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Saints v Hamilton Accies preview
Saints need to put Saturday's disappointment behind them quickly if we are to avoid a cup upset when we face Hamilton Accies tomorrow night.
This, on paper, is a decent chance for us to make the last eight for the second year running. We are the home side and we are stronger on paper. However, with Saints being Saints it rarely works out like that. Yes, we thrashed Ayr in the last round but that could well be the exception that proves the rule. For every game like that there's a Gretna, a Forfar or an East Fife match. If we go into this thinking we only need to turn up we will lose. If we go into it knowing we must give our all and be fully committed then we should, hopefully, get the job done.
Games involving Billy Reid's sides are often dull. I still can't quite wipe out the memory of our four goalless draws against Clyde nearly a decade ago. Add in our poor record against Hamilton at our new ground and the way we normally toil against lower league sides in the cup - as we did against Hamilton in the Scottish Cup in January - and you do not have the makings of a classic. At least we have now broken the home cup jinx under Danny Lennon and beat a second division side into the bargain, but can we keep that going tomorrow night?
The problem on Saturday, it seems, was that we created plenty of chances and didn't take any until it was too late. So how do we change things? Personally, I'd stick with the strike force. Steven Thompson and Lewis Guy may not have scored on Saturday but in our last home game against Hearts they were rather impressive and definitely don't deserve to be dropped just for missing a few chances. Besides, I'm not particularly convinced Sam Parkin would be the answer. Thomas Reilly might be worth a shot but considering Guy has scored three goals in as many home games he is likely to get the nod to join Thompson up front.
As for other changes there could be some in defence after some bad defending cost us dearly at the weekend. David van Zanten was hooked in the second half and may be forced to make way for David Barron or new signing Paul McGinn. Graham Carey could return or there could be a start for former Accies man Dougie Imrie, who is likely to be well up for this one. If either of them start it will probably be in place of Gary Teale, who seems to be most effective from the bench these days. Aside from minor knocks and niggles the injury situation isn't too bad, Darren McGregor and Grant Adam the obvious absentees.
Supposedly Billy Reid had a chance to take some sort of job at Swansea over the summer. I somehow doubt it would be the manager's position, but even if it had just been a coaching role he should probably have taken it. Hamilton haven't exactly had the best of starts to the new season and are struggling in the first division, two late goals preventing a rather embarrassing defeat to Dumbarton at the weekend. Things haven't gone particularly well for them since they were relegated from the first division and a few Hamilton fans are now beginning to tire of Reid. The dire football his sides are renowned for probably doesn't help their mood.
At least you get to watch a few youngsters in action even if the football isn't the best. Ali Crawford looked impressive against us in the past but maybe isn't cut out for the rough and tumble of the SFL, while Ziggy Gordon has a cool name. Some of the youngsters aren't Hamilton's, which is a bit of a problem, but on loan strikers James Keatings and Stevie May are still pretty handy and will be looking to make a name for themselves tomorrow. May was outstanding for Alloa last season and it was a bit of a surprise that St Johnstone let him go.
A team called Saints surprisingly letting a young striker go to Hamilton. Who could I possibly be talking about? Now is as good a time as any to mention Jon McShane and if anyone in the Accies team is going to be fired up for this one it will be him. He clearly has a point to prove after being let go at the end of last season, despite impressive loan spells at Dumbarton and Hamilton in recent years. As far as he's concerned Lennon didn't rate him and he will be desperate to show him just how wrong he was to write him off.
Someone else that can hurt us is Alex Neil. The midfield playmaker is now back fit and is capable of running the show from the middle of the park when he's in the mood. How Hamilton have managed to hold onto him is anyone's guess, although he does also have a coaching role at the club. He, defender Martin Canning and goalie Kevin Cuthbert help add some experience to what is a fairly young side now the likes of Mark Mclaughlin and utility man and goal machine Simon Mensing have moved on to pastures new.
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