont let it bother us and we will be well prepared to take on Dundee."
6.30pm - Little in the way of real chances and overall a disappointing afternoon for Saints with a 0-0 draw with the Scum and Neil Janczyk falling victim to the Curse of the Number 8 Shirt
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
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