THIS MATCH was St Mirren’s season in microcosm. Dominant for long spells, they failed to turn possession into goals and then suffered from a combination of dilatory defending, bad luck and controversial refereeing decisions.
St Mirren - 1
Dundee - 2
Irvine (53), Davidson (69)
Referee: S McLean
Unfortunately for them, the bottom line is that the poorest home record of any senior club in the British Isles has just got even worse and, according to midfielder John McGinn, the threat of returning to the second tier for the first time in nine years will remain until such time as the paying Paisley public celebrate a win.
The Saints have now gone over eight months and 15 matches without beating top-tier opponents in front of their long-suffering fans and McGinn admits that their record has become a source of shame. “At the start of the season you want to make your home turf a fortress, but we have done the complete opposite,” he said.
“It’s embarrassing. We want fans to come along and be able to watch their team score goals and pick up points and we have not done it all season.
“There is definitely belief in the dressing room. We have players of Kenny McLean’s ability and if we can get the ball to him and he can produce goals like that then we should have nothing to worry about. But if we continue to lose goals like this at home then we have a real problem.”
McGinn accepted the blame for failing to put the Buddies 2-0 up on Saturday, sending a free header over the bar from six yards immediately before Dundee equalised.
“Personally, I’m thinking too much about getting a goal,” he said. “I’ve not had one all season and everybody keeps reminding me. Maybe when I was heading it I was thinking too much about that but we need to start taking our chances and shoring up at the back.”
McGinn and his team-mates could at least draw succour from the fact Ross County and Motherwell, the teams immediately above and below them, also lost but he knows that Saints can’t rely on the failings of others.
“We can’t worry about the teams around us,” he said. “We need to make them worry about us.”
McLean had fired the home side into the lead with a well-struck drive from the edge of the penalty area but they passed up a host of other chances to increase their advantage, with Yoann Arquin twice being denied by goalkeeper Scott Bain.
They were punished when Dundee’s Gary Irvine stole in to equalise from Greg Stewart’s unselfish assist, although Saints’ interim manager, Gary Teale, insisted that the full-back was in an offside position. Irvine is currently mining an unexpectedly prolific vein of form, having scored more goals in the last month than in the rest of his 14-year career.
“I haven’t set myself any targets – it doesn’t normally get spoken about in my house,” he said. “I’ve actually got a goal bonus from my father-in-law – but that’s just him taking the Mickey out of me because I hardly ever score.
“For years now, he’s put me on £30 a goal. He’s kind of gutted this year. I think that’s four in seven games – but that sounds like striker talk!”
Iain Davidson, who could be out for several weeks after picking up a nasty ankle injury during stoppage time, notched the winner when his shot from Stewart’s pass was diverted behind Mark Ridgers by Jason Naismith’s attempt at blocking.
There was still time for Arquin, cautioned earlier for a foul on Davidson, to be shown a second yellow card when referee Steven McLean adjudged that his exaggerated fall, following a challenge from James McPake, constituted simulation. “When we got the equaliser, their fans got to them a wee bit and the opposite was true of ours,” said Irvine. “They were brilliant – the noise that came from them gave us a real boost to go and get a winner.”
MAN OF THE MATCH
Scott Bain (Dundee)
St Mirren were in rampant form in the opening part of this game and, but for the heroics of the visiting ’keeper, they may have scored a few.