Saints hoping defensive frailties don’t resurface

Tommy Wright: Tighter display. Picture: SNS
Tommy Wright: Tighter display. Picture: SNS
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ST JOHNSTONE manager Tommy Wright is looking for a tighter defensive display against Motherwell as his side look to avenge a 4-0 New Year’s Day defeat at Fir Park.

Saints comfortably defeated Motherwell 2-0 in October but Stuart McCall’s side were in peak form after getting on top in an entertaining return game.

Games between the two teams tend to be high-scoring – their meetings in the previous two seasons yielded 30 goals.

But Wright is more interested in the three points this evening following their 1-0 home defeat by Inverness at the weekend.

“The first goal in a lot of games in the league is crucial,” he said. “They got it down there, it was an end-to-end game and it could have been 8-4 to them.

“We created a lot of chances but we were too open and we have to make sure we are a lot tighter against them. At the same time we have to be a threat.

“I don’t think that does me or Stuart’s heart any good, but they have been entertaining games.

“We played extremely well at home and I think, at times, away from home we played well against them and created a lot of chances.”

Motherwell are also looking to bounce back from their 3-1 defeat by Dundee United on Friday night, and Wright knows his side will have to improve on Saturday’s defeat by Caley Thistle, although Nigel Hasselbaink missed a great chance to level when he headed wide of an open goal from four yards.

Wright, who has lost both Frazer Wright and Tam Scobbie to injury, said: “I think they are a quality side. Stuart has done remarkably well, he has a lot of good players and (John) Sutton has had a great season.

“But we have to do better than we did on Saturday. Having said that, I do feel we deserved a point out of the game.

“We dominated the second half and I don’t think Inverness had a shot, and we had the best chance of the game with Nigel on the rebound.

“And in fact the build-up to that, there was a clear handball from (Aaron) Doran which should have been a penalty. I think we were a bit unfortunate not to get a penalty and a point.”

Motherwell midfielder Stuart Carswell admits he was disappointed to be left out of the Scotland Under-21 squad again – but will aim to add goals to his game in a bid to win over Billy Stark.

Carswell has been a regular for Motherwell this season but is yet to make an Under-21 squad with central midfielders Craig Slater, Sam Stanton and John McGinn all earning their first call-ups for the 5 March friendly against Hungary.

A disheartened Carswell said: “You would obviously like to see your name in that squad. Representing your country at any level is always a bonus.”