31st - Saints might be ending the news on a downbeat note for fans
with the word that Rocco may not be
playing for us after the bells toll, after the clubs failed to agree a fee
to make his current loan deal permanent. In today's Courier,
Derek McInnes is quoted saying, "It
looks like Rocco is going back as no deal has been agreed. Thats
disappointing for Rocco and for ourselves, because I believe hed
have been brilliant for us in the second half of the season, but we wish
him all the best. " - the Parkhead club are believed to have been
pleading biscuit-tin levels of poverty and placed a six-figure sum on the
player's head. As for the weekend, the manager went on, "The boys
who came in at Broadwood did well and have given me a problem. But Im
still looking to bring a couple of new players in for January 2 and Ill
pick the best 11 available to me for that game " One of those
could be Morton midfielder Chris Millar. Having already signed a
pre-contract agreement, he could be on the verge of moving early to Perth.
Back to Saturday though, and one of those who's returned to the fold is cult-hero-in-the-making Dyron Daal(right). The striker's hardly been seen all season but he said of his starting slot at the weekend where he missed a second-half sitter, "Its been a long time since I started a game or got a standing ovation from the crowd. So this was a big thing for me today. The reaction from the fans was great. Its nice to feel appreciated. The only way this feeling could be better is if I had taken that chance. I had to take a good look at myself because for a time there I wasnt doing well enough. Since then I have worked my socks off to get back in the team. And now Ive done that Ill work my socks off not to let them down, although its entirely up to the gaffer whether he picks me. I know I have goals in me. I just need to get started. And there definitely wouldnt be a better time to get that first goal than against Dundee on Wednesday. I enjoyed my time with them but I have to look out now for myself and Saints. "
Derek McInnes said of the win, "Theres been a question mark over whether we could grind results out at places like Clyde. And every one of the players came up with the right answer today. We had to dig in and fight our corner and we did that. I was as happy with how we won as the fact we won. It was a fantastic team performance. Weve played better than that and lost this season but weve not worked harder as a team or competed that well. I left people out not because of form but to give us a bit of freshness and impetus. It had been a big ask for the ones who have been playing week in week out and I just wanted to raise the energy levels. ". And there was a bit of psychology in his praise for his striker as well, "Up front hasnt been a problem area for us and I didnt feel Dyron, who lets his head go down at times, had been doing enough to warrant a place. But I told him if he kept working away hed get his chance, and against Clyde I felt we needed the presence he provides. Theres a question mark over Dyron concerning whether he puts himself about enough, but he certainly did today. He led the line well and I was delighted with his contribution "
4.30pm- Just when we thought it was going to be a quiet day, up steps a new loan signing with Caley Thistle defender Stuart McCaffrey(right) joining Saints on a 6-mth loan deal with a view to a permanent move. Speaking of the deal, Derek McInnes told the Official Site, "Stuart will be a good addition to the squad. He has a great deal of experience but at 28 still has a number of years in the game ahead of him and I am delighted to have secured his services.". There's still some paperwork to be completed but the plan is for him to go into an otherwise unchanged squad for the Scumdee visit on Wednesday. While we currently seem to be awash in central defenders the rumoured departure from full-time football in the summer of Andy Lawrie and Kevin Rutkiewicz (the latter apparently heading to Australia to no doubt be a wandering minstrel) means it might be an area we need to strengthen. The club have also announced that there will be a minute's applause ahead of the kick-off in memory of Phil O'Donnell who tragically died at the weekend. Wednesday's OF clash has already been cancelled after both clubs asked for a postponement, but the SFL fixtures will all proceed.
Tomorrow also sees the start of the transfer window and the current update on the pending / rumoured deals is:
Kenny Deuchar - Gone back to Gr£tna and despite all the talk while he was at Saints there's been little more said on a possible permanent deal so this looks dead.
Rocco Quinn - Despite Saints and the player agreeing everything, the Poverty-ridden Forces of Evil have decided that their biscuit tin isn't full enough so slapped a six-figure sum (rumoured to be around quarter of a million) on the player and based on the McBride-factor, it looks like this deal too is buried - at least until the summer when Rocco will no doubt be freed.
Chris Millar - The Morton player looks set to come to Saints sooner than the summer after Jim "Sulky Bugger" McInally threw a strop and dropped him from the squad for signing a pre-contract agreement with Saints.
John Stewart - Gone tae Falkirk. Not one who'll be missed.
Liam Craig - His month-long loan is up soon but neither Saints nor the Bairns have said anything about his future. Rumours abound that he's done a Stewart and had a bust-up with Yogi but with the Falkirk manager also possibly being linked with a departure to head to Easter Rd, things are still up in the air. No doubt he'll be suspended by then anyway.....
29th - Savo(right) is the
pre-match pundit in the paper today and he's highlighted in the Courier
how much draws are holding us back (next week he discusses how the Pope is
a catholic and where bears shit). "We are a bit behind and we
need to start turning these draws into victories and these are the kind of
games we need to win. Weve not done that this season and hopefully
we can start to go on a bit of a run against Clyde and get a bit of
confidence ahead of the Dundee game. No one here is thinking we are too
far behind to catch Dundee and Hamilton. I dont think theres
anything between us and on our day we can beat anybody as weve shown
when we played Hamilton here and won 4-1. As for the game earlier in the
season against Dundee at Dens, in the first half we battered them but theyve
come back second half and won the game which its hard to say they
didnt deserve to win because they took their chances. Its
quite hard to put your finger on it because weve played well in a
lot of games that we should have won, but ended up drawing. Weve
been unlucky in some and in other games its been individual mistakes
that have cost us, so weve just got to put that right starting
tomorrow. I just think were nearly there and if we can string a few
results together weve got a good chance. ". One away win
all season though is hardly challenging form but he's happy with his own
form and went on, "Its been okay so far but the games are
coming thick and fast just now so its pretty tough going when youve
been out for as long as I have, so Ive just got to get through this
period. My form has been a bit up and down. Ive played the last four
games and played pretty well in two of them and the other two Ive
been disappointed in my own performance. The teams performance hasnt
been good overall on those occasions either so I just hope we can get the
win on Saturday and kick on from there. "
Rocco Quinn is still a doubt for what could be his final game after twisting his ankle but Saints are hopeful of extending his deal to the end of the season either as a loan extension or permanently.
7pm - It wasn't pretty but a changed Saints side ground out a 3-1 win over Clyde at Broadwood with goals coming from Andy Jackson, a Peter MacDonald penalty and Kevin Moon who had an impressive game in place of the injured Rocco. The result keeps in comfortable 3rd as both Accies and the Scum won their games.
Meanwhile Scottish football is in shock tonight over the sudden death of Motherwell's Phil O'Donnell who collapsed when going off in their game against Dundee United. The former Celt was only 35 and our thoughts go out to his family.
December 28th - Looks like Chris
Millar is set to make an early appearance at McDiarmid with the Morton
midfielder lined up for a move to Saints in the January transfer window.
Derek McInnes told the Courier, "Chris
was one we had originally earmarked for next season but in an ideal world
we would get him sooner. The club has been speaking to Morton to try to
get it resolved quicker than anyone had expected. I dont think he
will play again for Morton so it would be good to get him here in January."
- which doesn't really make it any clearer. It also looks like agreement
about a permanent move to Saints for Rocco
Quinn is getting nearer after everyone's apparently agreed the terms
of the move. The midfielder himself is a doubt for tomorrow after twisting
an ankle against Stirling.
Elsewhere and Martin Hardie is stepping up his return to fitness. He's on track for the Januay 19th match against Dunfermline for a comeback.Kevin James is also improving greatly. He told the paper, "I hope to be back in full training in the middle of next month and well take it from there. Im undergoing a course of prolotherapy. That involves a dextrose solution being injected into the affected area to strengthen the ligaments which, unlike the muscles, dont strengthen on their own. Its better known in the USA than in this country but a specialist in Leicester offers the treatment and some high-profile players have been successfully treated in this way "
As for Wednesday's boredom-fest, the manager merely said, "It was disappointing at Stirling, especially after the weekend performance against Livi. That sums-up our season so far I suppose. Conditions were difficult but we really only played with the tempo and ball movement required for a 15-minute spell before half-time. We didnt do enough to deserve a win. Stirling had done their homework and we faced two banks of four. You dont always get the chance to play nice football. Sometimes its about digging in. If you want to compete for a title you have to go to places like Forthbank and Broadwood and win. Clyde are always right in your face so we know what to expect. But we also know we have to match the run-in we had to last season to give ourselves a chance. "
December 27th - Peaso(right) provides the post-match quotes in the paper today and surprise, surprise with all the insight of indicating that grizzlies do indeed excrete bodily wastes in a forest-like environment, he reckons that draws are becoming a problem this season. As we failed to beat bottom of the table Stirling for the second time this season, the Saints striker told the Record, "It's very frustrating because we are trying to catch them. But all credit to Stirling who did well. They got in about us and could have stolen it at the end when we were pushing on. But we are not getting too down about it. We need to try to win every game because we keep getting draws ". He was even backed up by the manager who again failed to point out that the high ball is a pish way of playing football but told the paper, "We never really had a cutting edge and didn't produce enough good passing play to merit a win. It's another draw and a missed opportunity"
December 26th - Saints go to
Stirling today with a fair bit of confidence surging through the ranks
once more and loan signing Liam Craig
has been impressed with his new teammates. He told the Courier, "have
quickly noticed that we are a team capable of scoring goals. The lads up
front all work so hard and that makes it easier for the midfielders. I
didnt know too much about Andy Jackson before coming here but we
travel together to training every day. He was just saying he hadnt
scored for a while so I was delighted to see him back on the scorehseet
against Livingston on Saturday. Stevie Milne
was outstanding, too, and had a part in nearly every goal against Livi. He
is a Premier League class striker, no question, and has great movement. He
has told me he has had no ill effects from his knee operation and that is
great news for him and St Johnstone. He reminds me of Pedro Moutinho at
Falkirk, who was injured when he first came to Scotland. With training and
hard work behind him, Falkirk are now seeing his classand hopefully
thats the same with Savo. While it
is great to have good strikers playing in front of you, it is also
important for the midfielders to chip in so I was delighted to get a goal
against Livi. It was a real morale boost for me "
"The gaffer wants us to play football and its the same at Falkirk, so it has been easy to settle in. As far as I am aware the loan is only for a month and Livi was just my second game but I am delighted to be here. Falkirk won again at Motherwell on Saturday so they might not take me back. Seriously, there are a lot of games coming up for St Johnstone and we want to take 12 points out of 12 over the festive period. Hopefully the front two will slip up and we can close the gap."
Derek McInnes has warned against complacency though. He said, "There was a lot to be pleased about on Saturday but we havent been too accomplished at producing back-to-back wins. So winning the game will be what counts for me and playing well again will be a bonus. Like ourselves, Stirling have drawn a lot of games, but they will know that a couple of victories will see them back in amongst it. We will need to reach a high standard once again if we are to get all three points."
7pm - Another big travelling support and another disappointing performance from Saints as we failed to keep the momentum going from Saturday's five-goal thriller and ended up with a rotten display to barely earn a point in a goalless draw away to Stirling Albion. And while the unchanged team didn't produce the goods there were more than a few worries tonight with Savo and Rocco Quinn both picking up knocks during the game. Elsewhere there was a small crumb of comfort with Accies only drawing at home to Clyde and the Scum losing - so at least we didn't slip any further behind.
December 24th -
Rocco Quinn told the Courier today that
he'll miss training tomorrow. He said, "The gaffer has given us
Christmas Day off and thats unusual for me because I have been used
to training in previous years. As a footballer it is something you just
get used to and accept as part of the job. It is great that this year he
is allowing the lads to stay with their families. Although we are off, I
will still be preparing the way I do for every gameso that means no
turkey dinner. I will be having some pasta instead, but I might get my mum
to keep me some food to have later in the week, maybe after the game at
Stirling on Boxing Day. "
As for the weekend result he went on, "We are delighted with the performance, and that has sent us away really happy. We try to play a good passing game all the time and our training is geared up for that, so it is really pleasing when things click the way they did. Everything seemed to go right for us and on another day we would have scored even more goals. The quality of the goals was fantastic and, during the second half, we looked like we could score every time we went into their half. But we are not going to kid ourselves on and get carried away now. It was a great win, but we have a lot of hard work to do to get back on trackthe main thing now is to keep it going into the next game. The lads here certainly feel we are capable of catching the teams at the top of the table. Hamilton and Dundee will slip up sooner or later, but the way it is just now we are not going to look too far ahead. The main focus has got to be on the Stirling game now "
Derek McInnes was happy as well and the manager said, "The boys were magnificent, especially to come back from a goal down and produce a performance like that. Our choice of pass and decision making was excellentit was a real team performance. The goals seemed to get better with each one, and there were three or four moves we didnt score from which were brilliant as well. I have known that we are capable of playing like that. The one thing for me in the past has been how we react when teams have a go at us, like Livi did early in the second half. But we kept our discipline, saw it out and then went on to control the game again. That really pleased me "
23rd - Andy Jackson(right) told
the Sunday Mail today he's glad to get back on the goal trail. After
hitting his 9th and 10th of the season yesterday, the Saints striker said,
"It had been five weeks since I'd scored and obviously Kenny had
left as well, so I was glad to get on the scoresheet. It also shows
Savo and I can play alongside each
other. Some people thought we were too similar - but they said that about
Rooney and Tevez too " (didn't elaborate on who was who though!)
Derek McInnes was just as happy and he said, "It was a great attacking performance."
December 22nd -
Derek McInnes made his first foray
into the transfer market yesterday signing up Morton's Chris Millar
on a pre-contract agreement. The right-sided midfielder might be arriving
before that however as he seems to have pissed off his current employers
with Morton saying that because they were kept in the dark about any
possible moves, he'll "never play for the club again"
which, one might argue, might see him head to Perth in the January
Meanwhile with an important clash against Meadowbank today, Alan Main has promised to do better (though whether he even starts remains to be seen with Kevin Cuthbert talking about a possible McD January departure if he doesn't get a chance). The Saints keeper said in the Courier, "lost a bad goal and it was blatantly obvious it was my fault. Im not going to hide behind the pitch. I am old enough to take responsibility for things. It wasnt a great strike, nor was it that bad. But Gary Irvine has gone to block the shot and its gone through his legs and under my arm. The surface didnt help. Early on Gary played a ball back to me along the ground and by the time it reached me it was six inches off the deck so I was expecting a bobble which didnt happen. But no excuses. " (erm having just made them?) "The older you get the greater the scrutiny you find yourself subjected to. Im under a lot more pressure second time around here at the age of 40 than I was during my first spell. But Ill know myself when its time to say Thats it. If I wasnt feeling right I wouldnt kid myself on or cheat anyone else. But I lost goals when I was 20 and when I first came to Saints Id a difficult time of it. Whatever age you are you just have to push through that. And Im strong enough to cope with any criticism thats flying my way. Its not just myself who has to move on from losing to Hamilton. Weve got to do that as a team because every game now is a massive one for us. Weve a new manager and a new coach and, for as enjoyable as the training has been, it takes time to blend. But the games are obviously starting to run out so the pressure thats on us to go out and perform is increasing. "
Derek McInnes is taking the glass half-full approach to today's encounter and he said, "If we can play in the same manner in which we did at Hamilton we can get the three points. Although we lost to Accies there were positives to take out of that game and I am optimistic. "
7.30pm - Well it's safe to say that the improvement on last week was more than noticeable as Saints slaughtered Livi 5-2 with goals from an Andy Jackson double, Rocco Quinn, Liam Craig and Peter MacDonald.
21st - Goran(right) is in the
Courier this morning saying how much he loves Saints and wants to end his
career there.....though not until after next summer. The 35-yr old
Macedonian has come in for a fair ole slagging this season for not meeting
his own high standards and he told the paper, "I have been in
Scotland for five years and I'd love to finish my playing days with
Saints. This is my third season in Perth and I really enjoy everything
about the club, the management, players, staff and supporters. If
possible, I'd like to get another contract to keep me here."
"My performance levels haven't been as good as last season. But I have been training and playing with painkillers for weeks. I feel much better now though and hopefully I can get to the same levels of consistency as last season. It's disappointing to be so far behind the leaders. We didn't expect that. The problem is obviously the number of draws we've had. We have only lost three games and that's one less than Hamilton. But we have to get wins under our belt. People wrote us off last season in January when we were well behind Gretna. They didn't think we could catch them but we almost did it on the final day so it is far too early to say the league is finished. We need to start getting victories though during the busy Christmas and New Year period."
Saints will train on Monday and have Xmas day off ahead of the Boxing Day trip to Stirling. Derek McInnes said of the plans, "When I was a player at West Brom, Gary Megson used to give the boys Christmas Day off and that's an example I intend following. There were times at West Brom, when we were away to Manchester City and Bolton, that we travelled on Christmas evening to spend the night in a hotel. But the day itself was spent with the family and I believe that's the way it should be. We'll train longer than normal on Monday and do all the talking about the match then. You don't do much physically the day before a game and I just feel there's little benefit in having boys travelling all the way from Edinburgh or Glasgow and being away from their families for up to five hours. New Year will be different though. We'll be in then."
Training has been different this week as well with the backroom staff trying to deal with our defensive problems. "I was happy enough with most aspects of our performance against Hamilton." (no irony there either), "But if we are to start winning games we've got to stop losing poor goals. And we have been working hard this week on trying to keep the back door shut." No word on the flug bug victims but Willie McLaren apparently had some teeth removed but should still play. (cue loads of witty responses to that)
December 19th - Papa Niang
has left McDiarmid following his trial period. The club were unable to get
a closed doors game arranged to have a closer look at the player and
there's no word of any follow-up being planned.
Meanwhile both John Stewart and Savo have apparently been suffering from the flu but both are expected to recover for Saturday's home match against Livingston.
December 18th -
Derek McInnes seems to know where the
problems are in the side. He told today's Courier, "We may have
drawn a blank on Saturday, but I am not too concerned about our ability to
score goals. We do tend to create chances, and if we can just get someone
in with height and presence to do the job Kenny
Deuchar was doing for us before returning to Gretna well be
fine in that regard. What does concern me is the goals weve been
losing in recent weeks. Looking back over the past three matches, all five
of the goals weve conceded might have been avoided. The two against
Partick were easy crosses into the box, Mortons first goal was a
catalogue of errors, and the second a long punt into the area which should
have been dealt with. Then on Saturday Alan
Main has accepted responsibility for the goal we lost. For me the
problem has been lack of concentration, and we need to improve things in
Transfer moves are still going on with talks ongoing for Rocco Quinn and Kenny Deuchar while apparently we're keeping track on Simon Mensing's situation (someone who blotted his copybook with some hefty tackling at the weekend), with the manager being all enigmatic saying, "If Simon was to become available he is a player Id be interested in.".
There's better news for Kevin James with a return to action still pencilled in for January. The manager said, "Kevin was back at the specialist last week and got a couple of injections to improve the healing process and strengthen the knee. But the specialist was more than pleased with the progress he is making. Kevin is getting frustrated at the speed of his recovery, but hell just have to show a bit of patience. He is starting to build things up and remains on course to return sometime between mid to late-January. "
December 16th - With Saints in 4th and 16 points off the pace, it seems that Derek McInnes is about the only one sticking to the cliches and not giving up (unlike most of his players yesterday). The manager told the Sunday Mail, "If we win our game in hand it's down to 13 points and nobody in our dressing room will ever give up. The demand at this club is to be in the SPL so of course we are disappointed to be where we are. But we were 12 points adrift last January and we took it right down to the final seconds of last season and we have to try and do that again. "
15th - Liam Craig(right) is
straight into the squad for today's trip to leaders Hamilton. The
midfielder told the Courier, "Tomorrow is a massive game to look
forward to. Obviously Hamilton are top of the league so they must be doing
something right, but hopefully I can get off to a good start with a win.
From speaking to a couple of the lads, John Stewart and Rocco Quinn, I
know that the team have been playing quite well but drawing a lot of
games. Hopefully I can bring something to the team and help St Johnstone
get some results. Im here until January 10 and Im really
looking forward to it. When the manager said St Johnstone were interested
in taking me on loan I didnt have to think twice about agreeing. St
Johnstone were actually the first professional club I trained with when I
was a young boy. I think I was about 10 and Im happy to be back
again a few years later."
The Saints manager said, "Hes gives us another option in midfield. Liam's a good player with a lot of Premier League experience and has been frustrated playing reserve-team football this season. John Hughes was reluctant to let him go but saw the bigger picture and knows this loan spell will benefit him. Obviously everyone involved then will have recollections of what happened in our last game of the season at Hamilton. That day we were on the top of our game but we havent really got up to that level this time around. We have to realise the importance of this game. Its a chance not only to get three points, but also to start making inroads into the gap between us and the leaders. Hamilton have been impressive and their home record is second to none, but were more than capable of winning. A win against the leaders would give everyone a great boost in confidence. "
Kevin Moon was again being talked up by Derek McInnes and the manager went on, "I rate him highly and its time he stepped up his progress by becoming a regular contender for a first-team place"
7pm - Another piss-poor performance saw a lacklustre Saints side go down 1-0 at Accies effectively killing off any hope of a title run this season.
December 13th - Alan
Morgan's turned Saints down to sign an 18-month contract with Killie
last night. But there was some signing news today with Saints announcing
that Savo has signed a 2-year extension
to his contract taking him through to the summer of 2010.
Derek McInnes told the Official Site,
"I spoke to Steven last week and I'm delighted it is sorted out.
He is the first of a number of boys whose contracts I want to tie up
because quite a few expire next summer. Savo has looked very sharp in
training and probably would have been back in the side quicker had it not
been for the form of Andy Jackson and
Kenny Deuchar. I know what he can
bring to the team and I sense a real hunger in him at the moment to get
back playing regularly and scoring goals. It is a good bit of business by
the club and I am delighted."
And Savo said, "I enjoy training and playing here and everything about the club so I am delighted to be extending my stay. I have been out for a while but ' touch wood' things seem to be settling down for me. I've had three operations but how I am at the moment is the best I have felt in all the time I have been here. I just want to get back playing and scoring goals for Saints."
11pm - And the first of a potential double signing for the weekend arrived tonight with the news that Saints have taken Falkirk's Liam Craig on a month's loan. The 21yr old left-sided midfielder can also cover in defence.
December 12th - The reserves
chalked up a 3-1 win last night with the goals coming from an og,
John Stewart and
David Weatherston the latter
providing the assists for the other two. There was no sign of any of the
trialists in the side.
Meanwhile apparently an SPL club are also interested in signing Alan Morgan so it doesn't look too hopeful for the short-term deal we've offered the midfielder.
December 11th - While there's
plenty of talk between Saints and Celtic about the future for
Rocco Quinn he says he wants to
concentrate on playing. The midfielder told the Courier, "Im
aware that the manager has been on the phone to Celtic but I dont
know much more than that and am quite relaxed about the whole thing. I
have not really had time to think about anything other than preparing for
games, training and playing. Thoughts of my future have been put to the
back of my mind. Instead, I have been fully focused on whats
important, ie Saturday afternoon at three o clock and training. What
matters is improving my game, helping the team as much as I can and
winning games for St Johnstone. The whole point of coming here was to get
first-team football and its been a great experience for me. I am in
the middle of something and I would not mind seeing it through. It would
be nice to see what the club can do between now and the end of season. The
change of manager has not made a difference to my thoughts about that.
Indeed, when Derek got the job after
Owen Coyle left everybody was thrilled. For me, it could not happen to a
better guy and the players are happy about it. "
"We know we have had too many draws and some of the results have been down to us letting victory slip away. Of course we want that to change. I know it will be a tough game on Saturday because Hamilton are the league leaders, but they were top when they came here earlier this season and we took four off them. So theres nothing for us to fear. Some people might think we should be nervy about going there but, really, the boys cant wait for the game to come around, especially after what we viewed as a missed chance on Saturday. I see it as an opportunity. Hamilton may look at it and say that if they win this one that will put St Johnstone to bed but for me and my players this is a real chance to make headway into the points deficit. I saw enough against Morton to be confident. I think we got anxious at times, made mistakes and took wrong decisions, but the second half performance was encouraging as we created opportunities and showed we can still be difficult to play against when we do the right things. We know we are capable of winning the game, as long as we realise whats at stake. If we keep drawing matches we will not be up there challenging. Saturday was a poor point and there have been too many of them, theres no getting away from that. Hamilton have lost four matches in this league campaign whereas we have lost only twice. We have suffered through dropping too many points. We have not had the ruthlessness required to go on a winning streak that we had in the run-in last season and we need to get it back. We need more clinical finishing and to stop gifting goals"
Saints have a Reserve League Cup tie at Montrose tonight. The game kicks off at 7.45pm and Saints could another new face. As well as Collin Samuel and Alan Morgan who have been training with the club, 24-yr old Senegalese defensive midfielder Papa Niang may also get a run out. He's had a trial at Coventry and is apparently on the fringes of the Senegalese national squad. Derek McInnes said, "I know what Sammy can give us and he has showed up well in training but thats as far as it goes at the moment, while Craig Brewster is happy to let Alan train with us this week and he has been doing fine. Papa has been recommended to us and if all the paperwork is completed in time then I could have a look at him up at Montrose. He was down at Coventry for pre-season and has been playing over in Senegal more recently. He has also been with the French-based Senegalese players preparing for the African Nations Cup. They have a squad of 22 for the tournament and a back-up pool of sixhe is in the latter. So he has a good pedigree and has shown himself to be really keen to be here. His attitude has been such that its only fair that I take a look at him " - if you want a photo, it looks like he had a spell in Finland with FC Opa
The manager has also seen the video footage from Saturday and after calming down a bit he's freed Kevin Rutkiewicz of blame for his second booking. "I was not too happy about the first one and told Kevin that but I have no complaints regarding the second booking as there was no contact. The referee has made a huge mistake and its had a bearing on the gametheres no two ways about it. Having watched the video tape back theres nothing in it. It wasnt even a foul. "
6.30pm - This afternoon's update from McD seems to indicate that Derek McInnes is hoping to get his first signing on board for this weekend. Papa Niang holds dual nationality so assuming the red tape for tonight can be sorted out and he impresses at Montrose, he should be free to sign. Meanwhile Saints have made an offer to TFOE for Rocco Quinn and are awaiting a response while a short-term deal has also been offered to Allan Morgan and the club are waiting to hear from the player.
December 9th - As you'd expect,
Derek McInnes wasn't too impressed by
the start to yesterday's game. He told the Official Saints site, "One
of the last things I said before we left the dressing room was not to
overplay things at the back and that is exactly what we did. Alan
shouldnt have given the ball to Goran,
Goran shouldnt have played it to Steven
Anderson who obviously should have done something different with it
to what he did! I thought we reacted well though and for the next 15 or 20
minutes took the game to them but overall the first half was poor from our
perspective. The 3 against 1 at the back wasnt working so I changed
it at half-time and we were much better with a straight back four. We
started the second half well and Morton stopped enjoying the game and I
felt Andy Jackson dragged us back into
the game. Steven Milne and
Peter MacDonald were excellent
throughout Savos first touch on the long ball from
Gary Irvine was excellent and got him
into the position that brought the penalty."
As for the sending-off of Kevin Rutkiewicz, the gaffer has reserved judgement saying, "The first yellow card was cheap it was petulant and not acceptable. I spoke to the referee at the end about the second yellow and he says that in the build up to the ball going out for a throw that Kevin caught their player but I would need to view the video before I committed myself"
8th - Steven Milne(right) is
hoping to start this afternoon but knows there will be a change in shape
to the team with the departure of Kenny
Deuchar. He told the Courier, "We played without a big
striker before Kenny came here, so its something were used to.
Weve got players who like to pass the ball and get the ball wide, so
I dont think it should be a problem. Kenny did really well, and Im
not belittling what hes done here, but Im sure we can adjust
and play more balls to feet or in behind the defenders for the strikers to
run on to. With Kenny in the team the temptation was always there to lump
it forward, which we were probably guilty of doing against Partick last
weekendand that suited them rather than us. Hopefully it might make
a positive differencethats how we have to look at it."
"Its 11 months since I last started, and hopefully Ill get my chance today. Ive been training fully for seven or eight weeks Ive played 90 minutes in the reserves a few times and Ive come off the bench for the first team. My knee is fine and my fitness is good. It would be a dream to come back into the team and score, but my main target is to perform well for the team. A win is all that matters, and that will be the case for the next few games. Weve been written off already by a lot of people, but everyone here still thinks we have a chance. Every game is important nowwe need a win against Morton, which would set us up for the Hamilton game the following week. We cant afford to keep drawing gamesa good few of the matches weve drawn have been ridiculous. "
Derek McInnes isn't revealing anything about the starting lineup though. "Weve got options, but none of them are the same as Kenny gives you. He gave us a real presence, and of course his goals were invaluable. Theyre good players, though, and hopefully theyll be hungry to make their mark. Kenny was an outlet to get us up the pitch when we were under pressure, but last week we played too many long balls. There can be a tendency to think its your only ball, and were a better side when we get it down and play. ". The manager may also play with Martin Hardie missing. "I was really disappointed with the goals we lost last week and weve worked on a few things ahead of tomorrows gameif we keep the back door shut Im always confident weve got goals in us. Were just doing okay at the moment, but just doing okay isnt going to get us to where we want to go."
He also revealed that he rates Alan Morgan who is training with Saints and the plan is to have a closer look at him over the next week.
8.30pm - Well with our usual style we ballsed it up completely today throwing away a lead to draw 2-2 at home to Morton which thanks to Partick winning sees us drop to 4th. A Steven Anderson own goal and an error from Alan Main (one of many over the afternoon from the whole defence) gave Morton the goals either side of a Paul Sheerin penalty and a neat finish from Savo. And to add to the fun Kevin Rutkiewicz damaged his captain's reputation with a couple of stupid bookings to miss the Accies game next week. Another bad day at the office.
7th - Tomorrow marks the first home match since
Derek McInnes took over at the club
and surprise, surprise it's against the team where he arguably made his
name. Saints have no real injury worries other than the usual missing
culprits - Gary Irvine,
Goran Stanic and
Allan McManus all recovered from their
knocks and bugs this week. The manager told the Official Site, "I
have the line-up for tomorrow in mind and I'll just need to be sure that
there are no last minute problems. Kenny Deuchar will be a big loss in
stature as well as his goal scoring contribution but I have to say that
all the strikers are looking good in training. Players such as
Dyron Daal and
David Weatherston haven't featured
as much as they would have liked and they will all quite rightly be seeing
my move to the management role as the chance to start afresh. I have no
problem with that and they will all be given the chance to show they
deserve to be in the team. I know these lads strengths and weaknesses and
I understand that their heads might have dropped a bit ? I know myself
what it is like when you are not playing. To be fair, these boys
understand that Andy Jackson and
Kenny Deuchar have been playing
exceptionally well together but that partnership is ended now so they have
the chance to stake a claim."
As for tomorrow's opponents, he went on, "They were very good to me as a club. Allan McGraw and John Mcmaster gave me the chance and showed me how to be a professional footballer and I will always be grateful for that. I'm delighted that they are heading in the right direction and they have been a great addition to the First Division. Their supporters have high expectations and I know everyone at Cappielow is working hard to realise those. Saints fans made it a cup final at Dens in terms of numbers and noise and it would be great if the players could receive similar backing at McDiarmid. I appreciate that it is unlikely we can generate the cup final-type atmosphere but a noisy, supportive home crowd is a great tool for any team to have in its locker."
Meanwhile the club have opened talks with Rocco Quinn(right) and Celtic about the midfielder making his move to Saints a permanent one. His loan is up at the end of the month but he's already said he'd like to stay on.
6th - There's little concrete news coming out of McD this week with
the rest of the media concentrating on the sacking of Stephen Kenny in
Parsland. The rumour mill hasn't stopped though with ex-Bairns and Airdrie
striker and current TFOD reserve Alan Gow the latest name linked
with a possible loan move to Perth.
6.30pm - Saints have confirmed that the Challenge Cup DVD will be on sale at the club shop on Saturday priced £10, with the historic win also available to order online from next Monday.
Meanwhile another victim for the treatment room with Jamie McCluskey(right) out for about 6 weeks after breaking his toe in training earlier in the week. Hopefully he'll be back soon since he's one of the players who thoroughly deserves a run in the first team. Elsewhere and 24yr old Alan Morgan is training with Saints after being released by Caley Thistle due to an apparent surplus of midfielders in the Highland capital.
December 4th -
Martin Hardie's lay-off is talked about
in the Courier today. Derek McInnes
said, "They are opening up the groin a little and stretching it
to address the fact he is still getting a bit of discomfort. The surgeon
has carried out the same operation on Stephen Pearson, Bobo Balde and
Steven Gerrard with 100% success. And he has given Martin confidence that
hell come out the other end of the process completely pain free. Hes
been told itll take four to six weeks for him to recover from the
surgery, although I suspect six weeks is more realistic. Its very
disappointing to lose him because he is a talisman for us. But its
more important he gets sorted out as this has been going on too long. We
knew last week that hed need the operation but the medical advice
was that playing against Partick Thistle wouldnt do any more harm
which is why we included him Im not entirely convinced, however,
that it worked for usalthough he was involved in the equalising
goal. It would have been hard enough for Martin on a decent surface, but
on a difficult pitch with a groin problem it was tough for him "
He was happier with the performance at Firhill (about the only one) but expects more. "To drag ourselves up to get something from the game after being 2-0 down was a fantastic effort from the boys and they deserve credit for that. Weve drawn too many games this season and that is killing us. But Saturday was a good point all things considered."
With Kenny Deuchar returning to Gr£tna, Steven Milne has a chance to stake a claim for a starting jersey. The manager went on, "We have to focus now on the players who are here and in particular Stevie Milne who has possibly been unlucky not to start before. He is very much in my thoughts for Saturday, although he is a completely different type to Kenny. Savo is sharp as a tack, intelligent, pacey, a great finisher and works ever so hard. He has loads going for him. But having a bigger one would help take the weight off of him. I think it is good to have a big player as an option up front and this week we will be trying to get someone in if we can "
Savo knows how important the coming weeks are. He said, "I feel as if I could start a game now. It might be another story whether I could finish it, though hopefully I could. Its been good to get back involved as a substitute and now, with Kenny going, theres an opportunity. I am available but would understand if I didnt get straight back in the starting line-up when Ive not started a match since January. Ive lost count of the amount of people whove said to me Hamilton will start dropping pointsbut they arent so we need to be winning games not drawing as we did on Saturday. They are 14 points ahead of us and although weve a game in hand thats a long way to be behind. The good thing is we play them in a couple of weeks time and if we can put together a run that includes beating them then we can change things a bit."
Meanwhile Saints have offered Colin Samuel training facilities while he is on his break from the MLS but haven't ruled out a move for the T&T winger. Derek McInnes said, "Sammy hasnt played since October 20 and he asked if he could come in and train to keep his fitness up. Im glad to do him a favour. Theres no more to it than that at this stage, although things could change. Colins contract with Toronto is finished but as we understand it he may still be tied to them. We are trying to find out exactly what the situation is. Ive mentioned to Sammy the possibility of maybe getting him on loan for a month and he indicated hed be interested in that if it were possible. But well have to see. "
December 3rd - There was more bad news for Saints today with the announcement that Martin Hardie, who has just returned to the first team has gone under the knife to fix his groin injury - this means that the Saints midfielder faces a 4-6 week lay-off. No doubt the manager is already getting his boots ready for the weekend visit of his ex-club Morton. There was better news for Allan McManus with his calf injury clearing up so he should be fit for the weekend.
December 2nd - Strangely enough Derek McInnes (right) was full of praise for his players (God knows why). He told the Sunday Mail, "I knew the team had character and fighting qualities but you've got to think you're dead and buried with such little time left. I'm delighted they kept going and judging by our second-half performance a draw was no more than we deserved. In the first half our crosses into the box weren't from good enough angles but we sorted that out in the second and played a lot better. Paul Sheerin did a tremendous job for us and stuck away the penalty and it was nice to see Big Kenny finishing his loan spell at the club with a goal. One of the first things I did when I took the job was to phone Gretna and see if we could keep him - but they want him back from Monday. Deuchar didn't have his best game but we wish him well. He's a fantastic lad and if things don't work out for him I'd obviously be interested in getting him again in January "
1st - Allan McManus is set to
miss out with his calf injury today so it looks like an early start for
Kevin Rutkiewicz(right) after his
appearance at Dens off the bench last week. Just back from a year out, the
defender-cum-popstar said in today's Courier, "My injuries have
cleared up and Im feeling stronger and fitter. Im ready to go.
The gaffer knows everybody here and what theyre capable of,
but as far as Im concerned its a clean slate for all the
players in terms of how the future is going to work out. A new manager
will always have his own ideas. This is a transitional period for
everyone, players and new management, and we have to adapt to it quickly.
There may also be players leaving and new players coming in. But we have
to keep the ball rolling from the cup final. That win has lifted everyone
at the club and hopefully the fans will be right behind us. Weve
fallen a bit behind Hamilton and Dundee and its important that we
claw the gap back by the time we get through the festive period. Last
season I think a total of 66 points won the league and I dont see
that being beaten this year. Hamilton are well organised and Dundee are
big and strong but there isnt a team much better than the rest in
this division. Coming second best is getting frustrating and were
running out of excuses like bad starts and cup runs. "
As for the new manager, the defender went on, "It is strange calling him gaffer but well soon get used to that. His knowledge of the game is second to none and he commands respect straight away from his playing career alone. He was already a big character in the dressing room as a player. Hes a thorough professional in the way he approaches games and he will expect the same attitude from his players. When Owen Coyle came here he had a good impact on the club and his enthusiasm brought St Johnstone to the attention of people outwith Perth. Derek comes to the job with similar experience that Owen brought to it so he can be just as successful "
The new manager can't wait to get going either - he told the paper, "The place is buzzing after our cup win and its important we use that to give us some momentum to go on the run thats required to get in touch with Hamilton and Dundee. I firmly believe we can do it. Firhill is always a difficult place to go and I expect it to be a very competitive game. Im really excited about my first match in charge and hopefully we can get off to a winning start. "
7.30pm - A rank rotten performance was only rescued by two goals in the final minutes from a Paul Sheerin spot kick and a farewell-for-now Kenny Deuchar header to share the points in a 2-2 draw against Partick which did us bugger all in terms of favours as both Accies and the Scum chalked up wins.
Top Of News
November 30th -
Derek McInnes has been praising his
new assistant Tony Docherty with the
Saints gaffer telling the Courier, "Im delighted to
get Tony here and to get him here so quickly. Ive got my chairman
and Dundee United to thank for that. It was important that we got somebody
in and Tony will be great. The boys will really enjoy working under him.
Hes a top coach who really knows the game and will be great on the
training pitch, which will be a big help to me. Tony has been around at
every level the SFA, youths, reserves and first team. In recent
times hes been heavily involved with the first team at Dundee
United. Whichever role hes had he has always done well. United are
reaping the benefit of the young players hes helped to bring through
the ranks. Age doesnt come into it. First and foremost you need
somebody who is good at their job."
As for the new assistant manager he said, "I would have been at Tannadice five years come January. Ive been very happy there, particularly this season, and the easiest thing would have been to sit there and continue to be number three. But I jumped at the chance to come here and be number two to Derek. Its a big difference being first team coach to being assistant manager. This is a really exciting challenge and its an opportunity that I couldnt turn down. I knew there was a good squad here but after todays session Ive seen for myself that the standards are even higher than I thought "
Looking ahead to tomorrow, the manager has still to decide whether or not he'll play. Del said, "As far as playing goes, Ill take every game as it comes. Ill keep training every day, but Ive still not made up my mind for Saturday. ". But Allan McManus may be missing with a calf injury. The gaffer said, "He only managed to train once ahead of the cup final because of a calf injury and he put himself on the line in that match, which is a credit to him. Hes not ruled out yet but hes very doubtful".
Finally Del confirmed that if the Doc has to return to Gr£tna, Saints will be back in the hunt for him when the transfer window opens. He's also concentrating on trying to get Rocco Quinn to remain at the club.
3.30pm - The Official Site preview of the Partick game has mixed news about our loan signings. Not so good news for the Doc with Del quoted as saying, "It is really disappointing news but I have spoken to Davie Irons and I can understand that in Gretnas position they are looking to start scoring more goals and Kenny is their player. Kenny has been good for us, not just in terms of the goals he has scored but also what he has done for the team overall. That said, I think we have been good for him too and he reiterated to me when I took over on Tuesday that he wanted to stay with us. However, it is not to be for the moment and although the chances of him returning to Perth in the future are not completely dead I have to move ahead and plan on the basis that he will not be here and I have told him that.". However the future looks like being a little less green for Rocco Quinn as the manager continued, "Rocco is happy here and has spoken to me indicating he would be keen to stay with us on a longer-term basis. I certainly want to keep him so well need to speak to Celtic and try and take things forward."
29th - First up and the club have announced that for a simple £2
donation to charity on Saturday, you can turn up to the Centenary Suite at
McDiarmid and get your photo taken holding the Challenge Cup.
Derek McInnes is talking up the return of Savo to the first team in the Courier today. The manager said, "He has been worth his weight in gold to this club. He has looked terrific in training for a few weeks now and appears to be as sharp as ever. I would prefer to be cautious about asking too much of him too quickly, while the other strikers have been doing really well. Nevertheless its a terrific boost to have such an experienced striker back in the squad. ". And for his part, Alan Main has praised the managerial appointment (sook, sook!), "It is a good appointment as Derek has all the attributes. Owen didnt have much experience when he came in and I think Derek is in a similar sort of position. However, he has played at the highest level and, once he has the backroom staff he wants, I am sure he will be fine. I cant see his lack of experience being a problem, to be honest. Hopefully the new manager can provide the wee push that we need. We have to go on a run of wins to catch Dundee and Hamilton at the top of the table. "
Elsewhere and Saints and the Arabs have agreed compensation for Tony Docherty so expect his appointment to be announced this week. But with one arrival, we also have a departure as Kenny Deuchar(right) returns to Gr£tna this weekend after his loan ends. And while there's no way we can extend it, there is nothing stopping Saints making a bid for the striker in the January transfer window or earlier with special dispensation from the SFA. However that will involve a fee as Gr£tna "coach" Davie Irons said, "St Johnstone could only try and buy him in January as you cant have another loan deal to the same club. But if they were to try and do that, it would involve a fee as we are not prepared to let Kenny go for zero pounds. As far as we are concerned, Kenny will be back here on Monday morning."
