St Johnstone V Celtic at McDiarmid Park : Match Preview

06 May 2014 05:01
St Johnstone V Celtic - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

May delighted with Perth response

St Johnstone striker Stevie May admits he could never have imagined how much his side's first Scottish Cup final appearance could unite the Perth community.

May thought he knew exactly what his semi-final double against Aberdeen would mean to St Johnstone given he hails from the village of Newburgh, about 14 miles from McDiarmid Park, and came through the club's youth ranks.

But the response has surprised him with more than 14,000 tickets sold for the May 17 clash with Dundee United at Celtic Park.

The 21-year-old spent the afternoon before his team host Scottish Premiership champions Celtic in the Cherrybank Inn in Perth to launch Saints 130 Ale, a blue beer brewed by Inveralmond Brewery to mark the club's achievement, and he was surrounded by well-wishers.

"If it hadn't been the day before a game I would maybe have had a couple, but it looks a great colour and it's nice to see the city get behind the team," he said.

"It is a final for Perth and not just the club. It's refreshing to see so many people encouraging the team.

"It's a massive occasion, not just for the players and management, but for everyone. The fans have waited too long for this occasion - 130 years - and the ticket sales have been incredible. I don't think anyone expected it to go as well.

"I've been asked for a few tickets, but most people I know can get them easily. A lot of the boys have a bus going from where they are from. There is a bus coming from Newburgh, where I'm from.

"Somebody I used to go to school with is coming all the way from Australia. It just shows how much it means to people. If we were to go that bit further and win it, I couldn't imagine how it would go down in Perth and the reception we would get.

"We almost had full houses for the European games too and it shows you the fans are there. It's up to us to show them we are worth coming to watch week in, week out."

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright is expected to rest some players for the visit of Scottish Premiership champions Celtic. Frazer Wright was left out of Saturday's defeat at Motherwell and others may follow.

Neil Lennon is likely to ring the changes for Celtic. Left-back Emilio Izaguirre will play no further part for the champions this season after being allowed time off before meeting up with Honduras ahead of the World Cup and Lennon is hoping to give starts to number two goalkeeper Lukasz Zaluska plus forwards Dirk Boerrigter, Teemu Pukki and Amido Balde.

Lennon believes the latest off-field controversy to surround Celtic striker Anthony Stokes is "not a major deal".

The Dubliner will have to explain the photograph - which emerged last week in a newspaper of him singing in a bar in the Falls Road, Belfast - to the Parkhead club at some point on Tuesday.

The former Sunderland and Hibernian player was warned by Celtic in December, 2012 when he attended a memorial event for murdered Real IRA member Alan Ryan.

Celtic, along with the Police and the Scottish FA, are currently investigating Stokes' fellow striker Leigh Griffiths, for allegedly joining Hibs fans, of which he is one, in singing a song calling former Hearts player Rudi Skacel "a refugee" in a pub before the Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle in March.

Ahead of the trip to McDiarmid Park to face St Johnstone on Wednesday night, the Hoops boss backed both players.

He said: "I have not spoken to Anthony, he is going to speak with the club today about it and I will be guided by what they think is best.

"It is not a major deal for me.

"Sometimes I think these stories are blown way out of proportion.

"They are not bad boys and people try to make them out to be something that they are not.

"They are a bit loose sometimes but I like that in their personalities, as long as we can channel it in the right directions.

"I will wait and see what the police investigation brings and we will deal with it accordingly, regarding Leigh.

"I don't think Anthony has done a lot either.

"There is a code of conduct that they have to adhere to and that will come with experience and maturity.

"They are both playing very well but I am not using that as an excuse not to punish them, obviously if I feel the need to punish them then I will."

Source: PA