Missed opportunity as long-ball Pars lose to average League leaders
Kallum Higginbotham replaced the suspended Joe Cardle in the only change from the team that lost to Morton at home last week. 4-4-2 formation.
MINUTES THAT MATTERED
2' Declan McManus appealed for a penalty after a tussle in the St Mirren box but referee John Beaton rejected the claim
13' GOAL A well-worked move by St Mirren ended with Cammy Smith shooting past Lee Robinson
29' Ryan Williamson's overlapping run and cross was narrowly missed by Kallum Higginbotham a yard from goal
48' GOAL Jean Yves M'Voto headed a cross to Nicky Clark who finished for the equaliser
64' GOAL Jack Baird put Saints ahead again after a free kick was laid off to him in space
84' Robinson saved well from Lewis Morgan
88' Dunfermline applied late pressure to the Saints goal but a combination of half chances were not converted into a goal
A frustrating evening: leaders St Mirren are a very average team that know how to grind out single goal wins but are there for the taking against any decent opposition team, as proven in their exits from the League Cup and Scottish Cup this season (losing 5-0 to Partick and 4-1 to Aberdeen). As I stated in the match preview (here): "Although not the most flamboyant team to have topped the Championship table in the past few seasons, St Mirren have shown a determination to win games, often by the odd goal - of their last 6 wins in the League, 4 have come by one goal and the other 2 by 2 goals. They rarely demolish teams with a a flood of goals but are a very effective unit."
This Pars team, so poor in midfield yet the new midfield signing James Craigen is deemed not to be a better option than what we already had - he has started his first 2 games on the bench - are lacking in quality when the difference of 2 or 3 more effective players in certain areas would make a huge difference. Ultimately, recruitment is the manager's responsibility and he has failed to address the lack of athleticism in midfield.
There is no lack of effort but despite the plea for positivity from the club, only the most deluded, or brain-washed, fan would mindlessly cheer what is a shadow of past Pars teams. Playing long balls - basically, punts up the park, as opposed to long passes over the opposition defence - gives the strikers little opportunity to gain possession. The change back to 4-4-2 after a few encouraging weeks of alternate formations has once again made us predictable, and also has resulted in players being played out of position when substitutions are made - James Craigen on the wing (before being moved to central midfield later in the game when Michael Paton was subbed) and Andy Ryan on the left. Why not switch to 4-3-3 or 4-3-1-2 to allow Craigen and Ryan to play in their natural positions?
Games such as this are the yardstick in assessing the team/squad and manager's capacity for operating at a higher level. Certain players did well but in general it is obvious that there is much to be done before we can have confidence in existing in the top flight of Scottish football.
St Mirren's much-vaunted Lewis Morgan had a quiet game, with one flash of quality in the lead up to Saints' first goal, but was shackled well by Ryan Williamson, while Jean Yves M'Voto won everything in the air. Declan McManus plowed a lone furrow up front with Nicky Clark not in tandem.
This season's Championship is there for the taking. Sadly, we will do well to secure a play-off place on this form. That's not being negative - just realistic.
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