Saints 2 Arabs 3 - League Table Here
Team : Main, Mackay, Grainger, Morris, Garters, Caff, Millar,
Davidson, Deuchar, Sammy, Morais
Subs: McLean, Craig, Hardie, Swankie, Ando, Reynolds, Lindsay
This was our first home game in four weeks and to add a wee bit of spice it was probably the closest we'll come to a derby match against our coagie-esque neighbours from down the Tay. Yup Laughing-boy Levein and the drug-addled subsidy junkie hordes of unwashed tinks headed along the road to the sacred turf of McDiarmid for the first league clash between the sides in yonks - although a certain cup clash a few years ago held pleasant memories for the home fans. Saints and the faithful had seen their morale boosted by a cracking win at Easter Road on Tuesday night and while today was likely to be a much tougher match, it's amazing what a wee boost to a team's confidence can do. Of course our opponents also managed a cup win coming off the back of their home defeat to Motherwell last weekend and given their other performances and supporter's expectations they had to fancy their chances.
Saints though again managed to only dominate the game but as last weekend minor lapses in concentration cost us. We need to start capitalising on the heaps of chances that we're creating in games but at the same time lack a bit of sharpness at the back. Of course unlike last week the referee had a big part to play in the game with several incidents going against Saints (as did most 50-50 decisions). But it was another good performance with no real individual failures in the side and again it was one of those matches where the fans leave wondering how we dropped any points, never mind lost, and still confident that we'll stay up - the other teams in this league are no better on us and the quicker the players start to believe that the sooner we'll start racking up the points.
With no new disastrous injuries picked up in the cup, Del had a nice dilemma facing him as to how to approach the game. Mad Mental Martin, Sheerinho and Gary Irvine were all available after missing out in midweek while Chrissy Millar and His Serene Swankiness both staked claims for a starting jersey today after their goalscoring exploits. There was the usual unnamed player in mystery injury shocka headline but most of the squad was available again. Defensively Danny Grainger was set to face up to his old side and while Ando had covered for Caff and while Rustybitz was still some way off a comeback the back four returned to normal with Caff doing his own personal tribute to the new version of Fame with a trendy bandage-cum-headband. The midfield lined up with Chris handed a start along with Morais while up front the partnership was Deuchar and Sammy. No sign of Irvine, Sheerinho or Savo on the bench as Swankie and Liam joined Ando and the returning Mad Mental One in the dugout.
For the Arabs, Goodwillie had missed out in midweek after his Stokesian antics last weekend as he practiced for facing up to Garters by clobbering a rugby players. Today though they were missing Gomis through injury although Cadamarteri and Roberston made miraculous recoveries. Elsewhere in their side and their style of sexy football meant putting that big lumbering ox Lee Wilkie up front while in defence it was a return to McDiarmid for Darren Dods (and yes he did do his party trick).
There was a decent crowd of over 7,000 with both ends filled with Arabs (luckily we cans skip disinfecting the seats since the next occupants will be the even stinkier hordes that follow the Forces of Darkness) and a good atmosphere in the ground and Saints started well enough with the Doc and Sammy trying to link up only for a dodgy offside. Kovacevic shot well wide for the opposition as the opening stages saw a fairly even game with both sides playing some decent passing football without really making a clean breakthrough. The Arabs forced a couple of corners early on with the 6th minute one punched clear by Main before Davidson cleared and then a follow-up two minutes later saw the build up interrupted by a sneaky kick by Cadamarteri on Danny Grainger (the referee missed it and his assistant saw the sun get in his eyes - as it did all afternoon).
We won our first corner of the game in the 11th minute thanks to some persistence from Sammy. Forrest Gump easily headed the ball clear triggering a break for the Coags but thankfully they couldn't control the ball. Sammy had a decent run end in him being up-ended (no freekick) while Main had to save a low cross in the 13th minute. United were causing some problems in attack and Casalinuovo on the wing caused us some problems although Garters stood up well to foil an attack in the 16th minute. We had an interruption in play as we temporarily went down to ten men just after that as Caff went off for a glitzier headband.
