Saints Preserve us
Updated Monday, 13th December 2010
The meeting of the Saints saw the Perth variety head home the happier.
Hearts beating St Johnstone last month gave the Perth side a kick up the backside which has resulted in Derek McInnes's side picking up seven league points from a possible nine away from McDiarmid Park. They had to rely on Liam Craig's late strike to give them the last three at New St Mirren Park. McInnes is hoping the good run will continue and allow him to secure his side's SPL status for another season. He said: "I thought the turning point was the game against Hearts at home when we felt disappointed not to come away with anything. We have improved in the games since then against Aberdeen, Hibs and St Mirren. We tried to get three clean sheets in a row but we have to be pleased with the results. We have strived for consistency all season. Before the St Mirren game we were two points better off than at the same point last year and everyone raved about us then, and how we were a breath of fresh air to the SPL. But we worked our way into the SPL last season and we got better as the season went on. I hope it is the same this time around. We can only take one game at a time and try to build on previous results but if we put in performances like we did in the second half at St Mirren, we will give ourselves more opportunities to win games."
Sam Parkin gave the visitors the lead with a powerful close-range header in 53rd minute but that was cancelled out by Michael Higdon's free-kick for the Buddies which took a deflection before ending up behind goalkeeper Peter Enckelman. With seconds of regulation time left, midfielder Craig, who agreed with McInnes that he had turned in one of his poorest performances in a St Johnstone shirt, grabbed the winner with a shot from inside the box which was probably a little bit more than the Perth men deserved.
St Mirren manager, Danny Lennon was disappointed with losing so late in the day but wanted to take some positives from the game. The St Mirren boss said: "At times we broke with great energy and in the first half we looked the most likely to break the deadlock. Their 'keeper has had a wonderful save from Michael Higdon and he also had one cleared off the line from a well-worked corner. They started the second half better than us and got their goal but once it went to 1-1 I was confident that we would have a couple of opportunities to score. It was just disappointing to lose another late goal." Home defender David van Zanten praised Enckelman for a great point-blank stop from Higdon in the first half when the game was goalless. He said: "It was a wonderful save. There was nothing more Michael could do. He gets his header on target and I don't know how the 'keeper managed to keep it out. We kept on plugging away and I don't think we deserved to get beaten. I thought we were unlucky to go a goal down but we showed character to get back. After we equalised I thought that there was only one team going to win the game and that was going to be us. Unfortunately it didn't pan out that way."
Ger Harley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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