1.30pm - The 4th round of the Scottish Cup was drawn today and Saints face Raith Rovers at McDiarmid with the match set for January 12th 2008. It's also been confirmed that Tony Docherty has taken up his coaching position at the club.
November 28th - Tony
Docherty looks set to be the new assistant manager after the Arabs
gave him permission to speak to Saints with only compensation to be sorted
out. Meanwhile, Geoff Brown is
expecting to see differences in the style of management under the new
boss. He told the Courier, "Derek is a different personality to
Owen Coyle but they do share certain qualities which is why Owen brought
him here. And if he was good enough for Owen Coyle then he is good enough
for me. Ive seen Derek here and how he goes about his business and I
believe hes an individual who is more than capable of being our
gaffer. At times he might be seen as being a wee bit aloof compared to
other players because he is extremely self-disciplined. But that will
benefit him. This (moving into management) has always been his aim,
something thats been planned in his head for a long time. And, while
the chance may have come along a little earlier than hed expected it
to, he has all the attributes to be a success. I very much admire his
attitude towards hard work. He is also very professional and fit. And as
far as the fitness thing goes he will pay particular attention to others
who may not have the same work ethic as he does, which isnt a bad
And the first task for Derek McInnes is to sort out the future of Kenny Deuchar. The manager told the Courier, "Id love to keep Kenny here and Ive told him that. Anyone who has watched us can see what he brings, hes a different kind of player to what we had and his scoring record is excellent. Hes brought the best out in the other strikers so hes definitely someone were looking to hold on to. "
The new reign got off to a good start last night with the Reserves beating the Pars 3-2 in the Reserve League Cup with two goals from Savo and one from David Weatherston.
November 27th - Despote all the
attempts at secrecy last night it seems certain that
Derek McInnes(right) will be named as
the new Saints manager this morning at a 09.30 press conference. There is
talk this morning that it might be a combined player/manager role which
isn't exactly gaining much favour on the forums but again a lot depends on
who his assistant will be.
Meanwhile back to Sunday and Alan Main dedicated the cup win to the chairman and fans. He told the Courier, "It was a great occasion, one that meant a lot personally. I wasnt sure Id be playing and only found out a few hours beforehand that I was. And to pick up a winners medal after getting to a few finals without really winning anything is fantastic. But more than anything this was for the fans and the chairman. Its been a long time coming for him. But the biggest thing was winning the trophy for the fans and Im not just saying that for the sake of it. They were fantastic and deserve it. A big thank you to them for the backing they gave us. The way we started the game was phenomenal. And although we let them back into things by conceding a sloppy goal it ended up a terrific day. But the incident just before half-time when Darren Young hit the post was really important to the outcome. If theyd gone in only 3-2 behind theyd have been coming down the hill in the second half with a bit of momentum. As it was, we still had to defend for our lives at times. However, we ended up winning and thats what matters."
Elsewhere and Kenny Deuchar wants his future sorted out. "At the moment I only have the one game left. And obviously with the manager leaving and not knowing wholl replace him its difficult to sort something out. I dont even know if Id be in the plans here with a new gaffer coming in. But it has to be sorted out before Saturday or else Im headed back to Gretna. Unless and until Saints and Gretna agree something, I have no option. The way its looking, a week from now Ill be leaving McDiarmid Park. But Ive had a great time here and as Ive said before why would I want to go somewhere else? ". And Peaso was also happy with the win. He said, "I had played in two semis prior to this final. But Sunday felt better. There may only have been 6500 people there, but it had more of an edge to it than when we played Celtic at Hampden or Hibs at Tynecastle. I thought our fans were magnificent. And if we could get the kind of backing we had at Dens every week it would be like having an extra man. There would be no stopping us. ". Sunday marked his 100th start for Saints and he went on, "I was surprised to start. Between injury and Jacko and Deuchs being on fire, I hadnt started since the Dundee game back in August. But Sandy Stewart asked me to go in and do a job on the left side and try to support the front two as much as I could. I did my best and managed to get a goal out of the shift I put in, which was a bonus. Any goal is welcome, but one scored in a final is extra special. "
Finally Owen Coyle is also interviewed in the Courier today and he said, "I was really chuffed for the players and Sandy Stewart, but most of all the chairman Geoff Brown and managing director Stewart Duff. The relationship I had with Stewart and Geoff was second to none and it is great that they have got something tangible to show for their commitment to St Johnstone. We really moved things on there over the past couple of years to the point where Saints have at last won a cup and are in a position to go on now and mount a challenge for promotion. I loved my time at McDiarmid Park and have left behind a fantastic club full of really good people. I never doubted they would win the cup and it was nice to be able to go into the dressing room at the end, both to congratulate them and say cheerio. "
09:45 - The managerial appointment was confirmed at this morning's press conference with Derek McInnes(right) being awarded a two and a half year contract. Plenty of quotes from the conference as well on the Official Site with Geoff Brown saying, "After the bombshell of Owen taking up the opportunity to go to Burnley we asked Sandy to take charge of the side for Sundays cup final which he duly did. In between times the Board of Directors discussed the way forward and although we were inundated with applicants for the post we felt that the club was in a not dissimilar position to when Paul Sturrock left and that if we could appoint from within we should do so. Derek has been in the game a long time and in the eleven months he has been here he has been a superb professional. He came to St Johnstone on the understanding that he could be involved in coaching the Under 19s and reserves and that has happened. Sandy Stewart advised me on Sunday evening that he was accepting Owens offer to join him at Burnley so it was never in the equation that Sandy could be offered the job and in Derek the Board of Directors believe they are making the correct appointment."
As for the new man he said, "It has come out of the blue but I am very excited about the opportunity. The focus for the last few days has very much been on the cup final and our fans made it a fantastic occasion and Im delighted for everyone connected with the club that we won the trophy. Sandy was a strong candidate for the job but when I heard that he was leaving to join Owen at Burnley I turned my thoughts as to whether I should put my name forward for consideration for the post but before I could think about it too much I was contacted by the Chairman yesterday morning and offered the chance to take over. I am very excited by this opportunity and Im desperate to get started". He's still likely to keep playing in the short-term. Meanwhile discussions are ongoing with a contracted coach to come on board as his assistant - with the new man expected to be Arabs coach Tony Docherty. The new gaffer finished by saying, "There is not a lot wrong at this club so there doesnt need to be wholesale changes. There are aspects that I feel can be improved on but we have a fantastic set of lads in the dressing room who can take us forward. It has been great to be involved at such a good club and I cant wait to do the hard work and the hours needed to bring success here."
26th - Despite the stories all over the papers linking him to the
Saints job, Sandy Stewart(right) has
confirmed this morning that he's taken the option of joining
Owen Coyle at Burnley. Speaking on the
Official Site, the cup-winning caretaker said,"It is the hardest
decision of my footballing career particularly after yesterday
but in the end the opportunity to work down south and help Owen and the
existing staff to try and take Burnley into the Premiership is just too
great. Who knows, maybe in two or three years time Ill look back and
regret the decision but that is the chance you take and I know that Ill
regret it if I dont take the opportunity to try it out.".
He has agreed to stay until the new manager is appointed and went on, "Owen
is keen to have me down there as soon as possible but he is very aware of
the situation with Saints and is very grateful to them for the way they
handled his departure and so wont be putting pressure on me in terms
of timescales. Ill be in tomorrow to take training ahead of Saturdays
match at Firhill and unless Im told otherwise or an appointment is
made Ill take the team against Partick Thistle."
In the meantime, more videos of yesterday's action are on the Putfile Video Archive
6.30pm- The new manager will be unveiled tomorrow with a press conference planned for McD at 09.30. Latest names in the frame are former player Billy Dodds with Derek McInnes as his assistant. Mind you going by the way the Saints board works, you can't rule anyone out at this stage.
Meanwhile Paul Sheerin has been commenting on the Official Site on the first medal of his career. The Saints midfielder said, "It is the first cup win in my career which is great and to score in the final makes it that bit more special. We were excellent for the opening 30 minutes but obviously their goal lifted them a bit before half time. I think if Roccos chance had gone in just after the break rather than hit the post then it would have been all over. I thought it went a bit flat after that for 20 minutes or so but then of course they get a massive lift from their penalty and it was a bit like the Alamo for a while after that! However, we held out for what I thought was a deserved win. There was a wee bit extra pressure because you know what is at stake and of course there were a few more supporters behind the goal than normal! Paul Gallacher went the right way which always gives you a split-second of worry but it went in which is all that matters. "
7.15pm - Latest rumour doing the rounds is that Derek McInnes will be announced as manager tomorrow morning with Radio Clyde apparently leaking the news already. Again this is all just speculation and tomorrow will confirm things one way or another. I must say though that if it is McInnes then I don't think we can expect much in the way of a kick up the arse that the team currently needs - even on Sunday we almost blew the final and in recent weeks there has been a real staleness creeping into the Saints performances.
7.45pm - It's being confirmed all over the media outlets and you can expect Derek McInnes to be named as Saints manager at tomorrow's press conference. No word yet on any assistant or the makeup of the rest of the backroom team.
November 25th - So it's finally
here - the day of the final and no matter what anyone else says, this is a
national competition and it is not a diddy tournament to the 4000 Saints
fans that will be heading to Dens this afternoon. There's little real team
news with a reported knock to an unnamed player who was being assessed at
yesterday's light training session. Apart from that there's nothing more
to do than wish the lads all the best!!!
7pm - We finally went and bloody did it with goals from a Paul Sheerin penalty, Peter MacDonald andKenny Deuchar putting us three-nil up within the first half hour at Dens this afternoon before, as only Saints can, we sat back and let the Pars pull it back to 3-2 before a nailbiting finish finally saw us 3-2 winners of the Challenge Cup. Derek McInnes was the man to lift up the Challenge Cup 2007 and send the 4000 Saints fans home with as big a smile on our faces as we could hope for - it'll be a long time before the memories of this afternoon fade. Even better was the return to the first team for Kevin Rutkiewicz, Savo and Mad Mental Martin who all came off the bench.
24th - Allan McManus reckons
even losing our manager this week won't distract Saints from the biggest
game of the season tomorrow with the boys intent on winning the cup. The
Saints defender told the Courier, "It would have been absolutely
fantastic if Owen Coyle had still been in the dugout. But Im not
that naive to think he could turn down such a fantastic opportunity as
Burnley presented him with. The fact a team from the Championship came in
for him shows how highly regarded he is. He thoroughly deserved the chance
and nobody was more delighted for him than the boys in our changing room.
Any young manager getting the chance to go and try their arm in the league
below the Premiership in England would be silly to knock it back. And we
wish him well. But we are professional enough to get on and do our jobs
"This is final number four for me. Ive won one as captain of Airdrieonians and been defeated with Airdrie United by Inverness Caley and Livingston by Airdrie. Hopefully I can even that out on Sunday and make it two apiece. Ive been lucky. A lot of players far better than myself go through their careers never being involved in finals. And although this competition gets bad press at times, the bottom line is its a chance for clubs outside the Premier League to win a trophy. Challenge Cup finals have a habit of throwing up shocks and drama and all the ones Ive been involved in have been good games. Sunday should be another interesting one. It is surprising that a club this size has never won a national trophy. Theyve been to one or two finals in the past but never picked up the silverware. And last year when we might have got to a major final it was the old hard- luck story for us again. But Sunday is a chance to put that right and well be doing our utmost to bring the trophy back here. Weve got match winners, experience and have some great young lads in our side. But so have Dunfermline. I think the teams are pretty evenly balanced and itll come down to who performs best on the day. Weve had two goalless draws so far this season and something will have to give Sunday or else itll go to penalties. But with this being a cup-tie I wouldnt think either team will be holding back. I can see it being an end-to-end game, hopefully with us scoring one more than them. "
The good news for tomorrow is that following a closed-doors game midweek against Morton both Savo and Mad Mental Martin are in the squad for the game with the former in with an excellent chance of playing.
On the managerial front, there are reports in the papers today that Sandy Stewart is a target for Burnley as well to join Owen Coyle as his number 2.
November 23rd - See? I go away
for a wee rest prior to the Challenge Cup Final with a view to recharging
the batteries following Scotland's defeat to Italy last weekend and all
hell breaks loose. Sure there had been some paper talk and rumours of a
managerial vacancy at Burnley but it was nothing serious with even
Owen Coyle dismissing it as paper talk.
Or so we thought. Even as I tried to relax in the spa,
Geoff Brown were thrashing out the
compensation deal and with the English side coughing up a reported
six-figure sum to buy out Owen's 2010
contract, it all led to Thursday morning's announcement that the Saints
manager had left McDiarmid to sign a three and a half year deal at Turf
Moor. The man himself said that "I owe St Johnstone a lot because
they have been great. Leaving St Johnstone was a wrench because of
everything I have done at the football club. But as soon as Burnley came
on the scene, it was a no brainer for me and the sooner I could get down
here and get going, the better. In the end it was just too great an
opportunity to turn down and there was no chance of that happening .".
While most Saints fans have plenty of respect for
Owen and what he's achieved over the
last couple of years, there was a feeling that at times his tactics left a
bit to be desired. Added to that, results this season had failed to live
up to expectations after the semi-finals and dramatic end-of-season climax
last summer. Despite a lot of rebuilding over the summer an abundance of
draws has left us behind the leaders. Even so I think we all hoped the
manager would be there for the long haul, and I never imagined he'd be
poached by a Championship club at this stage of his career. It's hard to
argue with his decision in terms of the opportunity it present and
Geoff Brown said "Owen has
done an excellent job for us, and whether we like it or not, St Johnstone
is stepping stone. He was rewarded with a three-year contract in the
summer, but Burnley have decided to come in so, unfortunately, here we go
again. Its a bitter blow, and one that has come completely out of
the blue. There was stuff in the papers down in England last weekend and
that disappointed me because, as usual, someone had spoken to Owen before
speaking to the club. But I have no problem with Owen: from my perspective
as the chairman he has been great to deal with. And as a career move hes
probably going up the league from number 100 to number 35, so if you take
that into account we shouldnt be too disappointed. Hell need a
bit of luck if he is to succeed down there, but he certainly has the
capabilities. As we all know he has the gift of the gab, and when you have
those attributes theres not a lot to stop you. I would hope that
Owen could eventually go to clubs who are higher up the league than
Burnley. Ive worked with a lot of managers and in 21 years Ive
had contact with a lot more and there are not many Ive come across
who are better than him. Hes done a wonderful job here for us ".
And unlike the events surrounding the Sturrock departure in 1997, I
personally wish Owen all the best in the
next stage of his career.
As for a longer-term replacement, the club has invited applications but nothing is likely to be sorted out before next week, although at the same time, the club need to get a new man in soon to let him assess the squad before the January transfer window opens. It hasn't prevented the papers starting to link various people with the job hoever, with the list of names appearing on various websites and publications including the following :
Stirling gaffer and ex-Saints winger Alan Moore is one early favourite in some of the papers. A decent record with the Beanos might help him, but it's believed that he's not a favourite in the McD boardroom.
Russel Latapy has come out in the papers today and admitted his desire to move into management stating that he thought Saints was a "very good club with a good stadium and good working conditions". One added plus is that Bairn's manager John Hughes has said he wouldn't stand in Latapy's way should the chance present itself.
Graham Rix. The phrase "outside bet" springs to mind here.
Maurice Malpas - Linked by the Courier (surprise, surprise)
John Brown- Set to take over at Dumbarton but cited personal reasons for reneging on a handshake so who knows?
Jim McInally- Done well with Morton and may fit the criteria.
Jim Duffy. Twice in charge of the Scum, he at least knows the Scottish game well.
Billy Dodds. Still a popular former player and has definitely got the enthusiasm but a real lack of experience.
There's little doubt that Geoff Brown and the board are hoping to attract a surprise package with the odds likely to favour a manager getting on the first rung of the ladder. And given the situation at the club in terms of financial stability as well as the potential of the crowds and squad, we're more than likely to attract a high calibre of candidates for the job.
Of course the timing of his departure couldn't have been much worse as Saints prepare for the Cup Final. While there had been some talk of Owen being in charge of team selection, his new job takes priority and that means that Sandy Stewart (who as yet hasn't been included in the moves) is being given the caretaker role for Sunday. He's being assisted by Derek McInnes, although the latter is more than likely to take some part in the action on the park. Saints have announced though that Owen has been invited to Dens as a guest of the club to watch the cup final and "to let the Saints support show their appreciation and give the manager a proper farewell". And with Saints set to take 4,000 along the road to Scumdee, here's hoping we send him off with a victory. And for those of you stuck in foreign shores shock as the SFL catches up with the 21st century and the game has been made available online for the princely sum of £1.99 - see http://www.ScotlandFootballTV.com for details.
November 19th - OK so there
haven't been many updates in the last few day but that's because we were
all distracted by a certain game at Hampden. Now that's ended it's back to
reality. The main news dominating the papers is a possible move for
Owen Coyle as he is apparently on the
5-name shortlist for the vacant Burnley managerial job. Whilst the gaffer
has laughed off the speculation, it's been covered in most of the media
with the Championship club expected to name their new boss tomorrow.
Unfortunately the Temple won't be covering it - with a cup final to mentally prepare for it's time to skip the country - next update Friday.
November 13th - Latest coaching
theory according to manager Owen Coyle
is that a wee bit of hard work will see us back on form (preferably done
around 3pm on match days). The manager said in a cliche-ridde quote in
today's Courier, "On the evidence of the second half against
Dunfermline, it was clear we could have won the game. It was always going
to be hard because Dunfermline were up for it with everything that had
been said about them in the lead up, but we should have had two stonewall
penalties. Seeing them on the video again just vindicates what I said at
the time, but sometimes you dont get the decisions and you have to
dust yourself down and get on with it. Weve seen three games go by
which we should have won with Clyde and then Dundee awayand we all
know what happened in that oneand then Saturday again. But the
bottom line is we have to get ourselves back on track and the only way to
do that is with hard work. This isnt a break for us as such because
weve got to prepare for the Challenge Cup final which we are really
looking forward to. More tickets went on sale for that today and Im
pretty sure its going to be a sell-out from the Perth side. "
There's a bounce game against Falkirk this afternoon with a strong Saints side expected to take the field (and no doubt do some hard work into the bargain)
November 12th -
Andy Jackson was less than happy with
the result at the weekend. Speaking in today's Courier, the striker said,
"I dont think I had a chance at all. But I would say I
should have had a definite penalty, the one where Ive turned Sol
Bamba. I cant believe that one wasnt a penalty, but obviously
you get some and not others. I would rather have got the three points. It
was a good game, quite fast-flowing but there werent many chances.
Were looking to win all our home games so were really
disappointed. It feels like a defeat, especially with Hamilton winning as
well. Dunfermline are a good team but this was probably the best time to
play them "
Owen was also more intent in talking about the penalty incidents than the otherwise poor performance. He said, "I thought it was an even game, there were loads of chances at either end. I have to say that I thought there were a couple of stonewall penalties in the game. I am trying not to be biased but for the life of me I cant see why they werent given. We know that Dunfermline have a good squad of players but having said that we were looking for three points so we are disappointed and a little bit frustrated. The second half was better from us, we forced the play and had to score when we were on top. A few chances went a begging. I dont know if Deuchar impeded the lad in the first half. That was probably one of our better movesdown the left and a great cross and a great header from Kenny but the referee has deemed it to be a foul. When Bamba went through the back of Jackson, for the life of me the whole stadium and I thought that was a penalty. As it was it wasnt given and these were big turning points in the game. "
10th - Kenny Deuchar has come
out in the papers and admitted he wants to remain a Saint after his loan
spell ends at the start of next month. The striker told the Courier, "People
keep asking me what is going to happen with Gretna. The honest answer is
that I really dont know. Gretna and St Johnstone would have to sort
something out before I had a decision to make. And Gretna hold all the
cards But I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and would like to stay.
Gretna basically washed their hands of me last season then sent people to
watch me when I was at Northampton which I found a bit strange. Now its
happening again. I have been with them three years so I cant
understand why they should be sending people to watch me. They should
already know what I can do. I want to know exactly where I stand before
the end of the loan because, while I can sign here permanently before the
loan is up, I would have to go back to Gretna otherwise, even in the short
term. I realise that whats been happening there over the last few
days is taking up most of their time and they wont have been
thinking of me too much. But hopefully theyll sit down soon and
decide what they are going to do about me."
"Why would I want to leave a place where I am enjoying myself ? I love coming into work here and its great to be appreciated again. Thats what you are looking for as a footballer. You want to feel part of things and that you are contributing to the team. Thats what it is like for me at St Johnstone. Ive struck up a partnership with Andy Jackson which has been as enjoyable as it has been profitable. Jacko is great to play with. He works so hard and can turn a bad ball from me into a good one at times. Hes keen, enthusiastic and desperate to learn and because of that has been terrific to work with.".
He's looking to get back to winning ways after the last couple of games. He said, "We should have put last weeks game out of reach by half-time. We had the chances. But weve learned a valuable lesson from that. You learn more from a defeat than a win and hopefully we can take that on for the rest of the season. Me and Jacko have scored quite a lot of our goals in the last 10 games but Im sure the other boys will start chipping in sooner or later. We had a chance to nick the first meeting at the end but didnt take it. But getting them back at home now weve got to be confident of taking the three points "
6.30pm - Another dour goalless draw with the Pars did little to help our title chances as Accies won again and just as bad did even less to convince me or the other fans that the manager has managed to do anything to try and improve the recent poor run of form. Dull game with little goalmouth action and precious little real entertainment.
9th - Despite only really lacking in match sharpness,
Owen Coyle isn't planning on risking
Savo (right) against the Pars. The
manager said in the Courier, "Steven
Milne has trained away fine again so were trying to get the
Livingston game arranged for him to build it up. But even though hes
looking good in training and is a naturally fit boy I wont be
pushing him back too soon. He wont be in the squad for Saturday
because I dont want to put pressure on him before hes played a
game. Once we get 90 minutes under his belt well think about it but
until then Im going to leave him out. "
There was good news for Kevin James as well as he got permission to step up his training, while Martin Hardie is also on the way back. The gaffer went on, "Martin is about 80%, which is a lot better than he has been, but hes not ready to join in yet. However, hes having a fitness programme designed for him and Im hoping that by the middle of next week hell be ready to come back and remain pain-free. It has been frustrating for him but hes making progress and its important we manage his recovery the proper way. Kevin saw his specialist and he is pleased with the way his knee is looking and has allowed him to step up his rehab a bit. Hes still a long way away from being match-fit and I think its still going to be around Christmas at this rate before hes ready for a game. "
As for the weekend's game, despite the Pars' woeful form in recent weeks which makes a change of manager almost inevitable, Owen isn't taking them lightly. "Dunfermline impressed me during the game we played against them at East End earlier in the season. And despite their recent results they are still dangerous opponents because they have a lot of experienced, quality players in their squad. They were the title favourites in the summer and rightly so because of the way they ended last season. They have players with a lot of SPL experience under their belt so they will be hurting badly because of the past few weeks. And in football one result kick-starts things again. Weve just got to make sure it doesnt come against us."
Derek McInnes is expecting a tough game though and told the Official site, "Dunfermline are a good side as they showed against us at East End Park earlier in the season. They have had a few disappointments recently but player for player they are as good as any side in the league and are always dangerous. None of our players are being drawn into thinking that we are odds-on favourites tomorrow because of their recent results. It was a huge disappointment for us all last week and we have to use that disappointment as motivation. We had enjoyed a great run up until then and there is no reason why we can?t get another run underway starting tomorrow."
8th - Steven Anderson(right)
has promised an improvement for fans this weekend as Saints take on the
Pars. The defender is quoted in today's Courier saying, "We just
have to put the Dundee game behind us and get back to winning games
because weve some catching up to do. The good thing about last
Saturday was that we created a lot of openings. And I am sure we will
continue to create chances. Its just a matter of taking them.
Against Dundee I had a couple myself but didnt take them. Thats
life. You cant help missing chances. All you can do is try and make
sure next time you find yourself in that kind of situation you do better.
However, as a defender my objective is to stop the opposition. Scoring at
the other end isn't something I see as my main priority. My job first and
foremost is to keep goals out. ".
Owen Coyle praised him as well saying, "Steven has come on a ton over the last while. Last year he played a lot of games without perhaps considering himself to be a regular. But I said to both him and Andy Jackson in the summer that he had to come back ready to play in the team week in week out, and he has done that. "
November 6th - The refereeing
controversy from the weekend goes on and Saints have asked the SFA to
clarify the last-man rules and why Gary McKenzie wasn't red-carded for his
deliberate handball at the weekend. Owen
Coyle told the Courier, "I thought ourselves and Dundee
served up an excellent game, so the last thing you want to be talking
about is refereeing decisions. But we could have been 1-0 up and playing
against 10 men and what happened at the penalty was there for everybody to
see. Ive never seen anything like it. Somebody dives full length to
keep the ball out of the net then I am told after the game that it wasnt
a goalscoring opportunity. I went to see Iain Brines, along with our
managing director Stewart Duff, not advocating red cards but seeking an
explanation of his decision. He indicated that he felt the ball was going
to the goalkeeper. I cant say whether it was or it wasnt but
the bottom line is thiswhy would Gary MacKenzie dive full length to
save the ball with his hand if he thought the keeper was getting it? The
intent was clearly to stop the ball going in the net, regardless of
whether there were 10 people behind him. The player obviously thought the
ball was going in and thats why he did what he did. And the fact is
he prevented a goal- scoring opportunity. Any shot on target is a
goalscoring opportunity. I have phoned up Hugh Dallaswho is doing a
good job along with Don McVicar in bringing things forwardlooking
for clarification of the decision. Hopefully theyll have a look at
the situation and give us a clear indication of what the rules are and how
they should be applied. Nothing can change what happened on Saturday. But
we are all for improving the game and if something good comes of that
incident then great. ". The manager is particularly annoyed after
another refereeing blunder at Almondvale almost cost us dear. "Saturday
came on the back of three weeks ago when we scored a penalty at
Livingston, then had an indirect free-kick awarded against us for
encroachment when Id have thought the response should have been a
retake. Im just waiting for the day we actually get a favourable
decision! In fairness, refereeing is a thankless task and one I know refs
dont take lightly. But as managers and coaches all we look for is a
bit of consistency. You need be in a position where if something happens
in a game then everyone knows what the punishment will be. You have to
know that if a player prevents a goal-scoring opportunity by diving to
save the ball with his hand then it is a red card. Not a red card one week
then a yellow the next."
He went on, "I dont want that to detract from the match because both teams went out to win it. First half we were terrific and the game should have been put to bed regardless of the penalty incident. But we knew Dundee would come out fired up for the second half as they did. From my perspective we should have stood up better to that.But well take this kick in the teeth and bounce back again. The good thing is there were a lot of positives to take from the game, particularly the way we passed the ball against a very good Dundee side and created opportunity upon opportunity."
November 5th - Paul Sheerin wasn't sure why we lost as the weekend. He told the Courier, "We battered Dundee at the start but got a dose of our own medicine in the second-half. When chances fall to you, you have to take them. Kenny Deuchar and Andy Jackson have scored a barrowload recently but today they maybe only got one half chance between them. The opportunities we had fell to others and maybe the defenders and midfielders need to take on more responsibility." (so say all of us). As for the penalty, the midfielder was still confused as to why the Dundee defender didn't walk for deliberate handball. "I am not having a pop at the referee but I do find it strange he only booked the boy. Iain Brines said Sammy was behind him, but I thought the ball was going in and hes stopped a goal."
November 3rd - All four injury
worries returned to training yesterday so Owen
Coyle is optimistic they'll be available for selection. The Courier
quotes him saying, "The situation is slightly better. Some of
them are still not 100% but they did enough to suggest they should be
okay. We have no fresh injury worries. I hope that well have the
same squad that we had last week, apart from the long-term injured. I dont
think the games come any tougher in this league than Dundee away. Alex Rae
has a good team there with some very fine individual players and we know
its a very tough venue to go to. The good thing is that both teams,
whether home or away, always look to try to win the games. Well go
there and be positive and try to take the game to Dundee."
7.30pm - Paul Sheerin's penalty put us in front but poor defending and a pish last-minute winner gave the Scum the points as we crashed 2-1 at Dens with the only bright light on a dismal day being Accies defeat at Palmerston so we're no further off the pace of the leader's.
2nd - So much for yesterday's prediction with the news today a bug
has done the rounds at McDiarmid with four players sent home as
Owen Coyle(right) tries to protect the
squad. The manager should still have the same squad to pick from and told
the Courier, "Its always a great game to be involved in
with a brilliant atmosphere. Our fans always get right behind us at Dens
and well give them every effort and hopefully play our best
football. The derbies have always been keenly fought contests and Im
sure this one will be no different. Its got the makings of an
absolutely cracking game. Well give Dundee every respect because
theyre a big, strong side with some good young players. But weve
got some good players ourselves and we go out to try and win every match
we play in. This match will be no different and well be looking to
take it to them. Even though we only drew against Clyde last Saturday were
still on a terrific run of 10 games unbeaten and were determined to
keep that going. Both teams will be going all out to win this match and
thats the way it should be."
Allan McManus is also expecting a tough game after the first bruising encounter in August. "I think my nose is still moving about after that game. I got caught with a flying elbow that afternoon and Ive lost count now of how many times its been broken. Derby games are always a bit spicy but there will be nothing carried over from that match. My philosophy is what happens on the pitch should stay there and be forgotten about afterwards. Weve done really well recently. Saturday was a wee blip, but theres nothing better than a derby game to get you back on track. We know theyre a big, physical side who have been going really well and well have to be at the top of our game to beat them. Weve set high standards as individuals and a team recently and the fact that dropping two points against Clyde was seen as a crisis shows that. "
Meanwhile one ex-Saints player who might be making a surprise appearance tomorrow is Eddie Malone with the wee ned apparently being farmed out on loan by the Paisly Thugs to their Dens Park counterparts - no doubt with him and Rae in the side we'll see the sort of fair sporting contest that we always enjoy when we visit Dens.
Away from the action on the park and Saints today announced that McD is turning into a concert venue next summer with Elton John set to play on Sunday July 6th. Tickets go on sale Monday (although not from the club) priced at £40 and £60 which hopefully means a pretty decent whack of cash heading for the Saints coffers.
November 1st - With the big derby looming this weekend, there's no sign of any new injury worries. For the Scum, there are reports they are trying to line up a loan signing from an SPL side in time to face us.
Top Of News
October 30th -
Peaso is in the paper today talking
about the view from the bench. The striker is waiting on his 100th start
for Saints but has been kept on the fringe thanks to the form of
Kenny Deuchar and
Jacko. He told the Courier, "It
is frustrating not getting in the team, but Jacko has come in and done
exceptionally well. Because of that he deserves to be in the side. No one
can argue with that. If he slips up Ill be waiting in the wings, but
at the moment I cant grumble. It seems like ages that Ive been
waiting for the 100th start, but itll come. And from the clubs
perspective its a healthy situation having so many strikers to
choose from. Apart from Kenny Deuchar and Jacko, theres myself,
Dyron Daal and John Stewart, and of course Steven Milne coming back. This
is the strongest competition for striking places that Ive seen in my
time here. And over the course of the season well no doubt make use
of that. "
Savo is due to see his specialist today to hopefully get the all-clear to resume full training. Dyron Daal should also be fit for the weekend (although he's unlikely to get a start) while Andy Lawrie is still recovering from his neck injury.
October 29th -
Kenny Deuchar reckons Saturday was
just a blip in form for Saints. In this morning's Courier he said, "Obviously
Hamilton have started the season well, but we are still on a good run and
are unbeaten in the league. We have to just keep concentrating on what we
are doing, and I think we can still take positives out of the Clyde game
and look to get a good result up at Dundee next Saturday. It was
disappointing not to take all three points from a home matchthese
are games we should be winning if we are to challenge at the topbut
we did show character to come back after being a goal down. I got a break
for the goal and we had other chances. Maybe we could have snatched it,
but that perhaps would not have been fair on Clyde as they did very well
to come here and put us under pressure. At half-time, with the game tied
at 0-0, I thought we would get stronger as the game went on, and we did
get back into it nearer the end. However, we were not really at the races."
Owen Coyle was just as disappointed saying, "We started the second half poorly and lost a terrible goalit was naive defensively from us. We carried the fight after that without being fluent or passing and moving as well as have been doing. But we still looked to go and win the game. The goal we scored was fortuitous, but we had other chancesa few goalmouth scramblesand how some of them didnt hit the back of the net Ill never know."
October 27th -
Derek McInnes reckons the big
difference between the Saints side that will play Clyde today compared
with the one that lost to them earlier in the season is up front. He told
the Courier, "The most important change since then is that were
a real goal threat now. Weve shown in our subsequent games
that we can create chances and, more importantly, take themnow we
have to maintain that. Theres a bit of pace about the team which we
probably lacked last season. Gary Irvine
goes from strength to strength, and Rocco
Quinn gets up and down the pitch and carries a real goal threat from
midfield. If were going to achieve anything this season we have to
keep our home record as good as it has been, because its an
unbelievable one. I think weve only lost once in about 18 months. Its
a record thats not really spoken about, but its a great record
we have here and we want to continue it. If were at our best
tomorrow well take a bit of stopping. Everybodys working hard,
were in good form, and long may that continue. A few weeks back we
said we were capable of going on a runweve done that, but we
need to keep it going because theres a lot of ground still to catch
up. Hamilton and Dundee are going well, but theres a long way to gowere
just through the first quarter of the campaign. "
Rocco managed to train on Thursday so should start in what is expected to be an unchanged starting eleven.
7pm- Well it was a bad performance but we managed to draw 1-1 at home to Clyde thanks to a late equaliser from Kenny Deuchar. Elsewhere Accies stretched their lead to ten points but Scumdee's draw with Partick means that it's still a four point gap between us going into next weeks game at Dens.
October 26th - Saints have
announced the selling arrangements for the cup final tickets. Season
ticket holders can purchase their briefs from Monday to Thursday, from
9.30am-6.30pm, Friday, from 9am-5pm and Monday, November 5, to Friday,
November 9, from 9am-5pm, upon production of voucher number 30. They can
buy two tickets per voucher. Also supporters who received a voucher at
last Saturdays home game against Queen of the South can buy one
ticket per voucher during this time. Any tickets remaining will be on sale
at McDiarmid Park during office hours (9am-5pm) from Monday, November 12.
Tickets are priced £17 and £8 for concessions for the main stand
at Dens Park. And tickets for the Bob Shankly stand are priced £15
and £8 for concessions
Meanwhile former Saints and voodoo-victim Davie Irons is obviously feeling the heat at Gr£tna with a wee rant in the papers yesterday about how we won't get to keep Kenny Deuchar beyond the December 3rd loan deadline. While still a Gr£tna player until the end of the season, it will be interesting to see what happens if Saints make an offer for the player's services on a more permanent basis!
As for tomorrow, Allan McManus says he's not taking tomorrow's "bogey team" lightly as we look to continue our winning streak. The defender told the Official Site, "We are playing with a bit of confidence at the moment and that comes from winning games. We couldn't buy a win at the start of the season and the only answer in those situations is to work hard in training and turn things around and all the boys have been doing that and getting the desired effect. Clyde are a hard side to beat as we have found on plenty of occasions during my time with Saints but we aim to put that right tomorrow. We have a good home record but we are never complacent - when you have worked as hard as we have to get things right then you are very aware of the need to guard against the danger of assuming the run of good results will continue. Clyde's record against us will ensure that we know what we have to do tomorrow."
Kevin Moon and Dyron Daal are on the injury list so miss out tomorrow but the starting eleven should remain unchanged. There are some late fitness tests required around the rest of the squad though.
25th - There was good news on Tuesday night with a 7-0 win for the
reserves featuring the added boost of a goal and 40-minute return to
action for Savo(right). He told the
Courier, "The knee feels great. Theres no swelling, no
reaction and if wed been in this morning Id have been able to
train. Its obviously going to take a bit of time to get up to proper
match fitness but my next target is to get a full 90 minutes under my
belt. I had wanted to play 15-20 minutes of the game with Forfar last
week, but the physio told me that was too soon. But with another weeks
training under my belt I felt ready to be involved against Cowdenbeath.
The original idea was to play the last 25 minutes or so, but
Dyron Daal getting injured meant I had to
go on earlier than planned. Tuesday night was just about getting a run out
so to score within five minutes of coming on was a big bonus. I could have
got another four to be honest but the more matches I play the sharper Ill
get. ". Dyron Daal,
David Weatherston and
Jamie McCluskey were also amongst
Meanwhile, Martin Hardie is still a few weeks away from a return from his groin injury. The midfielder told the Courier, "I had been feeling the groin from the Raith Rovers Challenge Cup tie in mid August, but as it wasnt affecting me playing I kept on going. But the longer I went the worse I got and as Id learned my lesson at Kilmarnock I decided that was it. I played through an injury at Rugby Park and ended up being released at the end of the season. After the Dunfermline game I realised it was time to look after myself. Its my body and I had to take care of it. Its one thing carrying on when youve got minor injuries which dont impede you playing. Its another when you might be doing yourself harm. At Killie I had two calf injuries at the start of the season, which put me out for 10 weeks, then I developed a groin problem. I tried playing through it but I was in for two, out for two, and so it continued. Overall I started only 10 games that season and was sub for another 10 and when my contract was up in the summer Jim Jefferies let me go. That taught me that there are times when you have to put yourself first."
He's not enjoying being out though, "Thats five weeks Ive been out since the Dunfermline game. And its been disappointing, to say the least, because I dont like not playing or training. As much as you are in the dressing room with the boys, you are only there a couple of minutes to change before going to the physios room. You are missing out on so much. And I hate watching games. I am fortunate to be at a club where, when fit, the manager picks me most weeks. But Im so bad a watcher that if I was at a bigger club where I wasnt playing regularly Id have to get away. I got an injection a week past Wednesday then had a week off to recover. Now its just a case of doing some rehab work. The specialist hasnt put a date on when I might return, thatll be down to the healing process. Id like to think, though, that Ill be back taking part in training some time next week. Ive not done any physical stuff like running since the beginning of September so my fitness levels are down. But the fact I train the way I play means Ill get those back up quite quickly. I definitely wont be slacking on the training ground once I get the all clear."
23rd - Saints have announced limited edition training tops and polo
shirts will be out this weekend to celebrate the Challenge Cup Final next
Meanwhile, Owen Coyle has spoken in the Courier about wanting to sign Rocco Quinn(right) on a permanent basis. The Saints manager told the paper, "Rocco is a terrific, gifted footballer. He knows theres aspects of his game he can improve upon but hes receptive to suggestions on how he can do that. We actually tried to sign him on a permanent basis at the outset but ran out of time, hence taking him on as a loan signing until January. What happens beyond that I dont know but we are always interested in good players and he is certainly in that category. I think Rocco is really enjoying his football at this club and thats showing in his play. Its difficult for young lads at big, big clubs. And once theyve gone out and sampled first-team football elsewhere they develop a craving for it. Equally, there comes a point where the clubs have to decide whether these boys are going to play for them or not. The thing is, to play in Rangers or Celtics first-team you have to be extra, extra special. Because of the demands of having to win week in week out and of course the Champions League, gone are the days when you might have got by being half decent. But Gary Irvine has shown there can be life after you leave the Old Firm and that sometimes you have to take a step back to take two forward. Gary has been getting better every game and Im delighted with the contribution he has made to us. As far as Roccos situation is concerned though well just have to wait and see "
More good news for Saints with Savo finally on the comeback trail and stepping up his training, though the manager is adamant that he won't be rushed this time.
October 21st - Owen Coyle was happy enough with the win yesterday. The manager told the Official Site, "I was really pleased with our first half performance, I thought we were terrific. Kenny Deuchar could have had three or four goals and I couldnt believe it was only 1-0 at the interval. I thought there was a wee bit of a lull at the start of the second half before we started to pick things up again and I was pleased to see us get the second goal and there should have been more before the end". He also revealed that Rocco Quinn is fine and said, "Hell be okay. As with all head and neck injuries these days, the medical staff are quite rightly very cautious but the doctor has indicated that there is no serious injury and at this early stage he looks as if he will be fine."
October 20th -
Kenny Deuchar says he's keen to keep
up his scoring record today to keep his gran happy after becoming a cult
hero on Sky Sports. Speaking to the Courier,
the Doc said, "Obviously I
didnt know about the good doctor thing at the start
because I was playing, but my grandma told me all about it. Eventually I
thought I would send Jeff Stelling a Christmas card and I asked him if he
could mention my granny next time I scored. Now every time I score he does
it. Sky Sports came up and interviewed her and when Jeff was in Uddingston
opening a call centre with me I brought her along to meet him. Shes
happy at the moment because I hadnt been scoring for ages, so now hes
talking about her again and Im back in the good books with her again
". As for his striker partner, he was full of praise and
continued, "I knew of Andy
before I came here because we come from the same town, but I didnt
know much about him as a player. Hes grabbed his chance here and our
partnership has just taken off. It was great for me personally to get my
first goal for Saints 15 minutes into my second game at Ross County, and
Jacko laid that one on a plate for me. Things have gone on from there and
weve continued to score goals. Hes only 19 and if hes
able to score at this level at that age you can see the potential is
there. ". His loan deal expires in December and he said, "The
manager wants to keep me here and Im enjoying my football, but I dont
know whats happening between the two clubs. If Im enjoying my
football I dont want to change anything and hopefully I can keep
doing well. Its out of my hands what happens off the pitch."
