Kilmarnock V St Johnstone at Rugby Park : Match Preview

10 August 2013 01:31
Kilmarnock V St Johnstone - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Millar: Saints seething over exit

St Johnstone midfielder Chris Millar admits the Perth men are burning with a sense of injustice following their Europa League exit - and are ready to take out their frustrations on Kilmarnock.

Tommy Wright's side will travel to Rugby Park for Sunday's Scottish Premiership fixture still hurting from their third qualifying round defeat to FC Minsk.

The Belarusians became the first foreign side to win a European tie in the Fair City after Milos Rnic struck 15 minutes from time to cancel out Steven MacLean's first-leg winner.

The Serbia international's strike sent the game into extra time but with no further goals, a penalty shoot-out was required.

But Saints kissed goodbye to hopes of landing a B#1.1million boost and place in the group stages when skipper Dave Mackay, Paddy Cregg and MacLean all missed from the spot.

However, Millar insists the wrong team went through to the play-off round.

He told Press Association Sport: "We're a better team than Minsk - there is no doubt in my mind. Over the two legs I thought we had done enough to get through but we never. We missed three penalties and that's it now. Football can be a cruel sport sometimes and it hurts.

"The boys are despondent right now but come Sunday we will be ready for Kilmarnock. The games are coming thick and fast and Sunday's match is important. There's no doubt, we'll be firing on all guns for that game. We want to continue on our good run."

St Johnstone will have virtually a full squad to chose from as they look to bounce back and are only missing long-term absentee David Robertson (broken leg).

Darren Barr admits Kilmarnock will be looking to exploit any post-European frailties St Johnstone may bring with them to Ayrshire.

Asked about the possible shape the Saints players may be in as they return to league duty, 28-year-old Barr, who became Allan Johnston's first signing for Killie in the summer after his contract at administration-hit Hearts came to an end, said: "It is hard to say. I know that they will be a bit sore and we want to take advantage of that.

"It was a shame that happened but at the end of the day, you want them to do well for Scottish football but we can only think of ourselves and we want to do our best if there is a bit of tiredness.

"But we will wait and see. You never know how it works out with teams.

"Sometimes it revives them, it gives them a lift but hopefully we can take advantage if there is a weakness there."

Barr believes the Killie strike duo of Kris Boyd and Paul Heffernan can give the Ayrshire side the edge over many sides this season.

Boyd, who started his senior career with the Rugby Park club, signed a one-year deal in the summer following a loan spell in the second part of last season after returning to Scotland from Portland Timbers.

The former Rangers and Middlesbrough striker showed his renowned eye for a goal when he scored in last week's 2-1 opening-day defeat by Aberdeen at Pittodrie, which further encouraged Barr.

The former Falkirk and Hearts defender said: "There are some really talented young players here and we have some goalscorers in our team and that is a massive difference.

"You can see with Kris Boyd and Paul Heffernan that we have goals there.

"Hopefully we can keep a clean sheet against St Johnstone, as a defender that's what we are especially keen to do.

"We were disappointed with last Saturday and we want to show that we can do better."

Skipper Manuel Pascali is back in the Kilmarnock squad for the clash. The Italian defender has been out since suffering a hamstring injury in February but played part of a reserve game in midweek, although he is not likely to feature against the McDiarmid Park men.

Boss Johnston is looking to bolster his squad, but is unlikely to have anyone in before the visit of the Perth side.

Source: PA