Gradually we began to get more into the game although the Doc was having a rotten time of it up front. Sammy saw a decent cross find a lack of blue shirts in support and then a Grainger long-throw in the 19th minute was headed on by Davidson for Sammy but Weaver did well to block his shot, with Fil and Jody unable to follow up properly. There was more controversy a minute later as a Morais break saw Weaver come out and handle outside his box - again the referee ignored it. Another Sammy cross in the 22nd minute found Morais who set up Deuchar but his shot was blocked by Weaver's legs. We tried to follow up and were helped by a the keeper slipping to concede a corner - Morais saw his effort cleared but only as far as Jody who spread it wide for Fil. One skinned defender later and he took the ball along the byeline only to see his cutback stuck into the side netting by a defender.
For all the attacks we were creating we were still too guilty at times of sitting back and packing the defence instead of opening up the play. It meant relying on Deuchar to hold up the ball as we tried to counter and he wasn't having a good game at all with little linkup play with his fellow striker. A United corner in the 26th minute saw more controversy as Davidson was floored in the box - luckily Main held the header. We went up the park and Millar did well to force a corner - Davidson unlucky to see his header go wide.
The Arabs started to get all whiny especially Wilkie as several offsides went against them. Obviously Dougie MacDonald wanted some peace and quiet and that explains his decision in the 32nd minute. A United freekick into the box bounced about. The Coagies hands went up so the referee awarded handball (not sure who it was either Deuchar or Grainger - either way no player was even carded). Cadamarteri took the spot kick and Main's luck didn't hold and we went one down.
The goal livened up the game though and Saints took the play back up the other end. Davidson was unlucky to be on the end of a foul after a clash with Robertson. Then Bauben went through Davidson a minute later and again no card was shown. There was some justice though with the freekick long into the box and breaking for Morais. Some nice control saw him take the ball to the byeline and obviously fully aware of the party pieces of the ex- Saints in the Coagey side, a low cutback beat Weaver and found Darren Dods there to stick the ball into his own net.
That goal boosted Saints confidence and a minute later Sammy and Jody linked to release Mackay on the right and his cross found Deuchar almost on the goalline but leaping with the keeper, the striker could only put the ball over. We continued to dominate up to the break and two minutes from the interval we should have scored with a great break seeing Davidson go down the right in a two on one partnered by an unmarked Morais in the middle. Davidson should have passed but when he got into the box he went for the shot only to be downed from behind. No penalty given but the ball still broke to Sammy and his cross for Morais was cutback for the Doc who got a slight touch on the ball only to see it go along the goalline.
A minute later Grainger and Millar combined on the left before slipping the ball along the deck for Davidson in the box but his chipped shot went just wide.
After the hectic close to the first half, the second started with more controversy with a Dods handball missed by the sun-dazzled linesman despite the incident happening about six inches away from him. But with two minutes gone we were punished for some slack defending. Millar got back to clear one attack but when the ball broke from a long through, the defence was unable to clear from a crowded box and the ball broke to Webster who shot home with Main nowhere. It was harsh but again it just showed that there's a fine line between the goal going in and the defence clearing the danger.
Two-one down we took the ball to the Arabs again. A decent cross into the box saw Davidson set up Morais with a header but he was too slow to get the shot in. A throw into the box in the 49th minute again let to a penalty claim as Deuchar was hauled to the deck. Jody tried to reach the Doc with a decent cross and then Sammy had a low cross in the 53rd minute which found Davidson but instead of just blasting the ball he tried to place it and shot over the bar. Sammy had a shot of his own two minutes later that seemed to be handled and then Garters headed a corner wide.
