St Johnstone look on course for top-six finish

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ST JOHNSTONE manager Steve Lomas accepts the tough economic climate could continue to keep supporters away from McDiarmid Park, even though the team look on course for a top-six finish in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

Goals from Murray Davidson and Gregory Tade secured a 2-0 win over Kilmarnock and consolidated fifth place for the Perth side.

Saints made the breakthrough in the 58th minute when the Kilmarnock defence failed to deal with a Liam Craig corner kick to the back post and the loose ball was rammed home from seven yards by Davidson. They doubled their lead five minutes from time when the unmarked Tade rose to power home a Craig cross from eight yards.

However, those goals were watched by a crowd of just 2,425 – the lowest for a Saints weekend game this season.

Lomas said: “Of course we want more fans along, but we are in a recession and I’m not going to disrespect our loyal hardcore support. The club is trying its best in terms of incentives and that is all you can do. The players are trying hard on the pitch, but it is a difficult time and people don’t have the money.”

The Saints manager was pleased with the reaction from his team after dropping five points against Hearts and Dundee. “I thought we were pretty dominant in the second half and deserved to win. It was all about bouncing back and going into a three-week break with another three points on the board.”

Lomas was bemused by the prospect of an extended break before pre-split games against Dundee United and Inverness.

“We have a three-week break and I don’t know what is happening. You get six games in 23 days and you have three weeks off then you come back to two games in five days, Monday night against Dundee United and the Friday night at Inverness. It doesn’t help in terms of preparation,” he added.

“But television money is massively important. Of course it is. We can’t survive without that, it had to be sorted. But, since I have been here, we have received the short end of the stick in terms of fixtures.”

Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels, whose side now face an uphill struggle to claim a top-six place, also queried the fixture programme.

“The defeat puts us in the position where we have to win the last three games before the split,” he said. “It is a big ask because Ross County are our next game and they are playing so well.

“The worst month of the year, normally, for weather is February and we played six matches. We had a couple of weeks off in January and we have three off in March. It is hard to figure out.”

Reflecting on the defeat, Shiels added: “When you prepare, you give specific detail on the opposition and who has to pick up who at set-pieces. We gave away a corner for no reason. It was poor, poor play and then we don’t pick up Murray Davidson. It was really hard to take 
because there was nothing in the game.”