Owen Coyle is expecting a tough game today and said, "Weve now got two home games coming up and well be looking to win both. We want to pick up where we left off at Livingston and get another three points on the board"
8pm - While we didn't quite match the excitement of some of the recent performances, it was another solid day at the office for the boys in blue and white with goals from Kenny Deuchar and Jacko seeing us comfortable 2-0 winners over Queen of the South. Indeed the winning margin should have been more with the only cloud marring the day being the sight of Rocco Quinn being stretchered off with what looked like a head / neck injury midway through the second-half, although it was later revealed to be minor concussion - hopefully it's not too serious with the midfielder already a major influence in our current run of form. Elsewhere and both Scumdee and Accies scored emphatic wins with the former notching up a 4-1 victory at home to Livi and the latter an impressing 5-0 gubbing of the Pars which is sure to start the shoogly-nail comments about Stephen Kenny's future at the club.
October 19th - Not much news ahead of the resumption of the league campaign tomorrow. One player certain to be missing is Steven Doris who has gone out on loan to Montrose until the end of December.
18th - Andy Jackson(right) has
signed a 2-year extension to his contract today taking him through to the
summer of 2010. Speaking of the deal, Owen
Coyle said, "It is a reward to Andy for the impact he has
had since breaking through in the opening months of the season and shows
our determination to hold onto our best young players. On top of the
recent contract extension given to Steven Anderson, it allows me a degree
of continuity as I look to the future plans for the club. Andy is a great
young prospect and he has made a great impact but he still has plenty to
learn." Kenny Deuchar and
Goran Stanic both trained today and
Rocco Quinn has returned unscathed from
U-21 duty with the national side.
More details on the Challenge Cup Final ticket allocation with 1700 season ticket holders being given the opportunity to purchase up to 2 tickets each. The rest of the 4200 allocation will be covered by 800 vouchers given out to paying customers at this weekend's QoS game. No details yet as to when the tickets will go on sale, but season ticket holders and voucher holders will be given a chance to get their briefs ahead of any general sale.
October 16th - The Saints
Official site confirmed the ticket arrangements for the cup final with
Saints getting a third of the main stand and the Bob Shankly stand (ie the
traditional away end). No word yet on when the tickets will go on sale.
Meanwhile there are doubts over both Kenny Deuchar and Goran Stanic for this weekend's visit by Queen of the South with both players still nursing knocks picked up in the win over Meadowbank. Dyron Daal is one player who might come into contention though and he's due to turn out for the reserves tonight after missing the Forfarshire Cup defeat last Friday after heading home to celebrate his birthday. He's had a disappointing season so far and Owen Coyle told the Courier, "Dyron has ability and attributeshe is just lacking confidence. He was in the team at the start of the season but wasnt scoring goals and the guys whove come in have been doing well. But if he gets his head down and things pick up for him then he can work his way back into the plans. "
October 15th - There's some initial information on the Challenge Cup Final ticket allocation on theOfficial Pars site with Saints apparently only getting 4500 tickets compared to 6200 for the Fife inbreds. It means we'll all be squeezed into the traditional away end and one-third of the main stand while the rest of Dens is given over to Dunfermline. No word from Saints yet on when tickets will go on sale but it's reasonable to assume season ticket holders will get preference.
12th - One surprising piece of news today with the Courier
reporting that Steven Anderson(right)
has been awarded for his performances with a new 2yr contract extension.
Owen Coyle told the paper, "Stevens
been improving and we think theres a lot more still to come from
him. We believe he can get better. Its unfair to say that he was
just filling in places last season because he probably ended up playing as
many games as most players, and one of his assetslike Simon Mensingis
that he can play in a number of positions. But this season he has become a
first-team regular and played to a high standard. Hes enjoyed
playing at centre-back consistently this season. Now it is up to him how
far he goes in the game "
The defender was just as happy to sign and said, "Im delighted to get this new deal, which gives me a bit of security. It will be hard because big Kev is still to come back and we have a lot of good defenders at the club. Ive learned a lot from them. The manager has been a big influence as well, as was Jim Weir who would take me for one-on-one sessions when he was a coach here. "
October 11th -
Owen Coyle states the obvious in the
Courier today with the proclamation that he wants to sign
Kenny Deuchar when his loan deal
expires at the start of December. He said, "Kenny has been in
fine form since he joined this club. I feel he has revitalised his career
whilst playing for St Johnstone. Obviously I would be interested in him
when the transfer window reopens. He has enjoyed his time at McDiarmid. We
look to bring quality players to St Johnstone and he falls into that
There's a Forfarshire Cup tie at Tannadump tomorrow so expect a few first-teamers to get a runout. "This will give me the opportunity to give 90 minutes to Peaso, John Stewart and Jamie McCluskey. Some of these players have been on the bench lately, but this will give them the chance to have a game from the start."
8th - For the first time Kenny "the
Doc" Deuchar (right) has hinted he might not stay at Saints
beyond the end of his loan spell in December. With most fans keen to see
us make the move permanent given the success of his striking partnership
with Andy Jackson, the on-loan striker
told the Hootsman, "My aim in coming to the club was to score
goals and move them up the league. If I leave in December I hope they will
continue to challenge for the title. It is out of my hands to dream of
winning a championship medal but I would like to win a Challenge Cup with
As for the penalty, it seems that the referee blew for too many players encroaching into the area but nobody knows why he didn't order a retake, with Owen Coyle simply saying, "There were a few weird incidents in the game"
6.30pm - With the club shut down for the next 2 weeks as the internationals start up, and Owen Coyle away on a coaching course, there's not too much to report on just now. The latest on the injury situation though, is that the fortnight's break should mean David Weatherston, Jamie McCluskey and possibly Martin Hardie will all be available for selection against QoS a week on Saturday - whether or not they will get into the team which has won three tough encounters over the last week remains to be seen. Kevin Rutkiewicz is already fully-fit but has been out of favour recently although according to the gaffer, the defender is still in his plans going forward
October 6th - With Accies
playing Dundee today something is going to give near the top of the
league, but Alan Main is focussing on our
game at Livi first. The keeper told the Courier, "The other
fixture is probably in the back of our minds and if we win well be
looking for that result straight afterwards. We could gain on one or both
of the teams above us but the most important thing is making sure we beat
Livingston. Things are looking a lot better. It was a great performance
against Hamilton last weekend and we followed that up with another good
win at Morton in the Challenge Cup in midweek. We should have won two or
three of the games we drew at the start of the season and thats why
were a wee bit behind. I didnt expect us to lose the goals we
did but we knuckled down and weve picked up. The strikers and
midfielders are scoring goals and were keeping it tighter at the
back. In the course of a season you get a dip in form and hopefully
weve had ours "
Andy Jackson is the major doubt for Saints and it'll be a late call whether or not he plays. Owen Coyle said, "Hes got really bad bruising on his leg. He took a knock against Hamilton last weekend and the Morton player caught him on exactly the same place. We thought the injury might be a lot worse. Its still tender but well give him every chance of making the match and Ill leave it to the last minute. "
6.30pm - A strange win today with a slow start finally paying off with a 2-0 victory at Meadowbank courtesy of Kenny Deuchar and Andy Jackson. We were awarded a penalty as well but despite Paul Sheerin scoring the referee decided to award a freekick to the defence instead of a retake. Who cares we got the points...
October 4th -
Owen Coyle paid tribute to the players
after Tuesday's result put us into our first final in yonks. After the
disappointment of two semis last season he told the Courier, "It
was a great result for us on Tuesday as Greenock is never an easy place to
go. The victory was well deserved and the final against Dunfermline should
be a fantastic occasion. Regardless of what people say about it, the
Challenge Cup is something the players desperately want to win and there
should be a great atmosphere for the final. We came close in both the main
cups last year so it is nice to get all the way to a final"
There was some better news for Andy Jackson as well. Carried off at Cappielow, it looks like he just has severe bruising on his ankle and is in with a decent shout of returning at Livi on Saturday.
October 3rd - Thanks to yet another rare blast of common sense at the SFL offices, the Challenge Cup Final date has been switched to Dens Park on Sunday November 25th with a 3pm kick-off. That means our game against the Scum scheduled for the 3rd goes ahead as normal with the Cup Final weekend already a free weekend for us and the Pars due to the byes we received for the Scottish Cup 3rd Round.
2nd - Another Challenge Cup tie so it's another interview in the
paper with Gary Irvine(right) - this
time comparing the delights of Greenock with the possibility of a trip to
the San Siro. Luckily the player opted for the joy of Saints ahead of
Sellick 2nd XI and today's Courier quotes him as saying, "I
needed to get away from Celtic to get my career moving. I still had two
years left and might have got a place on the bench for games like
Wednesday nights but you have to be realistic. I would probably have
been playing in the reserves and watching the match on the TV. Im on
a real high at the moment, enjoying my football, and St Johnstone are
doing well, which is so much better than being at Celtic and watching the
Champions League on the TV. Im going for the double. I won it last
year with Ross County, so the Challenge Cup holds good memories for me. It
was a great day when we won it at McDiarmid and a really big deal for a
club like Ross County. The competition becomes more serious the closer you
get to the final. The manager has told us straighthe wants to win it
and the players feel the same way. The team had great success in three
competitions last season but came out of it with nothing to show for it.
Were desperate for silverware and the Challenge Cup would be a good
start. The mentality here is about winning every game. "
Saturday's win has set us up nicely with the defender probably most folks Man of the Match. "It was a great result on Saturday and was just what we needed. Everything seemed to click and it was probably the best game Ive played in for passing and movement. After the match the manager said to us that we cant let our standards slip from that level and I think its a performance we can build on. I was going from reserve football at Celtic, where you get more time on the ball and players sit off you, to much more frantic and competitive football. I feel Ive got used to it and my match fitness has improved as well. I played a lot as a wing-back at Celtic so Ive been used to getting up and down the pitch and doing my bit in attack, which is an important part of my game ."
Owen Coyle isn't taking any chances tonight and said he'll field as strong a team as possible and said, "Opportunities to get to a cup final dont come round all the time. Morton will present a difficult obstacle and Im sure it will be a great cup tie with no shortage of excitement for the fans.". Rocco Quinn is the only doubt from Saturday's side.
11.30pm - Finally Saints managed to dump a few hoodoos with a deserved semi-final win over Morton on their own patch with the game even managing to finish in the regulation ninety minutes. The final score was 3-1 to Saintswith goals from Andy Jackson, Peaso and Rocco Quinn although Jacko's participation was curtailed as he was carried off (usual Cappielow stretchers) after 27 minutes with a bad ankle injury following a nasty challenge from Wetherston. It was the only cloud on the night though as Owen's boys lined up what looks likely to be a cracking final against the Pars on Sunday November 4th. The Fifers beat Ayr in the other semi-final by a single goal. Oh aye and let's hear it for Radio Scotland who spent most of the last hour of their programme talking up the TFOD win in the Diddy league with barely a mention for our result - bit of a change from last season when they seemed more than happy to cover our wee games when there were no glamour Euro ties eh?
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
1st - Paul Sheerin(right) is
officially the penalty king after his fifth of the season and the
revelation in today's Courier that it's been a year since he scored from
open play. The scorer of the first goal in the win over Accies said, "Its
coming up to a year since I scored in open play so it would be nice to
step up and score a few more but Im happy to keep scoring them from
the spot. We got one penalty in the league last year and I managed to miss
it so its always in the back of your mind youre going to miss
one again at some stage but youve just got to keep stepping up.
Occasionally, Ill get a wee bit of stick that its all
penalties and I cant score anything else but Ill just be
patient and so long as everybody else is scoring Im quite happy "
As for the victory, he went on, "It was massive for us today because they are so good at home. Not many teams will beat them there and for them to open up a gap would have been huge so it was the proverbial six pointer for us today. If we go 14 points behind them its going to be difficult with their home form being so good but it puts us back to eight points which is something to go and chase now. Obviously we left it a bit late last season and we know in this league if teams get a run of results its hard to then claw them back, which we found out to our dismay last year. Hamilton have started well this year and now weve got a bit more time than we had last year when we were 15 points behind in January, so if we can manage to get a string of results together hopefully we can manage to hang onto their coat-tails. Weve managed to re-group after a bad start "
Owen Coyle was just as happy with the result. "We stressed at half time we had to keep on believing in what were trying to do, passing and moving the ball wide and getting crosses in and we did that and started the second half tremendously. I dont think there could be any argument about the outcome. It cuts the gap and I thought my players showed enormous courage and character because the bottom line is we were sitting there looking at being 14 points behind but theyve shown the commitment and gone out in the second half and reduced it to eight. "
Top Of News
September 30th - Andy Jackson admitted to the Sunday Mail that there was a real incentive to win yesterday - a certain tea-lady. The two-goal hero said, "There was no way we could have lost on her final game. She has been here nearly 30 years and wouldn't have been happy. The gaffer told us to make sure she left with a smile on her face and we didn't want to cross her by getting beat ". Owen Coyle said, "I told the players Aggie was going and we had to send her on the way with a win. The thought of her going without one scared them. This was our best display of the season by far "
September 29th -
Derek McInnes reckons that the
retirement of after today's game is all the motivation the players need to
give her a good send off. He told the Courier, "It would be nice
to win this game for Aggie. You have to
respect anyone who gives a club the length of service shes given
this one. She is synonymous with St Johnstonewhen people in the game
think of Saints, Aggie immediately comes to mind. She will miss this
place, and everyone here will miss her. Hopefully we can beat Hamiltonnot
just for ourselves, but to send her off on a winning note too. This is a
fixture weve been looking forward to for a couple of weeks. Hamilton
are flying high, but its an opportunity for us to claw back some of
their lead. Early in the season though it still is, we cannot afford to
let them get too far away from us. Theyve started terrific and
deserve credit for that. With their home record theyll take some
stopping, thereforewhen we do come up against themits
important we win the games. I dont think weve got back to the
level we were at towards the end of last season often enough so far.
Individually, and as a team, weve not matched the standards we set
then. But weve a good home record ourselves and are starting to
score a few goals again. Were more than capable of winning the game
and going on the kind of run they have to drag ourselves back up there. Weve
improved over recent weeks, and theres more to come."
More bad news for Saints yesterday with the traditional pre-match training injury. This week is was the turn of David Weatherston who had to have an X-ray after spraining his ankle - so guess who misses out today. Mad Mental Martin and Jamie McCluskey are definitely out as well but Rocco Quinn and Derek McInnes should return, with Peaso set to appear on the bench.
7pm - After going behind, an outstanding second-half performance saw goals courtesy of a Paul Sheerin penalty, one from Kenny Deuchar and a brace from Andy Jackson as we gubbed Accies 4-1 to move up to third place in the league.
September 28th - More praise for
his strikers in the Courier today (as well as others) from
Owen Coyle (which no doubt has nothing
to do with a Gretna manager trying to mend bridges with a certain medical
man). The gaffer said in the paper, "Kenny
has done really well and Andy has been
a tremendous foil for him. Theyve got seven goals between them in
four games and long may that continue because its given everyone a
lift. The lads at the back have taken heart from the fact these two are
getting among the goals and that if they keep it tight we have a scoring
threat. We had been controlling a lot of games without putting them to
bed. Now were scoring the goals we need. Its not just up
front, though, that Im seeing encouraging signs.
Gary Irvine had a little settling-in
period but has improved from week to week since then and taken his game to
another level. And I thought Goran Stanic,
who is important to the way we play, gave an improved performance in the
Challenge Cup win over Brechin. "
Tomorrow is the toughest game yet with high-flying Accies coming town unbeaten and on the back of a win over Killie midweek. The manager went on, "Hamilton arent leading the league by accident, theyre there on merit. They are a good side, as was borne out the other night when they beat Kilmarnock in the cup. For our part, though, well be looking to continue our recent improvement. Weve had three wins and two draws from the last five matches, now we are aiming to add another victory to that. Were without some good players, but I believe weve still got the resources to win this game. "
In terms of team selection, Andy Jackson has a minor knock and Mad Mental Martin misses out but Owen did have some good news. "Peaso is back training, Rocco Quinn we are hopeful will train Friday and Derek McInnes should be OK". Elsewhere and youth striker Neil McCallum has joined Forfar on a three-month loan deal.
Finally though it's the end of an era tomorrow as Nemesis of Souness and Tea Lady to the stars, Aggie Moffat(right) retires after the game.It just won't be the same around McD.
September 27th - Owen Coyle wasn't exactly overjoyed after Tuesday night's win especially with the way we eased up in the second-half. The manager told the Courier, "Some of the passing and movement and great goalsand we could have had moremeant I was delighted with the first half. But you can get a bit comfortable in these situations and I wasnt best pleased with the second half because of the standard we set, and we lost the kind of sloppy goal we shouldnt be leaking before the game petered out. ". There was some individual praise though and he continued, "We had injuries but Kevin Moon would have played anyway because he is a good player who has been showing up well. David Weatherston still has a lot to learn but he scored his first goal and made another two and has some terrific attributes. And as a strike pair Andy Jackson and Kenny Deuchar have been terrific. Theyve worked well together and scored seven goals in the last four games, so long may that continue. "
25th - Kevin Moon(right) looks
like getting a starting jersey tonight in the centre of midfield in place
of the injured Derek McInnes. His
first start was in the CIS cup defeat but Mooner is hoping to do better
tonight. He told the Courier, "I didnt really feel as if I
did myself justice against Partick. It was a bit of a thrill getting my
first start, but the result was disappointing. At the start of the season
all I wanted was to be more involved and its really encouraging that
there are so many young players in the team.
Andy Jackson and I came through
together and Im really happy that hes taken his chance.
Hopefully we can make further progress in the cup and Ill get more
chances to show what I can do.
Owen Coyle is also hoping the 20yr old does well. He said, Theres no doubt that Kevin has the ability, he said. Now its up to him to take the opportunity, just like Andy Jackson has. Our focus is very much on this game and both teams want to progress to the semi-final. Yes there will be changes and little continuity in the sides, but there will be players there that can win games.
The final lineup isn't known yet but don't expect many of the injury victims to be risked. Kevin Cuthbert will start in goal.
11.00pm - First half goals from Kenny Deuchar(2), Andy Jackson and David Weatherston saw us cruise to semi-finals before a flat second-half in a 4-1 win over Brechin City. That means another nice wee trip to Greenock next Tuesday for the semi-final.
24th - Alan Main was disappointed
at losing two goals at the weekend. In today's Courier, he pointed fingers
at the defence and said, "For the first, the guy Templeman
dummied it and our two centre backs went with the dummy and it fell for
Russell. He took a touch and finished it well but I think its
disappointing defending in that area of the pitch in that we could have
cleared it. I pulled off a couple of saves but Im perhaps a bit
disappointed with the second goal. I set the wall and if the wall stays as
big as it can then it hits it. However, it was straight through the wall
and as its coming through its taken a deflection off
Goran Stanic. I got a wee touch to it
and maybe I should have saved it but hes hit it really well. Im
adamant that if the wall had stayed big we wouldnt have conceded
that goal. "
Owen Coyle was pleased with the performance not the result. "Anyone watching the game must have enjoyed it, it was end-to-end and both teams went all out for the win. I was disappointed with the defending at the first goal but I thought we reacted very positively. The ref has a difficult job but I thought the whole stadium could see it was a stonewall penalty when Andy Jackson was brought down at 2-2 and if wed scored then wed be going away with the three points. Were not any worse off than we were before the game but obviously we missed an opportunity to close the gap "
5.30pm - Expect some enforced changes for tomorrow night's Challenge Cup quarter-final (leccy bill payments permitting). Kevin Rutkiewicz, Derek McInnes and Rocco Quinn have apparently joined the injured list, while Jamie McCluskey is also very doubtful. That means some of the youngsters get a chance although hopefully there will be no danger of Owen taking the game lightly especially with the prospects of another bloody encounter at Cappielow for the victors.
Gary Irvine(right) is hoping to get a win tomorrow after getting a winners medal in the tournament while on loan at ross co last year. He spoke of his part in Morton's game as well in an interview on the Official Saints site. He said, "It was a good game to play in and a share of the points was probably about right. Morton are a good side with some quality players and big Chris Templeman is a handful for anybody. He offered them a lot as a target man and was good at holding onto the ball, very much like Kenny Deuchar does for us. We were disappointed to lose the goal from the free kick, a little deflection helped take it over Alan's hand. We want to win any competition we enter and the Challenge Cup is no exception. Personally speaking, it would actually be a nice double for me as I won the Challenge Cup last season with Ross County when we beat Clyde in the final in Perth and I would be delighted to experience a day like that again. McDiarmid Park has actually been a lucky ground for me in that respect -the final against Clyde last season was held here and I also won the Scottish Youth Cup for Celtic in the final which was also at McDiarmid Park."
As for his form since his move from Parkhead, he said, "It is a quite a step up from SPL reserve football to the First Division although having had time on loan with Ross County last season I was aware how quick and frantic it can be in this league, you certainly don't get much time on the ball. However, I'm starting to get used to it again and feeling more comfortable with each passing game. I'm learning the strengths and weaknesses of my team mates and they are doing the same with mine. I have grown up as an out and out defender but I do like to get forward and I'm fortunate that I am quite fit and can get up and down the park. It is an area of my game I am keen to progress."
September 22nd -
Andy Jackson will start up front at
Cappielow again today and told the Courier how much he's relishing finally
getting a chance. The striker said, "I joined the club as a young
lad but got my chance early on from John Connolly. I was getting 15
minutes here and there as a sub and then I went out on loan to try to
develop my game. So I have had to wait, but this might just be my big
opportunity and I am determined to take it. It is especially enjoyable
playing alongside Kenny as he is so experienced and I am learning all the
time from him. It was nice to hear he has said some good things about me
as that can only help my confidence. I got my first senior goal against
Ross County in the Challenge Cup a couple of weeks ago and it was great to
then get the start against Partick. Hopefully the team can keep winning
when we go to Morton and I can get another goal. We seem to be doing a bit
better than we were earlier in the season, and if we do win this one I
think we can say we are making solid progress. "
Jamie McCluskey has joined the potential absentee list after an ankle injury in training. Owen Coyle told the Courier, "We do have a lot of injuries but we will approach the game in a positive manner. Morton are a good, strong team from a football town and will have a big crowd behind them, but we are looking to get the three points. "
7pm - Saints move up one place after a great 2-2 draw at Cappielow. After going one down Andy Jackson drew us level with his first league goal for Saints before Paul Sheerin gave us the lead before the spot. Morton levelled with a cracking long-range freekick but we had chances to win it at death.
21st - More injury worries for Saints look set to impact who makes
the trip west to Greenock tomorrow. According to the Courier,
Mad Mental Martin and
Peaso are definitely out while
Rocco Quinn is a doubt after getting a
knock in training. Added to that Dyron Daal
and Alan Main are both suffering from
illness and are also doubtful. Owen Coyle
told the Courier, "Well assess the situation tomorrow.
Hopefully Roccos injury wont prove to be too serious and Alan
and Dyron will be able to take part in training. ". As for the
game, he went on, "Weve got a few good results to build ona
draw at Dunfermline, a win at Ross County and a win against Partick
Thistle and were looking to gain some momentum. Like every
other match in the first division, this will be a tough one "
Not much more in terms of squad news but Willie Dyer definitely won't be heading to Greenock after joining Brechin on a one-month loan deal. Owen Coyle said, "Willie needs games and he'll feature for them tomorrow against Airdrie United. We'll review things after the month is up."
Meanwhile Derek McInnes(right) is looking for a return to his old stamping ground at Cappielow (and hopefully less of the treatement he received from Saints fans last weekend). The midfielder said, "Morton are a great club and I have a lot of affection for them. I still try and watch them as often as I can with my son. You can't play for a club for 9 years and not have a soft spot for them. There are a lot a great people still at Cappielow who were good to me and I'm looking forward to seeing them. I think we have looked stronger in defence in recent weeks and it has been good to see the strikers get amongst the goals in the last couple of games. Morton's home record will be crucial to their progress this season and I know how influential they can be but Saints are one of the clubs capable of going down there and getting a win and we have to impose ourselves on them from the start."
September 20th - The big news
today was that if we manage to keep the lights on long enough to satisfy
Tayside police *and* beat Brechin the joy of another away draw for the
semi-final will await us as a trip to Morton came out of the hat this
afternoon for the game to be played on the 2nd or 3rd of October. Still
it's not like we lost to them there in the same tournament last season did
If nothing else though, it certainly makes this weekend's trip to Greenock a bit more exciting.
September 18th -
Dr Goals is upbeat ahead of tonight's
quarter-final match against Brechin. Speaking in the Courier, he said,
"It is always good to get into a winning habit and hopefully we
can get through to the semis. This cup has not exactly been a good
tournament for me because when I made my senior debut for Falkirk at
Stranraer we got knocked out, then last year with Gretna we lost to Ross
County after extra time. But thats two victories and a draw I have
been involved in now with Saints so its going well. I want to win
every game I play in and if there is a trophy for us at the end of this
then that would be great. It is a good draw at home and I am relishing the
chance of playing at McDiarmid Park again. It is always good to get on the
scoresheet early when you come to new club and Ive managed a couple
of goals "
Only the main stand is open tonight with admission pegged at a tenner for adults and fiver for concessions.
There are strong rumours that we are interested in bringing back out-of-favour Simon Mensing from Motherwell, while Dyron Daal may be about to go out on loan (which seems a strange one).
9pm - Well that was a fun evening with a lighting problem in the Main Stand meaning that most of us barely got into the car park to queue up before the game was postponed 5 minutes before kick-off. The game has been re-arranged for next Tuesday 25th at 7.45pm (Tayside Polis permitting). Anyway the official statement from Chief Exec Stewart Duff said, "We are extremely disappointed. Unfortunately, a set of lights in the West Stand tripped. We would never compromise in the area of health and safety and we certainly felt that the lighting was more than sufficient for the game to go ahead. We offered to relocate supporters to the East Stand but this was an option not taken up by the Match Commander. Supporters have been denied a game we felt should have been played and the Club wishes to apologise to the supporters who had made the effort to get to the game only to be left disappointed"
September 17th - Scorer of the second goal against Partick, Rocco Quinn(right) was happy with his performance. He told the Courier, "Ive not scored one of them for a while, so it was nice to get that one today. The manager wants me to be more of an attacking threat, and weve been working on that in training. At 2-0 up that should be that, but weve let them back in, and from then on weve probably become a bit nervous, a bit shakybut we saw it out and got the three points, and thats all that matters. Thats the monkey off our back. Im delighted to be playing games. Its what I need. Im at an age where I need to be playing games, and Im delighted to come here and play. This is the last year of my contract, so its a massive year for me. I spoke to the gaffer (Gordon Strachan), and to Tommy Burns as well, and they had such good things to say about Owen Coyleand thats what swung it for me, basically. Its all about challenging myself, and the gaffers given me the chance to do that here. Im here to do a job for St Johnstone, and thats all Im focusing on just now. I know what a good footballing side we can be we do it in training every daybut we have to show it out on the park."
September 16th -
Owen was happy enough after the win and
told the Sunday Mail, "It was a tight game, not a lot of
goalmouth chances if the truth be told. There was a nervousness about us
but that's understandable after drawing matches we should have won. The
game had gone flat and that's why I introduced
Weatherston. He gave us the
impetus in wide areas. After conceding a goal we gave ourselves a nervous
last five minutes but the important thing was we got the monkey off our
back with our first league win and hopefully we can start climbing the
Meanwhile goal hero Kenny Deuchar was just as happy. "I'm delighted with our first league win of the season. It's my first game for the club at McDiarmid Park so it's a great start and good to make an impact. It was great to get our first victory but it was a bit tight towards the end. Scoring goals is what it's all about for me. I may not be the best in the world but it's all about scoring goals "
September 15th -
Mad Mental Martin is now "very
doubtful" for this afternoon's match with Partick while
Andy Lawrie are both out.
Goran Stanic should play though.
Steven Anderson knows what we need to
do to win the game though, and told the Courier, "The last few
weeks weve done well defensively, but theres still room for
improvement The clean sheets have been welcome, but we need to be winning
games. We cant afford for the gap between ourselves and the top to
grow. Thistle will be tough but we want to get back at them for putting us
out of the CIS Cup. "
7pm - It wasn't the prettiest game but in the end goals from Kenny Deuchar and Rocco Quinn sealed the points in a 2-1 win over Partick with Saints running out deserved winners.
September 13th - Saints have plenty of injury problems ahead of the Partick match this weekend. Mad Mental Martin hasn't trained for 2 weeks while Andy Lawrie hasn't managed a session this week (cue loads of witty remarks about how it won't affect his game). And to add to the fun and games Peaso and Goran Stanic are both doubtful after a training ground collision. Still at least Kevin Rutkiewicz is back.
12th - Andy Jackson(right) is
in the Courier today talking about his first league start on Saturday.
With the manager set to keep faith in the strikers that won at Dingwall,
he said, "It was about time.Id a chance against Clyde
the other week that I should have done better with so it was good to get
the goal up at Dingwall. And now I want to retain my place in the team and
continue scoring. Owen Coyle said to me at the end of last season I just
had to keep on doing what I had been and hopefully Id be playing. So
I just got my head down believing that eventually my chance would come.
When I heard, during the summer, that the manager had signed Dyron Daal I
was a bit concerned. But hes been true to his word and now its
up to me to keep my place. It was good playing up front with Kenny Deuchar
against Ross County and the gaffer told us he kept us on for the full game
because wed done so well which is encouraging, especially
considering hed three strikers sitting on the bench that night. Im
only 19 and have a lot still to learn. And when Steven Milne comes back
thatll be us with seven strikers so competition here will be fierce.
But the gaffer says whoever is playing well will play, so its in my
own hands. "
Mad Mental Martin is still a doubt this week and two new arrivals in the treatement room are apparently Jamie McCluskey and Andy Lawrie
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
September 11th - There's not
much happening with the internationals on just now but
Owen is already planning for Saturday's
visit of Partick to Saints. It looks like the new strike partnership of
Kenny Deuchar and
Andy Jackson will start up front and
the gaffer told the Courier, "Outwith their goals, I thought
Deuchar and Jackson were terrific for us at Ding-wall. Kenny led the line
well against Dunfermline and stepped up on that effort last week, while
Andys work ethic is second to none. The young lad will chase pigeons
for you. Were just trying to add a bit of guile to his game to make
sure he gets the goals to go with his play. Ive said all along that
I want the strikers to make my mind up over which of them is in the team
and the way they do that is by scoring. Deuchar and Jackson have obviously
staked their claim. "
The injury situation is also easing with Kevin Rutkiewicz, Goran Stanic and Mad Mental Martin all back in action this week while Willie McLaren played the full 90 minutes against East Fife in last Friday's friendly (the result of which we won't mention here....)
September 7th - Saints have
confirmed they're expecting a massive crowd for the Challenge Cup Quarter
final with the news that admission prices have been pegged at a tenner for
adults and a fiver for concessions with only the Main Stand open for the
Elsewhere and the away kit is officially launched today with Debenhams playing host at 2.30pm. No doubt the players won't be hanging round too long though with a friendly pencilled in for New Bayview tonight against East Fife with a 7.30pm kick-off.
September 6th -
Owen was finally happy that the strikers
broke their duck in last night's cup win. He told the Record, ""I'm
always vocal on the sidelines as manager, just as I was as a player.
Hopefully, that enthusiasm rubs off on your players. I dare say it might
be a pain in the backside to some but it's just me. I love the game. I'm
very satisfied with the performance and the result. I thought we scored
two very good goals and, equally, their keeper had a couple of great
Saints finally got a home cup tie and a decent draw at that with the boys set to play host to Brechin in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup. The game is set for Tuesday 18th at 7.45pm.
5th - Paul Sheerin(right) has
managed to stick his head above the parapet after his miss at the weekend.
The midfielder told the Courier, "We have got to get back amongst
the goals and start turning draws into wins. And as far as the position we
find ourselves in is concerned, theres no bigger sinner around than
myself after Sunday. I should have scored. I was too deliberate. I saw the
keeper divingtrying to read my shotso I opened my body and
tried to place it in the opposite direction instead of hitting the target
and seeing what happened. It was a terrible miss. "
Of course he's not the only sinner and with no goals in our last 300 minutes of football, the pressure is mounting. He went on, "It doesnt matter how a goal comesa ricochet off someones backside would dojust as long as we can get the tide to turn. Against Clyde we created a lot of chances. Against Dunfermline we didntand thats a wee concern. If you create lots of opportunities then the goals will eventually come. However, big Kenny Deuchar came in on Sunday and did well for us, and Im confident it will turn for us. The recent programme has been demanding but, hopefully, if we get a good result at Dingwall the gaffer will be kind to us and give us Saturday and Sunday off. Were under no illusions about hard itll be up there, but we need a win. "
The Cat seems set to start tonight.
09:45pm - Goals from Kenny Deuchar and Andy Jackson got us through in a 2-0 win at Dingwall with the strikers not only scoring but the game finishing in 90 minutes to put us into the quarter-finals of the cup.
September 4th -
Owen still seems to have plenty of faith
that things will improve this season, especially on the goalscoring front.
The Saints manager told the Courier, "Theres a fine line
between winning and whats been happening to us this season. We just
have to keep on banging at the door and it will open for us. If the gap
between ourselves and the top was as it is with five games left then that
would be a big concern, but theres 31 games to go. Weve had a
couple of shut-outs now, and just need a goal to get us up and running. We
have to go on a run though and close it. You only have to look at the fact
Ross County put Dundee out in the last round and were unlucky to lose in
the CIS Cup to Dundee United to realise this is another tough game for us.
But against Dunfermline our workrate was incredible, and we defended with
our lives. We just need a goal to go in for us to kick start things "
Saints have plenty of injury worries for tomorrow's trip up north. Kevin Rutkiewicz, Goran Stanic and Mad Mental Martin are all doubtful, while Rocco Quinn is away on duty with the Scotland U-21s. There may also be a surprise change between the sticks and the manager went on, "Kevin will be very frustrated at the moment becauseday in, day out in training he has been outstanding. Well have a look at whether to bring him in for the cup tie. "
September 3rd -
Owen spoke to the Courier about the
goalless encounter yesterday and especially the
Paul Sheerin miss. The manager said,
"If I had handpicked someone to run on to that chance it probably
would have been Paul Sheerin. It was a
magnificent chance, I have to say that. I think he was trying to be really
deliberate with it and find the top corner but ended up putting his foot
through the shot. The whole stadium thought it was going to be a goal but
he will pick himself up. "
As for the rest of the game and the current third-bottom spot we occupy in the table, he went on, "Ordinarily a point at East End Park would be deemed a good one but we are playing catch-up after drawing so many of our games. Hamilton have been terrific and Dundee are going well, but the season lasts for 36 weeks and I am confident we will improve. "
September 2nd - Another lacklustre seventy minutes capped off with a decent closing twenty minutes still saw Saints drop points today although the Pars' goalscoring capabilities were just as poor as we witnessed a goalless draw at East End Park. Debuts for Kenny Deuchar and Rocco Quinn but it was Paul Sheerin who was the biggest culprit missing a simple sitter in the final minute. And we didn't even climb the bloody table.
1st - Confirmation that we signed 22yr old Celtic midfielder
Rocco Quinn on loan until Xmas before
the transfer deadline last night. The right-sided player starred for
Killie last season and the move to McDiarmid may become permanent if
everything goes well. Owen told the
Courier, "Ive been looking to get Rocco all summer and Im
delighted that its happened as there was interest from Premier
League clubs. Well look at him training tomorrow before
deciding if hell be in the squad at Dunfermline on Sunday. "
Saints also turned down a bid for Mad Mental Martin from Accies yesterday.
Kenny "Doctor Goals" Deuchar(right) is in the squad for tomorrow's game and he told the paper he's looking to get amongst the goals (a novelty for strikers wearing the Sacred White this season, "Theres pressure in football all the time. Its on the defenders not to concede them and on the forwards to score them. I enjoy the pressure thats placed on me and I feel I do better with it. This is a big challenge and Im really looking forward to it. I just want to play and score goals. Thats all you want to do as a striker. Hopefully by the time December comes round well be near the top of the league. I scored the last time I played at East End Park so hopefully I can do it again. Ive also played a few times at McDiarmid Park without losing and Ill be looking to continue that as a St Johnstone player ". He also talked about how the move came about and said, "I thought I would have to stay there when I wasnt allowed to move in the summer when Gretna were looking for a substantial transfer fee and the manager Davie Irons said he wanted me for the Premier League. But at the start of the week he told me St Johnstone were interested and said it was up to me if I wanted to go. When a manager says that to you the only decision to make is that youre going to go. Ive declined to comment too much about what happened last year. All Im prepared to say is we didnt get on. I wasnt even getting to play in the reserves. But when I went on loan to Northampton I scored a few goals and helped them climb the table. League One in England is a step up from the first division in Scotland. I learned a lot in those three months. "
Owen confirmed that the move may become permanent as well. He said, "Kenny had other offers so Im delighted weve managed to get him. We dont have a target man and hes a proven goalscorer with a great track record. "
Top Of News
August 31st -
Kenny Deuchar arrived this morning and
the on-loan striker goes straight into the squad for Sunday's trip to East
End Park. Owen said, "In my
time with the club we've not had a target man as such and in Kenny we now
have such a player who is also a proven goalscorer. He leads the line well
and hopefully he can help to kick start our season. It's not just down to
him though, that wouldn't be fair. The team as a whole has to be doing
better in all departments, most obviously goal scoring, and I'm sure Kenny
can help in that respect. I try to target players who believe that they
have something to prove - Kenny dropped out of things at Gretna for
whatever reason at the start of last season but then led the line well in
what is a tough division for Northampton Town in the second half of last
The deals keep on coming with the latest player linked to a move before midnight tonight is Celtic midfielder Rocco Quinn possibly set to come on loan until Xmas. The 20yr old is another of their youth squad who seems unlikely to make the breakthrough but had a spell on loan at Killie last season. He's an attacking midfielder that can double as a striker.
Steven Anderson and Kevin Rutkiewicz both have knocks but should train today and make the game on Sunday.
August 30th - With the club
basically keeping their heads down as the flak flies following Tuesday's
cup defeat, the bad news keeps on mounting. Kevin
James reportedly faces four months on the sidelines following his
operation on Monday night. That's about it as far as Saints news is
concerned just now and with the transfer deadline fast approaching at
midnight tomorrow we can only hope the management have some irons in the
fire otherwise it's going to be a long season.
7pm - Owen's finally stuck his head over the parapet today to give the players (including the "strikers") his backing - which kind of reduces the hope of any signings before midnight tomorrow. Speaking on the Official Site of the Partick shambles, he said, "The first half was a scrappy affair which Thistle shaded but from the hour mark onwards we were a much better outfit (that'll be when we brought some decent strikers on) and we created numerous opportunities. We scored what I thought was a perfectly good goal through Steven Anderson and I have to commend the spirit of and endeavour of the players for battling on after that disappointment. It was disappointing to lose the penalty shoot-out but there were a lot of positives to take from the final 30 minutes of regulation time and extra time. We just have to get the goal scoring touch on the end of some of the football that we are playing." Speaking of the squad, he said, "I have complete faith in the players I have getting into their stride. As an experienced striker myself, I know only too well that you can go through periods where you wonder where the goals are going to come from. Then one will go in off your knee or your backside and that is enough to get you back into the scoring way." No word on any signings although some moves are apparently ongoing but with the club already talking about emergency loans and free agents, you have to question if any new faces will arrive.
As for the skipper, it's been confirmed he's out for 3-4 months after his knee op. He's got a brace on his knee for 2 weeks and then 4-6 weeks with another looser brace before he can even contemplate returning to training.
10pm - Talk about speaking too soon. Saints tonight signed Gr£tna striker Kenny Deuchar on loan until December under the emergency loan rules (no me neither). The 6ft 3 27yr old striker has been a fringe player as Gr£tna showed how loyal they'd be to the guys that got them to the SPL and apparently if everything works out ok, the move could become permanent. The gaffer said, Im pleased to have secured Kennys services as I believe he will give us an option we dont currently have up front. He will play with us until December and we will see what happens from there. A permanent transfer cannot be ruled out if all parties found it acceptable.
28th - Saints head to Firhill tonight still searching for a
90-minute win this season. Mad Mental
Martin(right) is even willing to have a go up front if required.
Speaking in the Courier, he said, "I wouldnt mind a shot up
front. Its no secret that since we lost the power of Jason Scotland
weve been a bit lightweight in that area. I know we have signed
Dyron Daal but he is more of a touch
player than a target man. When Jason played we knew he wouldnt be
winning headers. But equally we knew that if the ball was played into his
feet he was so strong hed hold on to it and bring other players into
it. Thats something weve got to find. Weve got three or
four players who are rather similar, small and wiry. Perhaps they need
someone to feed off. Whether thats me or someone else is up to the
manager but Ive played up there for every team Ive been at and
would do it again because someone is going to have to step up to the
plate. One way or another we have to get back to scoring. Jason got 25
goals I think last season and his departure has left a big void. We are
also without Savo (Steven Milne) who got 10 despite playing only a third
of the season. Its up to the people here now to fill the hole thats
there. The manager has tried a few combinations without finding the right
pairing. We need somebody to show the gaffer that hes the man to
fill Jasons boots. Maybe the players whove come here think well
create a vast number of chances.But the reality is that if chances
come along we have to put them in the back of the net. And if one gets
missed then the next one has to be tucked away. "
That's echoed by his manager who said, "The harsh fact is that after five games our strikers have one goal between them. Theyve all had opportunities to play and score but its not happened for us. Id be more concerned if we werent creating chances. However, we need people to fill the strikers jerseys and at this moment in time thats not happening ". And it doesn't get any easier with David Weatherston, Kevin Rutkiewicz and Peaso all doubtful with various minor injuries.
