Saints wilted to a third straight defeat this afternoon with a harsh 1-0 defeat to struggling Dundee United in Paisley. A Johnny Russell penalty was all that separated the teams in a match in which St Mirren could do everything but put the ball in the back of the net in an extremely frustrating afternoon.
The first half can surely be summed up as “one for the connoisseur”. Or simply a good old fashioned midfield battle depending on your viewpoint. Regardless of name, unanimously it was agreed it was a pretty drab affair. The hosts took a good while to find their rhythm. United passed the ball about well with pace whilst Saints found no joy in a tight midfield, restricted to sideways passing and long balls – the latter of which were not reaching their intended targets. Kenny McLean was badly missed in the creative midfield role and no one more so than the Scotland under-21 cap would’ve been more disappointed to miss out through injury. After 15 minutes an improvement was witnessed with some quicker passing and some more creative wide play from Dougie Imrie getting the crowd involved. Disappointingly there were only two real chances of note. An Imrie corner was flashed across the face of goal by Lee Mair after beating United keeper Radoslaw Cierzniak (try saying that after a few post match refreshments) to the punch. Jim Goodwin attempted to emulate his trademark by thundering a 30 hard volley which swerved just wide of goal soon afterwards.
That chance was to come back and bite Saints after 68 minutes. United swung in a corner kick for Steven Thompson to inexplicably handle in the area and referee Euan Norris awarded the visitors a penalty. Johnny Russell dispatched the kick into the bottom right hand corner of Samson’s net – the keeper managing to get a hand to the shot, however unable to divert it wide. A goal totally against the run of play, and frankly United were rather fortunate to be ahead.
Danny Lennon made some changes to bring about the comeback. A rather unlucky Lewis Guy was replaced by Sam Parkin. You could understand the manager’s thinking as our best play was coming from the wide areas, with Imrie acting the tormentor in chief. Throughout the second half the game was crying out for as much creative width on the right hand side too, however Teale was not substituted on until 10 minutes from the end. After being a thorn in the visitors’ side and once the creative width had been balanced – Imrie was then substituted for young Thomas Reilly 5 minutes later. There seemed little logic in the substitution as Imrie had put in a fine performance. Despite a couple of Jim Goodwin efforts towards the end, the game could not be salvaged and United went home by their own admission I’m sure, ugly winners.
An improved performance from last week’s drubbing simply has simply not masked an unacceptable defeat at home to a struggling side. Whatever way you look at it St Mirren have lost three games in a row, and have slumped to second bottom of the SPL table – our dignity saved by a hapless Dundee side sitting in solitude on four points. My Star Saint today was Jim Goodwin. The man showed some of his form he was displaying for Saints before signing his contract extension, and at the same time displayed some excellent timing and discipline to prove himself worthy of the captain’s armband. It was a pretty bleak day all round, regarding both the result and the winter chill. The defence has improved slightly, however on a day when goals were pivotal, there were none forthcoming in a exasperating Renfrewshire afternoon.