The numbers are starting to add up for St Mirren. Yesterday’s win extended their unbeaten sequence to seven games, was their eighth victory in ten Championship encounters and extended to eight points their lead over Dundee United.
Potentially, the Paisley club are only two months away from a return to the Premiership from which they were demoted in 2015. After watching his side succumb to visitors they held for 47 minutes – but never looked like holding off for the full 90 – Dumbarton manager Stevie Aitken was unequivocal about the destination of the second-tier title. “St Mirren have momentum, a great group of players and a lot of quality,” he said. “There’s no doubt they’ll go on and win the league, and credit to them.”
Aitken, whose part-timers remain a credible tenth, delineated an encounter settled by second-half strikes by Cammy Smith and Stephen McGinn as a contest between the Championship haves and have nots. “What you’ve got is a team top of the tree, playing well and confidence sky high and a team at the other end whose confidence is not as high,” he said. “First half I thought we were good, as good as St Mirren were. But we had a ten-minute spell in the second half when we switched off twice and conceded two poor goals.”
There was a greater gulf between the teams than the period that brought the two-goal burst, St Mirren firmly with the bit between their teeth. On a gluepot of a pitch, they stuck to their tasks purposefully, even when their first-period domination yielded no spoils. Scott Gallacher blocking one-on-one from Celtic loanee Lewis Morgan and Gavin Reilly tugging a shot wide when in a scoring position accounted for that.
The complexion of the afternoon was irreversibly altered when a glancing header by Smith inside the six-yard box found the net only two minutes after the restart. When McGinn then crafted his first goal of the season courtesy of swishing his left leg to side-foot in a low-angled effort from 22 yards out on the right, another three-point haul was guaranteed for Jack Ross’s side that seem firmly on a title march.
“That’s encouraging,” he said of the driven appearance of his players. “You try to foster it as a manager, but naturally good results and performances and finding yourself top help grow that. Every time we win a game it’s another one chalked down at the end of the season. They are in a really good place, individually and as a squad and long may it continue. There will be bumps along the way but it’s about how I help them, I get over those bumps and make sure they keep faith in how good they are.”