St Johnstone v Kilmarnock reaction
Steve Lomas heaped praise on Nigel Hasselbaink after St Johnstone's 2-1 SPL victory over Kilmarnock at McDiarmid Park on Saturday. Thee striker recovered from a horrendous miss to net the goal that lifted Saints into second place in the Scottish Premier League table. The home side's victory over Killie stretched their remarkable sequence of wins to five in the league - their best since the legendary Willie Ormond was at the helm in 1971. Murray Davidson's goal separated the teams until Hasselbaink struck to make it 2-0 in the 90th minute, a goal that proved crucial when James Fowler pulled one back for the visitors moments later. And Lomas was particularly thrilled for Hasselbaink, who had earlier missed an open goal and also failed to convert when sent clear through on Kilmarnock keeper Cammy Bell. The Saints manager said: "I said to Nigel I don't care how many he misses as long as he keeps on getting in there. "It's great to have that positive attitude to keep getting in there and taking responsibility after you've had a couple of one-on-ones. "We'll give him the benefit of the doubt, there was a bobble! But I keep saying to Nigel he'll never get any criticism from me for missing, as long as he keeps getting in there again and again, and it was reward for a very tough mental attitude from him. "He's adding that to his game, and the energy he has without the ball. We all know he can do magical things with it, and he's now becoming a more rounded player." With Saints recording five straight victories for the first time in the Premier League, their position in second spot behind Celtic will be especially pleasing for Lomas, who was installed as the bookmakers' favourite to be first manager sacked in the top flight. The sequence was sparked by an unexpected 2-1 triumph over Celtic in mid-September, when they had gone seven games without a win, and Lomas was keen to ensure his players got the praise. He added: "I'm delighted. It should have probably been more convincing, with the number of chances we had. We should probably have coasted home and you're always fearful at 1-0, if you don't take your chances, that they can punish you. "They've got players that can do that and you're always mindful that if you don't kill a team off you could end up getting punished. "But I thought it would have been very unfair if we hadn't taken the three points. "It's great for the boys. We touched on the run before the game and we're delighted. It's great for the lads, who have been excellent." Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels admitted his side lost to the better team. He said: "When you play two at the back you do get caught and we accept that, but we were chasing to get the equaliser. "We don't want to take anything away from St Johnstone because when you win games and you go on a little run it provides a positive energy and there's a chemistry in the St Johnstone team. "They were really strong and committed. We tried to match that commitment and I can't say that our boys weren't committed to try and stop them from playing and trying to produce. "After they got the goal we changed it and we got control of the ball, and we looked the more likely for the last 15 minutes of the first half and the first 20 minutes of the second half. "We said at half-time they were there for the taking. They were on the ropes, there's no question of that. "The best team won on the day and we're not taking that away from them but, unfortunately, we weren't at our best today."
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