11pm - What can we say about tonight - another spineless, heartless performance as we lost 5-4 on penalties to Partick after 120 minutes of sparse entertainment. Still it's only a diddy cup innit?
August 27th - With the transfer
window due to close in 5 days, there seems to be some sign of at least one
signing at Saints this week with Karim Kerkar rumoured to have all
but signed (well according to the Retard anyway)...although as always, the
club are saying nothing. Hopefully more will become clear as the day
progresses. Don't expect Imrie to come though with the midfielder
apparently set to stay at Clyde until his deal runs out in January.
8pm - So much for the new faces with Karim Kerkar deciding against a move to Perth. Owen told the Official Site, "We had shaken hands on a deal to bring him to Saints but unfortunately, after he had returned home to France and discussed it with his wife, he has told me that he has opted to remain in that country." The gaffer is looking for the current squad to get the finger out and start earning their wages tomorrow night. Well he didn't phrase it quite like that but said, "The only thing that is going to turn things around for us is more hard work. It's obvious that it was our failure to score from some great chances on Saturday that was our downfall and the strikers have to be brave enough to just get on with it, get themselves into scoring positions again and deal with what happens from there. The chances at Broadwood were not just half chances ? they were unbelievable misses but I am absolutely confident that the strikers I have got can and will turn it around."
It's not looking good for David Weatherston tomorrow either with his ankle knock putt ing him in the "extremely doubtful" category. Mad Mental Martin is available once more.
August 26th - Owen(right) has blasted the strikers in the papers but ruled out putting his own boots back on (Thank God). He told the Sunday Mail, "I don't think it's quite that extreme but I'm so disappointed in the way we lost. The chances we missed were beyond belief. We're not talking half-chances - some of these were tap-ins.". And on the Clyde site, he added, "I hope to never see another match were we miss such chances. Clyde started well but the chances were beyond belief not half chances but sitters. All credit to Clyde they battled away and they have some good players. Clyde were fortuitous with the goal as we had four players around the ball and they defended valiantly late on. We were missing some players through injury and suspension and did not get international clearance for another player. But I have to say that didn't affect the result as we missed some great opportunities. Daal should have had a hat-trick and later on Stewart and Jackson both should have done better but we paid the price "
August 25th - One interesting
transfer rumour has Saints apparently seeking international clearance for
former Clyde and Arabs midfielder Karim Kerkar. The 30yr old
Algerian midfielder has been playing in the UAE, but there has been no
confirmation or denial from the club yet. Meanwhile our newest signing
Gary Irvine spoke to the Courier of his
move to Saints and is glad to get back playing. He said, "Ive
had the best possible grounding in the game and youre spoiled with
luxuries at Celtic. It was an eye opener going on loan to Ross County but
that gave me a taste for first team football and I loved it. The luxuries
are great but this was going to be my fourth year in the reserves and I
want competitive first team football. Ive played against Queens
Park Rangers in pre-season and Ive played other pre-season matches
in the past but its really hard to keep your place and the time has
come to try and make a name for myself somewhere else. I know what Im
coming to and Im really looking forward to it. Ive had a good
pre-season and I feel ready if the manager selects me tomorrow. Right from
the word go I was 100% committed to coming here. Its a perfect move
for me. It was just a case of getting things tied up with Celtic as I
still had a two-year contract with them. This is a great club with great
ambition and a manager who Ive heard nothing but good things about.
Everything about the move to St Johnstone is positive. "
The Dougie Imrie transfer rumour won't go away either but Partick and Morton are also believed to be in for the Clyde midfielder although he denies there have been any talks. Going into the game, we'll be without Martin Hardie cos he's naughty while Kevin James is definitely out and Goran Stanic doubtful. Allan McManus should play and while Kevin Rutkiewicz has a wee knock (possibly from doing some rock'n'roll thing for his charity gig in October) he should play.
7pm - So much for any optimism with one of the worst performances in recent years in terms of ineptitude and ability as we lost 1-0 to Clyde and dropped to 7th in the table with far too many players just a total disgrace to the badge. Absolutely nothing can excuse the constant high balls and lack of fight and teamwork today.
August 24th - No signing yet but
Saints are "on the verge" (aren't we all) of signing
Gary Irvine (and I think it's for real this time). The 22yr old is
set to sign a 2yr contract and Owen told
the Courier, "Id like to think I am learning all the time.
When I first came in I signed experienced players, but now we have that
nucleus it is important we add good pace in the right areas to take that
on. And thats why most of the signings weve made are quick,
younger lads. ". There is still hope that there will be another
couple of signings before the transfer window slams shut next week with
Dougie Imrie another name in the frame.
For tomorrow, Goran Stanic is a major doubt while Martin Hardie is suspended which means a likely start for Willie Dyer assuming he recovers from a viral complaint. Allan McManus will play after recovering from a close encounter with a Scumdee elbow which left him with a cracked nose and 2 black eyes (no complaints to the papers though unlike his Dens counterpart). The manager went on, "Its strange, but since I arrived at the club weve never had a settled central defensive set-up. Whether its been a back three or four, weve been forced to chop and change all the time. And now weve lost Kevin James, our club captain and a big player for us, for a spell. Fortunately, though, Kevin Rutkiewicz has come back at the right time and been outstanding in the last two matches. And we also have Ando, who in my opinion could go a long way in the game. "
The big worry just now is the ongoing speculation linking the manager with the Caley job. The Inverness club have made an enquiry about Owen but as far as we know it's not an official approach and last night they were set to interview Brewster for the post. Allan McManus told the Courier, "Nobody wants to see the manager depart. Obviously he is going to be linked with so called bigger teams after the success we had last season. And one day he will go on to better things. But the boys have a lot of respect for himhe treats his players well and like adults hopefully hell be around for a while yet. And we certainly cant use speculation like this as an excuse because weve become used to it. Weve had a slow start, but game by game we are improving and hopefully that first win is just around the corner "
7pm - Saints finally signed Gary Irvine(right) on a 2yr contract this afternoon. The ex-Sellic right-back goes into the squad tomorrow and Owen told the Official Saints site, "It has been a drawn-out process but not through any fault of Gary. I'm glad it's resolved and we can now give him the chance to show what he can do with Saints. I've been an admirer of his for some time Celtic played their reserve fixtures at Airdrie when Sandy and I were there and he impressed me in those games whenever I saw him. He's been a long time at Celtic but I know he feels that it is time to get his career going. You sometime shave to take a step back to take two forward and there is no reason why Gary cannot go on to have a terrific career in football starting with what he can do for Saints for the next two years. He?s match fit and played a full 90 minutes during the week against Aberdeen reserves. He can actually play at right centre half but he is predominantly a right full back."
Elsewhere and skipper Kevin James goes under the knife on Monday and hopefully once the op is over we'll know how long he will be out for.
August 23rd - Rumour central all
over the place today with the main story being the apparent entry of
Owen on the shortlist for the Caley
Thistle job although Geoff Brown has
already said that Saints "will not be easy to deal with"
with a six-figure compensation fee due should the unthinkable happen and
the gaffer be bought out of his contract which goes on to 2010. No
official approach from the Highland club yet but it's known they're keen
to get their man in place by the weekend.
Elsewhere and the transfer sagas drag on (although again it's interesting that these are going on if the manager's future is in doubt) with Gary "Bloody" Irvine reportedly all but signed today. No word on Dougie Imrie though.
22nd - Kevin James(right) is set
to undergo an exploratory knee operation next week but there is some hope
that the ongoing problems he's suffering will be corrected by this
surgery. Elsewhere still no new faces but according to
Owen, "Were still working
hard and were a wee bit closer. I would hope we can confirm
something soon ", which tells us bugger all really.
7pm - Latest signing rumour has Clyde's Dougie Imrie linked to a move to Saints with the 24-yr old midfielder linked in today's Tully. As expected no official word from Saints but it could be an interesting signing especially with Saints set to face Clyde this weekend.
August 21st - The big news is
the report in the Courier today that Saints are hopeful of making a
signing today and that the player involved isn't Gary "Bloody
Eternal Saga" Irvine. Owen Coyle
simply told the paper that the deal with one of his targets had moved on
and he was, "hopeful it will come to fruition tomorrow".
Meanwhile the fallout from Martin Hardie's
red card continued and with the Coags manager defending their striker for
clobbering Andy Lawrie,
Owen Coyle said of
Martin Hardie's card (for allegedly
elbowing Gary Mackenzie who was all over the papers like a scabby Coagie
rash yesterday), "The lad has obviously said his piece but the
video has shown that they fell over each other in the box. Theyve
got up and Martin has pushed him, but theres certainly no suggestion
of an elbow to the throat. Martin was sick about getting sent off after
the game. Nobody could make him feel any worse than he was feeling. "
7pm - The Ross County tie has been confirmed for Wed Sept 5th at 7.45pm. Meanwhile Owen Coyle has had a go on the Official Site about the rumours surrounding Kevin James. The defender gets the results of his scan today and while Owen expects him to be out for a while he wasn't too happy about the career-threatening stories that are doing the rounds and said, "I feel sorry for the player having to deal with this sort of story. It's scaremongering at best and I'm very disappointed that Kevin has had to field this sort of question. We don't know what the results will bring and only when we have those results and assessed them will we make any comment on how long Kevin will be out for."
Latest from the injury front is that Wee Wullie McLaren is back in light training. The news isn't so good for Goran Stanic though. After injuring his groin during the warmup on Saturday, the defender is a doubt for this weekend's trip to sunny (hah!) Broadwood.
August 20th - There's a bit of a
war of words developing in the aftermath of Saturday's draw with
Owen Coyle questioning the decision for
the red card for Martin Hardie. The
manager told the Official Site, "I thought we were very
comfortable a goal up and with eleven men but then the red card changes it
and Dundee naturally try to push home their numerical advantage. I have to
say that I have already watched the incident on video and there seemed to
be minimal contact but the referee has said that Martin used an elbow so I
have to accept that. Im disappointed not to win but I cant
fault the effort of the players and we are just a whisker away from
turning the draws into wins. We have to take the positives from today and
take them forward to Clyde next week.". Needless to say the Coags
are seeing things differently.
Meanwhiile scorer John Stewart paid tribute to the assist from Paul Sheerin and told the Courier, "The guys were saying it was a great finish but basically all I had to do was get a bit of contact on it and the ball was in. It was a fantastic cross from Paul Sheerin. He plays balls in like that every day in training and if he carries that into games then I am sure myself, Peaso, Dyron Daal and Andy Jackson will score goals. Our defenders have been criticised for letting in too many goals, but up front weve not been scoring so were just as much to blame for the start weve made. However, in the circumstances, this result represents a step forward and Im sure theres better to come. "
August 18th - It's the biggest
game of the season so far today as local rivals and all-round
plague-carriers Scumdee come to town for a visit.
Paul Sheerin is looking to add to his
tally but not from the penalty spot. He told the Courier, "The
fact Ive scored three times from the spot this season has been
alright considering we only got one penalty in the league all last season.
But Im not making too much noise about having three goals already
because I was getting abuse the other night for not scoring from open
play. Theres no appreciation at all for the contribution Im
making! ". He knows today will be a tough match and went on, "Dundee
have started really well and look to have a much stronger squad than last
year. The most disappointing aspect of our start has been the goals weve
been conceding. And we need to rectify that. Its a bit early to
start worrying about gaps opening up though. Obviously you dont want
to be falling behind other teams given how tight a league this is and how
difficult it is to claw points back. But if the worst were to happen
against Dundee it would still be a bit soon to really be worrying. "...(well
that's his opinion but I doubt that would wash with the Saints support).
Kevin James is out while he waits another scan and Kevin Rutkiewicz, Steven Anderson, Derek McInnes and Martin Hardie were all suffering from knocks this week.
Saints are still tracking Gary Irvine (surely we'll get pissed off sooner or later) with Owen Coyle saying, "We have made our offer and now it is just a case of waiting and hoping that everything turns out well.". The gaffer also spoke of today's game and said, "It is always a great occasion when Dundee come here and I am sure there will be a big crowd and a good atmosphere. We have drawn our last two league games but I believe the players have enough character to put on the performance we want from them."
7pm - A "fair" result in the end saw Saints draw 1-1 with the Scum with John Stewart finally opening his scoring account with a cracking goal before the Coags equalised after we had been reduced to ten men following a straight red card for Martin Hardie for use of an elbow.
17th - Dyron Daal(right) reckons
tomorrow's derby encounter means as much to the tinks as it does to
Saints. He told the Courier, "I played for Dundee in a loss here
last season and could not help but be struck by how big a game it is.
People say its a bigger match for St Johnstone and their supporters
because Dundees real derby is with United. But having
seen the fixture from both sides I can tell you its just as
important from a Dundee perspective. I know of the rivalry between the two
teams in Dundee, but Dundee are no longer in the same division as United
so this is their derby and their players will be just as keen
to do well in it. I have a lot to thank Dundee for. Going there after
sitting on the bench at Aberdeen gave me back my enjoyment for the game
and they treated me very well. I dont have a bad word to say about
them. But I dont look back, only forward now. I am a St Johnstone
player and, whatever happens on Saturday, it is far too early to be
talking about who is going to win the championship. There will be a very
long season left after that."
"Of course we are desperate to get up and running and it wouldnt come any better than recording our first win against Dundee. Id have loved to have got off the mark already. But it hasnt worked out that way and now we have to redeem ourselves. If we win well only be one point behind them and that is the position we aim to be in come Saturday evening.". He was as critical of his own form as well and admitted, "We have four good strikers vying for two places. And for those of us involved its just a case of scoring goals and see what the manager does. As a front player the pressure is always on you to score. At the end of the day you can play as well as you can but if you dont score goals then you are not doing what you are here for."
Kevin James meanwhile is definitely out this weekend and faces another scan next week with the problem diagnosed as a chipped bone or unstable ligament.
August 16th - So much for the
deadline on Gary Irvine with the deal on hold until Sellik return
from Russia although Saints have confirmed the offer is still on the
table. Kevin Rutkiewicz should train
tomorrow for the first time this week but it's not looking quite as good
for Steven Anderson and
Kevin James is still waiting on the
report from the specialist.
4pm - The draw for the 2nd round of the Challenge Cup was made today and Saints are offski to Ross County for a delightful midweek tie on either the 4th or 5th September. Can't see many making that trip somehow.
August 15th -
Owen Coyle was still pissed off with
last night's win or more accurately the performance. He told the Official
Site, "was quite pleased with our first half showing and I felt
that we passed and moved the ball quite well. We tried something different
with John Stewart in the lone striker
role with Jamie McCluskey playing in
behind him and it worked in spells. Raith looked good and the large part
of the second half belonged to them. That said, we had some great chances
to put the game beyond them David Weatherston, Dyron Daal, Peter
MacDonald and Martin Hardie all had chances which they couldnt take
and then we paid the price by losing the goal in the final minute. I
thought we controlled extra time and then Alan Main has done his job with
the penalty kicks"
More worries as well with Steven Anderson and Derek McInnes both major doubts for the Scumdee game while Kevin Rutkiewicz is still to resume training after his knock at the weekend and Kevin James has been ruled out until he's got the okay from the specialist about his knee.
14th - Jamie McCluskey(right)
is hoping to get a starting jersey for tonight's trip to Stark's Park. The
midfielder told the Courier, "Before pre- season the last time I
had played was in February with Hibs reserves. I feel now that my touch is
starting to come back and Im feeling fitter and stronger. I thought
I did well when I came on on Saturday. The manager told me to get on the
ball and try and make things happen for us and I think I managed to do
that. The lads have been great as well, giving me lots of encouragement.
Now I want to play games and hopefully Ill get a start tomorrow
night and we can get our first win of the season. Its an important
match because we need to get into the winning habit that the club had last
season. ". Elsewhere tonight Steven
Anderson is back but Kevin James
is set to see a specialist about his knee injury.
Saints expect a decision on the move for Sellik right-back Gary Irvine today although the move is by no means certain. But after the saga dragging on for a week, Owen Coyle has put a deadline on a decision and told the paper, "Garys a player were keen on and weve spoken to him at length for over a week now. Hes had a couple of things to sort out with his club. We will know soon if its going to happen but if we dont hear by tomorrow we will be moving on."
11.30pm - Another bloody mess tonight as slack play after a Paul Sheerin lead was lost in the final minute before Saints won 5-4 on penalties at Raith although there wasn't really that much to celebrate.
August 13th - Another Monday and
another attempt to lift the fan's spirits with
Martin Hardie this time appearing in
the Courier. The Saints midfielder said, "I really dont
think theres any effect from last season. I was hurting for a couple
of days at the end of last season but, as far as Im concerned, it
was very much in the past after that. Unfortunately, I cant put my
finger on why we havent started well. We try to play good football
but sometimes the ugly side of the game has to come into play as well.
Sometimes you just have to battle your way through games. With all due
respect to the teams weve played, we were looking for six points for
a start. Queen of the South and Stirling Albion are both part-time teams
and we should be expecting to beat them. Weve got the experienced
players here to do that. "
Next weekend is likely to be a much tougher affair though and he went on, "Ive played in a few derbies in my career and theyre games where you really have to stand up and be counted. There will be a good crowd for the match and its one were looking forward to."
Owen Coyle was just as disappointed by the result. He told the Official Site, "I'm disappointed with the result and the level of performance. We've lost two soft goals - that's five goals in two games - although I felt we were denied two glaring penalties. I warned the players that they would come with two banks of four in an attempt to frustrate us. I thought we controlled the second half and I made changes which I felt could win the game and we certainly had the chances to do so. I'm certainly more disappointed today than I was at Dumfries." The defence is the biggest worry and he went on, "I was forced into playing Kevin Rutkiewicz today and he didn't let me down. Steven Anderson is now available which helps and I'm pursuing other players. One enquiry is more advanced than the others but the delay is not at our end so I just have to wait and see what next week brings."
12th - Contrasting emotions today with Kevin
Rutkiewicz(right) overjoyed at getting on the scoresheet. He's
quoted in the Sunday Mail as saying, "I wanted to run to seven
places at once when I scored. It was an emotional moment and it will take
a couple of days to sink in. I've had my tough times in the last year. I'm
normally an upbeat person but it was hard to come into the club and watch
the boys go out to train and miss out on the cup runs and title challenge
last season. It was difficult but I tried to stay positive and had the
best players and management team around me. They kept my spirits up. I'm
happy to have 90 minutes under my belt but now the hard work starts again.
The surgeon in London will be getting a letter of thanks as he has
performed miracles.". As for the performance of the team, he went
on, "Even though I've been out you never lose that winning
mentality, so I'm gutted we didn't win and we've lost ground in the league
That was echoed by the manager who told the paper, "When we went a goal up we should have taken the game on but never did. "We lost two soft goals and it's just not good enough. I'm disappointed with the result and the performance. "
August 11th - It's the first
home game today and Goran Stanic is out
to build on last season's Fortress McDiamird tag against Stirling. The
left-back told the Courier, "Every game is important but this has
a lot of significance because it is the first time most of our fans will
have seen us play. We are determined to do well and get a victory. We did
very well at McDiarmid Park last season and you need to do that if you are
to challenge for promotion. We always have to look ahead and we have a
difficult match against Stirling Albion to tackle now. They have just come
up from the lower division but one thing I have learned about this league
is that there is never a weak team."
Kevin James is unlikely to make the game but John Stewart managed to train yesterday and is in the squad. For Stirling, ex-Saints players John Paul McBride and Ross Forsyth will miss out through injury.
6.30pm - Another shambles in defence saw us chasing the game before drawing 2-2 with Stirling thanks to goals from Martin Hardie and a born-again Kevin Rutkiewicz. But the performance was a mess at times and apart from Jamie McCluskey coming off the bench for the last half-hour pretty much devoid of the sort of entertainment we've been looking for.
10th - The financial results from last season are out and Saints
have revealed a near half-million pound profit for last season, mainly due
to the cup exploits. Geoff Brown(right)
told the Courier, "Our corporate facilities continue to be well
used but without the revenue generated by our cup runs an operating loss
would have been reported.While the clubs finances are in a
healthy position, there are capital commitments of £115,000 made
since the year end, with a further sum in excess of £200,000 being
required to upgrade our floodlighting system, and the fact remains that
little income is generated from the Scottish Football League. The
financial side of the club, therefore, will continue to be of paramount
importance and the directors and staff are committed to increasing all
areas of our income stream. Last season was excellent, both in football
and financial terms, and I have no reason to be other than optimistic for
the forthcoming season. Our approach to the financial position of the club
will continue to be sensible and prudent and this approach has stood us in
good stead in recent years."
The chairman is full of hope for this season and went on, "We were so close to regaining promotion to the Premier League last season and promotion opportunities do not come around to often. It was galling for the season to finish the way it did but it was no disgrace to finish in second place in the first division. Without question the first division will be more competitive and promises to be an excellent spectacle for supporters. The manager will hopefully bring in at least two more players and he is receiving our backing, but we already have a good squad here. There are also a few other teams with good squads, though. Saturdays set of results were great because it showed straight away that anybody could beat anybody. If that keeps happening, interest in the division will be high. If Dunfermlines players thought they were a standard above the first division, they would have got the shock of their lives at Hamilton It wouldnt have shocked the other teams in the first division, though, because everybody except for Hibs recently has struggled when theyve been relegated. Put it this way, I would defy anybody to predict the six first division match results each weekend. It is going to be that tight. We could get some good attendances as well because the likes of Morton, Partick Thistle, Dundee and Dunfermline will hopefully all bring good travelling supports to Perth."
No more concrete news on the signings although Owen Coyle admitted he's trying to get an SPL player in who's not a striker. Otherwise, the managed said in the Courier, "This has been ongoing for about a week now and we have been vigorous in trying to move it forward. It is a bit frustrating but the player involved is still at another club and that makes it more complicated. We have had permission to speak to the player, which we have done, and he is keen to come here, so now it is a case of tying everything else up. ". As for tomorrow's encounter with the Beanos, he watched their win at Brechin on Tuesday night and went on, "I was impressed as they had a nice shape and have some good players. I will be concentrating on St Johnstone, though, because we know we are capable of getting goals. What we must do is not concede the soft goals we did against Queen of the South. We did have a couple of boys playing at the back who were not fully fit, while with Steven Anderson suspended and Kevin Rutkiewicz and Willie Dyer injured, we did not have a lot of depth in defence. Also, Willie McLaren has been told by the specialist who looked at his knee to rest it completely for three weeks. There is no point mumping and moaning about it, though, and we will get on with things just as we usually do "
Alan Main(right) is looking forward to his home debut (again!) and told the Official Site, "I'm really looking forward to it. It will be great to see some familiar match day faces again and of course I'm looking forward to playing. I had a special relationship with the fans during my previous spell here and I would like to think that will continue but that is down to me - I need to show that I am here to do my best and perform consistently well for the club. As a goalkeeper it was obviously disappointing to lose three goals last week - we were all disappointed. But we had enough chances to win the game and although it wasn't the start we wanted we'll be doing all we can to win tomorrow. I know that we have a lot of new season ticket holders and we'll be looking to turn in the performances that create a good atmosphere at McDiarmid Park each game."
Kevin James is a major doubt for tomorrow and Owen Coyle also said, "Willie McLaren is out for a couple of weeks with a knee problem and of course Steven Milne is out of contention. I'm actively pursuing targets and I've not given up hope of having someone new in time for tomorrow. Having done all our pre-season preparations away from Perth I'm looking forward to having a home game as I'm sure all the supporters are. We have had a couple of training sessions on the new pitch which looks magnificent and will suite out style of play. We have a good home record over the past couple of seasons and I'll be looking to continue that but it won?t be easy tomorrow. I watched Stirling during week at Brechin and they are a good side."
August 9th - Still not a lot happening at McDiarmid with nothing to report on the signings front. The draw for the 2nd round of the CIS Cup has been made though and we're off to Partick on Tuesday 28th August at 7.45pm - well won't that be a fun trip?
August 7th - Despite the
dramatic finish on Saturday, no one is taking things for granted about the
performance. Owen Coyle told the
Courier, "Ive got a real mixture of emotions. Im
really angry at some of our defending which was schoolboy stuff at times.
There was frustration at the way we passed the ball, which wasnt up
to the standards we expect. But by scoring two late goals I was proud at
the never-say-die spirit that the players showed. Theyve proven
again that they never know when theyre beaten. Without playing well
we could have gone on to win the match had there been a few more minutes
That opinion was backed up by Derek McInnes telling the Official Site, "We didnt play as well as we can and I think everyone in the team will admit they could have performed better. However, we showed a resilience which was pleasing and I feel that we always carry a goal threat in the final third of the field even when we are not playing well. We definitely have to defend better as a team. Individual errors were made and we gave the ball away too often and too cheaply myself included. When you score three goals away from home you expect to win the game and it is frustrating that we didnt, although you have to credit Queen of the South who will give most teams a hard time at their ground. There wasnt much satisfaction in taking a draw from the game because it was a game we wanted to win and on the balance of play and chances created we should have but at least we showed we still have the battling qualities which were in evidence last season. We have the talent to get the goals this season and we just need to shut the door at the back."
August 4th - The big day is
finally here and a large travelling support are expected to head west to
Dumfries for the opening league game. After the drama from April,Martin
Hardie is ready to start all over again. The midfielder told the
Retard, "It was an all-time low when the Gretna result came
through. But it was done and dusted within a week and all I'm thinking
about now is the challenge we face this season. "We know the division
will be even tougher with Dunfermline and Morton added to the mix. We've
lost Jason Scotland but new boys John Stewart and Dyron Daal will compete
with Peter MacDonald and Andy Jackson up front ". No word on any
signings yet but Owen Coyle is said to
be chasing two players.
7:30pm- It was a pretty dismal start to the season, with only two late goals scraping a point in a 3-3 draw at Palmerston with Martin Hardie's last-minute equaliser adding to a brace of penalties from Paul Sheerin. Results elsewhere saw the Scum beat Meadowbank while Accies beat the Pars. Oh yeah and Gretna not only got shafted but seemed to have earned themselves some wonderfully crap PR by not allowing Rowan Alexander into Fir Park today.
3rd - It's the eve of the league campaign in what's set to be one
of the toughest leagues in Britain. Yet again we've avoided the curse of
being favourites, with the Pars taking that honour and
Owen Coyle(righ0 told the Courier, "Having
just come down from the SPL and with players on big salaries, I think they
deserve to be favourites. Dunfermline can pay two or three times more than
everybody else, so there will be an expectancy for them to go on and win
the league. By all accounts they were unfortunate to go down. However,
this is a division that is notoriously difficult to get out of. Last year,
some people said it was just a two-horse race between Gretna and us but it
wasnt easy to win any match. And now I would say it is difficult to
predict where teams will finish next seasonits that close. A
lot of sides have strengthened. Dunfermline have kept a lot of their
players, while Dundee have brought in eight or nine and I know a few of
them to be very good signings. Morton will be strong and have a healthy
support, while the likes of Partick Thistle and Queen of the South have
added to their squads. I guess we all know what we are working with and
will just get on with doing what is best for our football clubs. "
But we might have a new face on board as the manager went on, "We will see what transpires between now and the weekend. I am pleased how talks have gone so far but there is still work to be done. What was initially a tentative inquiry has moved on a bit so we will see what comes of it. "
John Stewart has been spoken to following the stories in the papers this week. Owen Coyle said, "John Stewart will be in our squad for Saturday. John was on his way to attend the young lads memorial service but his car broke down and obviously there have been crossed wires and the wrong story has been put about. Whether there is provocation or not he has an obligation both on and off the park to represent this club to the maximum. I have spoken to John and he is well aware of that. He appears to be the victim of a wrong story but he is under no illusions about the standards we expect at St Johnstone. "
6pm - With the new season less than 24 hours away, the Official Saints Site has undergone a revamp with the promise of future video highlights and podcasts. There's also a new offer to season ticket holders to get a wee plaque for £20 on their seat with their name on it for the coming season.
Elsewhere and no confirmation of the mystery signing yet but it's rumoured to be a Sellik target, although nothing is confirmed. Saints were hopeful of getting a deal done today and if so the mysterious player will go straight into the squad for Palmerston. There are a few knocks and minor injuries amongst the squad so team selection is going to be a late decision.
August 1st - Little to report as
we head into the first game this weekend. Several players picked up minor
knocks at the weekend, but all are expected to make the side for Saturday.
We do have Steven Anderson suspended
for the first two games and despite a loan rumour linking him with a
short-term move to Brechin, Kevin Rutkiewicz
should be available for Saints albeit lacking a bit in match fitness.
Elsewhere and the Retard's running another Alan Main quote saying he's aiming to be first choice for the coming campaign (with Kevin Cuthbert reportedly suffering from a knee injury). He said, "Winning what is sure to be a tough division would give me just as big a thrill as games against Monaco and finishing third in the top flight. It would be great for me"
6.30pm - The rumours about an incident involving on-loan striker John Stewart finally made the papers today with (surprise, surprise), the Daily Retard at the head of the queue. Apparently Stewart was drunk at a nightclub on Saturday night and while waiting for a taxi was heckled by a Falkirk fan. The Saints player unfortunately reacted, punching the Bairns fan and then lashing out and breaking the wing mirror of a parked car. He's paid £50 (apparently not enough for the car owner) in damages and the police aren't pressing charges but Owen Coyle is quoted as saying, "This is something I'll be talking to the boy about.".
While the reasons for his current acrimonious relationship with the Falkirk fans are well known, it's safe to say he's not done himself any favours with his new employers - let's face it, Saints aren't exactly notorious for a tolerant attitude to these sorts of activities. Given that he's more than likely burnt his bridges with Falkirk and Saints may be his only lifeline to a professional career he has to start knuckling down and getting on with doing his talking on the park. Hopefully this will be a one-off and Saints should discipline him but it has to be made clear that any further incidents of this nature will end any chance of a career at McDiarmid - the club's reputation (as well as that of the gaffer) is far too valuable to be damaged by one irresponsible player. And if that means John Stewart has to curb his social life in Falkirk so be it - at least it might keep him out of the papers and away from the sorts of Falkirk fans who will no doubt be looking to follow up Saturday's row.
Top Of News
July 31st -
Owen is still apparently unsure about
the striking partnership going into the first game this weekend. He told
the Courier, "Ive got a team in my mind for Saturday, apart
from the strikers. Theres real competition there and it will be a
tough choice unless we change formation and play four strikers! Theyve
all played with each other over the course of pre-season and now its
about deciding which formation will be best-suited for this particular
game against Queen of the South. The players have worked hard. Weve
never had our full starting 11 in a game but weve got gradually
closer to it in the last few games. I thought that on Saturday in
the first half in particular we passed the ball better than we had done
all pre-season, and that match has set us up for a tough game in Dumfries.
As for the squad, he went on, "Im not finished yet with signings. I could get four or five guys in today that would add to our numbers but we want quality and Im prepared to wait for that. Whoever we get has to enhance the squad. That might be a loan signing or a player from a higher division who we thought wouldnt be available but becomes available when he isnt playing at the start of the season. Well certainly be keeping up to date with whats happening. "
July 28th - While it would be
nice to see a full-strength lineup, expect a few faces missing from the
side at Glebe Park today due to minor injuries.
Owen told the Courier, "Weve
got a couple of guys with wee niggles. Ive not had everybody fit who
I would be looking to play next week at any one time but hopefully that
will happen when it really matters. Pre-season has gone well and Brechin
will provide another stiff test for us, as they always do.".
Meanwhile there will be one familiar face in the Brechin lineup with
Neil Janczyk having agreed a deal.
7.30pm - It was another good win to round off the performance with a brace for Peaso and one for Martin Hardie as we ran out 3-1 winners at Brechin
27th - It's the final pre-season game tomorrow with the trip along
the road to take on Brechin. John
Stewart(right) is looking to the game to establish his credentials
for a starting jersey for the league campaign next Saturday at Dumfries.
The on-loan striker said on the Official site, "I've only been
here a couple of weeks but there is a good atmosphere about the place and
I am enjoying every minute of it so far. It's good to get amongst the
goals in pre-season and it has helped my confidence a great deal and it is
all about taking that into the competitive games now. When I was at
Aberdeen Jimmy Calderwood said I was the best finisher at the club. I've
seen myself described as a 'poacher' and I certainly don't mind picking up
pieces and finishing from close range like I did in Ireland but the two
goals on Wednesday hopefully showed that I can be composed and finish from
distance as well. However, I'll take 20 tap-ins a season no problem!"
As for the rest of the squad he went on, "I played a few games alongside Dyron Daal when we were both at Aberdeen and Peaso is an experienced, class strike. I watched him when Saints beat Falkirk in the Scottish Cup last season and he was the best player on the park. Steven Milne will be an asset when he is fit and I'm already impressed with Andy Jackson so there will be no shortage of competition for places up front. I just want to get this last friendly out of the way and then all the focus will be on the league opener against Queen of the South."
July 25th - Not too much
happening today. Ben Webster won't be signing for Saints after
Owen decided not to pursue our interest
in the right-back. Otherwise it's a first-team squad that are heading for
New Bayview tonight to take on East Fife.
10.30pm - Saints had a comfortable 3-0 win over East Fife tonight. Goals came courtesy of a brace from John Stewart and one from Kevin James with a strong Saints side including Kevin Rutkiewicz who continued his return.
July 24th - The tour ended on a
downer as a young Saints side lost 2-0 to Ballymena United in the final
game of the Irish friendlies last night. The game did see a return to
match action from injury for Kevin Rutkiewicz
and Willie McLaren.
Owen told the Official Site, "We
played some terrific football for 30 minutes or so but then went behind to
a real peach of a goal the lad hit it on the half-volley from
around 35 yards. We then lost another goal to a 30 yard free kick and we
were not as fluent after that. I dont like losing any game and it
would have been nice to have made it three wins out of three over here but
overall Im pleased. In terms of improving fitness and team spirit
the trip has more than fulfilled its requirement.
Kevin Rutkiewicz got 20 minutes which is
obviously a massive step for him after so long out of the game,
Dyron Daal got 45 minutes and
Willie McLaren got an hour so that is
all good. It was a younger team tonight and it meant all the travelling
squad got some match action."
Meanwhile the Challenge Cup 1st round was drawn today and Saints are offski to Kirkcaldy with a match against Raith on Tuesday August 14th. Kick-off 7.45pm
July 22nd - Another win on the Irish tour tonight with Saints beating Finn Harps 1-0 thanks to a John Stewart tap in in the 70th minute.
July 21st - The first game of the Irish tour last night saw Saints run out 4-1 winners over Coleraine with goals from Kevin James, two from Andy Jackson and one from John Stewart. Only down side was an injury to Martin Hardie which saw us, having used all the subs, finish with only 10 men. Trialist Ben Webster played for an hour.
July 20th - New signing John Stewart has denied he's been forced out of Falkirk for disciplinary reasons. He told the Courier, "I know people will think this is a direct result of all that. But its not the reason I am here. My joining St Johnstone is all about football. I had wanted to go out on loan and get back on track before all that happened. It was a misunderstanding. My car broke down and I didnt have my mobile with me. No way was it a case of me not bothering to turn up, that would have been awful. But I never got the chance to explain myself. Im glad to be here and have the chance to rebuild my confidence and learn from Owen Coyle. I am from Airdrie and my dad used to take me to see him play there. He is an Airdrie legend "
19th - Latest news is that the English right-back who played at
Berwick on Tuesday will be joining Saints on their pre-season tour of
Ireland at the weekend. The other 3 trialists will be taking some part in
the action in tonight's game at Forfar but expect a pretty young side to
take the field at Station Park.
Elsewhere and there are reports that Falkirk striker John Stewart(right) is set to head to McD on a 6 month loan deal after the 22-yr old fell out of favour at Westfield following a row with Yogi. Where he'll fit in with the existing strikeforce remains to be seen.
6pm - Confirmation that John Stewart signed today on a 6-month loan spell with Owen telling the Official Site, "I tried to get John on two or three occasions while he was at Aberdeen without success and delighted that I have secured his services for the next few months. He is a good striker who hasnt quite managed to make the breakthrough at Aberdeen or Falkirk but I am a big admirer of his and Im sure he will do a job for us."
Finally for now, the trialist from Tuesday night who's heading to Ireland with the boys has been named as former Newcastle United right-back Ben Webster
11pm - It took a late Steven Doris penalty to get Saints a 3-2 win over Forfar tonight. All three Dutch trialists played but all were also subbed. The other two goals came from David Weatherston
17th - It'll be a mixed Saints side at Berwick for tonight's
friendly with a lot of the youngsters set to get a run out. In additon the
first batch of trialists will be joining the boys with up to three
Dutchmen and one Englishmen set to try and win a deal at McD.
10:45pm - All the trialists played tonight although only the right-back seemed to have anything to offer, despite one of the others getting our opener in a 3-0 win at Berwick with Kevin Moon(right) and Andy Jackson the other scorers. Still it was a good workout and the youngsters given their chance all acquitted themselves well enough.
July 16th - Owen was happy enough with Saturday's win. He's quoted in today's Courier as saying, "I thought we were terrific in the first half and for half an hour played to the very high standard we set ourselves. We were not at full strength, with a few first-team players being rested and a couple of our senior guys coming off at half-time, and having Dyron Daal score twice in his first game for us was a real bonus and shows he knows what hes about in front of goal. Fair play to Arbroath for coming back at us and scoring twicewe dont like conceding goalsbut there were a lot of pleasing aspect to the game, not least of which was winning the Forfarshire Cup. "
July 14th - Well the pre-season
finally gets underway today and Saints head to Gayfield for the
Forfarshire Cup final. Because of this it's going to be a bit different to
the traditional friendlies. There are no trialists allowed and only three
subs. Expect a strong first team as well as Owen
told the Courier, "There will be a few lads with niggles who wont
play but other than that there will be a lot of first team players taking
7.30pm - Dyron Daal scored a brace and Peaso one himself as Saints raced into a 3-0 half-time lead at Gayfield before the traditional sleepy second-half ended up with us just running out 3-2 winners over Arbroath to take the Forfarshire Cup. David Weatherston and Jamie McCluskey both made impressive debuts while Kevin Moon also had a good 90 minutes in the centre of midfield.
July 13th - Plenty of coverage
of Owen Coyle's new contract in the
papers today but there's also an interesting titbit in the Courier linking
us with a fresh move for Accies Richard Offiong after an earlier 25K bid
fell well short of Hamilton's valuation of the player (believed to be six
figures). Owen also praised the players
for last season in the papers and said, "The players should have
a great belief after last season, as I think the style of football we
played against good sides is very positive. Its not often that
Celtic fans are shouting for the final whistle. It would be very easy to
sit back after that but the players here are very resilient and want to do
their best for the club. We dont have the best players in the world
but when they cross that line on a Saturday, rest assured they will give
their best effort. The supporters recognise that and its important
that we give them that. We had big followings at the cup runs last season
but it took the fans a while to see what we were doing. Players are
representatives of the fans, and supporters appreciate it when they are
giving their best. We want to win games in an entertaining style and bring
the fans backand I think we are doing that. It will be an
ultra-competitive league this season but one we look forward to. "
Meanwhile it's apparently the Arbroath Seafront Spectacular tomorrow so that means potential traffic and parking problems for those of us heading to Gayfield for the Forfarshire Cup Final. Kick-off is at 3pm, with admission £6 for adults and £3 for children and OAPs
July 12th - Two days to the
first pre-season game and the talk from McD is deafening in it's silence.
One player who won't be joining is ex-Pars defender Andy Tod with the
veteran signing a 1-yr contract with Raith yesterday. Saints had offered
him a one-month deal but he elected to go for security. Meanwhile
Owen Coyle is expecting a couple of
trialists to arrive at the club next week (believed to be foreigners) as
he looks to strengthen the squad further.
Finally congratulations to new supplier Surridge Sports whose online shop has already been expanded to offer Saints training gear as well as the home kit. Puts Xara to shame.
Bit of a surprise today after a quiet period with the announcement from Geoff Brown that Owen Coyle has signed on for an additional year's extension to his current contract taking him through to May 2010. The chairman said on the Official Site, "I am obviously delighted that Owen has extended his contract. When he joined us his first year was transitional and last season proved to be very exciting - next year however will be tougher with an excellent league in prospect. Owen has created the sparkle which we hope will bring success - last season we played at a level above our Division and the players and fans responded well. There is an enthusiasm around McDiarmid Park and I remain optimistic regarding promotion to the SPL. I get asked if we want to go up but it is nonsense to suggest that we do not want promotion - we would not be extending Owen's contract if that was the case.Financially, it is very difficult in the Scottish Football League with no league sponsor and media income. There is always speculation in the media linking Owen with other clubs but we have had no contact from any other club regarding a managerial vacancy.".... that'll be a hint about the recent speculation assuming Owen would want to leave the gorgeous scenery of Perth for the Little Beirut atmosphere of Fir Park then..
As for the gaffer he said, "I am absolutely thrilled as I have a great feeling for the Club. I want to continue our progress and am looking forward to next season.I have a tremendous relationship with the Chairman and Stewart Duff, Managing Director and they have given me great backing during my time here. I am delighted to extend my contract as this provides stability at the Club. With regard to next season we have already replaced players whom we have lost and I am still looking to add to the squad but not just for the sake of it. The players should take heart and belief from their performances last season and look forward to next season. I appreciate the fans backing last season and hopefully this will continue."
July 8th - Well I managed to get the last XXL top in Debenhams yesterday (Campus were sold out). There seems to be a bit of a fallout from the BHS side after the department store managed to get a bit of free publicity by hosting the launch (albeit with less than 100% enthusiasm according to some e-mails I've received). Either way BHS have stopped stocking the strips so it's Campus Sports, Debenhams or online. Frankly, that's a pretty pathetic attitude from the BHS management and stinks of them trying to get a quick bit of free publicity in a pathetic attempt to develop some "local" credentials while at the same time peddling the sort of OF-related crap that Perth has been so used to for so long. Hopefully it's going to backfire on them big time with several fans already talking about a future boycott of the store.
