Temple Of Saints - Saints lack killer touch

Clydesdale Bank Premier League 28/11/2009

Saints 1 Accies 1 - League Table Here

Team : Smith, Mackay, Grainger, Morris, Rustybitz, Caff, Mooner, Davidson, Deuchar, Sammy, Morais
Subs: Main, Irvine, JJ, Millar, Craig, May, Durnan

With a cracking win at Tynecastle last weekend and a home match against a team both below us in the league and once we've beaten already this season, there was plenty to be optimistic about ahead of the Hamilton encounter - on paper at least. However, those of us that made the trip along the Gorgie Road had to endure the dark side of Saints' performances this season in a first half full of howlers and generally crap play before the sexy football was finally allowed to flourish in the second-half. The hope of course, was that it was that second-half form that would be carried onto the McDiarmid pitch today with Saints out to continue a winning run and get some daylight between ourselves and the relegation slot.

For Accies a mixed season so far saw them on a downer last week after losing at Falkirk. They've struggled both for goals and consistency over the campaign so far and it has to be said they've not exactly been helped by the poor travelling support that follows them on the road. With around 350 Accies fans getting some credit for heading to Falkirk last week, it looked like the McDiarmid stewards weren't going to be struggling to deal with overcrowding in the away end and the club decided against opening the stands behind the goals - almost like being back in the First Division really.

The game was a disappointment after last week as we failed to take all three points despite dominating the possession for most of the game against an Accies side who lived up to the usual form of a Billy Reid team with timewasting and thuggery from the Douglas Park side the norm. Unfortunately in Mr Collum we had a referee who was unwilling to take a stand against that sort of play with no cards shown during the ninety minutes and Saints left to nurse their wounds. For all that, our poor finishing and defending of set plays didn't help matters but again if nothing else, the match showed that we have what it takes to survive in this league and if anything we need to start learning to be more physical against the other team - too often we're being barged off the ball.

Injury-wise, we'd been boosted during the week by the return of Savo and Jacko to full training - nobody was expecting a miraculous appearance for them today. Mooner's appearance off the bench last weekend had arguably turned things round as the midfielder looked to be back to his best while JJ had also looked sharp up front. Otherwise we had Garters and Ando also on the comeback trail although only the latter was fully fit. Danny and the Doc were also still doubts. Both passed their fitness tests and that meant Del made only one change to the starting lineup from last weekend with Mooner awarded a starting jersey in place of the benched Chris Millar. For Accies Simon Mensing lined up against us along with Dundee Curier and Mark McLaughlin so that gave us plenty of targets to aim abuse at.

The disinfectant on the seats had dried out following the occupation of McDiarmid by Scumdee last weekend as they scraped together a win for some token silverware to justify their expenditure this season. And there was a good home crowd out looking for another three points, Billy Reid doing his best hamsteresque tantrum in the dugout and the likes of Mr Mensing to eat humble pie. The game started as we left off at Tynecastle and a run from Morais gave us the first corner within thirty second - Grainger's inswinger though was cleared all too easily. The pressure was kept up with Mackay trying a couple of crosses from the right next but again the Accies defence cleared in front of the Doc and Sammy. Mooner had a good run in the third minute setting up Sammy but he elected to square the ball instead of shooting.

Accies created their own chances in the 5th minute from some sclaff from the defence but a series of three corners brought them little joy, although it has to be said that Smithy wasn't looking too clever as he was crowded out on the goalline. Up the other end of the park, the Doc was having little joy as he was either mounted from behind or else caught offside. Sammy was getting the same treatment as Canning and Elebert targeted him. A foul on Sammy in the 10th minute was picked up but that only annoyed the home support more as an advantage would have seen Murray through on goal. Morais' freekick was held. Smithy was called into action in the 13th minute as a poor Saints clearance was sent back goalwards and took a nasty deflection en route but at least that took the pace out of the shot and Smithy gathered easily enough. The Pixie twin that had started for Accies had a go next but sent his shot wide and they managed to head a corner behind.

We didn't seem to be under much threat but at the same time the gam was finely balanced. Saints next good move came in the 18th minute as Davidson, Mooner and Mackay combined on the right for the latter to cross for Morais only for the ref to decide Filipe was being a big bully to the girl's blouse of an Accies defender. A minute later Grainger tried one of his long throws for Davidson but his header was held. Then Morris set up Morais next but his run and cross for Davidson saw Cerny win that battle with Murray left needing treatment for a head knock. He had just come back on the park when Danny conceded another soft corner (although again he seemed to be shoved in the build up). The corner was an inswinger and took a couple of headers on past Smithy to the back post where Dundee Curier had managed to stay upright for more than two seconds to tap the ball in. A bad goal for us to lose but at least it cheered up the hundred or so away fans.

The goal fired us up though and almost immediately we hit back with a Deuchar header on for Sammy. He took the ball too wide though and had to settle for a corner that Cerny held. Grainger and Morais combined next with the latter playing a nice cutback for the Doc but his shot was weak and easily blocked. But with 28 minutes gone we got a deserved equaliser. Caff had been fouled just inside the Accies half and when the freekick was played long it was only half cleared to our right. Mooner was one of the first to react going out to the right and playing a neat chip back across goal finding Morais who rose up and powered a header through Cerny's hands and into the roof of the net.

