Future looks bleak for John Sutton and St Mirren

It would not have seemed '¨possible four years ago, when Danny Lennon's St Mirren side beat Celtic in the semi-finals of the League Cup and then went on to prevail against Hearts in the final, but the Buddies are staring down the barrel of '¨relegation to Scottish football's third tier.

St Mirren's John Sutton comes close with a header for the home side during Saturday's 3-0 defeat by Queen of the South. Picture: SNS
St Mirren's John Sutton comes close with a header for the home side during Saturday's 3-0 defeat by Queen of the South. Picture: SNS

Supporters who became accustomed to visiting Ibrox and Parkhead can now look forward – if that’s the right phrase – to visiting Cliftonhill and Station Park next season.

Seven points behind second-bottom Ayr United and with only one victory from their last 11 home games, the future looks bleak for the Paisley club with the Premiership facilities.

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With every pound a prisoner in the current climate, striker John Sutton is well aware that their full-time status is unlikely to be feasible if they drop into League One. “You don’t want to think about having to go part-time,” said the 33-year-old. “We are still fighting but other teams have struggled to stay full-time when they go down to [that level].

“At the start of the season, we looked at our squad and fancied our chances of being up the other end of the table. That hasn’t materialised and it has just spiralled from there. We’ve got 3,000 fans watching us being cut adrift at the 
bottom – it’s a disaster. The potential for the club is clearly there, but nothing’s going to change unless the 11 guys on the pitch start producing. Did we get crosses into the box? No. Did we trouble their keeper? No. Did they look like scoring when they went down the other end? Yeah. Those aren’t good omens for us.”

In truth, there wasn’t much to choose between two sides lacking in confidence until Stephen Dobbie, pictured, dinked the ball over Scott Gallacher in the last seconds of the first half.

Queens had failed to win any of their previous 13 league fixtures but they grew in confidence after taking the lead and Joe Thomson doubled their advantage when he fired home after a Dobbie effort had come back off the post. Gary McKenzie’s own goal, when he miscued a clearance into his own net, summed up the home team’s performance.

“The way we played was a disaster; it followed on from the end of the Morton game last week,” said Sutton.

“We are where we are – bottom of the league. The club has a good stadium and we can take in more than 3,000 fans, which is more than some Premiership clubs. So there is this expectation that we will get ourselves out of trouble but, unless the 11 players on the pitch are doing the business, you’re not going to get out of it.

“We are still well adrift at the bottom of the league. There’s no other way of looking at it and it would be a disaster if it stays that way.”

Saints are the lowest-scoring senior club in the country (Dobbie and Derek Lyle have more league goals between them than Jack Ross’s entire squad) and adding punch up front has to be a 
priority during the current transfer window. “We are conceding cheap goals and not looking like scoring at the other end of the pitch,” said Sutton.

“You can’t really take too many positives, to be honest. The reality is that we are nowhere near the level we should be at in terms of our performances.”

For the visitors, victory provided renewed hope that they can claim a play-off place.

“We’ll be looking to achieve that again this season,” said Celtic loanee Thomson. “We were in danger of being dragged into a relegation 
battle before this result but now we’re looking up the table rather than down.”