July 7th - Despite the home kit being launched at BHS yesterday, rumour has it that the store is not going to stock the new strip on a regular basis although you can still pick it up at Debenhams or Campus Sport. . It's also available online at Surridge Sports
July 5th -
Jason Scotland finally got his work
permit renewed yesterday and has completed his move to Swansea City.
Back at Saints, there's no sign of any further new arrivals yet but the manager told the Courier, "Ive spoken to a few players but there is nothing imminent or concrete yet. But all it takes is a phone call and that could change. I have a couple of people in mind and would like to look at all areas of the team. Nothing has happened yet, but we are actively targetting some players "
July 4th - It looks like the transfer dealings haven't all been successful. Accies have turned down a bid from Saints (believed to be around £25,000 for Richard Offiong. The striker is also wanted by Clyde and it remains to be seen whether or not we increase the offer for the 24yr old who still has a year to go on his contract.
July 2nd - The new home kit is set to be launched on Friday afternoon at 2.30 in the Perth High St branch of BHS. Debenhams and Campus Sports in Perth are stocking it as well and new suppliers Surridge Sports will also be offering it online. As for the bananaesque away kit that's out in early September (God imagine that - reliable dates from the kit suppliers)
July 1st - Less than a fortnight to the opening game of the season and there are still believed to be additional new faces set to come on board. Meanwhile, Jamie McCluskey is looking forward to some first team action after a frustrating end to his Hibs career. He told the Official Site, "I had three and a half years with Hibs and things were progressing nicely. I was only 16 when I made my debut and Tony Mowbray indicated that he planned to ease me into the first team over a period of time. John Collins said the same thing to me when he took over and I felt I performed well in the reserves but I found myself well out of the picture and down the pecking order. I was offered a new contract but I have opted to come to Saints to play more regularly and prove myself. I know that Owen had tried to bring me to Perth on loan on a couple of occasions and his desire to have me was certainly an influence in me wanting to come to Saints"
Top Of News
June 29th -
Alan Main has shown he's not too bitter in
an interview with the Retard today. Saints new keeper told the paper, "It
feels strange coming back here but it was a good feeling walking through
the doors, even if it is the 21st pre-season of my career. There is a good
mix of experience and youth in the squad. The manager is getting the right
He wasn't slow in hitting out at his former employers as well saying, "Gretna is all gone for me now. Because of the situation I was in Ihaven't missed it and I wasn't at any of their games. "But while I was there I gave a lot of effort and commitment to Gretna. Anything I have achieved in my career has been down to hard work, certainly not by cheating anyone. When I make a mistake I'm the first to admit it in the dressing room. This theory that I would deliberately throw a game is absolute nonsense. I'm not that type of person. I have had highs and lows throughout my career and it is about how you react to setbacks that counts. I was promised I would get a championship medal from Gretna but that has never arrived. It would be brilliant to get one this season with Saints. That would be one I'd treasure"
28th - There was another new signing today to coincide with the
start of pre-season training as 19yr old Hibs winger
Jamie McCluskey(right) (who we'd
been linked with last summer) signed on one year contract. Also at the
club was ex-Pars defender Andy Tod who has been given training facilities
as he tries to get a new club.
The new signing had an offer of an extension at Hibs but opted for Saints. On the Official Site, Owen Coyle said of his new signing, "Jamie is an out and out gifted footballer and I want to give him the platform to go and play. There is not much of him in terms of height and build but a lack of physique is not necessarily a hindrance I wasnt the strongest of players myself but I survived! Jamie can play through the middle, out wide or behind the front two and he has plenty of ability although there will undoubtedly be aspects of his game we can work on. Just as important as his ability is his desire and hunger to achieve something and that is what I want at this club players who want to push themselves to achieve something."
Also back at McD was Alan Main and the manager went on, "Alan is at the other end of the career spectrum from someone like Jamie but he too has already spoken to me of his desire to do well for us and to achieve something during his second spell with the club."
As for today he said, "The first few days of training will be about fitness levels weve done a bit of running today and well head to Dundee University tomorrow for proper fitness testing but I would expect levels to be high and if that is the case then Im looking to get into the ball work very quickly."
June 26th - The rest of the lads are due back for pre-season on Thursday but already the recovered injury list from last season has begun pounding the track at the side of the new McD playing surface. Amongst them is Kevin Rutkiewicz(right) whose return after missing 99.9999999% of last season is long-awaited. However he's not being rushed and Owen Coyle said in today's Courier, "Kevin has done bits and pieces and I expect to see him join in training. But he has been out a long time so we wont be pushing him. If he feels a reaction hell step out and go back in only when he is ready. "
June 23rd - Better late than never then - thanks to the incompetence of Demon's Homepages "upgrade", the Temple hasn't been updated since the 14th. And while the site is back to normal, Demon have revamped their homepages service that it runs under to place additional restrictions on both disk space and bandwidth. The upshot of this is that there is a real possibility the Temple is about to start it's final season - I can't afford the time or cost to run the site commercially (as well as it going against my principles). Therefore I'll be watching the bandwidth use and possibly placing fewer updates on the site as we head into pre-season.
June 18th - It looks like we're
going to lose the services of Simon
Mensing with the grapevine and the rest of the media pointing more
and more towards the Saints midfielder (whose contract ran out on May
31st) heading to Fir Park and whatever manager they manage to con into
taking the job.
6.30pm - As expected Simon Mensing has opted for the delights of Fir Park to further his career (the phrase "backwards step" springs to mind), with a signing expected tomorrow. He's been a good solid player for us and at least unlike some past departures, he's been up front and honest with the club. That was the news that greeted Owen Coyle on his return from holiday but the manager told the Official Saints Site, "I'm obviously disappointed that Simon won't be with us but the bottom line is that he wants to play in the SPL and I can understand that. He leaves with our best wishes and I thank him for what he has contributed to the team in the past couple of seasons." Apparently "two or three" players have already been targeted as possible replacements.
June 15th - First fixture change of the new season with the trip to Dunfermline on Sept 1st postponed until the Sunday due to the Fifers appearance in the UEFA Cup. Meanwhile the home kit is due out in the first week of July available in Debenhams and BHS in Perth priced at £35 for the top and £17 for the shorts (and a bit less if you want the youth version).
June 14th - Despite ruling
himself out of the managerial vacancy, reports suggest new Clyde boss
Colin Hendry wants Derek McInnes as
his assistant. Simon Mensing has still
not given a response to the contract offer with Motherwell the latest name
linked to chasing his signature.
Meanwhile the big news later today will be the announcement of the league fixtures - unfortunately after last season's fun and games, the Temple can only mention one league game at a time. So we're off to Palmerston on August the 4th and for the rest of the scintillating campaign, check the Official Saints Site
June 13th -
Simon Mensing has promised a decision
soon as to whether or not he'll sign a new contract. Speaking in the
Courier, he said, "Ill come to a decision sooner rather
than later but as we speak everything is up in the air. Since returning
from holiday Ive been down south visiting my mum and because of that
Ive put the issue of my future on the backburner. But Ill be
back up in the next couple of days when hopefully Ill get something
sorted out." . It's hard to see what to make of this with reports
elsewhere linking him to several clubs. Either way, the length of time
it's taking him to commit (if he's ever going to) to Saints isn't doing
him any favours amongst the support.
Elsewhere and rumoured signing target Jamie McCunnie has apparently agreed a new deal with the Pars.
June 12th - Ok since my ISP has decided to keep the website access up today you can now enjoy the wonderful delights that are the 2007 TOSSA Results. A big thanks to all who voted.
June 11th - First of all the
Temple will not be updated from Tuesday this week until Thursday due to
some work going on with the Demon customer web pages which means I won't
have access. The good news though is that the voting for the TOSSAs is now
over and when I do the next updates the final results will be revealed in
all their glory...or not depending on your point of view.
Little news today other than confirmation Saints will play Coleraine on Friday July 20th as the opening game on their weekend tour of Ireland.
On the playing side there seems to be little happening although some disturbing rumours are surfacing which suggest that Simon Mensing has rejected Saints latest offer and is pimping himself about other clubs with the Paisly Junkies the new front-runners. Owen Coyle is still trying to sneak glances up Snow White's skirt so nothing has been finalised yet (which means it's bound to be resolved one way or another by Thursday when the site isn't being updated)
10th - Right I'm back and refreshed and full of unbounded optimism
for the forthcoming season. And despite heading west to enjoy the delights
of MickeyMouseLand (that's Florida as opposed to becoming John Boyle's
latest beeitch at Fir Park), Owen Coyle
hasn't wasted time in bringing in the new signings (although some have
been rumoured to be on the cards since way back in the days when
Alan Main was still popular at Raydale).
So welcome first of all to 20-yr old Queen's Park striker
David Weatherston(pictured right with
the gaffer)who had been a rumoured target for Saints since the start
of the season. He's joined on a 2-yr contract and
Owen Coyle said on the Official Site of
the new signing, "David is a young boy with a big future and Im
delighted to have signed him. Weve watched him since last August and
I spoke to Queens boss Billy Stark about him and he noted our
interest in him and said he would keep us informed. We left it at that and
allowed David to concentrate on his game and what he could do for Queens
and I think Billy respected that we backed off at that stage. I have to
thank Billy and Queens Park for their co-operation in bringing the
move to a successful conclusion. David has pace and he showed last season
that he has an eye for goal. We must now give him a platform to improve
his game and take it onto the next level and I know he is keen to do the
same. I have to say that when I sat down with David and his father we
spoke for over an hour and talked only about football and how both parties
could benefit were he to move to Perth. There was no mention of money and
that is very refreshing and says a great deal for the lad. I know he had a
concrete offer from one SPL club more lucrative than what we could
offer - and serious interest from another couple and the fact that he has
chosen to come to Saints speaks volumes for his priorities and I think it
is a terrific boost for us". As for the new striker, who scored
18 for the Hampden Park side last season, he said, "I hadnt
appreciated that Saints had been looking at me as far back as the
beginning of last season and Billy Stark just let me concentrate on my own
game with Queens Park. However, I was made aware of Saints
interest a couple of weeks ago and I had a chat with Owen who impressed me
very much. I think I will get more opportunity to play here, Saints
clearly have ambitions to get into the SPL and Im only 20 years old
so I would like to learn more from Owen and Sandy and get into the SPL
But that wasn't the end of the striker signings and only last week we gazumped our soap-dodging neighbours from along the Tay to snap up Dutch striker Dyron Daal(right) on a year's contract after he was freed by the Dons and had been enjoying a successful loan spell at Dens. 6 foot 4 tall he'll add a new dimension up front and Sandy Stewart said, "At six foot four inches Dyron is different from the other strikers we have at the club but that is not the only reason we have brought him to the club. He likes and is comfortable with the ball on the ground and our style of football will suit him in that respect plus he has a bit of pace as well. His height will do no harm but it doesnt signal that we are intending to change the way we play.". The new arrival said, "I have enjoyed my time in Scotland so far but I am keen to play regularly and I got a very positive vibe from Owen Coyle and I like what I hear from him about his ambitions for the club. St Johnstone did well last season and played very well against a range of SPL opposition and it is good that the core of that team is staying together for next season. I think the way that Saints play football will suit my game and I'm confident I can get goals. Now that the move is settled Im going to have a short break and look forward to pre-season training starting"
Don't expect that to end the signings with another striker possibly on the horizon. And despite the stories and being interviewed for the Clyde job (apparently without Saints' permission), Derek McInnes has opted to stay at McDiarmid and continue his coaching apprenticeship at Saints.
Elsewhere and the club responded to criticism about the season ticket policy with a new £130 category for 16-18yr olds who can prove they are in full-time education and pegging admission prices to a tenner provided proof is shown each time.
Finally for now the pre-season list has been amended a bit with the Cowdenbeath game cancelled and replaced by a trip to Berwick on July 17th at 7.45pm. Additionally Saints are heading to Ireland the following weekend for games on the Friday (opposition to be confirmed), Finn Harps on the Sunday evening and Ballymena United on the Monday.
Apart from that not much been happening really (and yes I'm still wading through the TOSSA votes
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
Top Of News
May 27th - OK so the 2007 TOSSA votes haven't been put through the hi-tech computers at the Temple yet (still half to go and thanks to everyone who has taken the time to put forward some "interesting" suggestions). The final results won't now be out until mid-June due to my urgent need to head for faraway shores as part of my continual search for that elusive right-winger for Saints (and to top up the tan at the same time). Anyway no more updates until June 9th and in the meantime get all your Saints news at the Official Saints Site.
May 25th - Bad news for
Savo yesterday with the revelation that
he'll need another op and will be out for 3-6 months missing the start of
next season. So that'll be another striker to add to the shopping list
6pm - And just to add to that reports doing the rounds today say that Jason Scotland has signed a 2yr deal with Swansea subject to a work permit. While it's sad to see arguably our best player leave, it wasn't unexpected and at least he's not joining another Scottish side. Thanks for the goals Jason and best of luck in the future.
May 23rd - Little news over the
last week. The reasoning behind the switch to a white top has been
revealed as partly driven by sponsors George Wimpeys desire to keep their
logo in corporate blue - so it was going to be a white top or a white band
like last season.
Elsewhere and no signings are expected for a few days as Owen Coyle has headed off to Hong Kong for a veterans tournament. Kevin Rutkiewicz has been given the go-ahead to resume training but Savo has to go under the knife again for a tidy-up operation with the hope being that no new damage will be revealed.
Finally, I'm hoping to get the 2007 TOSSAs sorted by the weekend before I piss off on holiday so if you're going to vote, get your opinions in now!!
17th - Another busy day at McDiarmid with the news that
Paul Sheerin has signed a new 1yr
contract. Owen Coyle said on the
Official Site, "Paul is an important player to me and I am
delighted he has chosen to extend his stay with us. It is another
important step towards keeping last seasons squad as intact as
possible. He still has a lot to offer this club and although he was
mulling over other options Ive encouraged him to remain on with us
and continue to play at as high a level as he can for as long as he can."
Simon Mensing has been made an offer by the club but is away on holiday for a fortnight so there will be no response until then.
Elsewhere and Kevin Rutkiewicz and Willie Dyer modelled the new kit with Surridge Sports the new suppliers on a 3yr deal and a white home kit with the away a nice dayglo yellow. The club also announced an extension to the sponsorship by George Wimpey and Geoff Brown said, "George Wimpey have been excellent supporters of the Club and I am delighted that they have agreed to be our main sponsors for a further two seasons. We have enjoyed a great season and with George Wimpeys ongoing support, we hope to build on our recent form.". Expect to see the home strip in the Perth shops by early July.
Finally Gr£tna have won over the "elite" and will be in the SPL next season.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
May 15th - No word on the talks
with Paul Sheerin but in today's
Courier, Owen Coyle is a bit more
optimistic about Simon Mensing and
told the paper, "Wed a good chat and now Simon is weighing
everything up. Im sure hell receive offers that, financially
speaking, are better than the one weve made him but he loves it here
so, in that respect, weve got something going for us. However, Simon
is in no rush. I think he is going to take until the end of the month
before making a decision and I understand where he is coming from. "
Meanwhile Swansea are now talking compensation with Saints with a decision on Jason Scotland expected by the end of the week.
May 14th - With the new season less than three months away (and some of us already chalking up the multi-trips to B&Q), Saints have announced a series of pre-season friendlies, all away from home. Saturday July 14th sees us at Arbroath, Tuesday 17th at Cowdenbeath at 7.30, Thursday 19th at Forfar, Wednesday 25th at East Fife and on Saturday 28th we're off to Brechin for a 3pm kick-off. Bet you can't wait. Anyway full details on the new 2007-08 Fixture list (although the usual petty-mindedness of the SFL means it won't contain everything).
May 13th - It's been a pretty
quiet few days in Sainteeland. Jason
Scotland is no nearer picking his next club although it looks more
and more likely it won't be Saints with Swansea and the Arabs officially
interested in the striker and Leeds the latest club to be linked with him.
Elsewhere and yesterday finalised the sided in Division One next season with Dunfermline finally consigned to the drop from the "elite" and Airdrie's loss to Stirling Albion seeing the Forthbank side replaced them as our opponents next season - no more dreich trips to the Shyberry Excelsios then, how sad is that?
Finally and the letters dropped through the post with the Season Ticket Application Forms with the bad news this year seeing some increases for all the East Stand prices and the Main Stand adult ones.
May 9th - Some initial hints as
to the pre-season schedule are out today. With the playing surface at McD
being relaid the pre-season sees Saints lining up possible trips to take
on Arbroath at Gayfield on July 14th and East Fife on Wednesday July 25th.
Meanwhile Owen Coyle has confirmed an official note of interest from Dundee Utd in Jason Scotland. But the Saints manager warned the Record, "Craig called out of courtesy to let me know of his interest in Jason. I appreciated that gesture. We haven't given up on Jason but obviously finance always comes into play. Jason is under contract here until the end of August so we can play him for the first month of next season. Any club wanting him before then will have to pay compensation. There is also the work-permit issue to take on board by any club after Jason. "
May 8th - No confirmed transfer
activity over the weekend, but it's believed that
Owen Coyle was out and about watching
targets. Meanwhile the other major doubt for a new contract has been
confirmed as Simon Mensing with
Accies, Scumdee and hometown club Swindon (now managed by
Judas) all apparently tracking the
6pm - More news on the signing front with the announcement that Sandy Stewart rejected an approach to be interviewed for the vacant managerial post at Firhill to stay as no2 at Perth. Also Saints confirmed today that Derek McInnes has signed a new 1yr contract. Owen Coyle said on the Official Site of the signing, "Although we had a gentlemans agreement in place for him stay, Im delighted that it is now official and that I can include Derek in my plans for next season. I thought the way he played and conducted himself during the second half of the season was exemplary and he sets a great example to the other players. He was very keen to stay and indeed he has told me that his only regret is that he hadnt joined us last August. For a man who has captained Rangers and West Bromwich Albion and played in France to say something like that speaks volumes for this club."
There are still plenty of other moves ongoing though and the manager went on, "There is a lot of interest in Jason Scotland as we knew there would be and I am meeting with Simon Mensing later in the week to try and progress matters there. Obviously, I would like to keep them both but we will just need to see what happens. Ill be meeting with Paul Sheerin as well and I dont think we are too far away from sorting something out with him. I know the players that I want to bring into the club and talks are ongoing with a number of them and we will see what comes to fruition. I would like to have them in the fold for the start of pre-season training and I have no doubts that we will have some fresh faces in place when that starts but I wont be signing people for the sake of signing them Im prepared to wait for the right players if necessary."
Finally departed striker has apparently signed for Scumdee.
May 4th - The transfer deals and
rumours are hotting up. Latest reports suggest that both the Arabs and
Jambos are set to bid for Jason Scotland.
Residency rules for applying for a work permit have changed from 4 to 5
years (he's been here 4) and his agent said, "It's time for Jason
to move on to a higher level. He has been at St Johnstone for two years
and they have been good for him and he has been good for them. If they'd
won promotion, who knows what would have happened - he may have stayed
there. Jason is back in the Caribbean just now on private business so
we'll keep our options open. " - which looks like any extension
to his current deal at McDiarmid has been ruled out.
Meanwhile one name from the past Nathan Lowndes is apparently in Perth this week and has been linked with a move to the Scum by today's Courier although Owen Coyle is also quoted as being an admirer of the 29yr old saying, "Nathan is a very good player who has had an unlucky time with injuries. I have a lot of transfer targets this summer."
5pm - More re-signings today with Steven Anderson and Andy Jackson signing new one-year deals. Ando told the official site, "I was keen to stay and I am happy to get the contract sorted out quickly. I was happy with my performances during the season, particularly at centre half which is my natural position, and I am looking to continue my progress next season. There is a lot of competition for places in the centre of defence but I see no reason why I cannot make an impact. I'm still not over the disappointment of last Saturday and seeing Gretna with the trophy last night didn't help! However, it just makes me want to play a bigger part in making sure that it is us who have the trophy a year from now."
Andy Jackson said, "I was pleased to be in the squad a lot more during the season just ended but I have to come back next season and not be content with a place on the bench. The manager has told me he thinks I am ready to be more involved and it is up to me to get a good pre-season behind me and make an impact."
Most of the young players seem set to get offers but Mark Gallagher has been release with Owen commenting, "Mark is unfortunate because he plays a position in which I already have a number of options. I don't want to stunt his development and I have no doubts that he will go on and make a career in the game."
May 3rd - Last piece of
competitive action for Saints tonight as the boys head to Raydale to spoil
the Village People's party and the Reserve League Cup Final. Kick-off is
at 7.30 and admission is a fiver for adults and a quid for kids - no doubt
all the money is going to fund their minibus trips to Fir Park next
10pm - Some silverware at last as goals from Andy Jackson and Willie McLaren gave us a 2-0 win over the Village People at not-good-enough-for-the-SPL Raydale Park. Owen Coyle told the Official Site, "It was nice to finish the season with a wee bit of success with what was a very young side. The young kids were brilliant tonight we had Darren Wilcox at left back who is just 15 years old and did really well. But they were all good and other than Kevin Cuthbert, Steven Anderson and Allan McManus it was just the young lads so Im very pleased for them."
Meanwhile the contract resignings have begun in force with Willie Dyer and Goran Stanic signing new 1yr deals today after Kevin James signed a 2yr extension recently. The manager said, "Goran has been outstanding this season and Im thrilled he has committed himself to us for next season. I spoke to him a month ago and told him that whatever league we were in I wanted him to stay and he indicated to me at that time that he was very happy to do so and had no desire to leave. Willie is a younger player who I have high hopes for and of course he is having to bide his time because of Gorans fine form. However, I have told him I want him to come back fresh next season and fully recovered from his recent illness and really push for a first team place to put Goran under pressure to retain his spot in the team. Im close to tying up most of the squad although there are a couple of players weighing up their options which is their right to do"
May 1st - After a day off
yesterday, it's back to reality for the players for the final time today
as Owen Coyle has them in to announce
who will be leaving the club and who will be offered new deals. The
manager wasn't taking things easy after the title loss at the weekend and
told the Official Site yesterday, "There are two things you can
do. You can sit and wallow in pity or you can get on with things. I didnt
sleep much on Saturday night but come Sunday morning I was on the phone to
a few contacts and spoke to a couple of players I would like to have here
next season. That process has continued today and will obviously go for
some time now. The players are in tomorrow for a final time and well
have a chat and a few will be told that their futures lie away from
McDiarmid Park. Well be bigger, better and stronger for our
experiences this season and I feel that we have something good going.
Seeing most of New Douglas Park awash with blue and white on Saturday was
a sight to behold as was the full East Stand against Queen of the South
and the semi-finals at Tynecastle and Hampden. I want to see that on a
more regular basis. I have a bunch of players who have and will continue
to give their all for me and this club and I think the supporters have
responded to that. In turn, the players have fed off the backing of the
crowd. So I hope we can add to our number of season ticket holders next
season and that a lot of occasional fans come along more
regularly. Well certainly be putting all our effort into taking
things to a higher level."
Meanwhile there's a bit of humble pie from Geoff Brown(right) today after the furore surrounding his "honest" comments at the weekend. The Saints chairman told the Courier, "I was asked a question and I gave an answer. As far as Im concerned what I said is absolutely true. There are none of the other SPL clubs who will see Gretna as bringing a lot to the party. I said it on the back of our experiences in the first division with the likes of Stranraer, Brechin and Gretna who travel with no real support. When were at home to Dundee we can sell our hospitality no problem but at home to Gretna we have great difficulty. Its the same situation in the SPL. Brooks Mileson can spend his money how he likes. Good luck to him. But Im pointing out a fact of life which is that a town with a population of 2500 is not sustainable for the SPL. It will not strengthen it. ".
As for the season, he was full of praise and went on, "The obvious one is Owen Coyle, whose enthusiasm has got everybody at the club on the up, and all the players and background people have worked really hard as well. Last and by no means least are the supporters. I just feel that for years St Johnstone have plodded along and had a support that maybe hasnt got behind the team with real feeling. This last month or so its been great to see the way people have reacted and given encouragement. Im just hoping that after the dust settles they can recognise that theyve been entertained this season. Going into next season Id like to think they can back us in the same numbers which will make us a stronger team and club and hopefully bring success to Perth. A couple of players may move on for more money and you cant do anything about that, but the nucleus of the squad will still be there next season and well bring in another three or four to bolster the squad. ".
He also admitted that Saturday was as low as he's ever felt in his time in charge. "There was a photograph in one of the papers on Sunday of my granddaughter crying her eyes out and that reflects the feeling of a heck of a lot of us. Bill Shankly famously once said that football was more important than life or death and up until five or six years ago I might have agreed with him. But after the problems I had with cancer I got a different perspective. It was certainly an all-time low in respect that an unbelievable high was taken away from us. "
7pm - As expected the first departures have been announced with no real surprises with Derek Lilley, Neil Janczyk and Bryn Halliwell all leaving Saints, none of which really comes as a surprise. Also heading back to his employers is Filipe Morais after his loan spell from Millwall ended. No other departures are planned, although it's likely one or two might leave under a Bosman, with Owen Coyle stating that all the other players will be receiving new contract offers.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
Top Of News
April 30th - Despite the
gloating coming from teams that achieved a lot less than Saints this
season, Owen Coyle has paid more
tributes to his players. He told the Official Site, "I realise
the word 'proud' is often over-used but tonight I have nothing but pride
in this squad's achievements. They have stepped up to the mark week after
week and their work ethic has been tremendous. Im just sorry they
have nothing tangible to show for their efforts. It was a very anxious
wait in the dressing room, then came that sinking feeling but football is
played over 90 minutes and I applaud Gretna for scoring late in the game,
cruel as it was to us. That's football with its highs and lows. It was a
big ask to begin with - Hamilton had only lost one game all season and we
came here and scored four goals. Its a kick in the teeth but well
take it and come back from it a better group of people."
Elsewhere Derek McInnes explained his feelings on hearing the news from Savo (the man with the radio in the dressing room), "Ive had a few kicks in the teeth in football but never a harder one than this. If wed come off the pitch knowing they were leading 3-2 you could have hardened yourself to it. But knowing it was 2-2 then listening to the radio was awful. Those five minutes waiting to find out what was happening were the worst you could imagine. But I just had a horrible feeling it was going to go against us. You anticipate the worst-case scenarioI certainly didand thats how it turned out. The performance today showed the drive we had as a group to go for promotion. But ultimately we came up short and its heartbreaking. Weve gone to some difficult places recently and won. But we can also look back on certain games and know we should have taken more from them. There are so many ifs and buts. Weve gone close to bringing some silverware to Perth after the run in the league and playing 13 cup ties but ultimately weve not been successful. However, well just have to pick ourselves up and get ready for next year. Its possible one or two boys will move on now but hopefully the team wont get broken up too much. Id like to think this group will stay together and have a right go at promotion next season. "
The midfielder is set to get a new 1yr deal and praised his manager saying, "Im gutted for him because hes put so much into it. Theres now doubt he is a Premierleague manager and one day hell manage there. I just hope its with St Johnstone. "
Simon Mensing meanwhile said, "This is the fifth time Ive finished second and its the hardest to take by far. To be so close only for them to score was awful. The fact they were running late surely helped them. They knew wed won and exactly what they had to do. It may have worked in their favour. There we were going up and it was cruelly snatched away from us. No words can describe how I feel. Im gutted. ". And Owen Coyle summed it up in the Courier when he said, "You like to think youll be a better manager for any experience you havebut as long as I am a manager I dont think Ill ever experience a feeling as awful as this one."
April 29th - Right so we're all
depressed and fed up of the patronising pish from the likes of Murdo
McLeod on the radio. And to hell with the hangovers from yesterday's game
and the aftermath. It's less than 3 months until pre-season and the fun
and games begins all over again so it's time for the
2007 TOSSAs. Votings open until June (when
some of us return from our get-away-from-the-Village-People-hype break) -
any trouble with the online form and you can just e-mail the answers in
this text file to
Meanwhile I've added some photos to the match report from yesterday.
April 28th - Today's the big day
and Kevin James is ready for one final
push for glory at Hamilton. The Saints skipper told the Courier, "I
would never kid the gaffer on and put my hand up to declare myself fit
when Im not. That would be cheating the gaffer and my team-mates who
put their trust in you. Even though its a huge game, Id say if
I wasnt ready. But I feel fine. Ive had to wear strapping
since I did my medial ligaments a few months ago. Ive not had the
chance to get it sorted properly because when it happened we had a league
campaign to get back on track. If selected tomorrow the strapping will be
back on for one final game. Were going into the last game of the
season with a chance of winning the title and I want to be on that pitch.
Theres nothing to be nervous about as far as Im concerned. Its
about excitement. It will certainly be a nerve jangling afternoon for our
supporters, but the players wont be too bad because we can lose
ourselves in the game. Were in a situation where I honestly feel
theres no pressure on us. After we lost to Livingston we had more
hope than expectation because we were well behind Gretna and needed other
teams to do us favours. We knew we had to win our last five games and that
situation hasnt changed. The pressure is greater when you have
something to lose. Gretna are still clear favourites. Everythings in
their control and they have one hand on the trophy. I know their current
form is poor but I would love to be in their position. It will probably be
a test of mentality tomorrow and well see if Gretna can handle the
situation. Were in a position that nobody thought we would be five
weeks ago, and were ready to give one final effort. Hopefully its
good enough but if not, nobody can say we didnt try. I approach
every match exactly the same whether its the first round of the
Challenge Cup or the last game of the league that could win us the title.
All you have to focus on is giving your all and getting a job done. Our
results in the last few weeks have shown that the other guys are thinking
the same. I know what were capable of "
And in the same paper, Owen(right) did his best Fergie impersonation saying how pwoud he is of the players. "Were hoping that things go our way, but even if we finish second it has been a super season. I couldnt have asked for more from my players and Ill say that to them before kick-off. Well give it one last big effort. Unfortunately its not in our hands but all we can do is concentrate on beating Hamilton. There could be twists and turns but Im actually very relaxed about the whole thing because weve known for the last four weeks that the league would be over if Gretna won. " He also praised the fans with 3000 heading west today. "Weve taken 6000 to the Celtic match, 5000 to the Hibs match and had 4200 at McDiarmid last week. The fans have got behind us and the players respond to that."
Elsewhere the mutual admiration continues in the Herald with Geoff Brown praising his manager. The chairman said, "Owen has done exceptionally well, essentially with a squad of 17 players. We have had people playing through injuries all season and they have all shown unbelievable character. He brought players in he knew he could trust and that has paid off. Anybody who knows him knows he is not quiet for long and that's a great attribute to have as a manager. What it means is he knows everyone and has great contacts in the game he can call upon when required. In his interview he named our squad from A to Z and told me all their strengths and weaknesses. I could easily have thought chancer' but I knew he'd enough experience to speak with authority "
Teamwise, it looks like we're at full strength with Kevin James a possible returnee to the side.
7pm - In the end the boys did their job with a fine, if nervous 4-3 win at Hamilton (Kevin James, Jason and a brace from Mad Mental Martin giving us the goals) only for a delayed kick-off at Dingwall see us lose the title to a late winner for Gretna (which also relegated Ross County). So congratulations to them but it's a cruel fate for a Saints side that gave so much over the season with the emotions in front of 3000-plus Saints fans at the end plain for all to see. No more updates tonight - the beer now beckons.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
April 27th -
Owen seems to be trying to temper the
hype and enthusiasm on the forums. Today's Courier mentions how Partick
are the only team to have won at New Douglas Park this season and the
Saints manager told the paper, "Hamilton do have a terrific home
record. But I dont think their park is going to be an issue for us.
The one thing the Hamilton surface demands is that you pass the ball, and
thatll suit us. We went there twice last season and won and this
season drew when we could have won, so it doesnt hold any fears for
us. We believe we can get the victory we need. But at the same time I
recognise itll be a difficult game as Hamilton are a really good
"If four or five weeks ago someone had said wed be going there on the final day knowing that if we win theres a chance well win the league then wed have grabbed that with both hands. Not so long ago it seemed promotion had just about gone. But weve clawed our way back into things while four times Gretna have been faced with winning a game to win the league and havent been able to do it. Of course the issue is still in their hands. All we can do is try and win the Hamilton match and see what that brings us. But at least we have a chance. Im not going to be listening out for whats happening in Dingwall because even if it were to be going our way there wed still have to do the business ourselves. We have to be totally focused on winning. What happens elsewhere happens. The thing is Gretna could lose and if we dont win theyll still gain promotion. It could help us that Ross County are fighting to stay in the league. On the other hand nerves could come into it with their players. You just dont know. And no one should under- estimate the challenge we face against Hamilton. People might think theyve nothing to play for. But I know they are desperate to finish third, which would be a great achievement, and will be fired up to the hilt. The only guarantee about Saturday is itll be fraught for everyone involved."
Latest team news is that Kevin James will miss out while Peaso looks like making it and the Cat should be in the side despite suffering from a dead leg.
7pm - More from the gaffer on the Official Site with Owen being pretty blunt about what's needed tomorrow. "The destiny of the title is very much in Gretnas hands. They have led the league for a long time and if they win tomorrow then they deserve it. All we can do is win our game and see what happens. It has been a good season for the club whatever the outcome tomorrow and I just hope that the players get the reward they deserve for their efforts. We have never made extravagant claims about what we can achieve this season and we just wait and see what tomorrows games bring."
Kevin James managed a light training session this morning so is in with a chance.
26th - Ex-Saintee Alan Kernaghan
reckons we're now favourites to take the title on Saturday based on his
experience of blowing things with Clyde a couple of years ago. Speaking in
the Courier, he said, "I know from my own past experience what
can happen. We went right down to the wire with Inverness and
unfortunately it was them who got promoted, despite us leading for so
long. Gretna will obviously be hoping that doesnt happen to them
but, of course, its possible. I think its fair to say the
momentum is with St Johnstone at this stage. League titles are never won
in the first half of the season and in the second half of the season
Saints have really kept at it, so they deserve to be in with a shout.
Their performances in the cup have been excellent and theyve showed
theyre well capable of anything on their day ". As or
Gretna he went on, "Im sure everyone had been expecting
them to have things wrapped up by now because they were so far out in
front. Its squeaky-bum time for them. Thats how things get at
this stage of proceedings. And it has a big effect on you. "
Saints have their own problems to seek though with Kevin James more than likely set to miss out while Peaso(right) hasn't trained due to the flu and the Cat injuing his finger in training.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
April 25th -
Stewart Duff is in the Courier today and
said of the additional tickets, "There were a few people missed
out when we sold out on Monday so hopefully this will ensure everyone who
wants to be there can see the game". They're on sale from 3pm and
limited to two per person. And the police have apparently warned
ticketless Saints fans heading through this weekend that they will be
ejected if caught in the home section (where you can still pay cash). Of
course how they would identify Saints fans with not colours showing
remains to be seen.
Also the SFL have confirmed that the helicopter with the trophy will be sitting at House of Bruar on the A9 on Saturday afternoon waiting on the results to confirm whether to head for Dingwall or Hamilton.
24th - Jason(right) is hoping
to pick up a championship medal this weekend to live up to a promise to
his family. In today's Courier he said, "Ive won
championships back home but this would be bigger. I always take my medals
home to my mum because shes my biggest fan. When I was younger she
always took me to football matches to watch my brothers and uncle play. Ive
brought home other trophies from Scotland like the player of the round
award for the Scottish Cup, but never a winners medal. We speak
every Saturday night and she knows how big this weekends game is
going to be. I told the family during the season that I would help take St
Johnstone up and hopefully it can still happen. "
Of course Saturday's result will go a long way to deciding his future as well and he went on, "I want to play at the top levelin the SPL or down south. If Saints can get there then there is a better chance of me staying. It would make it easier for me. Wed be a good asset to the SPL because weve already showed we can play well against teams in that division in the cups. Theres a bigger fan base here than at Gretna as well. I would always rather know whats happening, even if Gretna are leading. Earlier this season when we were playing Airdrie we were drawing 1-1 and I was about to come on as a substitute. Just before I went on the manager told me that Gretna were losing to Queen of the South and I managed to score the winner. It was nervous for us on Saturday after we had won our match. We were gathered round the television waiting to see the Gretna final score. This weekend will be even more nervous. Ive never experienced a finish to the season like this before but it will be exciting. Hopefully well get the reward for our efforts in three competitions. When we arrived for training today we all saw the fans queueing for tickets so we know how important the match is to them. "
Owen meanwhile is being realistic and he said, "I would much rather be in their position knowing that winning the last match of the season guarantees the championship. The bottom line is that whatever we do at Hamilton will count for nothing if Gretna beat Ross County. If Gretna had taken three points from any of their last four games it would have been done and dusted by now. Nobody could have envisaged it going down to the last game when Gretna had built up a 12 point lead. Weve been churning out wins, whittling down their lead, and I cant speak highly enough of my players to get us into a position where it is down to one game. Hamilton will be tough opponents for us to overcome but, having said that, we won there twice last season and drew earlier this season. All well be concentrating on is winning a very difficult game and seeing where we are at 4.45pm. Ill be looking for one more big effort at the end of a super season and I cant ask for any more than that. The supporters have responded. We got over 4000 on Saturday, which gave the players a great lift, and the fans will travel in their numbers to Hamilton. "
Kevin James is still a major doubt for the trip to New Douglas Park
7pm - There's going to be another 210 tickets available from McDiarmid for Saturday's game after Accies and the police agreed to increase our allocation in the main stand. These will be on sale from Saints from 3pm tomorrow until they're all gone (probably by 3.15 going by yesterday) and are limited to two per person.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
23rd - Saturday's MoM Simon
Mensing(right) is hoping that Saints form continues for another
weekend. The midfielder/defender/man of many tricks told the Courier, "Ive
finished runner-up in the first division about four times since Ive
been up here, so it would be a nice feeling to do it at last. When I was
with Clyde we finished runners-up three times and then last year with
Saints as well. I dont like finishing second, no one does, and it
would be nice if there was a change come Saturday. Ross County are still
fighting for the play-off position and its good that theyre
going into a game thats a must-win for them. Hopefully, they can do
us a favour."
"Theres all to play for. Hamilton have a very good home record but well just concentrate on getting the three points and hope that something happens somewhere else. Weve just got to look after ourselves and make sure we get the win. At the end of the day, Gretnas destiny is in their own hands. We have to rely on someone doing us a favour. Fingers crossed it happens on Saturday. There were a couple of times when we wondered if we were ever going to gain ground on them. Normally, when we had the chance to get closer we faltered, but never after a game did it enter our head that that was it. There was no chance the gaffer would let us do that, and I think you can see by the way weve been playing of late that the spirit in the dressing rooms really good and were on a high. "
Owen himself was full of praise and said, "Im running out of words to describe that group of players because they just keep on digging and keep coming up trumps. We now go to Hamilton which is a notoriously difficult place, but I have to say we went there twice last season and won and we drew earlier this season. Hamilton wont make it easy but weve given ourselves a chance. "
Finally the Village People did manage to win something last night with Colin McMenamin getting the Div One Player of the Year award.
8pm - Well don't go looking for a ticket for the Accies game at the weekend. Surprisingly (even to the most rabidly optimistic fan), we've sold all 2900 tickets from the allocation for the decider in one day. There are rumours that Hamilton might free up another 200 tickets but that's not been confirmed.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
April 21st - Despite getting one
award yesterday, Mad Mental Martin
reckons his season is far from over with two big games coming this and
next weekend. The Saints midfielder told the Courier, "Its
a credit to all the lads that one of us has got this award and is a
testament to their effort and commitment. When we lost to Livingston three
weeks ago that was a real kick in the teeth for the boys. After that match
it was a really subdued dressing room because we knew that the result wasnt
good enough. But we showed great character to bounce straight back and
beat Gretna in the next game and then put in a really good performance
against Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final. We had to go again in
midweek against Clyde and we won that as well to keep us in the hunt.
Outwith our dressing room people thought the league was done and dusted
after the Livingston game but that wasnt how we felt. "
And speaking of last weekend's semi, he went on, "Once the gaffer had finished his post-match talk we got changed and our minds were already on the first division and how Gretna were getting on against Hamilton. Then we had our game against Clyde to focus on and we showed real character to dig out a win in that one. It was obviously great for me personally and for the team to do well against a team with the calibre of players that Celtic have, and it was pleasing to be awarded the goal. It was a great experience to play on the big stage and its something I want more of. Hopefully Ill get that with St Johnstone in the SPL next season. The club have dropped admission prices so hopefully well have a big support, which would be good for us. We cant do anything about Gretnas game. All we can do is make sure we win and get ourselves into a position that we can capitalise if they slip up again."
Owen was also full of praise for his top-scoring midfielder and said, "I know that whenever he crosses the white line Ill get everything he has to offer. Martin can turn the ball over in midfield with his physical attributes, he is an unbelievable goal threat and people underestimate his passing ability. We want to take it to the last week of the season, when anything can happen. The effort the lads gave against Clyde was incredible and one of the most pleasing aspects has been they way in which they have responded to pressure. Since January they have always known that points dropped would cost them dear whereas Gretna have been able to play in the knowledge that they could afford slip-ups. The fans have been great. They get slaughtered from all quarters for sitting on their hands and not getting behind the team but the biggest problem we have at McDiarmid is pockets of fans being spread across the stadium. "
The only additional team news is that Savo has been ruled out for the last two games of the season.
6.30pm - Another excellent win saw Saints narrow the gap to 1 point behind the leaders as we ran out comfortable 3-0 wins over QoS thanks to goals from Andy Lawrie, Simon Mensing and a great finish from Willie McLaren. With Gretna forced into a goalless encounter with Clyde, it means a win for us at Accies next week (which is all-ticket with sales starting Monday to Saints fans) and anything less than a win for the Village People will see Saints celebrating a title win. Expect a lot of hype to start.