We didn't ease up after that although the next effort on goal fell more into the embarrassing category with a Rustybitz drive from 35 yards about as likely to hit the net as Gordon Smith is to win the Tartan Army Supporter of the Year award. But when we kept the ball on the deck and played it out to the wings we were certainly playing the better football with Mooner and Muzz standouts in the Saints midfield. The law of averages kicked in ten minutes from the break as we finally got a freekick after Sammy was clobbered again - Deuchar's header missing the target. A minute later Hastings turned his attention to Mooner for our next freekick with Grainger's effort from distance going over the bar.

The next chance though only stayed out of the net thanks to some dodgy deal Billy Reid has obviously done with the devil in the past. The Doc won a corner that Morais sent deep for Davidson but he had to settle for a corner. This time Grainger's effort bounced around the box where the Doc had an effort blocked and then Sammy saw a shot somehow cleared off the line. Even then the ball broke to Rustybitz at the edge of the box but his drive was deflected over the bar by Morais. We kept up the pressure and Rustybitz set up Davidson next and his header on for the Doc found Sammy but his shot was cleared. Morais went on a great run only to be tackled in the box while for Accies the Pixie had a low shot held by Smith. The half finished with Mooner being fouled again - that perhaps summed up the game more than anything else.

No changes at the break and it was Accies that started the second-half a bit livelier with a decent break and a weak shot. But with only three minutes gone we had our best chance to take the lead with a long ball from Caff finding the Doc on the edge of their box and his header on reached the Muzz who made a brilliant turn before blasting in a rocket of a shot from 18 yards out that saw Cerny make an excellent save to tip the ball wide. The corner reached Caff but his header was deflected wide. That corner went behind but the next one went deep before being sent back across an empty goal and missed by both Sammy and the Doc before being headed behind.

For Accies Neil had a decent shot deflected into Smith's hand and a Rustybitz' ball in from the right saw Davidson's header go just wide of goal. Mackay made a run next, playing a one-two with Sammy before setting up Morais but his effort went wide. The midfield were in their stride now and playing some brilliant stuff, unfortunately it wasn't helped by the niggly nature of some of the fouls and Hamilton's attempts to slow the game down at every opportunity - you'd have thought they'd only started learning the game this morning the time it took them to master the act of the throw-in.

Another Caff forward ball in the 57th minute saw Murray header on for the Doc but he was crowded out and then a rare Hamilton attack (about as rare as spotting a full row of Accies fans in the main stand actually) ended with Dundee Curier trying a chip which was deflected over - that was slightly overshadowed by a foul on Mooner in the build up which, thanks to it happening in front of the dugouts ended up with Del and Billy Reid squaring up to one another. Obviously intent on following the example of their manager the Accies players started to indulge in similar sort of acts of random violence as the half wore on. Neil clobbered Jody but escaped a card in the 65th minute but from the freekick we set up Sammy whose angled shot was well held.

Del made his first change in the 68th minute with Mooner replaced by Chris Millar. Sammy had a run and shot go over the bar a minute later and a good Millar cross was headed on. Sammy and Davidson were hacked next but the fans were more incensed when a foul went against Morris after he and Mensing clashed (the pair squared up to one another at one point and you could see the red cards being made ready) - still it ensured Mensing's name was sung by the Saints fans once more. Morais was clobbered in the 72nd minute and the freekick into the box saw Rustybitz head the ball on for the Doc who had to try an overhead effort that went over the bar. The next ball in the box found the Doc who tried to set up Morris but again there was no room for the shot. Accies had a couple of corners but didn't really threaten as we continued to press.

Canning clobbered the Doc next in the 78th minute. The freekick into the box was headed behind by the defence, with Cerny holding the corner. Neil went through Davidson next but we didn't even get a freekick while it seemed Accies were getting everything - not that their freekicks caused us much danger. As the game entered the closing ten minutes you got the feeling that the next goal would be the winner. Some more pressure from Saints saw Morais fire in a shot that was held. JJ came on for Davidson as Del went for broke and he combined with Morais to win another corner for us - again the defence cleared it all too easily.

Deuchar set up JJ in the box in the 87th minute but his shot was held. JJ had another attempt held a minute later as Accies resorted to the sort of level of timewasting that the game was almost brought into disrepute. Accies forced a corner in the last minute but Smith's punch and Morais' boot ensured the danger was cleared. Even as the game moved into injury time we were throwing everything forward as Sammy and Grainger linked on the left to set up Millar and the Doc in the box but despite them holding the ball up in the six yard box there was no room for a clear shot. Grainger had a long throw cleared and the game was summed up with a long ball for Rustybitz finding the Doc only for the Saints striker to be held and the referee to waive play on. It was that sort of day.

We played well enough but still lacked the killer touch in front of goal. The Doc had a better game but again was bullied off the ball too easily. In midfield though the linkup play from Mooner, Murray and Jody was excellent. But Morais gets my MoM for some good runs and good covering play in defence. We'll play worse and win and possibly better and lose but compared to the timewasting antics of the opposition today we are easily a superior side.

Time to make someone pay.


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LEAGUE TABLE

Team P W D L F A Pts
Celtic 13 8 3 2 27 14 27
Rangers 12 7 4 1 20 8 25
Hibs 13 7 4 2 19 9 25
Dundee Utd 12 6 5 1 17 9 23
Motherwell 13 4 8 1 17 14 20
Aberdeen 13 4 6 3 11 11 18
Hearts 13 3 4 6 12 16 13
Saints 13 3 4 6 20 25 13
St Mirren 13 3 4 6 15 20 13
Hamilton 13 2 4 7 11 22 10
Kilmarnock 13 2 3 8 9 19 9
Falkirk 13 1 5 7 10 21 8

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