ST MIRREN goalkeeper Craig Samson insists the Buddies can still reach the top six of the SPL – but only if they make their move now.
Saints bounced back from a demoralising 4-1 home defeat to Ross County in January to embark on a four-game unbeaten run that also saw them shock Celtic and snatch a place in the Scottish Communities League Cup final. Recent defeats by Hibernian and St Johnstone, though, have halted their run and taken the fizz out of soaring confidence in the St Mirren changing room – as well as leaving them with a nine-point gap to bridge to make it into the top six.
They now face Hearts in a dress rehearsal of their Hampden decider in Paisley tonight. With just six games left until the league split, Saints No 1 Samson believes a victory over John McGlynn’s men could yet keep their ambitions of breaking into the top half of the table for the first time in the SPL era alive for another week. “The top six is still a live issue for us. Just look at Ross County. They were only a point above us when we played them here. They beat us 4-1 and have not been beaten since,” he said. “Now they are sitting three points from second place. So if we go and do the same as that – push ourselves on, get wins on the bounce, put pressure on teams – then we can get in the top six.
“We’ve made it very difficult for ourselves, but it is possible. In saying that, it’s now or never. We have to win tonight to have a chance to do that.”
Former Scotland international Gary Teale sat out both those losses after being laid low by a back problem and Samson admits the winger’s absence has curtailed Saints’ creative streak. “You can’t get enough of someone who is creating goals for you. He is a big outlet for us but is also a big miss.”