April 20th - Bad news for Saints
ahead of tomorrow's big game with the news that
Kevin James has next to no chance of
being fit for the match against QoS after his second-half heroics against
Clyde. Owen told the Courier, "Kevin
is very, very doubtful for Saturday. In fact I would say there is almost
no chance of him featuring against Queen of the South. It is a blow but
confidence is high and we will just get on with it, as we have done all
season. Several of the players have been performing with bumps and bruises
but they have just gone out there and done their bit. They have given
absolutely everything for the club this season - I do not think anybody
can doubt that. As a manager you cannot ask for more than what I have been
given and I know everybody will be up for it again come Saturday ".
5pm- The skipper himself expects patience to be required tomorrow as we take on the in-form QoS side. He told the Official Site, "It is pleasing that the gap is down to three points and that we are still in with a shout but it is not in our hands and all we can do is concentrate on beating Queen of the South that in itself will not be easy as they have had a great run of form since the turn of the year including a win over us in Dumfries. We really have to concentrate on our game if we dont win then it becomes immaterial what Gretna do."
He also took time out to praise the Saints fans for their backing in recent weeks. "The backing throughout the season has been great but particularly within the last week at Hampden and Broadwood. The players really do appreciate it as we know it isnt cheap to travel and buy tickets. I would appeal to the fans to turn out again tomorrow and help us get the three points. However, it is very much a game where the need for a victory is more important than the level of performance and patience might be required. Tuesday night was a great example of where the crowd stayed with us and we all got our reward in the latter stages of the game and it might be the same tomorrow."
Finally, congratulations to Martin Hardie who got the Division One Player of the Month award for March.
19th - Man of the moment and overall cult Saints hero
Martin Hardie(right) reckons all the
pressure is on the Village People going into the final games of the
season. The midfielder told the Courier, "There are no nerves at
all because theres nothing for us to worry about apart from going to
win a game of football. I can take you back maybe five years ago when I
was with Partick and we were going at it with Airdrie for the title. They
played Clyde one midweek and I was in the house sitting with the Teletext
on. I was saying to myself You beauty when I saw theyd
only drawn. I dont know if Gretna have been checking our results,
because the titles totally in their hands and they dont need
to look. But if they are looking it maybe puts a bit more pressure on.
After being top for a long time they can only throw it away. "
The squad is down to its bare bones and he went on, "There are a few of us hanging by a thread in there. Its been a long, hard season for us, but well kick on and were full of confidence for Saturday. The whole squad is totally fired up to get us up to the SPL. Were in it together and the most important thing is to make sure we win these next two games. Were all running on total adrenaline and Voltranolbut were enjoying it! "
That was echoed byOwen who said, "Only seven players who started against Clyde had been able to train on Monday, and there is no doubt that getting this latest result was a big, big ask after all the lads had given against Celtic at the weekend. But they showed incredible desire and characteras I knew they would. And regardless of what the result against Clyde had been, Id be sitting here saying the same thing. I take immense satisfaction from how much these players are prepared to give for the staff here and this football club. ". He also went on to explain his substitution decisions after the Saints support "questioned" replacing Peaso in the second-half. "With the exception of Bryn Halliwell and young right-back Adam Monaghan, who only entered the clubs YTS scheme two months ago and has only three reserve outings to his credit, all our subs were forwards. So when it came to making changes that was the area of the team which was always going to be involved. Peaso had been terrific but hed run his race. Thats why he came off. We also took Jason off later on as we sought to complete the job wed set out to do "
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
April 18th - Saints are pushing the boat out this weekend with reduced admission prices at all areas of the ground. It's going to be £10 for adults, £5 for OAPS and £2 for kids and they'll even let you bring in and waive your flags about.
April 17th -
Paul Sheerin is happy that we're still
in the title race tonight ahead of the trip to Clyde. The wizard explained
to the Courier, "After we lost to Livingston at home I thought
that was promotion gone for us. But again Gretna slipped up, then we beat
them and suddenly its opened up again. Our destiny is still outwith
our own hands and goal difference clearly is a factor. Were 12 goals
behind them at the minute which is probably worth an extra point. But well
be giving it everything. It would take two massive results from us to claw
that back but we can at least try to take it to final day of the season.
The news that Gretna had slipped up against Hamilton on Saturday cushioned
the blow of losing the semi a bit. It was a boost. The result we were
looking for at 4.40. But now we have to take advantage. Broadwood will be
a completely different situation to Hampden and coming out of one or two
big games this season weve then had bad results so well need
to be careful. But we havent played midweek for a while so we are
reasonably fresh and should be ready to go. "
About the semi-final he admitted it still sticks in the throat. "I was devastated to lose on Saturday because that was as good a chance as we could have to get to a cup final against a Celtic team. I thought they were average on the day and it was frustrating to say the least that we didnt capitalise. I keep hearing that the fact we played so well must be some consolation but, to be honest, it isnt. If wed given 100% but been battered then maybe its would have been easier to take. But weve probably been the better team in both the semis weve reached this season and its really disappointing we didnt get through either game. "
Elsewhere and with thoughts turning to next season (no matter what league) it looks like Derek McInnes will be offered a deal after the midfielder made the requisite number of appearances under his current one to trigger the offer of a new contract.
11pn - That man Martin Hardie struck again midway through the second-half to give us a 1-0 win at Broadwood over Clyde and narrow the gap at the top of the table to three points - whether it's going to be enough remains to be seen. We can also expect more changes at the weekend as the walking wounded and tired legs were there for all to see tonight. After the game, the manager said, "I think we probably just shaded it. Clyde are a young team, full of energy and it was always going to be a difficult game for us. We've played an awful lot of games and the character and desire shown by my players after Saturday's Scottish Cup semi-final speaks volumes for them. "
16th - Kevin James(right) knows
he has to get the team to pick up the pieces in the aftermath after the
semi-final at the weekend with a vital trip to Broadwood on the cards for
tomorrow. The Saints skipper told the Courier, "Well end up
being tagged the nearly men after losing two semi-finals to Hibs and now
Celtic, but were not giving up on the league yet and hopefully we
can still turn it around and lose that tag. If we dont it would be
hard to take. I was very proud to be captain of that team. To a man the
lads did their club proud and we have to take the positives and the
plaudits and build on it. We might not be feeling great about things just
now, but by the start of the week we have to look to take that performance
into our league match against Clyde. No disrespect to Hibs, but the
feeling we have now is worse than after we lost the League Cup semi-final
because of the standing Celtic have in the Scottish game. Theyre by
far the best team in the country and its a horrible, horrible
feeling to know that we should have got something from the game. The boys
put in a great shift and played tremendously and I feel I have to mention
Martin Hardie and
Paul Sheerin who were immense in the
middle of the park against international players. " As for the
performance itself, he went on, "If Celtic had cut us open with
great skill and movement it would maybe be easier to take, but the goals
we lost were scrappy and thats a bad feeling. They were there to be
beaten but the sign of a good team like Celtic is being able to win a
match like that. "
Simon Mensing (who along with Filipe Morais and Allan McManus is suspended) said, "I thought we were terrific and certainly matched them. Theyre by far the best team in the country but I thought we made it really hard for them and there were certainly times when we were in charge of the match."
Meanwhile the slag-off-Cuthbert media campaign continues with the Scotsman today managing to blame him for the second goal as well as the first. Nowt like a scapegoat then eh?
7pm - Owen Coyle had some praise for the fans from the weekend game. About the match, he told the Official Site, Did I enjoy it? No I was there to win a football match and we didnt do that. I said before the game that we would be positive in our approach but I didnt envisage that we would have so much possession and territory. Sometimes you dont get what you deserve and that was the case at Hampden. Ive nothing but praise for the supporters who were there on Saturday. In terms of the numbers and the vocal support they were second to none. I know that Saints fans sometimes get criticised for their lack of numbers and vocal backing but they showed to a worldwide Sky audience how good they can be. I hope that many of them will be encouraged to go along to Broadwood tomorrow.
And speaking of tomorrow, with Allan McManus, Filipe Morais and Simon Mensing all suspended, Savo has been added to the squad along with 17 year olds Bobby Barr and Adam Monaghan. The manager said, "Im going to have to include Savo in the 16 although he has only had two sessions in the past three months. Steven Doris is out of contention with his foot injury so Adam and Bobby will be included in the squad. It is the nature of things this season that our success in the cups has meant that games come thick and fast and our lack of strength in numbers is a problem". He's not expecting a cup hangover either and went on, "Ill be reminding the players that after the disappointment of losing the CIS Cup semi-final against Hibs we turned in a great display to defeat Falkirk a few days later. They know which of those two differing reactions Ill be looking for tomorrow.
April 15th - Plenty of arguments
in the papers today about the alleged penalty for Sellik's first goal at
Hampden. Kevin is adamant (and TV pix
seem to back him up) that he never touched VenerealWhoeofScepticTank and
told the Sunday Mail, ""I wouldn't say Big Jan conned the
ref but he used his experience like the good player he is. I dived out but
didn't catch him with my hand. But he's gone round me and stood on my
back. I don't think there was much in it and on another day maybe the ref
wouldn't have given it. It was one of those things. I had a decision to
make and it wasn't the right one but I hadn't made ANY right decisions up
to the point. It was disappointing. We felt hard done by but we had to try
and forget it and focus on the game "
He was backed up by Derek McInnes who said, "Kevin said he never touched him and I felt it looked a soft decision"
Back to more mundane matters and the latest rumour is that we're finally set to ditch Xara as kit suppliers and use Surridge Sports instead who are already down to supply QoS.
14th - After all the hype, the big day has finally dawned as Saints
and the fans head to Hampden with the knowledge that we're two games away
from lifting the Scottish Cup. Of course for all the plaudits in the
media, nobody expects us to win (even Strachan seems to be treating us
with contempt going by his interview on TV last night) with the bookies
offering 10/1 for a Saints victory. But one man who knows what it's like
to pull off such an achievement is Goran
Stanic(right) when his unfancied Lerida side beat Barca in the
Catalonian Cup a few years ago. He told the Courier, "The
Barcelona team we defeated included the likes of Patrick Kluivert and
Miguel Nadal. Rivaldo didnt play but Van Gaal put out a strong team.
After winning 4-3 we lost to Espanyol 2-1 in the final and I remember that
Samuel Etoo came off the bench that day. Ive also played in a
Macedonian cup final with Sloga so it would be great to play in a Scottish
Cup final with St Johnstone and make it three finals in three different
countries. This game against Celtic will be bigger than the
Barcelona match because the Catalonian Cup does not have the prestige of
the Scottish Cup. What the Barcelona game does show is that in every cup
competition across the world the smaller club can beat the bigger club. It
is only one game over 90 minutes. If Celtic have a bad day we can
definitely beat them. It will be very difficult but it can happen. It
would be the biggest win of my career. Celtic are big favourites but were
going to enjoy this game the same as we have enjoyed all the matches on
the way to the semi-final. It will be special to play at Hampden Park
because it will be the first time for me, and a lot of the other boys, to
play there. But, for me, the most important thing is not where we are
playing, but who we are playing. When youre young you think there
are possibilities to do everything in the game but when you get to 34
there isnt long left in your career. So I will enjoy the occasion of
playing one of the biggest clubs in the best stadium in the country. "
He's had a tough year with the loss of his father but went on, "Ive told my mother that I will bring her across to Scotland if we get to the cup final. My mum cant travel just now because of other things but if we get to the final we will try to do it. She has never been to Scotland before. It has been a really hard time for all of the family and this gives me extra motivation. The first couple of months after my father died were very difficult for me. I tried to give my best but sometimes your mind isnt focused on football. From February onwards, though, I began enjoying the game again. Life still goes on. I have my mum, sister, wife and kids, and you cant just stop living. "
It looks like it will be a late decision if Filipe Morais makes the squad with Savo and the boss himself on standby to make up the numbers. Owen Coyle said, "As a player I always wanted to play in the big matches and the players should be relishing the opportunity to play top-drawer stars at the national stadium and show everybody watching on television what they can do. You cant really single out Celtic dangermen because theyve got 11 of them. Theyve got so many options. It is an enormous task for us to beat Celtic and it would be a massive shock. All I can ask of my players is to give everything theyve got and if thats good enough to win that will be brilliant."
As for the rest of us, it's 5am and I personally am wide awake and buzzing. Days like these don't come round too often for Saints fans so we, and the team should make the most of it. Go get 'em Saints!
9.30pm - In the end it was a step too far but Saints did themselves, the SFL and a happy travelling support proud as we undeservedly lost 2-1 to TFOE at Hampden with Martin Hardie getting our goal courtesy of a McManus deflection. The performance was excellent though and we deserved more. Owen Coyle said afterwards, "We certainly didn't deserve to lose on the day. It's hard to take. I'm pleased we pushed the SPL leaders all the way but the bottom line is that we're out of the cup. I can't ask for any more than the players gave. I'm gutted for them. It's not often Celtic fans are calling for the final whistle like that. ". As for the controversial penalty decision he went on, "At the time I thought it was soft. It could have been given, but equally I've seen them not given. That shows you, when you're playing these real quality teams you have to concentrate, and goals change games. But credit to my players for their response, and their attitude and desire to get back into the game against the SPL champions - they're a First Division side, you've got to remember. I thought the spirit they showed was second to none. To go 1-0 down against the champions it would be very easy to buckle, but nothing could be further from the truth. We came back and then some, and took the game on and looked to try to win. "
Elsewhere and in the league the Village People only managed a draw at Accies meaning the title race is still well and truly on.
April 13th - One day to go so
time for even more hype in the papers with Kevin
Cuthbert hoping to play tomorrow after his suspension last weekend.
The Saints goalie spoke to the Courier about the biggest game of his
career so far and his memories of the 1989 semi against TFOD where we took
them to a replay. "I was only young but I remember clearly being
at Parkhead for the 0-0 draw against Rangers. St Johnstone were a
part-time team in those days and it was obviously a huge result to take
Rangers, who were champions, to a replay. It would be a great achievement
if we could actually beat Celtic this time and hopefully we can do it. It
would be a massive feat to get to the Scottish Cup final, especially when
you see that weve had SPL teams in every round of the competition
except one. All the players will have their families and friends at
Hampden Park but Ill know a lot of other people from Perth in the
crowd. Thats something which will be special for me and hopefully,
if Im playing, I can reward them with a good result. "
The final decision as to which keeper will start with Bryn Halliwell keeping a clean sheet against the Village People. Kevin went on, "Bryn couldnt do any more than that really. Having said that, I was dropped after keeping a clean sheet last season, so I would know how he felt if it happened. Bryn and I will make sure whoever plays is mentally ready. Its rivalry, but its a friendly rivalry. Well both be preparing as if were going to be playing because even if you dont start you could be called into action at any time. If I play it will definitely be the biggest game Ive played in. We played in the CIS League Cup semi-final a few months ago, but the Scottish Cup is a bigger, more prestigious competition. Theres no argument about that. Were in the semi-final and playing the Scottish champions at the national stadium and all the boys have been looking forward to it for a while. Now its here, we want to give a good account of ourselves. Weve got a few players Kevin James, Jason, and Allan McManuswho have won semi-finals before so hopefully that will stand us in good stead. "
He's also hopeful of putting behind the CIS semi-final defeat to Hibs when they scored a soft freekick in extra-time. "It was a difficult one to take, because of the stakes involved. But at every level of football mistakes are made in every game, not just by goalkeepers. You have to put an error behind you. It was a burden at the time, but anything that doesnt break you, makes you stronger. Its not an experience I would want to go through again but you move on. "
In terms of team news we have some worries though with Filipe Morais missing training all week due to a virus and Savo still only an outside bet for a subs spot. Owen Coyle said, "I know exactly what my starting 11 will be and you wouldnt need to be a rocket scientist to work it out. Well be ready. Yes, were short in numbers in terms of strength in depth and trying to get 16, but Ive got my 11."
12th - After the saturation coverage in some papers yesterday, the
hype continues today with Jason again
the subject of more probing journalism by the Courier - whether it's the
player's agent driving the PR or more the Courier wanting to speak with
their favourite ex-Arab is unknown. Anyway the Saints striker told the
paper, "I enjoyed myself at United after coming from Trinidad.
They made me feel at home. During the first year here I actually thought
maybe I would go back to United. I was disappointed having to leave. I
felt I was sure to go back to Dundee United because I had a love for the
club. They brought me across here and I enjoyed being there. Collin Samuel
is a good mate and I enjoyed going out with the boys there. But two years
have past and its time for me to move on now. Other clubs were
interested in signing me after the work permit problems. I could have
played professional football back home. But my agent said St Johnstone
were interested in me. I was keeping my options open. In a sense it was
good. Maybe this is a good stepping stone. I am playing every week for
Saints and doing well. I have done better this season than last year. At
United I wasnt getting as much game time as Id have wanted. As
a player you want to be playing every week. The priority at St Johnstone
has been winning the league, and the cup is a bonus. We are all looking
forward to the game "
"This is an opportunity for me. Obviously Im doing something good if clubs are looking at me. I just have to keep doing what Im doing, and scoring goals. If youre doing that bigger clubs are going to take a look. The Celtic game is a big opportunity for me because the game is being televised worldwide. Every player in the St Johnstone dressing room will be motivated for a big game like this. Its a chance to show what we can do. Our motivation is to play at a higher level. Its a big game and my team-mates seem to think these bring out the best in me. Maybe its down to the atmosphere and playing against quality players. People think Im laid back but I do get nervous sometimes if its a big game. From my point of view thats good. After I get the first touch everything seems to flow "
7pm - Congratulations as well to Jason and Goran Stanic who have been nominated for the SPFA Player of the Year award for Division One. Gretna's Colin McMenamin and Partick's Mark Roberts are also in the frame.
Meanwhile Paul Sheerin(right) did his bit for the media on the Official Site this morning after the last training session before the lads head to Wegieland. He said of Saturday's game, "It is a massive occasion for the players, the club and the supporters. We intend to approach the match in the same manner as we have done for our other cup ties this season and that attitude hasnt let us down yet. Well give it 100% and I would echo the managers comments that whatever the outcome, we dont want to be heading away from the ground feeling that we didnt give our best and havent done ourselves justice. I was in the Ayr United side that got to the semi-finals in 2002. Ironically, that was against Celtic at Hampden as well. We gave a good account of ourselves although Celtic scored through Henrik Larsson and led 1-0 but they brought on Alan Thompson and he scored twice to make it 3-0. It was a great experience and Ill look to draw on that this Saturday." He also knows how to take on and beat Sellick in their own patch and went on, "While I was with Aberdeen we went down there with a really young side and we beat them it ended a very lengthy unbeaten run they had enjoyed. Between that and what I experienced with Caley Thistle I know it is possible for the underdogs to come out on top and if we can play to the top of our game and they are anything below 100% then we have a chance. We will give it a go."
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
11th - Today's media coverage sees Saints in the spotlight after
the media were all over training yesterday. Owen
Coyle(right) was first up in the Courier and despite all the media
attention on the West Coast in recent weeks over the SPL leaders form,
he's not taking anything for granted. "I have to say that I find
it incredible. For me, were playing the champions of Scotland.
It is a case of when they will win the SPL, rather than if, and when they
do it, the league will have been won in emphatic style, as it was last
season. A few weeks ago they were a blow of the referees whistle
from knocking AC Milan out of the Champions League, when they should have
had a penalty. That shows you the enormity of the task we face and were
under no illusions about that. People tell me Celtic arent playing
well but theyre still winning games and they have quality from back
to front. Make no mistake, were big, big underdogs in this game. "
"Having said all that, were in this semi-final on merit. I think that everybodys aware from our previous good performances against SPL teams Dundee United, Rangers, Hibernian, Falkirk and Motherwellhow good our performance levels can be, and if were to have any chance we have to get to that level again. With that level of performance well need Celtic to be slightly off their game and then well have a chance. As I said before our CIS League Cup semi-final against Hibs, what I dont want is our players coming off the pitch with any regrets. If we give everything weve got and are beaten by a better team then well accept that, but coming off thinking about what might have been will leave a sour taste in the mouth. Im looking for the guys to give everything theyve got and express themselves. Well look to play our game and one thing we definitely wont do is sit back. There will be times when Celtic will have us pinned back because we expect them to have the bulk of the possession, but when we have the ball well be committing players forward. As a player I would hate it if we were set out to play for a 0-0 draw, and there will be nothing negative about this St Johnstone team. Theres no doubt that St Johnstone have had a super season. When you analyse things you would agree that the fantastic cup runs have had a detrimental impact on the league at points because we dont have a big squad. Weve got players out injured and if anybody gets injured this week yours truly will be in the 16! My players have tremendous team spirit and that has been proven throughout the season. If you get honest endeavour you cant ask for any more. "
Elsewhere and Peaso(right) reckons the stage is set for Jason on Saturday. He told the Courier, "Jason and I are different players. Hes a lazy git! Ability wise though, not many players can touch him, even in the SPL. He does some incredible things in training. It must be a Trinidadian thing about how theyre brought up, going at half pace, smoking a cigar! Hes a special player when he wants to be. It wouldnt surprise me if he stars on Saturday and I hope he does. But weve got a lot of other good players apart from Jason. Weve got boys like Martin Hardie who will graft hard to give us a platform to play "
He's been happy with his own season as well and went on, "Its been a long time since Ive had a good run in the team like this, probably about three years ago under John Connolly. Im loving it and I feel like Im getting fitter day by day and week by week.". As for the game he said, "Well show them the utmost respect because theyre Celtic and theyre the SPL champions. In a way its daunting to play them. The teams that weve beaten in the SPL havent been of the calibre of Celtic. This will be stepping up another level. But well be looking to get in about them and see how they like it. We base everything on not giving our opposition time to play and then hopefully someone like Jason can come up with a piece of magic for us. We enjoy going in against good teams where we can show people how good we are. This is a big stage for the boys and hopefully we can rise to the occasion. Having said that, Id take winning the league over getting to a cup final every time "
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
April 10th -
Derek McInnes is providing the quotes
for the cup in the Courier today. The midfielder, who arguably had his
best game of the season at Raydale said, "The season has already
had some good moments but we dont want to fall short in the league
and not get to a cup final. Ultimately if this team is to be remembered,
well have to get to the Scottish Cup final or win the championship.
There is more pressure on a club like Celtic to get to finals but Id
like to see us put ourselves under pressure to do it. This will be a great
week for the players but you can get caught up in all the hullabaloo. You
have to keep focused on the game at the end of it, and its an
opportunity to get to a cup final. We want to enjoy the afternoon but that
will only happen if we win it. Theres no satisfaction in giving a
good account of yourselves and being unlucky losers. Weve shown we
can more than hold our own against top teams and in a semi-final. We got
caught cold in the first five minutes against Hibs and lost an early goal
but I would like to think that wont happen again. If were at
our best, Celtic will have to play well to win the match. Thats what
I genuinely believe. Theres a quiet confidence that if we play to
our full potential well have a fighting chance. "
The club are hopeful that Savo will be able to resume training this week and be able to at least make the semi-final squad.
9th - Despite the comfortable win at the weekend, skipper
Kevin James(right) wasn't that happy
knowing that the Village People are still in control in the title race. He
told the Courier, "I actually feel quite disappointed and I know
that sounds daft after beating the league leaders 2-0 away from home. It
just shows you what could have been possible had we got the right results
earlier on. On the plus side, the gap is down to five points with three
games still to go so we wont give up. It is a great result and
hopefully we can carry the momentum on to the Scottish Cup semi-final
against Celtic next Saturday. When you look at the players we have in our
team, on our day we are capable of beating anybody, although we have shown
that more so in cups this season than the league. "
As for the game, he went on, "Jason was terrific and thats why clubs in the English Championship are looking at him. Their fans were brilliant to clap him like that and it was an appreciation of a very good footballer. Sometimes he just doesnt turn up but this time he won the game for us himself with his skill and hold-up play. Having trained and played with Jason, one thing you notice is that he is built like the side of a house. So he has strength and there is no doubting his ability. It is just a question of whether he brings his tools with him at times. "
Looking ahead to the cup game he said, "Jason has been bumping his gums about how Hampden can be a great showcase for him. It is a bonus game for us. We are not expected to win but we will give 100% and not give up without a fight. I think we showed that we mean business when we faced Gretna. The gaffer told us that if we did not perform then we would put ourselves under pressure as regards getting into the team for next week. Nobody pulled out of a tackle and we worked our socks off."
Owen Coyle was a bit happier. "We came down to win the game and reduce the points gap to five and I think if you watched the game you could be in no doubt about the outcome. You could not argue that we did not deserve to win and I thought some of our football was excellent. I happen to think we have had a super season and there is no doubt that our cup exploits have had a detrimental effect on our league form, there has been a kickback. The great thing is, though, that we have shown we are a really good team and can now look forward to a great occasion against Celtic with confidence."
6pm - While it looked like just a few knocks at training today, Saints plans were wrecked just a bit more with the news that Stephen Doris is out of the semi trip and the rest of the season after breaking his metatarsal playing for the U19s yesterday. It's also been confirmed that Derek Lilley will also miss out due to being cup-tied. Assistant Sandy Stewart told the Official Site, "There is an upbeat mood today with the players pleased with both the result and the performance at Raydale Park. It puts us in a good frame of mind for the semi-final and preparations for that began today and will continue throughout the week. We are not as familiar with Celtic as we are with our league opponents so we will talk more in-depth about them as opponents than we perhaps do against sides in the First Division who we meet four times a season. That is what Owen has done for the previous cup ties this season and the results are there for all to see and it should stand us in good stead for Saturday. It is a nice break from the league business and it is a glamour tie. I dare say some fans would have liked one of the other sides left in the competition but we are playing a big club with the added glamour of Sky TV and it is an occasion we should all look forward to."
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
April 8th - No sooner is one big
game out the way than the hype has started building for the semi-final
next weekend. Owen Coyle is first up in
the Scotland on Sunday today and he's said that Saints will give their
all. "I was always frustrated when we went to stadiums we were
expected to get beat in and the manager, for whatever reason, decided we
would sit in and play for 0-0. "I genuinely believe that you have an
obligation to try and win every game. You have to do that within a
structure and not be gung-ho. We will not go to Hampden to sit back and
play defensively. For one, it would be absolute folly because with their
quality ultimately they'll unlock the door. We will have a go and whether
that materialises will be up to Celtic. We will try to impose ourselves,
as we have this season, and feel if we can play to our maximum and Celtic
aren't at that, then we have a chance. People spoke about us getting
Rangers at the right time, but there is never a right time to go to Ibrox
because they have quality. It will be the same again at the weekend and if
we sit back and admire they will dictate. When we have a chance we have to
go and express ourselves - we have players who can cause teams problems. "
Elsewhere and in the Sunday Mail "Sellick-daft" Martin Hardie (here we go again) said, "If there's a shoot-out again when we play Celtic I would gladly take a penalty. And I would know where I will put it this time - in the net. I've never scored against Celtic. I've never even beaten them with Partick Thistle and Kilmarnock. But being a fan just makes you want to beat them. Celtic look forward to these occasions all the time whereas we usually watch them on TV. It will be a bigger occasion for us but we're not going for a day out. We're looking to lift the trophy. Only Kevin James and Allan McManus from our squad have been to a final. But we got to the CIS Cup semi-final against Hibs earlier this season and I played at Tynecastle. It was a magnificent night for us although the result didn't go our way. However, the Celtic game is something to look forward to and all the boys are up for the challenge. We raise our game against SPL sides and they won't like playing us. "
April 7th -
Allan McManus is another Saints player
who knows what's at stake today with anything less than three points
ending our title chances. The defender is banned for the last three league
games so his final league appearance will be this afternoon and he spoke
to the Courier saying, "Gretna only drawing with Airdrie on
Tuesday night keeps us hanging in there. But as
Martin Hardie and I were agreeing the
other day, its a case of holding on to the edge of the cliff with
one hand and an itch! It wasnt until Thursday morning I found out
the result. Id become fed-up checking out their scores and hoping to
find out theyd dropped points. The truth is if wed taken the
numerous opportunities weve had to close on them that wouldnt
have been an issue. Weve had several chances to peg them right back
and weve only ourselves to blame for not capitalising. Now its
last orders in the Last Chance Saloon. We know what has to be done. We
simply have to get three points down there and at least put the pressure
on them for another week. I firmly believe that if we play to our
capabilities then well win. But talks cheapwe have
to go and deliver on the park. Everything weve got will have to be
put into these 90 minutes. Its a case of one last push then see what
Don't expect too many changes to the side as Owen Coyle said, "We dont have a big enough squad to ring the changes. The boys have done well throughout the season and, though we lost last week, I felt we were the dominant team. Im not really interested in Gretna. Im only interested in St Johnstone and the fact that we can cut their lead to five points."...And if anyone isn't making the trip to the border, the game is live on Sportsound.
7pm - A cracking performance from Saints with two first-half goals from Jason saw us win 2-0 at Gretna and spoil their party plans, keeping the title race open until at least the Clyde game in ten days time. Of course it wasn't all smiles with Filipe Morais seeing red in the second-half for a second booking, both for kicking the ball away (as last week though the inconsistency of the referee was shocking).
6th - Willie Dyer has been ruled
out for the season after having his appendix removed.
Owen Coyle explained in today's Courier,
"Willie was complaining of stomach pains on Monday and was taken
into hospital with suspected appendicitis. After blood tests came back he
was operated on the following morning. That effectively rules him out for
the rest of the season and thats a real blow because he would have
been one of the two under-21s on our bench for the semi. Im
absolutely gutted for the boy. To miss out on a showpiece occasion at his
age is terrible and of course it leaves us another number short. But the
most important thing is his health."
Elsewhere and the manager has warned clubs that if they want Jason, they'll have to stump up the cash. "If bigger clubs come in for players then they tend to move onthats football. But theres been no dialogue between ourselves and any other clubs about Jason and, while he could sign a pre-contract, I think Ive got a relationship with him that would ensure that if something like that was going to happen hed tell me. And its worth pointing out that Jason is actually under contract to us until August so its not just a matter of him leaving in May. If he did want to join someone else he couldnt do that until August, which is a handy position for us in as much as St Johnstone could get some sort of revenue in exchange for letting him leave in time for pre-season training. "
As for tomorrow, there will be no appeal against the red card for The Cat after the manager revealed that the video had all the quality of one of STV's finest moments. "We would have had to lodge any appeal earlier this week and having looked at the video we decided not to pursue it. Unfortunately the frame which shows the ball striking Kevins arm rather than him deliberately handling doesnt show the two defenders on the line. In the build-up to that you see them making their way back into the box but theres no single frame which shows the whole picture. And we just thought it would have been all too easy for the panel to reject our appeal when there was no corroborating evidence ". That means Bryn "I'm a goalie get me out of here" Halliwell(right) returns for his first start in months and he told the papers, "Im really looking forward to it after such a long time out. The gaffer made some changes after we had a blip after beating Rangers in the CIS Cup and unfortunately I was one of them. I made a few costly errors, as goalkeepers do, and the gaffer decided to freshen things up. The weeks have turned into months and, through a lack of reserves games or friendlies and the fact I also split my elbow open while training on the astro, Id not played much. But Ive had a couple of outings in the last two weeks and Im ready. I couldnt believe that Kevin was sent off. Nor could I believe it when the referee told me Kev had deliberately handled the ball. But these things happen and Ive now got to try and take this chance with both hands. Getting back in the team is like a bolt out of the blue, but Im going to Gretna looking to give the manager something to think about when he comes to pick the team for the semi-final. "
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
4th - A combination of the season being all but over in the league
and a cup-tie against one half of the Wegie's favourite Bigot Brothers has
naturally started the rumours going and today the Retard reports that
Jason Scotland(right) might be a
target for Birmingham City with a Brummie scout apparently having watched
him against Livi at the weekend (whether that means he's done himself any
favours remains to be seen).
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
April 3rd - Time for the stiff
upper lip at McDiarmid with Saints needing a win on Saturday to prevent
the Village People taking the title assuming they beat Airdrie tonight
(even then defeat on Saturday for Saints would still see them take the
title). Owen Coyle told the Courier,
"We were always chasing our tails, needing to win every game. But
now Gretna have a terrific advantage and if they win on Wednesday the lead
would be unassailable. Regardless of whether that happens, however, we
have to go to Gretna on Saturday and win."
Martin Hardie added, "Its not done yet, but Gretna can only throw it away. It would take a spectacular collapse for them to lose the league now. And fair play to them, theyve been up there to be shot at for months and maintained that pretty much as St Mirren did last year. Id still like to think Airdrie can do us a turn. I know some of the boys there feel the way they play is suited to doing well against Gretna, so well see. But whatever happens well go to Gretna on Saturday and look to beat them. We dont want to be the team they clinch the league against, not after the two of us have been chasing that prize all season. We dont want to be there when they are partying. "
The fallout continues from the controversial sending-off of The Cat on Saturday and Saints are still debating whether or not to appeal. Of course that would mean the authorities having to apply common sense and the manager went on, "I knew when I watched the incident at the time that it was never a sending off. And the video just enhances that opinion. Kevins hands were at his side and the boy has struck him with the ball. We are thinking about an appeal, but the question is how likely is it the authorities will stick by the decision of the referee that he denied a goal- scoring opportunity? It was a big, big decision in the gamea hammer blow. But we contributed to the result ourselves by conceding two poor goals and not taking our chances. The first goal was terrible, the second poor. "
Elsewhere and Kevin Rutkiewicz and Steven Milne head to London this week to see specialists about their injuries. Owen said, "Its a precautionary thing with both of them. Steven has developed a problem at the top of his thigh and we want to know whether thats happened through his being over protective of the knee. We just want to clarify that he hasnt done anything which would represent a setback. Kevin is in a similar situation. He has come on great and was very close to playing a bounce game, but then he got a bit of discomfort in the ankle. We want to see whether that was just something to be expected or not "
April 2nd - One of the few bright points of Saturday's defeat Filipe Morais has admitted that he's not likely to take a medal back to Millwall in the summer. The winger said, "It would have been amazing to have gone back south in the summer with a league medal. I have to admit its not looking too good just now with Gretna winning, but its still possible, mathematically, so Ill not be giving up. We know Gretna can win the league if they beat us there, so we definitely dont want that to happen.".
1st - Despite the poor performance yesterday,
Owen Coyle was angrier at the referee
for the decision which arguably led to the turning point in the game as
Kevin Cuthbert(right) was red-carded
for alleged handball. The Saints manager told the Official Site, "Ive
just watched the red card incident on video and it confirms my belief that
Kevin should not have been sent off. He had no intention of handling the
ball and made no move to do so, we had two men on the goal line and yet it
is deemed the denial of a goalscoring opportunity? It is beyond belief. I
dont envy referees their jobs but I have invited Mr Smith into my
room to watch the video but he has declined"....no word of an
appeal yet but surely it would be worthwhile?
As for the game he went on, "We let our standards slip in the opening ten minutes of the second half but even at 1-1 I felt we could go on and win the game. Im frustrated, angry and disappointed but we have to take the medicine, re-group on Monday and fight on until the mathematics say we can do no more." (which I think is about 9.15pm on Tuesday night)
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
Top Of News
March 31st - Saints look set to
take on Meadowbank today with a depleted squad but
Kevin Cuthbert is looking for a better
performance than the monsoon job at Almondvale earlier in the year. The
Saints keeper told the Courier, "That was one of the coldest days
of my life. The wind and rain was so bad the game should have been called
off. Football is supposed to be an entertainment but entertaining was just
impossible in those conditions. There wasnt a pass played in the
whole 90 minutes. You couldnt have got a better advert for summer
football! ". He knows points are more important than
entertainment today though and went on, "Gretna have Partick then
Airdrie on Tuesday before we meet them next weekend and it is imperative
we beat Livingston. Whatever happens with Gretna is out of our hands but I
am hopeful they might slip up somewhere along the line. The fact Thistle
have changed manager could work in our favour. Theyve got some good
players and whats happened there this week could spur them on. So,
too, could the fact Gretna have battered them twice this season.
Hopefully, Partick do us a favour and Airdrie, against whom Gretna dont
have the best of records, too. But before we can capitalise on any dropped
point we need to beat Livingston. Livi being the only team to have beaten
us at McDiarmid Park this season is something which irks. There shouldnt
be a team in this league we go through the whole season without beating "
No more word on the injury situation and Owen Coyle said, "We have to leave it to the last minute before deciding on the team as we have no option."
6.30pm - Jason scored but a red card for Kevin Cuthbert for alleged handball, a simply shite second-half performance from Saints and a 2-1 defeat to Livi has all but handed the title to the Village People who can seal things with a win this midweek and suddenly make the trip to their piss-hole next Saturday look less than appetising.
March 30th - Being the brave wee
soldier he is, Kevin James has said he's
got no qualms about risking life and braincell after last weekends head
clash ended his participation in the win over the Scum. Speaking to the
Courier, the Saints skipper said, "People might look at what
happened and question why at 2-0 up so late in the game I went for a 40-60
ball like that. But I did actually win it and if similar circumstances
arose this week or any week Id go for it again. You have to play the
game the same way from start to finish. Too many times over the past
couple of seasons weve switched off when matches have appeared won
and its cost us points. I realise it looked bad when I got
stretchered off and to be honest I cant remember anything that
happened after I picked up the head knock. But Ive seen the doc and
Ill be fine for Saturday. We are in a do or die situation as far as
the league is concerned, so when it comes to injury you have to try and
soldier on "
The injury list has grown a bit as well with Steven Anderson and Peaso carrying knocks although both are expected to be fit to start against Meadowbank tomorrow. Owen Coyle said, "We wont have everyone who played against Dundee available but I have got guys wholl turn out even if they arent 100%. We have to ensure we win this one. If Gretna are to lift the title then we want to make them earn it by winning matches not because we have dropped points. Weve taken nine points out of the last 12. The aim now is to win each of the games we have left. "
March 29th - It looks like Saints won't have their problems to seek ahead of this weekend's match against Livi. So far (deep breath), Kevin James, Allan McManus, Martin Hardie, Derek McInnes, Steven Milne, Willie McLaren and Filipe Morais are injured while Jason has a virus and Andy Jackson a suspected broken thumb. Simon Mensing is already out through suspension and Owen Coyle told the Official Site, "Its a worrying situation and although one or two of the guys might make training tomorrow it looks like it will be a patched up squad for Saturday. However, they have done it for me before and if necessary I will have no hesitation in pitching in some of the youngsters. Kevin James should be okay but Im not prepared to risk him doing too much after his head knock, Allan McManus has to be the most doubtful with a groin problem, Derek McInnes picked up an ankle injury against Dundee and McLaren and Morais both got knocks in Tuesdays reserve game.
March 28th - Some news of more potential silverware this season with the result from the Reserve League Cup semi-final last night seeing Saints 3-0 victors over Cowdenbeath, goals coming courtesy of a brace from Derek Lilley and one from Andy Jackson.
March 27th - Belated congratulations to Owen Coyle who picked up the gong for Manager of the Month for February (based on a couple of nice Scottish Cup wins one presumes). And speaking of the manager he's been praising the boys in the Courier after their Sabbath derby win. "All the games are tough in this league but we were delighted to get the three points against Dundee, It was certainly an important result for us and I was delighted with the overall performance. We will continue to do everything in our power to close the gap yet further. We are taking it one game at a time and both the players and I are now fully focused on the game against Livingston on Saturday. With the gap now at four points we are full of confidence and determined to keep on winning."
March 26th -
Owen Coyle was happy enough with
yesterday's win and told today's Courier, "We had to win to keep
the league campaign going and weve done that. But now we have to
carry this on. The league is Gretnas to lose but weve still
got to play them and weve seen before how big leads are eaten into
and nerves start to play a part. I thought we were a bit edgy ourselves
for the first 15-20 minutes today but then we started to get the ball down
and pass it and from that point on I felt we were dominant."
Good news for skipper Kevin James as he made a full recovery. Tthe manager said, "It was just precautionary with Kevin. We just didnt want to take any chances and Id expect him to be training on Tuesday."
Saints play Cowdenbeath in the Reserve League Cup Final on Tuesday night at McDiarmid Park. And elsewhere, Saints have confirmed that the big clash at Gretna on April 7th will not be all-ticket.
March 25th - Another good 2nd half performance with goals from Jason and Martin Hardie saw us easy winners in a 2-0 victory over Scumdee, although the joy at the three points was tempered Kevin James was stretchered off at the end with a head knock. Still, that's the gap closed to four points for a week at least.
March 24th -
Paul Sheerin is expecting to start on
the bench tomorrow after being dropped there for the Airdrie game last
weekend after 78 consecutive starts. In today's Courier, the midfielder
said, "When youve started so many games its a bit
different being on the bench. But to be fair I cant blame the
gaffer. He could have left a few boys out based on performances of late.
But Ive not been performing well so I cant complain that I was
one of those to suffer that fate. And the decisions he made selection wise
were vindicated by the fact we went and won away from home for the first
time in the league this year. Maybe I shouldnt be saying this when Im
hoping for a recall. But I thought the second half performance at Airdrie
was as well as weve played for a while and I doubt Ill get
back in. I think Ill have to show patience. When the gaffer first
came in I spent the first six or seven games on the bench. It could be Im
facing up to the same thing again. But better players than me have been
left out and had to bide their time. "
As for tomorrow, he went on, "Its a massive game for usbut then all six weve got left fall into that category. If we won the lot of them I think that could be enough to clinch promotion. But, of course, weve got to go and do that. Weve been in the position where we could put pressure on Gretna before and not taken advantage. Hopefully, this time, though, well do that and then see how they respond "
For tomorrow, Savo is still struggling to make the game but Jason is expected to be in the starting lineup
March 23rd -
Simon Mensing spoke out yesterday
about his upcoming suspension. He told the Courier, "Im
disappointed to be suspended because it was a silly booking which took me
over the points threshold. And the timing couldnt be worse
considering the importance of the games Ill miss. To be honest if I
was going to get banned Id rather it had happened earlier in the
season. Having said that, in another way, Im more than happy to have
reached the end of March before picking up a suspension. The role I play
can lend itself to getting booked. At some stage each season I expect to
be banned. Players like myself are going to get cautioned more often than
others. Thats a fact. If you are someone whose game is about making
tackles inevitably you are at greater risk of yellow cards. You dont
need to be intending to hurt someone or malicious in your challenges.
