St Johnstone V Motherwell at McDiarmid Park : Match Preview

24 February 2014 06:01
St Johnstone V Motherwell - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Wright demands tighter defending

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright is looking for a tighter defensive display against Motherwell as his side look to avenge a 4-0 New Year's Day defeat at Fir Park.

Saints comfortably beat Motherwell 2-0 in October but Stuart McCall's side were on top form after getting on top in an entertaining return game.

Games between the two teams tend to be high-scoring - their meetings in the previous two seasons yielded 30 goals.

But Wright is more interested in the three points following their 1-0 home defeat by Inverness.

"The first goal in a lot of games in the league are crucial," he said. "They got it down there, it was an end-to-end game and it could have been 8-4 to them.

"We created a lot of chances but we were too open and we have to make sure we are a lot tighter against them. At the same time we have to be a threat.

"I don't think that does me or Stuart's heart any good, but they have been entertaining games.

"We played extremely well at home and I think at times away from home we played well against them and created a lot of chances."

Motherwell are also looking to bounce back, from their 3-1 defeat by Dundee United on Friday night.

And Wright knows his side will have to improve on Saturday's defeat by Caley Thistle, although Nigel Hasselbaink missed a great chance to level when he headed wide of an open goal from four yards.

Wright, who has lost both Frazer Wright and Tam Scobbie to injury, said: "I think they are a quality side. Stuart has done remarkably well, he has a lot of good players and (John) Sutton has had a great season.

"But we have to do better than we did on Saturday. Having said that, I do feel we deserved a point out of the game.

"We dominated the second half and I don't think Inverness had a shot, and we had the best chance of the game with Nigel on the rebound.

"And in fact the build-up to that, there was a clear handball from (Aaron) Doran which should have been a penalty. I think we were a bit unfortunate not to get a penalty and a point."

Motherwell boast an unchanged squad for the clash.

Fraser Kerr (ankle) returned to training on Monday but will sit out again along with Simon Ramsden (knee), Lee Hollis (muscle strain), Craig Moore (cracked rib) and Paul Lawson (knee).

Keith Lasley and Stuart Carswell have recovered from playing through the pain barrier on Friday night at Tannadice, while Henri Anier has trained again but is set to have a scan on his shin problem.

Motherwell midfielder Carswell admits he was disappointed to be left out of the Scotland Under-21 squad again - but will aim to add goals to his game in a bid to win over Billy Stark.

Carswell has been a regular for Motherwell this season but is yet to make an Under-21 squad, with central midfielders Craig Slater, Sam Stanton and John McGinn all earning their first call-ups when Stark named his squad for the March 5 friendly against Hungary.

When asked if it was disheartening to see another squad chosen without his name being on the list, Carswell said: "It is, you would obviously like to see your name in that squad.

"Representing your country at any level is always a bonus.

"But my main thing is to go out and play for Motherwell and do my best for the club. If it picks up a bit of interest from Billy Stark, then that would be a bonus as well.

"I wouldn't say 'I want to do this and I want to do that'. It's up to the manager to pick the squad. I can't say anything to him. He has obviously got his players he likes and that's it.

"Maybe my performances lately haven't been as good as they were at the start of the season but it's up to me to pick my form back again.

"I know there are young players out there doing well so it's up to me to go out and show what I can do."

The 21-year-old, who will make his 75th first-team appearance against St Johnstone, added: "I've still not scored in those 75 appearances right enough. Maybe I need to go out there and score a few goals.

"It's good for me at this age to get that amount of appearances under my belt, but I have got to kick on from there. You have to go out and show something for those appearances so I will be looking to add that to my game."

Source: PA