Holders St Johnstone begin Scottish Cup defence in freefall but insist they can turn it around

Murray Davidson is adamant St Johnstone are perfectly capable of turning their season around.

Murray Davidson with the Scottish Cup trophy back in May - fortunes have changed for the Perth club since.
Murray Davidson with the Scottish Cup trophy back in May - fortunes have changed for the Perth club since.

Last year's cup double winners are two points adrift at the foot of the cinch Premiership and have lost their last nine matches in all competitions.

However, Saints have generally been competitive in most of those matches, with five of them settled by a single goal and none of them decided by more than a two-goal margin.

Midfielder Davidson is confident that with more ruthlessness at both ends of the pitch they can soon get back on track.

Saints were defeated in their most recent match at Hearts,

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He said: "It's such fine margins between winning and losing games. Last year we won more games that were probably classed as 50/50 games and this year we're losing more.

"The most obvious thing is we've got to be better at both ends of the pitch as a team. We've given away more goals than last year and we've not scored as many - if you put those two things together, it's not a good mix. It's not for a lack of effort. We still believe if we do the things we're capable of, we can pick up results. We're not panicking."

Saints kick off their defence of the Scottish Cup away to League Two leaders Kelty Hearts and Davidson admits it is a critical game for his side.

He said: "We're in a position now where we've got to start winning games, starting on Saturday. Whatever it takes, we've got to make sure we get through to the next round of the cup.

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St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson has much to ponder.

"It might take a game where we get battered for 90 minutes and one goes in off somebody's backside and it kick-starts us.

"We need to win the game to get confidence and to get through in the cup. We want to have a cup run. The cup's probably a good distraction for us. We want to progress but we know it's going to be very tough. Any win in a cup tie is a good win.

"I watched the Hibs game on Thursday and they got taken to extra-time by Cove - there are no easy games, especially going down there (to Kelty). They'll be wanting to take our scalp so it's up to us to make sure that doesn't happen."

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Davidson admits he and other senior players have a crucial role to play to help the team emerge from their slump.

He said: "Everyone's hurting but the dressing room's still in good spirits. The likes of myself, Liam Craig, David Wotherspoon and Zander Clark have an important part to play because we've been here before and gone through difficult times and come through the other end. We've got to make sure we try and do that again this year."

Saints will be without injured pair Craig Bryson and Shaun Rooney on Saturday.