Simply mistiming tackles can get you into bother. And the Scottish
disciplinary system isnt a good one for the likes of myself. I didnt
realise until now that being banned the previous season impacts on the
number of games you miss if you get suspended again. I assumed that you
started each year with a clean slate. Thats what happens down south "
He is available for the weekend though and said of Sunday's big derby, "Getting a few days off this week was good after playing so many games in so short a space of time. Now we are raring to go for Sunday and no-one more so than me. I want to go out on a high. "
March 21st - Confirmation has come through that Simon Mensing's booking at the weekend means he's picked up a nice three-match ban. He's available for Sunday's match against Scumdee but then will miss the games against Livi, Gretna and Clyde although is ok for the cup semi-final. And speaking of Clyde the game there has been rearranged for Tuesday April 17th at 7.45pm
March 20th -
Sandy Stewart is in the papers today
as the players continue to enjoy their rest. The Saints no2 told the
Courier that they boys have to keep the pressure on Gretna (and as a
follow-up that bears do indeed shit in the woods and that Dundee smells).
With the Village People lazing about this weekend as we take on the Scum,
he said, "The way we are looking at it, this is an opportunity to
put added pressure on Gretna. Weve had chances before and not taken
them. This time we have to. Before we meet Gretna on April 7 weve
also got Livingston to play while they have Partick and Airdrie. We want
to get as close to them as possible before then and the fact Thistle and
Airdrie both have something to play for could help us. Having said that,
neither Dundee nor Livingston represent easy games for ourselves. Thats
the thing about this divisioneveryone is either going for the
league, trying to finish as far up the table as they can, wanting to avoid
getting dragged into the dogfight or battling relegation. Theres not
one team thats put the tools away for the season. "
Meanwhile if we don't deal with Sellik straight away on the 14th, the replay will be at Hampden on Wednesday April 25th.
March 19th - A wee bit of controversy in the papers today with Martin Hardie confessing he didn't just use his head on Saturday for the opening goal. The Saints midfielder told the Courier, "When the ball came across I headed it but it might have then hit my pinky, to be fair. I was claiming it anywaya goals a goaland I am happy with that. I got a wee bit of a dressing-down from the gaffer because I wasnt happy going back into midfield. But I was enjoying myself up front and thought there were more goals to be had, especially given the way we were playing in the second half. ". As for the dwindling title chances, he went on, "If Gretna keep going then fair play to them because should they get full points between now and the end of the season then there is not much we can do about that. If not, then we need to be ready to capitalise and we wont be giving up. We have had a lot of games over the past few weeks so its a credit to the boys that we won this one. There has been a match every three days or so and your body just does not allow you to be at your best all the time. We need all 22 players who are in squad because of the injuries and suspensions that we are bound to get. Now, though, there should be no more midweek matches for us, so that will help.". He had some sympathy for his old club as well. "I knew from being an ex-Airdrie player that St Johnstones record at this place was poorno wins here before todaybut we dug in and in the second half in particular we passed the ball a bit better and created more chances. I am a St Johnstone player now and as we are near the top of the table fighting for promotion we had a lot at stake. I do, though, still have a lot of friends here at Airdrie and feel for the club. They are in the unfortunate position that they need to win games so they maybe feel a bit aggrieved at the final result. "
17th - Time's running out and again nothing less thant three points
will do as we try for our first away league win in six months this
afternoon at Airdrie. Steven Anderson
misses out through suspension while Kevin
James seems set to also miss out with his hamstring strain. Added to
that Savo and
Peaso are both carrying knocks so
expect a different starting lineup at 3pm.
Allan McManus(right), who was the subject of some alleged exchanges with the fans at half-time on Tuesday night during the Firhill shambles will therefore likely skipper the side and he told the Courier that time is running out. "Wed like to think were one of the better teams in this league, so that away record we have really is horrendous. Maybe we havent been strong enough mentally. You need to be able to show mental toughness to shut up shop when you go in front, and weve given away cheap goals which have cost us dearly. It cant happen any more because its got to be victories from now on. Weve not managed to take advantage of our games in hand, or Gretna dropping points, so theres no point talking about them while were not winning ourselves. We have to keep winning from now until the end of the season and see where that takes us. Lets be honest, were just not playing well. The effort is definitely there but the quality has to be there as well and we all know that. Its up to us to sort it out because the standard of our play has to get up to the level of the commitment "
Assistant Sandy Stewart returns to Airdrie for the first time since he was punted by them earlier in the season and the skipper went on, "It would be nice to win for Sandy. I played with him at Airdrie and for him and I know what a great job he did there on a limited budget. It was harsh that he had to leave. St Johnstone have had a tough time at Broomfield on a number of occasions and we have to make sure it doesnt happen again. This is a match we need to win. The fans have every right to be annoyed at the moment but we really need their backing. "
Owen Coyle meanwhile is looking for a reaction from his players and said, "Were bitterly disappointed about losing to Partick Thistle on Tuesday but weve taken our kick in the teeth and now and its all about how we react to it. Five games in 13 days has been a big ask for the players and that is the result of having two very successful cup runs. Gretna are big, big favourites but we have to focus on winning every one of our last seven games. A winning run has to start at Airdrie tomorrow. Our squad is down to the bare bones just now, but if Im able to freshen things up Ill do it. Airdrie has certainly not been a happy hunting ground for us. Weve beaten them plenty of times here but have found it difficult at Broomfield. Theyre fighting for their lives and it will be a tough match because of that "
6.30pm - The hoodoo was finally broken today with Saints notching up three points in a 2-1 win at Airdrie thanks to goals from Martin Hardie and sub Jason although the performance still wasn't the inspiring stuff we've been crying out for. At least it meant the gap was narrowed to seven points at the top as Gretna dropped two points at Livi.
Owen Coyle was happy tonight though and told the Official Site, "Im delighted with the win and to some extent it gets the monkey off our back about the lack of an away win in the league for so long. I thought we started slowly but improved as the game went on. To be honest, after so many games in such a short period of time I was worried at half-time that our second half performance might be sluggish but the opposite was true - I thought we showed the spirit, passion, energy and hunger to win this game. We can certainly play better than we did today but it was all about getting the win". The squad has been given time off until Thursday to recharge their batteries (or charge them up in the case of some lazy members)
March 16th - With the league
title all but slipped out of our hands, the rumours have started about
moves with Jason Scotland
unsurprisingly the main subject - both Aberdeen and Cardiff have been
linked with pre-contract deals for the Saints striker.
Owen Coyle is quoted in today's Courier
commenting on the tales though and saying, "I can state
categorically that there has been no contact from Aberdeen, Cardiff or
anybody else regarding Jason. I know
that with him being out of contract come the end of the season that there
will be clubs looking at him. We, ourselves, have signed goalkeeper Alan
Main on a pre-contract agreement but what we did was contact Gretna to
keep them informed with what was going on. With that being the way I work
I dont think it would be too much to ask for a similar courtesy to
be shown by others "
Kevin James is still a major doubt for tomorrow with his hamstring injury which with Steven Anderson suspended leaves us well and truly short at the back.
March 14th - Token excuses time in the papers today after the crap last night. The Waily Retard merely quotes Owen Coyle saying, "We came to win but lost an early goal and we missed a couple of chances. We did well in the second half but everyone in the stadium could see it was a foul on our keeper for their second goal. We're nine points behind Gretna but we certainly won't give up the chase. ". He might not have given up but the rest of us have after that mess last night. And for all the spiel about us "doing well", their keeper hardly had a save to make while we had Kevin Cuthbert to thank for keeping the score respectable. Simply not good enough.
13th - Time is running out for a title chase for Saints but
Derek McInnes(right) reckons we can
still do it. The veteran midfielder is quoted in today's Courier, saying,
"When I won promotion with West Brom we were 12 points behind
Wolves in March, went on a fantastic run, won 11 out of our last 12, and I
think Wolves only won four. We overtook them and by the last game of the
season it was in our own hands. All we had to do was beat Crystal Palace
to go up and we did it. So it shows it can be done. I think Wolves thought
they were home and dry but we managed to peg them back. The manager Gary
Megson stressed to us then that it was all about us winning our games and
applying pressure because when you get to the end of the season and youre
trying to win things or stay up, pressure can do strange things. Its
never straightforward. We cant let our heads go down when Gretna win
a game and we have to keep applying the pressure. Weve already had a
couple of opportunities to close the gap and it would be the worst feeling
in the world at the end of the season if we dont do all we can to
push them right to the end. I expect there to be a few twists and turns
left yet and the players have to keep believing, but that will count for
nothing if we dont do our own job. I know weve had a lot of
big games this season, and weve got a Scottish Cup semi-final
against Celtic still to come, but for me this is our biggest game of the
As for his own fitness following the plague he said, "On Thursday and Friday I was really bad. I tried to force myself to eat something on Friday and Saturday but it wasnt really happening. I felt lethargic the whole way through but the manager wanted me to give an hour, and the most important thing was the team got the win. "
The injuries are still a concern with skipper Kevin James all but ruled out. Owen Coyle said, "Ill be very surprised if Kevin is anywhere near making it. When he came off with 15 minutes to go on Saturday he didnt realise we had used all three subs. He wanted to go back on and he was supposed to just stay up front, but there were times when I had to tell him to stop running about. Id rather have that type of player in my squad than the type who get a tweak and then say theyre struggling. As captain, hes desperate to be out there playing ". The manager's also not letting the shocking away form affect us and went on, "Im certainly not worried about our performances on the road. Its about putting the could have wons and should have wons to bed. At the stage of the season were at its all about standing up and being counted and home or away doesnt really come into it. If we can win this match to close the gap to six points I still think well have every chance. "
11pm - An absolutely shocking performance saw Saints lose 2-0 at Firhill blowing any slim title chances in the process. With indiscipline and poor refereeing we also finished the game with ten men after Steven Anderson was red carded in the second half. Saints were poor all over tonight and if any of these players think they deserve a starting jersey at the semi-final never mind the honour of wearing the blue next season they have a long think coming.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
March 12th - With Scumdee letting
down their Tayside neighbours yesterday as they lost to the Village
People, focus now is on tomorrow's trip to Partick and the rematch with
the Bunnet. And speaking of the Village People,
Kevin Cuthbert is in the paper today
talking about the prospective battle for the goalkeepers jersey next
season against his one-time mentor Alan Main.
The Cat told the Courier, "No
matter who comes here I have to keep them out of the team. In my opinion,
Gretna are losing their best player. Alan has signed this pre-contract and
I am still under contract next season so its something we will have
to look at then. One of us has to play but that is in three to four months
time. There are still eight games left this season and I want to
concentrate on them. phoned me up and wished me all the best which was
nice of him; I appreciate that. It will be great to work with him again.
Hes a great professional. How many goalkeepers can say they are
still playing at the age of 39? Hell certainly be coming here to
push for a place but Im looking forward to it, competition is good
for the team. But I have to concentrate on myself right now. "
And speaking of the game, Owen Coyle said, "Im not a lover of the pre-contract and never have been. I think its a very poor rule but its one we have to cope with. It would be naive of me not to deal with it. I wouldnt be doing my job properly otherwise. I dont recall Cuthbert having a save in the game, but we scored two very good goals. The important thing was that we got the result. There were players out there who were not 100% fit and we played the last 15 minutes, effectively, with 10 men due to Kevin James' hamstring injury. We were under pressure to close the gap and Im delighted we did that "
6.30pm - Injury worries aplenty though for tomorrow with Kevin James a major doubt and Peaso joining him on the list. Owen Coyle told the Official Site, "At this stage I have to say I will be very surprised if Kevin makes it tomorrow. As you know he picked up another knock on Saturday and only stayed on the park to give us a presence up front rather than play a man short."
As well as that Andy Jackson and Willie McLaren have picked up a virus believed to be passed on by Derek "Typhoid Mary" McInnes who was suffering from the same bug towards the end of last week. On the plus side though Dick Campbell's Bunnet is believed to have made a full recovery.
10th - Savo is in the Courier
today asking for his old employers to do Saints a favour with Scumdee due
to take on the Village People tomorrow. He told the Courier, "We
need Gretna to drop points and hopefully Dundee can give us a helping
hand. I believe they might just do that because they are a good team,
especially at home, and they have plenty of incentive themselves. A win
would move them to within eight points of Gretna and they would probably
feel that was them back in the hunt. But, first and foremost, after two
disappointing results ourselves, we need to start winning games again. And
there is no denying that these two matches against Thistle are must-wins.
Granted, we get the six points off Partick then I am still optimistic we
will catch Gretna because, at worst, we would only be six points behind
with a game against them to come. ". As for his own fitness, he
said, "As I have not had a bounce game to help my match fitness,
I am having to take things slowly, building up the length of substitute
appearances I am getting. I wouldnt expect to start in the short
term but after Thistle next midweek hopefully I will be able to work on my
6.30pm- Well it was a pish game but Martin Hardie(right) livened things up with both goals in a 2-0 win over Partick that had Partick boss Dick Campbell sent to the stand for Dangerous Use of a Bunnet. Not so good news for Kevin James who played the last five minutes or so with a thigh strain and looks a doubt for the return encounter on Tuesday at Firhill.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
March 9th - Some good news for a
change with Kevin Rutkiewicz revealing
that he might be available before the end of the season. Out since last
September, the defender told the Courier, "Im back in light
jogging, kicking a ball with the physio and doing some squats in the gym
Its progressing well and Im a wee bit ahead of schedule. But
getting back before the end of the season would be a bonus. Theres a
lot of incentives for me to do that what with the club chasing a title and
a bit of cup glory. But how the team are doing will likely dictate whether
I manage a couple of games. Had we been in a luxury position where the
league was won with a game or two to spare or someone else had run away
with it then I might have got in. But the fact of the matter is its
probably going to go right to the wire. However, Id be happy just to
be available for selection. Its a frustrating injury more than
anything because sometimes it feels ready to take things a step further
and our physio Nick Summersgill has to rein me in. But I always knew the
recovery process would be long term. Wear and tear over the years had
meant that the only ligaments still intact in my ankle were the lateral
ones. So when I tore them that was the final nail in the coffin. They had
to rebuild the joint using tendons to replace the ligaments and thats
why the rehab has taken so long. "
One player who will be back this weekend for the visit of Partick as the first part of the double-header against them is Martin Hardie. Paul Sheerin is looking to get back on track after the last couple of weeks with two wins in the Partick double-header. The midfielder told the Official Site, "The last two games have been most disappointing but they are done now and we have to get on with it. All the players firmly believe that we still have an opportunity to win the league and tomorrows match gives us the chance to narrow the gap on Gretna before they play Dundee on Sunday. Our poor away form is there for all to see and I don't know what the problem is away from McDiarmid Park. It is maybe becoming a mentality thing but our home record is good and we have a great record down at Firhill and so there is not reason why we cannot come out of the games against Thistle with full points and see where that takes us."
March 8th - First up and there's
a planned meeting for any Edinburgh-based Saints fans for Friday 16th at
Mathers Bar in Broughtoun St from 6pm onwards with a view to seeing if
there's enough interest in putting together bus trips to games and getting
a supporters club going.
Back to Saints though and it's more of the same from the club as Owen Coyle tries to get the players to pick themselves up after Tuesday's defeat. The manager told the Official Site, "There is no doubt we have passed up a wonderful opportunity to narrow the gap. We started well at Palmerston and should have been in front and then and I know Im saying this for the umpteenth time this season we lost an awfully soft goal. Goran Stanic was clearly fouled in the build up and then a deflection from the attempted clearance by Andy Lawrie fell nicely for them. We just didnt get the break. We were all over the place for 10 or 15 minutes after the goal for whatever reason and Queens were always dangerous on the break but we missed some absolute sitters. The one thing we do in every game is create lots of chances but we are not clinical enough and six or seven players have all had chances to do better in front of goal than they have done in the past two games."
And he went on, "Tuesday night was as disappointed as I have been in my career with an individual result but what we have to do is analyse the reasons for the defeat and work on the failings and I firmly believe the disappointment of the last two results will make us more resilient. If we beat Partick Thistle on Saturday then the gap is down to six points ahead of Gretnas game on Sunday. We have bounced back before and we will do it again."
March 7th - To cheer us up after last nights shambles, the ticket details for the semi-final are out with Saints getting a 4-4500 initial allocation (with another 3500 for later if we sell out the first batch). Prices are from 15-25 quid and detailed on the official site with season ticket holders getting first dibs. Sale starts on Tuesday 27th.
March 6th -
Kevin James says he's set to play
tonight at Palmerston despite picking up an injury at the weekend. The
Saints skipper told the Courier, "I twisted my hip at Dingwall
and well have to see how it is. Ive possibly played too many
times with injuries. But thats part and parcel of the game. There
are occasions when you just have to grit the teeth, take a few
pain-killers and soldier on. And a big game like this one comes into that
category. This next week offers us the chance to apply some real pressure
on Gretna. On balance Id still prefer to be in their position but if
we take nine points from the next three matches well have got as
close to them as we possibly can. Getting the right result from Dumfries,
though, will be no easy task. Queen of the South made a few astute
signings in the transfer window and have picked up since. And the fact
theyve just beaten the top team in the league 3-0 away from home is
a warning to us. Theres no way we can take them lightly. Their
league position is a false one and theyve as much to play for as we
Owen Coyle has targetted maximum points though to close the gap to 3 points by Saturday night (The Village People don't play Scumdee until Sunday). He said, "Its a massive week for everybody involved. When we were idle a week past Saturday, Gretna had the opportunity to go 13 points clear. Now, with their not playing until Sunday, weve the chance to reduce the gap to three points. Matches dont come any tougher at this present moment than Queen of the South away. But we won down there earlier in the season and if we play the way we can we are more than capable of doing so again. "
Martin Hardie sits this one out while Simon Mensing is apparently one booking away from another longer ban.
9.45pm - I wasn't at the game but the live radio commentary made it sound like the same old story with Saints missing a ton of chances and losing 1-0 to QoS to leave us 9 points behind the Village People (whose manager has left on a leave of absence) with only one game in hand.
March 5th - The Courier has
finally reported today on what was one of the worst kept secrets with the
news that former keeper Alan Main is set
to leave Gretna in the summer for a return to Saints after signing a
pre-contract agreement on a 2-year deal last week. No doubt that will add
a bit more spark to the currenl title race with the Gr£tna side now
set to replace him for the rest of the campaign.
Meanwhile, Simon Mensing admitted that the players were disappointed after the weekend result. He said, "Unless come the end of the season it turns out to be the point which wins us the league, todays a case of two points dropped. We could have been two or three goals up by half-time. But in the second half a few of the boys started suffering from tired legs and Ross County capitalised. We arent making things easy for ourselves. It seems every time Gretna slip up its the same story with us. We need to start winning dirty and see out games.". The Saints midfielder also spoke out about the flashpoint when Derek McInnes was booked for a late tackle saying, "Theres no need for a manager to come on the pitch. The challenge was late but it wasnt malicious. And for him to come storming on the park claiming it had been two footed, which it wasnt, and looking for the individual concerned to be sent-off, thats not what footballs about. If he stays on the sidelines and vents his frustration from there, fair enough. But what he did certainly annoyed a lot of our boys and blew things out of all proportion."
3rd - Paul Sheerin thinks we've
got to start closing the gap on Gretna today. Making his 75th consecutive
start, the Wizard of the Win told the Courier, "Every game we
play from now counts for something. Weve said it so many times
before that we need to go on a run of winning games. But now, more than
ever, if we can manage four wins in a row, what an opportunity weve
got to go on and win the league. Weve had so many opportunities to
close gaps on teams over the last couple of seasons. We couldnt
manage to do it last season when we had the chance to get closer to St
Mirren and now its massively important that we win tomorrow, win our
first game in hand against Queen of the South in midweek and then
hopefully take things on from there."
Owen Coyle is expecting nothing less than three points today. He said, "We should have had that game put to bed by half-time. Our first-half performance was as good as weve had all season. We know this will be a very difficult game. Theyre involved in a dog fight at the bottom of the table and need points just as much as we do. You always get a tough afternoon in Dingwall. Wednesday night is history now. Because of our cup runs we now have a fixture backlog and Gretna have points in the bag. We dont have a big squad and everybody will need to dig deep. Its a big ask, but well give it everything weve got. "
9pm- It wasn't the prettiest game we'll ever see and the performances overall left a lot to be desired but we managed a 1-1 draw at Dingwall with Peaso giving us an early lead with a cracking finish before Higgins hit back in the second as Saints suffered from some walking wounded - both Kevin James and Simon Mensing picked up hefty knocks which must be a worry going into the Palmerston encounter on Tuesday night. Still on the plus side, the Doonhamers did us a wee favour this afternoon by shafting Gretna 3-0 at Raydale meaning that at least we've managed to narrow the gap to nine points and theoretically it's all in our own hands (assuming we win all our remaining games and bang in a barrowload of goals in the process).
March 2nd -
Geoff Brown reckons this season's cup
heroics make it our best season ever (although the memories from 1998-9
seem to disagree with this) due to the teams we've beaten on the way. He
told the Courier, "For a first division club like St Johnstone to
get to two major cup semi-finals by beating clubs above our station twice
in each cupDundee United and Rangers in the CIS League Cup and
Falkirk and Motherwell in the Scottish Cupis a remarkable
achievement. Certainly, in my time as chairman, when weve gone on
cup runs in the past we have always beaten teams below us. This is the
first time in the clubs history, as far as Im aware, that we
have had this sort of cup success. I know that I might be getting carried
away a bit but were either one or two games away from European
football next season. Its absolutely tremendous. The big difference
between this squad and previous ones in recent years is that there are now
quite a number of winners in the team. These are guys who hate to get
beaten and that has come over loud and clear in our cup runs. It was
actually probably best summed up in the only game we lost to SPL
opposition, against Hibs, when we bounced back from the loss of an early
goal and a bombardment at the start to take the game to extra-time. For
last nights game the pressure was on after doing so well against
other SPL teams, but there was no doubt that our players genuinely
believed they would win the game despite the fact that Motherwell are a
mid-table SPL club in good form "
The main concern now is the league fixture pile up with 5 games in 13 days. Owen Coyle said though, "Before the Motherwell game we were looking at something like six games in 17 days. Thats obviously a lot of football, but well just have to get on with it. I cant guarantee well win games but I can guarantee the effort and commitment that the players will show when they pull on a St Johnstone jersey. Our last semi-against Hibs was played at Tyne-castle and Im thrilled for the lads that they will get the chance to play at Hampden in the Scottish Cup semi next month. It really is fully deserved. We dont want to stop there, though. We want to go further in the competition and Ive always said that winning the league would be the most important achievement.". Commenting on the semi-final draw against TFOE, the manager went on, "If you are honest the last draw youd have wanted was the champions and best side in the country. But if you have any designs on winning the cup then you are likely going to have to face them along the way. We were always going to be underdogs whoever we got. The fact its Celtic just makes us bigger underdogs. But its a tie, facing the best in the tremendous setting that Hampden is, to look forward to and theres no way well go there just to make up the numbers. "
No word on any injuries from Wednesday night but Martin Hardie returns to the stand although Derek Lilley, Steven Anderson and Derek McInnes are all available for the trip to Dingwall tomorrow.
7pm - It's been confirmed that the semi-final against Celtic will be live on Sky and that means a lunchtime kick-off at 12.30pm on Saturday April 14th.
Meanwhile Owen Coyle admits there will be changes tomorrow. Speaking on the Official Site, he said, "There are a few knocks and three players were unable to train this morning. Given the run of games coming up I am not prepared to take chances with players so we will have a think about things tonight in Inverness and one or two might have to be brought in tomorrow"
1st - Some controversy from last night's win at Fir Park with the
news that a bunch of neanderthals amongst the home support spent a spell
at the start of the game making monkey noises towards
Jason Scotland(right). The Saints
striker scored our second and told the Courier, "I am
disappointed because I have carried the name of Scotland on my back and to
get abuse here is awful. But it is the first time it has happened like
that. I was trying not to think about it and play my normal game, although
I did hear it. I did not want to give it any attention and I guess I
answered them in the best way by scoring the goal. "
Owen Coyle meanwhile is optimistic ahead of the draw tonight on Reporting Scotland and he told the Scotsman, "Before the CIS Cup semi-final draw, I wanted to avoid Hibs, but we ended up being so close to beating them. We are delighted to be in another semi and I'm sure the other three teams will all be crying out to get us."
7pm - Surprise, surprise the hot and cold balls were separated once more and we've drawn Celtic in the semi-final with Hibs v Pars the other tie, with Saints looking set for the Sunday on Sky.
Finally congratulations to Motherwell who have been quick to issue an official apology to Saints and Jason Scotland(right) for the racial abuse dished out by their fans last night.Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
Top Of News
February 28th -
Kevin James believes we can get a result
tonight. The Saints skipper told the Courier, "It is a good thing
to have faith in yourself and your team-mates. That is not
over-confidence, merely self-belief. The thing is, we know that if we play
to the level we have done against those other SPL sides that we have a
fighting chance of reaching the semi-finals. The statistics show how well
we have done in the cups this season and it is nice to have that good
record behind us. Even if we did not, we would still be positive and
upbeat about this match. That is not cockiness and we are certainly not
shouting about doing this or that. Our lads arent like that. I read
in the paper about Gretna players saying five or six more wins and they
would be winning the league but doing things like that sets you up for a
fall. We will respect Motherwell because they are from a league above us
but we wont be shaking in our boots because we know we can compete. "
Owen Coyle knows what it expected though and he said, "We will need self-belief and we do have it in the squad. We know that when we play to our maximum then we are a half-decent side. It will be important to play our own game and not be dictated to by the opposition. That has worked well for us in the past. As manager I am well aware that I have been asking the same group to reach a high standard often this season. Even those who have not been 100% fit have been prepared to work for the club and I think that sums up the team spirit we have here. Now we have a chance to progress to the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup which, for me, is such an exciting competition, with the final being the showpiece occasion at the end of the season."
Latest injury news is that Allan McManus managed to train yesterday and is likely to play while either the manager or semi-fit Steven Milne will be on the bench as the squad is down to it's bare bones. No word on any pitch inspection but according to Motherwell fans the rain yesterday means there might be some doubt over the surface although with TV money at stake, it's likely everything will be done to ensure the match goes ahead.
Finally Saints have failed to move the QoS game from next Tuesday to March 21st - league rules stating the game should be played at the first opportunity despite both clubs in agreement.
11.30pm - Goals from Peaso and Jason Scotland only demonstrated part of the utter domination of our play tonight as we ran out 2-1 winners at Fir Park and sealed a spot in the Scottish Cup semi-finals next month with a wee trip to Hampden. Saints were simply immense tonight and we thoroughly deserved the win. After the game, the gaffer told the BBC, "Obviously we're very pleased. We had a scary five minutes at 2-1, but we always looked a threat going forward. We're not saying we are the 'bee's knees', but we have great camaraderie and we've got two or three players who can play a bit. We're in the last four on merit and we'll give it everything we've got."
February 27th -
Allan McManus reckons he's still in
with a chance tomorrow but won't take the risk. He told the Courier, "I
worked hard all last week, really pushed myself over the weekend and the
boots were on today, he said yesterday. So, it has been positive so
far and I have my fingers crossed that there will be no after-effects. I
feel I have given myself a great chance to be fit and I dont want to
miss this gamewho would? But if I do not feel right then there will
be no chances taken. That wouldnt be fair on the manager or my
team-mates. There is so much at stake against Motherwell and I wouldnt
want to let them down. I want to play but I will be sensible about it. "
Meanwhile Kevin Cuthbert is keen to put the CIS semi memories behind him. "The squad put that Hibs defeat behind us and I think I have tried to put my error behind me as well. That game was over and done with some time ago and in the Scottish Cup match straight after at Falkirk we won 3-0 with a great performance. Yes, we could have reached a major cup final but it didnt happen and now my focus is on Wednesday night and Motherwell "
Owen Coyle merely said that we were up for the tie. He told the paper, "We wont be sitting in and playing it cagey. Anyone who has seen St Johnstone in recent years will know that we play to win, be it home or away. We will be attack-minded again, although obviously Motherwell will have a say in how the game develops. What I dont want is for anybody to come off the pitch thinking about what might have been. This is a big game on live TV so it is an opportunity to show the nation that we have a good team here in Perth. We are big underdogs and Motherwell have great players who work very hard and within that unit are some very good individuals. They will be dangerous opponents but we feel that we have players at this club capable of causing most teams problems "
February 26th - After another
football free weekend, the latest ahead of Wednesday night's game is that
Allan McManus managed some training
this morning so a decision on his fitness will be left to tomorrow.
Meanwhile, unfortunately I'm going to have to remove all details of Saints fixtures for this and future seasons (at least until they are played) - scores and reports will still appear on this page. This is due to an e-mail received today, from the "Football Data Co Limited" who obviously see the Temple as being a major threat to the future existence of the SFL.
We write on behalf of the Football Data Co Limited which is the appointed licensee of the FA Premier League, the Football League, the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League ("the Leagues") in respect of the licensing of certain intellectual property rights of the Leagues, including those in the fixture lists for this season August 2006 - May 2007 ("the Fixture Lists"), for use by third parties.
We have noticed that your website is displaying Football Fixtures. In order to display the Fixture Lists you must either obtain the necessary license from Football DataCo (email@example.com) or be an officially nominated fanzine for your chosen club. If you are not nominated as the official club fanzine and you do not wish to purchase a fixture license you can post a link to your clubs official site. Without nominated fanzine status or a license there is no provision for any fixture to appear in advance of the match being played.
However, if there is an editorial preview of the next upcoming match in which the fixture is mentioned then this is unlikely to be objected to provided this is done in a clearly editorial form. Mentioning more than one fixture would not be accepted. We thank you for your cooperation
NetResult A Division of Projector NetResult Ltd
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Having checked with other websites and being the total skinflint I am and too lazy to sort out a licence, I've decided to no longer display future fixtures - no doubt you can get all the details by using up the bandwidth of the Official Saints Site
February 22nd -
Owen Coyle has set a deadline of Monday
for Allan McManus to resume training
after his groin strain, otherwise he won't take part in next Wednesday's
Scottish Cup Quarter-Final. The maanger told the Courier, "Allan
will have to be back training by Monday because theres no way you
can go into a Scottish Cup quarter-final if youve not trained for 10
days. If he cant make it for the start of the week then Ill
just have to change things around. Both Andy
Lawrie and Simon Mensing are
capable of slotting into the middle of the defence, albeit moving either
of them in there would take away from other areas of the team. "
Martin Hardie will definitely play in one of the few forthcoming games he's not suspended from.
February 21st - A young Saints side (with a few exceptions) beat Brechin last night at McD to qualify for the Forfarshire Cup final. Goals came from Owen Coyle, Steven Anderson and a freekick from Filipe Morais.
February 20th -
Allan McManus has been confirmed as
suffering from a groin strain when he limped off on Saturday and is
already a worry for the cup game at Motherwell next Wednesday.
Steven Anderson is already suspended
leaving us short of central defenders and Owen
Coyle said, "Allan came off after less than 10 minutes on
Saturday with a groin injury. With Steven suspended, it obviously would be
far from ideal, but well just have to see what happens and whether
we have to look at playing somebody else. "
Saints play Brechin in the Forfarshire cup tonight at McD so it's a chance for some of the fringe players to get a run out although it's too soon for Savo.
February 19th - A nice debate
this morning between whether Filipe Morais
or Simon Mensing scored the better
goal on Saturday. Simon Mensing is in
the Courier and he said of his teammates chip for the fourth, "It
was a great finish. Mine was more about aggression and anger. To be
honest, Id been caught out by their equaliser. Theyd taken a
quick corner and Id switched off and it was my man who scored, so I
was angry with myself and just lashed at the ball. I let myself and the
team down for the equaliser so it was good to get that one. I owed it to
the boys. I enjoyed my goal against Morton in the cup with my left foot
earlier in the season from a fair distance out, but Id have to say
that one was probably the best Ive ever scored. Although it was good
to get on the scoresheet, it was more pleasing to get the three points.
The be all and end all was to get the result. The fact that we scored four
goals, including a couple of decent ones, was good and some of our play
was good as well at times. "
Filipe is still waiting for his first start though and Simon went on, "We know what Fils got and hes champing at the bit to get a start, he said. You can see hes electric and hes got loads of skill to go with that. Hes certainly a good player to come off the bench and add a bit of life and energy into the side but in saying that, hes more than capable of starting a game so hes definitely one to watch out for. "
February 18th -
Filipe Morais dedicated his goal to his
girlfriend yesterday. He's quoted in the Sunday Mail saying, "I
would like to dedicate my goal to Lisa. She has ben ill lately and I was
not at training on Friday as the manager gave me the time off to be with
here. She has had a hard time since giving birth to our baby son Tiago
seven months ago and has been in a lot of pain. I have been really worried
for her but the manager just told me to take whatever time I need off. He
and the club have been very understanding and they are helping us get
through this. I just hope she gets better soon. I can forget about my
problems off the pitch when I'm playing. I'm able to block them out, to
escape from it. "
As for the classiness of the win, Owen Coyle seemed happy enough. "We always want to win but we have an obligation to entertain and I felt we did that as we played some fantastic football. Any neutrals would have enjoyed it. Simon's goal was all about power and Filipe's chip was terrific but had it not gone in I'd have given him a bollocking. "
Meanwhile it seems that forgotten man Neil Janczyk has signed for Stranraer on an initial month's loan - he lined up in their 2-0 win at Stirling yesterday.
17th - Filipe Morais(right) is
the pre-match interview in the Courier today and the on-loan winger
reckons we're better then Gr£tna. He said, "Since I arrived
at this club I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the
set-up. I just think we have a much bigger squad, a stronger foundation
and better players than Gretna. When we played them here a few weeks back
and won 2-1 I was surprised that they were top of the league. You would
have thought we were the leaders and not them. Maybe they just had a
really bad game against us and, Ill admit, I havent seen them
a lot this season. There is no doubt in my mind, though, that this club
has the potential to play in the SPL and there is still a feeling we can
get there. We are adopting the old one-game-at-a-time approach. I feel the
pressure is all on Gretna because people have been ruling us out,
certainly since I arrived. But we have already shown, by knocking
Premierleague sides out of the cups, that we can beat the odds. We
certainly intend to push them all the way until the end of the season. We
could still surprise a few people. "
He's hoping to start today after sitting on the bench in the last few weeks and went on, "I have had to be patient but I knew I was arriving at a big time for the club, with us involved in the cups and trying to catch Gretna in the league. I do think I have been decent when I have come on and have managed to create things and make a contribution. Thats all I can do and hope the manager gives me an opportunity. I was standing on the sidelines aching to get on against Hibs in the CIS Cup semi-final and when I did I put over the cross for the goal. That night was a massive experience for me even though we ended up losing in extra-time. "
Whether he starts is up to the manager and Owen Coyle said, "Hamilton are a decent side but if we play to our strengths then Im sure we can get back to the standards weve set for ourselves"
6.30pm - Filipe Morais(right) didn't start but he got the fourth with a cheeky chip as Saints beat Accies 4-2 with the other goals coming courtesy of a brace from Jason Scotland and a cracking 30-yard volley from all people Simon Mensing. Elsewhere it wasn't too good with Gretna also banging in four against Ross County to maintain their ten-point gap.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
February 16th - After giving the
players a bollocking at Dens last weekend, Owen
Coyle is hoping it serves as a boost tomorrow for the visit of
Hamilton. The Saints manager told the Courier, "The players would
be the first to acknowledge that they let themselves down at Dundee and it
has sunk in. We had that match won then went on to lose it and we did not
play the kind of football we had been playing in previous matches. What is
great about the game is that there is always another opportunity around
the corner and we have a great chance to get back on track against
With Martin Hardie suspended for the next three league games after being an arse last weekend, both Willie McLaren and Filipe Morais come into contention for the vacant midfield slot. The gaffer went on, "Filipe has been terrific in training and has had an impact on the games he has been involved in, while Willie was doing really well until he missed the Hibs game because he was cup-tied"
February 14th - Surprise,
surprise after all the PR work of the last couple of weeks there's been
narely a peep from the ramparts of Fortress McDiarmid since the shambles
at Dens. It has been confirmed that Martin
Hardie is suspended for the weekend hosting of Accies but
Owen Coyle merely talked about how much
of a blow it was saying how the midfielder has been, "playing out
of his skin" with nothing about how the damage he does to his
opponent's skin is the reason behind the suspension.
Elsewhere and the Retard reports that Forfar want Andy Jackson on loan until the end of the season but any decision on this will have to wait until our cup run ends.
February 11th - Owen Coyle apparently gave his players a deserved bollocking after yesterday's defeat but was a bit more defensive in the Sunday Mail saying, "It was a disappointing result but we offered enough to take something from the game. It was a terrific goal to win it from their point of view but I felt it was a cheap one to lose. I wasn't sure about their first goal either and felt the boy just tripped over Lawrie's studs."
February 10th - So much for the strongest Saints side as a lacklustre performance in shite conditions saw us go down 2-1 at Dens despite taking the lead after Jason Scotland scored (following a penalty miss by Paul Sheerin). Poor defending saw the Scum come back and win thanks to a penalty and a Swankie chip while the afternoon was rounded off with Martin Hardie sent off at the end for a second bookable offence. If there was a bit of light in the dismal afternoon it was the news that Gretna had only managed to increase their lead by a point to 10.
February 9th - It was finally
confirmed last night that Jim Weir had
ended his 12 year links with Saints to step up for the manager's job at
Montrose. He said on the Official Site, "It is a very emotional
day for me. It is tough to leave but I am delighted to be joining
Montrose. They have very ambitious people at the helm and I am looking
forward to working with them, the players and the backroom staff. I would
like to sincerely thank the Saints supporters who have been terrific to me
throughout my twelve and a half years with the club. From a personal point
of view my Testimonial Year was an obvious highlight but I have many, many
fond memories of my time with the club winning the league and
getting into Europe being just a couple of them. Going on the team bus on
the way to the stadium in Monaco and seeing the public square packed with
Saints fans is an image that will live with me forever!". There
was also praise from Owen Coyle who said
in the Courier, "Jim was a terrific assistant and I wish him
nothing but success"
The former skipper racked up 230 appearances for Saints and has arguably been one of the most loyal and passionate players to have worn the Sacred Blue. From a personal point of view it's sad to see him leave since the last links with the European squad of 1999 have now left the coaching and playing staff. But at the same time he leaves with everyone's best wishes for the future and hopefully a successful move into management.
That of course leaves a vacancy at Saints and Owen Coyle looks set to link up with his former manager at Airdrie Sandy Stewart, of whom the Saints manager said, "Sandy has a tremendous work ethic and is highly regarded within the game". There's also the small matter of a weekend derby to consider and nobody is expecting an easy game. The gaffer told the Courier, "Dundee have come on in leaps and bounds and are playing out of their skins at the moment. It should be a cracking game."
Saints have also announced the rearranged dates for the league games - we now head to QoS on March 6th and Partick on March 13th.
3pm - Confirmation that Sandy Stewart has undergone the post-Airdrie quarantine and debriefing in order to elevate himself up to the no2 position at Saints. Speaking of the move, Owen Coyle said on the Official Site, "For the sake of continuity it was important that I moved quickly to replace Jim and in Sandy I have recruited someone who I know inside out and who will be a tremendous addition to our set-up".
Bryn Halliwell is a doubt tomorrow after getting stitches in an elbow injury but Gordon O'Brien is on standby. Allan McManus and Derek Lilley are available after missing out last week and it looks like Goran Stanic has recovered from his knock.
8th - Jim Weir(right) seems set to
leave McDiarmid after 12 years service as player and coach today to take
over the reins at Montrose. The Saints no2 has emerged as the front-runner
for the vacant manager's position after a series of boardroom changes at
Montrose saw a new chairman installed. Despite signing an extension to his
deal last season, it looks likely he'll leave with Saints unwilling to
stand in his way of his managerial ambitions. Expect some sort of
Some good news on the injury side of things though with Steven Milne set to start jogging again this week with a possible return to playing in about three weeks.
February 6th -
Owen Coyle looks like having the nice
problem of too many players to pick from for Saturday's trip to take on
the Scum with Allan McManus and
Derek Lilley available again. The
manager told the Courier, "I have to say that I thought about
freshening things up on Saturday after the players efforts over 120
minutes against Hibs. But the other school of thought was that I had to
show loyalty to the guys who had done so well and it would have been a
kick in the teeth to leave some of them out.
Allan McManus had played really well
in the semi but he was suspended for the Falkirk match on Saturday and
Steven Anderson replaced him and did
brilliantly. Also, Willie McLaren has
been playing really well recently but had to miss out against Hibs because
he was cup-tied and he could feel aggrieved that he didnt start at
Falkirk. Leaving people out of the team is one of the hardest parts of
football but its a good problem to have for a manager. Ill
keep judging it game by game. "
Goran Stanic missed training yesterday after limping off at Falkirk but Saints are hopeful he'll be ok by the end of the week
4.15pm - TV strikes again and it's time for another fixture merry-go-round. The BBC in their infinite wisdom have picked the Motherwell v Saints tie for live coverage - so that's now moved to Wednesday February 28th with a 8.05pm kick-off. That in turn means the Partick game which had already been rescheduled for the 27th will have to be moved again, while the QoS game for the 24th is also awaiting rearrangement cos they're still in the cup and will play on the 24th. Fun isn't it?