With an hour gone Del made a couple of changes with Sammy and Millar going off as His Serene Swankiness and Liam came on and the former got stuck in immediately putting in two (count 'em) good tackles and setting up Liam with a good crossfield ball but Craig's final cross was a poor one. Mackay set up Morais in the 62nd minute and he turned and tried his luck from about 25 yards out with a rocket of a shot that brought out just as good a save from Weaver to tip the ball over. The resulting corner was cleared but also saw Dixon go off with a head knock. Grainger set up Morais in the 64th minute with a low ball through the middle and Morais turned well and tried another long-range shot that was well held.
Grainger had a cross held and Liam saw a cross for Davidson and Morais find the midfielders with no room for a shot. It seemed we could do anything apart from stick the ball into the net. A good run from Morais in the 67th minute saw him cut the ball back for Liam but his shot was held.
Then Mackay sent the ball forward for the Doc who was up-ended at the edge of the box in the 70th minute. With the wall lining up Del decided to bring on our answer to Ronaldo as the Mad Mental One replaced the Doc. Hardie jogged onto the park walked up and kicked the ball round the wall past the keeper and into the back of the net - sheer bloody poetry especially after thinking lightning won't strike twice.
So the scores level and Saints dominating the game. Yup you know what's coming. We had a couple of chances with another excellent cross from Mackay finding Davidson, Hardie and Morais with no room for a shot. Thuggy Goodwillie came on for Wilkie as the Arabs went for pace up front while Saints, with no recognised striker on the park had a front pairing of Fil and Mad Mental. But with 15 minutes remaining we were caught napping again. The Arabs pressed into the box and with no real tackle in a low shot was squeezed in. It got past the defence and Main but Garters raced back only for Goodwillie (who looked offside) to sneak in at the post and somehow slide it home. Consider the teeth well and truly kicked in once more.
Saints tried to get back and the closing stages saw us throw everything forward. A Mackay throw into the box found Garters who was blatantly held only for Dougie-boy to give a foul throw. Goodwillie got a booking for kicking the ball away (he really needs to calm that temper) but Saints kept pressing. Morris played a good ball into the box for Hardie but he slipped. Danny tried a long through that saw some blatant holding in the box before the ball broke to Morais who couldn't find the room for the shot.
With the game being so open, the opposition had the odd chance. Main had to hold a long-range shot as the Arabs tried to slow the game down. Casalinuovo had a good break in the 84th minute but Main pulled off an excellent save from his angled shot. We broke up the park and with His Serene Swankiness tearing down the right Swanson came flying in with a two-footed challenge - leading the referee to give the United player a straight red and no doubt giving Levein plenty of excuses to slag off a referee who all but handed them the game today. The freekick into the box saw a foul against Hardie.
Even then the controversy wasn't over as a Caff cross two minutes from the end of normal time saw Davidson head the ball on for Hardie who was shoved to the deck - a penalty that couldn't have been more of a stonewaller if Hadrian had bloody built it. Still we kept pressing forward with Liam and Swankie playing a good cross in for Hardie but he headed the ball behind. The real irony was the last chance of the game falling to the Juteopolis Junkies with Goodwillie beating Main (in the footballing sense not the nightclub one) but there was His Serene Swankiness to get back and clear the ball off the line.
Another game lost but again it's hard to fault the team. We need the strikers to start scoring and Deuchar to hit some form - he was possibly our worst player today. Plenty of good performers for us though with Mackay, Morris, Sammy and Grainger all doing well but my vote goes to Murray Davidson - a wee bit more rub of the green and he'd have been on a hat-trick. It's another of those games that we should have won but even so I'm not too downhearted tonight - we're playing good solid entertaining football and I've yet to see anything to be really worried about in this league. We need to stop respecting our opponents and go for the jugular more and (going by today) forget about relying on the referee for any sort of consistency or logic. Accies isn't a must-win game but we are starting to need the points.
Mind you in Hardie we do have the new Ronaldo!
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