St Johnstone V Motherwell at McDiarmid Park : Match Preview

02 November 2012 04:31
St Johnstone V Motherwell - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Millar keen to show thrashing was a blip

St Johnstone midfielder Chris Millar believes the midweek hammering by Celtic should be put into the context of an encouraging start to the season for the Perth club.

A 5-0 defeat in the Scottish Communities League Cup quarter-final at Parkhead on Tuesday night was St Johnstone's first loss in nine games.

Indeed, their fifth consecutive Clydesdale Bank Premier League win of the campaign against Kilmarnock earlier in the month equalled a club record stretching back to 1971.

The Perth side can leapfrog Neil Lennon's men to lead the SPL table for 24 hours at least with a win over Motherwell at McDiarmid Park on Saturday, if results in the games involving Aberdeen and Hibernian go their way.

Millar, 29, believes the Celtic result should not negate the good start to their season.

"If a win on Saturday can take us top of the league then that is brilliant," he said.

"That just shows you how well we have done so far and we have to remember that.

"It was a nice wee run we were on, eight games and then we lost one to the best team in the country so we have to try to look for positives.

"We are going into the Motherwell game on the back of a bad result but in the overall picture we have been doing quite well.

"There are three teams in joint second place but even below that there is not a lot of points between the teams.

"It is a tight league, a few teams have been on decent runs so there is not a lot between the teams aside from Celtic.

"First and foremost you have to keep your league form good.

"But for a club like us, we are not going to win the league, the cup is something you can win.

"The draw wasn't kind to us but we have to put it behind us and move on."

St Johnstone boss Steve Lomas will have a head count of the walking wounded.

Defender Frazer Wright missed the defeat by Celtic with a broken nose and is one of those who will be assessed.

The Perth side were also without Peter Pawlett (hamstring), Craig Beattie (thigh), Jamie Adams (back) and Paddy Cregg (hamstring) at Parkhead and they are likely to be absent once again.

Motherwell have gone four games without a goal in a run that has seen them go from top of the table to eighth place ahead of their visit to St Johnstone.

But McCall remains convinced they will turn around their form.

"I would be worried if we weren't creating," McCall said. "We had three or four good opportunities against Hibs.

"We have got to keep putting ourselves in those positions and have the confidence to take them.

"We have good finishers in the club but we do need people to start chipping in with goals.

"We have worked on different types of finishing, crosses from wide, shots from the edge of the box, everything.

"The good things is we have players who create chances. We have pace and trickery, we just need to be clinical when that chance comes along.

"We might only get one, lots of games have been won by one shot on target. As long as we score one goal more than them, I'll be happy."

Motherwell did have the ball over the line in their latest defeat, a 4-0 reverse against Hibernian, but the officials failed to give the goal after Ben Williams scooped out Stevie Hammell`s header from his goal.

Hibs also benefited from two controversial penalties before their injury-time fourth and McCall is refusing to panic after previous defeats by Rangers, Celtic and Hearts.

"Last Friday was a freak game, everything that could go wrong did go wrong," he said.

"But it`s been a long week. As a manager you question yourself and what you can do better and different.

"It`s about knuckling down, nobody feeling sorry for themselves, and it`s time for strong minds and strong bodies.

"We go to a tough place tomorrow, St Johnstone have been on a terrific run.

"They are probably as well equipped to challenge Aberdeen for second with the strength of the squad, and the quality and experience.

"I think they will do well this season. It`s always a tough place to go but we have had good results there in the past and high-scoring games against them."

McCall has "one or two injury concerns" ahead of the game. He would not name the doubts but defender Shaun Hutchinson could miss out again after a hamstring injury ruled him out of last Friday`s defeat by Hibs.

Source: PA