February 5th -
Andy Lawrie joined in the praise for
Kevin James in today's Courier. The
Saints right-back said, "Its been a great few days for us.
We started out with a win or bust game against Gretna and came away with a
victory. Then, disappointing though the result against Hibs was, the
performance we gave was pretty good. Now this caps things off. We came
here fancying our chances after the League Cup run we had. And weve
come up with a great result, one that should fill us with confidence for
the rest of the league campaign. Everybody was disappointed to lose in
midweek but weve bounced back with a great team performance. No-one
was below par for us but I thought Steven
Anderson did particularly well. Hes been out for the last
couple of weeks after big Kevin came back but with Chalky (Allan
McManus) suspended hes come in alongside Kev and was
brilliant. The lad is only 20 and what a prospect he is "
And with the quarter-final set for the weekend of Feb 24th, expect the second trip to Palmerston to be postponed with both sides involved in the cup
February 4th - It's another
happy camp at McDiarmid today after the cup win yesterday.
Kevin James was especially happy to
stick one over on his old club and dedicated his goal to his eldest. He
told the Sunday Mail, "My goal is for my eldest daughter. When I
left Falkirk she was only nine and didn't really understand. She didn't
realise in football that's the way it is - you move from one club to
another. It's also ironic I scored it 10 years on from playing in the
Scottish Cup Final for Falkirk. I KNEW I'd do it. I never scored at this
ground as a player for the club but for some reason every time I come back
I score against them. I did it while on loan to Morton from Hearts and did
it again here. I was surprised I managed to get so much space at corners.
Normally there are two men on me at all times because I stand out like a
big drip but I managed to shrug off the challengers. It was a great
afternoon and one we'll remember for a long time. This win means a lot to
us but the league means so much more. I would swap everything we've done
in the cups this season for wins in the league because in the long term we
want to be back in the SPL. We're behind Gretna and need to start showing
this sort of form to catch them. But it is still nice to be in the cup.
There's a chance to do something - if the draw is kind with a home tie.
Maybe now we'll become one of the teams to be shot at just because of who
we have beaten."
Owen Coyle was also a chuffed manager saying, "It's a great result because I rate Falkirk highly, especially given the week we've had. We had a game against Gretna, extra-time with Hibs and a kick in the teeth from that defeat. All of that makes this one special "
3pm - Well the cup draw wasn't too bad for us although it's another difficult away trip with Saints heading to Motherwell on Saturday Feb 24th in the quarter-finals. Other ties see ICT v Celtis, QoS v Hibs and the Pars at home to Partick.
3rd - Skipper Kevin James(right)
reckons there's enough energy left for the trip to Falkirk despite the
tired legs after the midweek cup heroics. He told the Courier, "The
only thing we can do is take positives out of Wednesdays match
because they definitely outweigh the negatives big time. We took Hibs to a
draw over 90 minutes and weve beaten Gretna, so our form is good. Weve
put in a lot of effort in our last two games and the boys are tired just
now, but well be looking forward to getting going again and well
be raring to go come kick-off. We spoke in the dressing room after the
game that we now have to go on and win the first division, but weve
got a Scottish Cup game to win first. Were all desperate to go on
another cup run and a win would help pick us up after being distraught the
other night. I would say that weve played like that for five gamesthe
last two, as well as against Rangers, Dundee United and Ross County away.
The question has to bewhere has it been for the rest of the games?
We have to maintain those standards now and the gaffer will make sure of
Of course he's returning to the club where he made his name (along with half the squad) but said, "Ill just be concentrating on my own job. I really dont know what the reaction to me will be because football is a fickle game. I got them money when they sold me to Hearts and then I helped them to two league titles in my second spellbut I could still get booed. Whatever happens, it will be water off a ducks back. I was getting stick from the Hibs fans the other night every time I went near the touchline, but when youre six foot seven and thin as a rake you get used to taking abuse! When I left Falkirk I wasnt happy at my work, but I will always keep the reasons for that to myself. Once Id spoken to Owen I had a feeling that it was time for a change. Ive never regretted the decision, even though Falkirk are playing in the SPL. Im really enjoying being at St Johnstone. Its not about going back with grudges, Im going back to help St Johnstone win a game "
Expect Steven Anderson to start instead of the suspended Allan McManus and Owen Coyle says he's going to freshen things up. "This is the third time in a week weve been cast as underdogs, but it doesnt faze us. Well give this game everything, as we have our last two. The most pleasing aspect of Wednesday night was that we outplayed Hibs for long spells. The bottom line is we didnt win, but I was thrilled with the display and the beauty of football is we have a chance tomorrow to go on another cup run. Falkirk are another quality passing side. Obviously, I know the club well from my time there and theyve got players like Russell Latapy and Alan Gow who are capable of winning matches against any opposition. But Im sure theyll have seen we can play and will treat us with respect. "
6.45pm - It just gets better as an inspired Saints side slaughtered Falkirk 3-0 at Westfield with Martin Hardie, an inspirational MoM Kevin James(right) and Peaso all scored to put us into the quarter-finals. Still at least we get a week off now.....
February 2nd - Not much to
report this morning with the players getting the day off yesterday. One
interesting rumour in the Courier though has no2
Jim Weir linked with the vacant Montrose
job. Although he's not been interviewed for the post the Dundee journos
seem to think he is a contender (cue Marlon Brando impressions)
9pm - Expect the changes tomorrow with the news that Allan McManus is suspended and Derek Lilley cup-tied for the trip to Falkirk. At least Willie McLaren is available.
February 1st - In the end it was
the bravest of brave performances as TV-land and a packed Tynecastle saw
Saints come from behind to take the semi-final to extra-time before
losing 3-1 in the end to Hibs and
leaving the tournament. Jason Scotland
was the man to get our goal but the entire team were simply magnificent on
Owen Coyle was a proud man after the game and told the BBC site, "We're not looking for sympathy. I asked for them to believe in themselves and they did that. I'm proud of them, but the bottom line is we're out of the final when we had a chance. But we have another cup game on Saturday and we just have to pick ourselves up and beat Falkirk "
There was token consolation for skipper Kevin James who was named man of the match and he said, "We did the club proud, but ultimately we're out and it's going to be a hard on to take. When you are First Division club and beat Dundee United and Rangers, to come so close is devastating."
6.15pm- Despite the plaudits being spouted by the fifth columnists in the Scottish media today it's back to reality for Saints. One fixture change has been announced with the midweek visit of Scumdee originally scheduled for Tues April 3rd, now being brought forward to Sunday March 25th (that's the international weekend) with a 3pm kick-off.
Top Of News
31st - Today arguably sees Saints preparing for their biggest game
of the season with a place at Hampden against Killie up for grabs.
Owen Coyle(right) is looking for the
players to show the sort of self-belief they'll need in front of a big
crowd at Tynie tonight. He told the Courier, "Ive watched
Hibs four times over the last month and on a couple of occasions I wished
I hadnt because they were that good. Personally, I think that in
full flight Hibs are the most entertaining team in the country. They pass
and move the ball with pace and power and have some fantastic young
players. But Ive told the lads to give it their best shot and make
sure they play to their maximum. If that doesnt prove to be good
enough, then we can accept that. What would be galling would be if we dont
do ourselves justice. That would haunt the players. If we lose to a better
team that will be acceptablebut I dont want there to be any
regrets, particularly in a semi-final."
He went on, "We wont be standing back and admiring Hibs. Well be trying to make a real cup tie of it. Weve shown against Rangers and Dundee United that we have good players in abundance and that they are capable of winning big games. I thought we got very little credit for those two wins because when a small club beats a big club the focus is always on the loser. I want my players to show everybody watching on television how good they are. We know Hibs have some fantastic young players but I want mine to go out there with the intention of showing they can match up against the individual theyre against. We know were massive underdogs for a number of reasons and nobody outside of Perth will give us a chance. I think thats a scenario which suits my team. We werent expected to beat United and we certainly werent given a chance against Rangers. The pressure is on Hibs in that theyre favourites to not only win the semi, but to win the final as well, and they know that if they dont it will be called a disaster. But I genuinely feel we have the players who can hurt the opposition and we have a real chance of getting to the cup final. "
With Willie McLaren and Derek Lilley cup-tied, the Saints squad will see some younger players get their chance. The manager said, "Andy Jackson, Stephen Doris and Willie Dyer are all under 19 and certainly two of them will be involved in a semi-final, which will be a tremendous experience for them."
One player who will miss out for Hibs is Kevin Thomson who turned flight and headed to the Death Star in a £2m deal last night.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
30th - The cup hype has begun and Jason
Scotland(right) is out to repeat the cup heroics of a couple of
years ago when he knocked Hibs out of the semi-final of the Scottish Cup.
He told the Courier, "I was a bit of a super sub for United at
the time. When I went on to the pitch, Hibs were a goal ahead but somehow
I helped to totally change the game. Jim McIntyre got us level, then I
scored my goal and we went on to win. I have really good memories of that
day, playing at Hampden in such a big match. Not only did we get into the
cup final but we also qualified for the UEFA Cup. I think about those
times a lot and it was a shame that I didnt get to play in Europe
after scoring the goal that got United there. Now I have the chance to get
back to Hampden if we win on Wednesday. However, we cant really
afford to look past the Hibs game as they are a dangerous team. Any side
in the SPL will tell you that. We have had difficult draws but we have
played well and deserved to win both those previous games. That was
because we performed to such a high standard and we hope to do so again
against Hibs. We know we have players capable of winning the tie but it
depends on what happens on the night. At Ibrox we started off brightly and
took it from there. I firmly believe we can do well again in what is such
a big game. I am certainly looking forward to it and it should be a great
occasion for the fans. "
There is a good mood in the Saints camp as well after the Gubbing of Gretna and he went on, "As the gaffer said, everybody gave their all on Saturday and if that happens on a more consistent basis then we can have a good finish to the season. We dominated for long periods against Gretna and should have been two or three goals up before they scored. The heads maybe went down at that stage but we showed character to come back and win the game. The guys were all buzzing afterwards and if we can carry on playing our football to that standard I am sure we can do something on Wednesday "
Willie McLaren and Derek Lilley are both cup-tie, but Derek McInnes and Filipe Morais can both play with the former telling the paper, "Hibs are favourites and rightly so because on any given day they can be one of best sides in the country. The game is also being staged in Edinburgh and I am sure they will have a big support behind them. I remember playing for Dundee United against Hibs in the Scottish Cup semi at Hampden a couple of years ago and the backing they had was unbelievable. Still, we beat them that day. We will give them respect but if we give it our best shot then they will have to play very well to beat us. The expectation is all on Hibs but I think a big thing in our favour is that we have a lot of character in our dressing room. I dont think nerves will come into it for us and we have plenty of players who know what it takes to win games like this one. Before I came here, the boys showed they can do it by beating both Rangers and United in earlier rounds. Now we have the chance to get to a final and could be only two wins away from lifting a trophy. It is all about making the most of this opportunity and playing well on the night. Games like these dont come round too often in any players careerno matter how old you areso you have to make the most of them. Im sure our lads will do just that."
Latest injury news is that Peaso bruised his knee on Saturday but should play. Owen Coyle is still looking for new faces to bring in ahead of midnight tomorrow but said, "Getting to a semi-final is an achievement in itself for a club like St Johnstone but by that I dont mean we are satisfied with just getting there. On the contrary, we are determined to do all we can to win "
7pm - With no new faces likely before the window closes, the world is concentrating on the players thoughts ahead of a certain wee game tomorrow night in Edinburgh. Simon Mensing has been spouting forth on the Official Site and said, "It is going to be a good occasion and it is great for the Club to have reached this stage of the competition. However, we are not going down there with an underdog mentality. We are quietly confident that we can cause an upset and I think our record in this competition already this season shows that we need have nothing to fear. I know that the manager has watched Hibs a few times and the scouts have watched them in other matches so we know their strengths and what they are capable of but to be honest we are focusing on our capabilities and what we can do to them. It is my first semi-final and also the first time I have played at Tynecastle so I am very much looking forward to it. The wins over Dundee United and particularly Rangers have been the highlights of my career so far so tomorrow night will be very special for me. Ive got quite a few family members coming along to the game and I know that a few others who cannot make it will be watching it on television." It looks like around 3300 Saintees will make the trip and Simon continued, "The backing we got from the support against Dundee United and especially the 1,000 that went down to Ibrox was tremendous and we are looking forward to playing in front of a Saints support that will be bigger in number than most of us have experienced before. We need them to make themselves heard and get behind us throughout the game and we will do what we can to make it a night to remember."
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
January 29th - The
Alan Main rumour won't go away and
Kevin Cuthbert has spoken to the
Courier after the weekend victory. He said "Alan schooled me when
I was a YTS signing. A lot of my progress is down to him. He passed on a
lot of his wisdom and Im grateful for that. Ive kept in
contact with him and hes given me a lot of advice in tough times. I
have to admit Ive had a lot of tough times in my career, sitting on
the bench watching game after game, getting dropped and feeling
downhearted about it, and hes kept me going. I keep in contact with
Alan a lot, but weve not really spoken about it this week. Its
not really something I need to concern myself with because what happens
happens. I played in all the pre-season games but then Bryn came in and
did well. I then got injured and had to get myself fit and fight for my
place in the team just like anyone else."
As for the weekend win, he went on, "It was a game we had to win really. Weve dug in a lot this season and won games we havent looked like winning. I think Gretna would have been delighted with 1-1, but I think we deserved to win "
January 28th - More news on the
Battle of the Dugouts yesterday. Apparently the Gretna management OTT
celebrations at their equaliser spurred Saints on according to
Martin Hardie who told the Sunday Mail,
"The way they celebrated after they scored was as if they had
won. It made us dig in that wee bit deeper. As for my goal, I took a fresh
air swipe at it and luckily it went in! Three points get us back into the
title race with the game in hand over Partick Thistle. If we had lost
today it would have been all over ". Nobody is sure what the real
story but reports have it that the Gretna management went a wee bit OTT
celebrating in front of the Saints dugout and when our winner went in
Jim Weir and
Willie McLaren reciprocated although
in their exuberance Willie is alleged
to have pushed Davie "Voodoo" Irons to the ground
although the Gretna assistant says he just "tripped over his
Owen Coyle was just as full of praise and told Scotland on Sunday, "From the outset I have said we could challenge for the title, and although I would love to be in Gretna's position, it's game on. The team's spirit drove us on when the match went 1-1 and although the players could have been thinking about the big cup game coming up, they still went looking for the winner."
With just 3 days of the transfer window to go and Saints having wee cup semi to worry about the transfer rumours continue. After apparently ruining his relationship with the Gretna fans by daring to waive to us yesterday Alan Main is being strongly linked with a return to Perth tomorrow. Another ex-Gretna and Saints player rumoured for a return to the Sacred Turf is 33-yr old Steven Tosh with the midfielder still negotiating his departure money from Raydale. And finally, and for a change, we've got an U-30 player linked with a move with Airdrie (surprise,surprise) midfielder Graeme Holmes said to be lined up on a pre-contract move.
Looking ahead to Wednesday and Paul Sheerin reckons we've not got a better chance for a trophy. He told the Sunday Mail, "When you look at the teams left, you have to say it's a great chance for us to get our hands on a trophy. Hopefully Wednesday will be a good night for our fans.".
Elsewhere and Kevin James knows we'll be in for a tough game. "We were underdogs against Rangers but then it's maybe not of the same magnitude with Hibs. We're looking to frustrate them, to show the same application and decision-making as we did at Ibrox. Usually, there is an element of luck involved, but that was not the case against Rangers. We deserved our win. And we beat Dundee United convincingly too. Hibs have their weaknesses and it's up to us to pick up on them. On song, they're a very good team. John Collins has got them performing in the right manner to entice the crowds to Easter Road. They have a lot of quality players - and I suppose the main danger is their starting XI! It's a great achievement for the manager to get us to where we are now. It shows how far we have come under the gaffer. But he'll probably argue it's not enough."
- Today arguably sees the start of the biggest week for Saints in years,
certainly of this season with a good chance the campaigns will be over in
all three tournaments by next Sunday. Skipper Kevin
James(right) agrees and told the Courier, "This is a
massive week for the club. Its the most important week weve
had and will probably shape our season. The lads have done
tremendously well to set up Wednesdays nights cup semi-final
against Hibs and another big Scottish Cup match against Falkirk straight
after it. But theres no doubt in my mind that tomorrows game
is the most important of the three. Other people might think that a cup
semi-final is biggerbut thats not the case as far as Im
concerned. To beat Hibs and Falkirk but lose to Gretna would make it a bad
week. Our main goal at the start of the season was to win the league and
its still our main goal now. Cup competitions are great to be
involved in for players and fans, and some might say that getting to a
national cup final would be a bigger achievement, but our season will
ultimately be judged on whether or not we get promotion. "
He's been doing the Mr Motivator bit as well and went on, "Over the last few weeks the players have spoken about how were still in with a chance and how we need to cut the deficit. Now we need to start doing it. Ive chatted with the lads this week about how we need to go out there and do something about it because it all comes back to the old phrase, actions speak louder than words. Now well see if we can do it. The lads know how important this match is and its the one weve been waiting for. Were all disappointed were not at the top of the league just now, but weve got the chance to start to rectify that. This is a massive game and we need the fans behind us. Were all in this together. In our last game against Airdrie we werent good in the second half but we got the win. We had the fans cheering us one minute and then booing us the next. Hopefully, it will be all cheers tomorrow. It would be a huge boost to get to within nine points of Gretna, with the incentive of winning our game in hand to make it six. It would also be a big boost to know weve beaten them for the first time, with another game against them still to come."
It looks like all the injury worries have cleared and the skipper, along with Allan McManus, Martin Hardie and Peaso are all set to play.
6.45pm - There were the usual nervy moments but a much more confident performance saw Saints run out deserved2-1 winners over Gretna with the goals coming from shots from Kevin James(right) and a late winner from Martin Hardie in an afternoon which saw us narrow the gap to 9 points.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
January 26th - Savo's
set to miss out on the big games next week but is targeting the cup final
for a comeback. Ever-optimistic, the Saints striker told the Courier, "Its
really disappointing to miss out on these big games. Its a massive
week for the club. But Im ahead of schedule after surgery and it
would be great to have a CIS Cup final to come back to. The win over
Rangers was memorable for the club and its the only time Ive
scored with an overhead kick in first-team football. But thats in
the past now and the lads have some big games coming up. We need a win
against Gretna to peg them back in the league. We have three important
games in seven days and the lads will be going all out to win them all.
Hibs are a fine team with plenty of enthusiasm and pace. But we wont
be going to the semi-final to make up the numbers next week." .
Saints have sold almost 3000 tickets for the semi-final.
For the weekend, it seems that Peaso has joined the injury list but he has managed some light training and Owen Coyle said, "This is a top-of-the-table meeting and is a big, big game for us. We do have some players with knocks. Peter MacDonald did some light training today but we will have to assess him tomorrow in full flight. If we win this game we will be nine points behind and we have a game in hand to bring us right back in there. "
Finally Simon Mensing has been reported as being a target for Accies, but Owen Coyle has opened talks with him about a new contract.
6.30pmWell we asked for it and today Owen came up with the sort of inspirational signing that brings to mind the likes of Rudi Vata and Wullie Falconer. In has come striker Derek Lilley(right) until the summer, freed by Morton and at the age of 32 a relative youngster compared to some in the squad. Owen said of his man (who he knew from his time at Dundee United), "I was after Derek when I first joined Saints but he opted to go back to Morton from Livingston. However Im delighted to have him here now at an important time for us and he is in the squad for tomorrow. I think he is a different type of striker from what we have at the moment, more physical and robust and he will give us a different dimension.". The new boy goes straight into the squad for the Gretna game tomorrow after training with the boys this morning.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
January 24th - Despite all the denials coming out of McDiarmid yesterday, it seems that the Alan Main rumour just isn't going to go away with the "no smoke without fire" brigade getting plenty of ammo. The Courier re-iterates the managers statement that "Alan Main is a very good goalkeeper but, categorically, he has not signed a pre-contract agreement with us nor has he been offered a pre-contract by us. Normally I would be loathe to comment, but we play Gretna on Saturday and I want to put this to bed now."
January 23rd - There are a few
knocks following the win over Airdrie with Allan
McManus, Kevin James and
Martin Hardie all picking up injuries,
although none are expected to be serious. Meanwhile
Bryn Halliwell's bit at the weekend
about wanting a move and having loads of clubs interested has been
commented on by the gaffer. Owen Coyle
said he wouldn't keep him in the dark about any offers and went on, "Bryn
and I had a chat last week and I said to him that I want him here fighting
for his place. As a player you always want to be playing and I told him
that if anybody makes an offer I will make him aware of it. "
7.30pm- Some strange rumours surfaced this morning with reports suggesting that former keeper Alan Main is set to return to Perth from his current Gretna employment with a rumoured 3-yr player/coaching deal on offer for the 39-yr old rejecting a 1-yr deal from Gretna and 18 months from QoS. Owen Coyle has rejected it though and told the Tully, "Im the manager and its news to me. This is the first Ive heard of it.". Time will tell no doubt, although given the return to form of the Cat it's interesting that someone seems to think we need to strengthen this position. On the Official site he's gone further saying, "I do not like to speak about other club's players and am always very loathe to do it. However, I am aware of the stories and would wish it to be known that I can catagorically state that we have not signed Alan Main on any sort of pre-contract arrangement. "
Meanwhile there was a closed doors game against Morton today with Filipe getting 45 minutes alongside the kids and fringe players - it finished 1-1 with Bobby Barr getting our goal. No word on new signings although a mystery Irish striker has been ruled out because his club wanted too much dosh.
21st - Owen Coyle was reasonably
happy after yesterday's win but the defence is still giving conern. He
told the Official site, "We should have been out of reach in that
game and at 3-0 we deserved to have that sort of advantage. However, we
lost a cheap goal and that gave them a bit of belief and we then proceeded
to concede a further two goals from corner kicks. I certainly didnt
envisage it being 3-3 and at that stage I felt we were really showing the
effects of the 120 minutes in the cup tie at Ayr on Wednesday. But we
showed great character and Willie McLaren
who I though was terrific all day scored a great goal. We
deserved to win, there is no doubt about that but we should be defending
better and it would be naive of me not to be concerned at that."
As for the new guy Filipe Morais(right), the manager went on, "He showed some nice touches and was very involved. He only flew up last night and met his team mates this morning so I am looking forward to seeing what he can bring to the side when he has settled in."
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
January 20th -
Willie McLaren is hoping to chalk up a
win over his former employers today. The Saints winger told the Courier,
"Ill always be thankful to the people at Airdrie who helped
me. I want to see them stay up, and think they will, but I also want to
beat them because we really need the points. With the lead Gretna have
over us we have to win against Airdrie then beat them and go on to win a
few more games in a row. I thought I was coming to St Johnstone to play
most of the time but the gaffer decides the team and I am just going to
have to wait for my chance. I feel I have settled in OK and am finding my
feet. But the team have been playing pretty well so I am having to be
No more injury news with both Kevin James and Martin Hardie set to face late fitness tests.
6.45pm- We struggled at times but in the end a Tierner og, a brace from Jason Scotland and a cracking late finish from Willie McLaren saw Saints beat Airdrie 4-3 although questions have to be asked of the defence that let a 3-0 lead slip away to 3-3. New signing Filipe Morais made his debut off the bench and set up the fourth goal in a good performance.
January 19th -
Kevin James is being praised by
Owen Coyle after his return to action in
Wednesday's cup win. The manager told the Courier, "Kevin as well
as being our on-field leader is also a tremendous character and I cannot
speak highly enough about him lining-up for us on Wednesday night. He said
he wanted to give playing through the pain a go and although he was
nothing like 100% against Ayr he made a contribution to our victory. The
problem now of course is that with the game having gone to extra-time hell
probably be struggling for Airdrie on Saturday. ".
The plaudits were being dished out though and Peaso was also on the receiving end. "Peaso had six or seven decent chances during the game and was denied by two wonder saves from Mark McGeown. But he kept banging away and got his reward with a tremendous goal."
Kevin James and Martin Hardie (with a back injury) are the only worries ahead of tomorrow's visit by Airdrie.
6.30pm- The big news this afternoon was that we've actually got a new face almost on board. Portuguese U-21 right winger (hallelujah) Filipe Morais has signed from Millwall on loan till the end of the season, but don't look for anything beyond that as the London club have already said they want the ex-Chelsea man back. Apparently we've got the influence of Derek McInnes to thank for that and Owen told the Official Site, "Filipe had been recommended to me by Derek McInnes and I spoke to Millwall and they indicated that he is very much part of their plans but that they want him to go back to them for the start of next season with a bit of first team action and experience under his belt. He has a bit of pace about him and I think he will be a valuable addition to what we already have." As with all Saints plans, he won't actually travel north until tomorrow so is only an outside chance of playing in the Airdrie game.
Speaking of that, Allan McManus was also on the Official site wittering on about the need to get back to form. The stand-in skipper said, "I know a lot of eyes are on the game against Gretna in a weeks time but the bottom line is that if we dont get the three points against Airdrie United and Gretna beat Livingston to extend their lead over us then the game against them takes on a different complexion in several respects. We simply cannot afford not to win tomorrow. From a personal point of view I was very happy with my form up until December and then I felt it shaded a little and I think a few players feel the same about their own form. However, I see signs of us getting better and players such as Willie McLaren, Derek McInnes and Andy Jackson are helping to freshen things up a bit."
January 17th -
Andy Lawrie reckons
Savo will be back in action as fit as
ever. He told the Courier, "Savo has been brilliant for us this
season. Hes a big player for St Johnstone and well miss him.
But Peaso is a prolific scorer and
this is a great chance for him to get a few starts and a few goals. ".
The defender is as keen as anyone to win at Ayr tonight as a trip to his
previous employers awaits the winner in the next round. He went on, "We
didnt play well when Ayr came here, and finished up with a
disappointing result. But weve got a chance to rectify that in the
replay. It would be great to get through this round and face Falkirk. But
thats something to talk about if and when we make it into the fourth
round. The thing about the cup is that you cannot really look forward to
what might await you further into the competition until you are certain of
being there. If you start considering the prospect of the next round
before you are in it that tends to come back and bite you on the backside.
We have to focus completely on going to Ayr and getting a result. Id
still say we are favourites. But itll be a hard game for us
especially as our away form has been pretty disappointing. "
11.30pm- We left it as late as possible but Peaso's winner two minutes from the end of extra-time saw us through 2-1 winners over Ayr after Jason Scotland opened the scoring in five minutes with a brilliant freekick. Another unconvincing performance from a lot of the side though and big improvements will be required before we face Falkirk in the 4th round. After the game Owen Coyle told the BBC, "I don't think it's conducive to good football when the wind is as strong as that. We scored a good goal early on and then Ayr put us under pressure. We should have put the game to bed but couldn't get the goal. We've got a lovely tie against Falkirk - who we know well. We feel we can do better and we're a bit short in terms of numbers in the squad. It's an important month."
January 16th - Well the news was slightly better than expected and Savo has had his knee op and will be out for around 6 weeks. Elsewhere Goran Stanic looks like recovering from his thigh knock and should play at Ayr tomorrow night.
January 15th -
Owen Coyle seems to be backtracking
today in the Courier and refusing to blame the conditions. He said, "They
were appalling, but they were the same for both teams. Weve no
argument on that score, though I admit it wasnt conducive to good
football. Im a bit disappointed not to have taken anything from the
game. We lost a comic cuts goal for the second and the third
was a terrible one from our point of view. We had a couple of good chances
and I thought we had a stonewall penalty claim. Simon Mensing had a great
header and the player on the line clearly punched it. The ref may have
been unsighted but it was a big decision in the game "
Meanwhile stand-in skipper Allan McManus has held his hand up for the second goal saying, "I lost my footing. It could have happened anywhere on the park but it happened in the wrong area and we were punished accordingly. The park was fine and weve no problems playing in the rain. There was a lot of surface water but the ball played truly. The big problem was the wind but it was the same for both teams so thats no excuse. Were absolutely gutted. With us having the wind in the second half I felt we might go on to win it, but we didnt really play. Individual mistakes are killing us right now and I put my hand up for that especially. Well need to turn the corner very quickly. Gretna dropped two points today but theres no point worrying about anyone else when our own ship isnt in order. We have a bunch of players here who we believe can fight to the very death. Its a very experienced squad. A lot of guys in our team have played at a higher level so they know what it takes to make the next step up. However, we cant really afford to drop any more points. "
6.30pm - Well the good news keeps piling up with the announcement that Steven Milne(right) is having his delayed operation on his knee in London today. Owen Coyle told the Official Site, "Steven was really toiling on Thursday and Friday with pain from the knee and it was apparent that we couldn't delay things any longer so he is down south today for the operation. Only when the surgeon has seen the damage will we be able to assess the likely recovery time - he could be out for the rest of the season or just a couple of weeks. We'll just need to wait on the medical advice."
No word on any new signings and Goran Stanic is also now a doubt for Wednesday's trip to Ayr after being subbed on Saturday after getting a thigh knock. The manager said, "That was part of the reason Goran was taken off on Saturday. I also felt he looked a bit jaded - as you know he was allowed home last week to pay his respects to his late father and unfortunately his flight back was cancelled and he didnt land in Edinburgh until 12.45 on Saturday so it is a credit to him that he played at all."
January 14th - Owen Coyle was fairly succinct in his post-match comments yesterday. After the Livi defeat in dreadful conditions he simply commented, "I don't want this to sound like sour grapes, but you have to question the playing in conditions like that."...pity it sounds exactly like that though.
January 13th - More from
Owen Coyle in the Courier today as he
says a draw would be ok but we want a win. The Saints manager is quoted as
saying, "To go to Livingston and get a point would be looked upon
as a creditable result. We did that earlier in the season and, if truth be
told, we probably should have won the match. But were in second
place in the league just now and looking to make inroads into Gretnas
lead, so were focused on trying to win tomorrow. Weve taken 10
points out of our last 12 and we want to continue that run. We speak
openly and its fair to say that we have a few players playing below
their usual standards. We dont have a big pool so its
important that when were down in numbers with injuries the guys who
we usually rely on are performing to the levels we expect of them. Weve
got to get ourselves playing to those levels and get our big players
imposing themselves on the game. ".
Meanwhile acting skipper Allan McManus(right) says that we need to keep grinding out the results. "Weve not been great in the last few weeks but weve got results, and thats the most important thing. The bottom line is we have to keep winning. We know that we have to up our game 40 or 50% from our performance in last weekends cup draw against Ayr United to get a win against Livingston tomorrow, which is vital. The only positive we could really take out of that match was that we got a clean sheet. Weve had flashes of good form since we beat Rangers in the CIS Cup but we havent shown it for 90 minutes. Thats what we have to do. One thing we have shown recently is that, no matter how well or otherwise we are playing, the towel will never be thrown in. Well keep going right to the death in games and Im a believer that you earn your luck late in games by working hard through the week and during a game "
No more word on the injury crisis with Martin Hardie and Jason Scotland joined by Steven Milne in the serious injury stakes although the manager is hopeful of having two of the three available this afternoon.
....oh aye and still no hint of any new signings....
6.30pm - A disappointing day in miserable conditions saw another poor performance end in a 3-2 defeat at Livi with Saints goals coming from a cracking drive from Andy Lawrie and a late consolation from sub Willie McLaren. Of course Gretna managed a draw so the 12 point gap now looks unsurmountable - especially given the lack of improvement over the transfer window.
January 12th - Saints go into
tomorrow's game at Livi with both teams looking off-form. The latest team
news hasKevin James still missing but
Martin Hardie and
Jason Scotland may return with both
of them having managed to train this week. That will give
Owen Coyle some options in midfield with
Mad Mental Martin able to play
alongside Paul Sheerin and
Derek McInnes. The manager told the
Tele, " Paul is very important for us. He's a terrific player
with a great football brain, and he's having a good season. We're going
there in a positive frame of mind"
No word of any new faces and with Hibs losing Chris Killen for the rest of the season and lacking cover in the striking department it looks unlikely that Sam Morrow will be allowed to leave on loan.
January 10th - Martin Hardie and Jason Scotland didn't train yesterday but Owen Coyle is still hopeful the pair will be available for the weekend. As for new signings there's nothing definite yet and the manager told the Courier, "We are still talking to other clubs with regard to a few targets. We are vigorously pursuing these people and are actively trying to bring players in. It would be hard to say something is certain to happen in the next few days as these things are always very difficult to predict"
January 9th - The injury problems are mounting for Saints again. Kevin James has had an injection in his knee but is unlikely to play against Livi or in the cup replay. Martin Hardie and Jason Scotland didn't train yesterday and both are already doubtful for the weekend trip to Almondvale with the latter suffering from a hamstring strain fromt he weekend draw. As for new signings, the news is just as bleak with the manager stating, "We are speaking to various people but theres nothing imminent."
January 8th -
Paul Sheerin spoke after Saturday's
disappointment about the lacklustre Saints performance. The midfielder
told the Courier, "Ive obviously had a few great cup nights
down at Somerset myself and the fans generate a good atmosphere so it will
be really tough for us to go there now. On the plus side we have a slight
knowledge of them now which we didnt have as players, although the
management have had them watched. But they have taken it to their home
ground and Im sure they will have real confidence about them. It was
pretty bland to say the least and certainly wasnt a classic. It had
0-0 written all over it and its hard to remember a clear-cut chancemaybe
myself in the first half from Jasons cut-backbut in terms of
chances, there wasnt really anything to talk about and its
hard to explain that. It was flat from the first whistle and I wish I knew
why. They came and worked hard and cancelled out our wide men well,
stopping us getting widebut weve got to have a lot more about
us and create more chances, which has probably been our strong point
throughout the season. They will probably feel the same as they didnt
create much at all either, but as players there is very little we can take
from the gamecertainly we cant take many positives. "
Owen Coyle was just as disappointed and said, "Im very frustrated. We had chances here and there and Mark McGeown made some great saves, but we never got to the level of performance were capable of and never had enough sustained pressure for any period of time. The first half was a non-event. The game was flat and that might have been because it was very stop-start with a lot of fouls and free-kicks. In the second half, we lifted it a little bit but not to the standard we hope to achieve. Credit to Ayr, who will be delighted and rightly sotheir players gave everything they could. The positive is that we are still in the draw for the next round, but we know that was nowhere near the level we are looking to get ."
January 7th - One small scrap of comfort for Saints after yesterday and should we beat Ayr at Somerset Park in the 3rd round replay, expect the delights of a trip to Falkirk in the 4th round. Bet you can't wait...
January 6th -
Steven Anderson is expecting a tough
game today with Ayr the underdogs for the cup tie. He told the Courier,
"We all know from our own experience in the CIS Cup just what
smaller sides can achieve against bigger ones. Teams do raise their games
and if you are not careful you could get caught out. We just have to be
professional against Ayr and make sure we all do our individual jobs
right. Getting through to the next round would be brilliantbut we
wont be complacent at all. I always look forward to playing in the
cups as a change from the league and am really keen for us to go on a run
in this competition."
Confirmation too that Stephen Dobbie signed for QoS last night.
7pm - A pish-poor performance from a lacklustre Saints side saw a 0-0 draw with Ayr mean the delights of a replay on Wed Jan 17th at 7.45pm. No doubt we'll all be really keen to make that bloody journey. Boos at full-time and a lot of disgruntled Saints fans leaving the ground told their own story after one of the poorest performances for a while and no real sign of improvement.
January 5th - The first new
signing of the transfer window Derek
McInnes has spoken in the Courier of his move to McDiarmid. There
are still some loose ends to apparently be tied up if he's to make his
debut tomorrow against Ayr, but the midfielder said, "This move
to St Johnstone is ideal because they are a club that has always had a
good reputation and the set-up here is great. I knew the manager wanted me
as he tried to sign me when I was still at United and he has stayed in
touch. That made it a bit easier to come here. There is always a bit of a
settling in period as a new player but once you get training and playing
you are one of the boys and the football takes over. I hope we can make it
a memorable season and there is a lot of hope for the future because we
have a good squad. I am told we have only lost once at home in 17 months
and thats an unbelievable recordthere cant be a lot
wrong. Gretna are doing really well in the league but we still hope
to take that top spot and a Scottish Cup run would be nice too."
There's no progress on the injury front and Owen has also come out to criticise the minority of fans that seemed to delight in booing one player on Tuesday (Willie McLaren being the principle target). The manager said, "It is not nice to hear people getting booed. So I would ask the fans to give us their backing as much as possible. I have seen the support they can give us. I particularly remember the Dundee United CIS Cup game here when we got a fantastic response from them."
7pm - Owen Coyle is looking for a better performance in the cup tomorrow as opposed to recent years. He told the Official site, "After our CIS cup exploits this season you could say that the boot is on the other foot tomorrow. We have shown with our wins over Dundee United and Rangers that lower league sides can still enjoy success against teams from a higher league so we have to be wary that we do not become the victims tomorrow. Ayr are a quality side with some good, experienced players such as Jerome Veraille and Eddie Forrest and we will have to play to full capacity to ensure that our name is in the 4th round draw." Derek McInnes is set to play tomorrow but Kevin James is out for a fortnight while Martin Hardie is still very doubtful. Don't expect any new faces before the Livi game next week, although Owen is hopeful of getting someone in by then. But there is a possible departure before then with Stephen Dobbie set to sign for QoS today or early next week in an 18-month deal. The gaffer said, "Stephen realises that he is down the pecking order here and asked me that if someone came in for him that he be allowed to move on. Ian McCall has made contact about Stephen and a move looks likely and if it is completed then he leaves here with our very best wishes."
4th - Kevin James(right) should
find out this week if he's going to have another spell on the sidelines
with the Saints defender having a checkup on the knee injury he picked up
against Clyde and which kept him out of the County game.
Owen told the Courier, "Kevin
hurt his knee when he was shooting in the Clyde match on Boxing Day. It
was swollen and painful, as well as affecting his mobility so he has been
examined by the surgeon who has treated him over the years. We now have to
wait and see what he says.
That's not the only injury worry with Martin Hardie already a major doubt for Saturday's cup-tie with a calf knock.
Latest signing rumours have 2 Hibs kids striker Sam Morrow and midfielder Jamie McCluskey possibly coming to Saints on loan for the rest of the season although nothing official has been announced yet.
January 3rd -
Owen had some praise for the Saints
players after their win yesterday. The manager told the Courier, "We
were getting chance after chance at the end and theres no doubt we
deserved the three points. The players kept believing and there is still a
long, long way to go in this league.". And the man that got the
winning goal, Allan McManus added,
"My goals dont come around too often and it was a relief
because I felt I could have done better with the equaliser we conceded. It
was crucial that we got the win which keeps us hanging in there."
Saints have also confirmed that youth player Danny O'Donnell has been released.
January 2nd -
Martin Hardie reckons it's
make-or-break for Saints today. He's quoted in the Retard as saying, "When
we played County earlier this season we put in a performance for 45
minutes which was the best we've played this term but still drew 2-2. It
was one a few missed opportunities for us this season and we're at the
stage where we can't concede any more ground to Gretna. They are 11 points
ahead and we need to hope they start slipping up and we continue to win.
It was a blow to have our weekend game with Partick Thistle cancelled.
We've been out of action for 10 days and are bursting to get back "........well
it's only been a week but never mind.
6.30pm - We left it late again but Simon Mensing got the opener and Allan McManus fired in a cracking last-minute winner to give us a 2-1 win over Ross County although truth be told we should have won by more than that.
Finally confirmation today that Ryan Stevenson has signed a 3 1/2 year contract with Ayr United for a "five-figure" sum which seems a decent piece of business by Saints.
1st - Well the Happy New Year for Saints fans has got off to an
interesting start with the signing this morning of veteran midfielder and
all round permatan man Derek
McInnes(right) on a player-coach deal until the summer. The arrival
of the 35yr old was widely predicted and he told the Official Site, Im
very pleased that it is all sorted out and I am keen to get started. Ive
known of Owens interest for a couple of weeks and I have nothing but
the highest praise for the way I have been treated by Millwall. I went
there in the summer on a two year deal but with an understanding that I
would review things after six months to see how I was getting on with the
travelling - my family stayed on in Scotland - but I missed the family
when I was down south during the week and my wife is pregnant so I felt it
was right to come back to Scotland. Millwall are such a professional club
with great facilities and I would have loved to have gone there earlier in
my career. It was just a case of the right club at the wrong time. Ive
seen Saints a couple of times this season and have been impressed with
them and given the league position there doesnt appear to be too
much wrong. Hopefully I can add to what we already have here.
Owen meanwhile commented, "Im delighted to have Derek here now. I tried to get him in the summer and we came very close to signing him but then Millwall came in with an unbelievable offer. However, I heard recently that although he was enjoying his time with them that he was finding the strain of travelling and being away from his wife and family a bit much and I pursued things from there. Derek has signed until the end of the season but very much with a view to extending his stay beyond that. To be fair to him he had a couple of concrete offers which were eighteen months in duration and an SPL club also made a last minute attempt to get him so for him to choose to join me here speaks volumes for what he wants out of this and hopefully sends out a message of what I am trying to achieve here. Derek brings experience and leadership to the team and we have perhaps lacked that a bit sometimes, particularly when Kevin James has been out. I would like eleven captains out on that pitch but that isnt possible because the players have a range of different personalities but they do all have determination in abundance and I know Derek will bring more of that plus some vital experience."
The manager also said that the new signing will be involved in coaching the youngsters with Kevin Moon and Neil McCallum extending their loan spells at Forfar and Alloa until the summer. He said, It is a continuation of the chance given to these two lads to prove that they are good enough to play for St Johnstone. Kevin has benefited from playing for Forfar and I was keen to give Neil the chance to play more with Alloa as he missed a couple of months due to injury.
Don't expect any new signings ahead of tomorrow's game with Ross County and whether or not Derek McInnes plays will depend on clearance papers arriving from Millwall in time.
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