Blogs & Opinion


Andy Walker says St Mirren must find league form against Celtic

Andy Walker - Andy Walker Posted 25th March 2013 view comments

St Mirren get back to league business this weekend when they entertain champions-elect Celtic in Sunday's live SPL clash.

Just how they'll react to their enthralling victory over Hearts in the Scottish Communities League Cup remains to be seen but their stunning 3-2 success has defined their season and Danny Lennon must now focus on putting together a side capable of competing in the top half of the table.

Saints manager Danny Lennon after the Cup final victory

Saints manager Danny Lennon after the Cup final victory

No fewer than 26 years had passed since St Mirren's last trophy success and when the pressure was on, I saw a number of players capable of handling the big occasion.

Jim Goodwin was a captain who led by example and his performance on the day was terrific. In front of him, ex-Celt Paul McGowan was also in inspired form with the experienced front pair of Steven Thomson and Gary Teale also playing leading roles.

Live on Sky Sports

St Mirren v Celtic
12.30pm, Sun, Sky Sports 4 HD

Games against Celtic are always a huge test and I imagine the target for St Mirren in the last eight games of the season will be to climb the table if they can. With a 13-point lead over Dundee at the foot of the table, their SPL status is secure for another year but their League Cup triumph is a measure of how good they can be.

Not only did they overcome Hearts in a pressure final but along the way they also beat Aberdeen at Pittodrie on penalties before securing a memorable victory over Celtic in the semi-final at Hampden.

Consistency

Victories like these show how effective St Mirren can be and like all managers, Danny Lennon continues to search for ways to ensure more consistency in results. He must know they're a better side than one sitting second bottom of the table.

That 3-2 semi-final defeat was a sore one for Neil Lennon. It's not often a treble is won in Scotland but with Rangers out of the picture, Celtic blew a glorious chance of winning all three domestic trophies.

With so many of Celtic's players away on international duty, Sunday's team will be a late call from Neil Lennon as he tries to assess how everyone looks on their return.

A few weeks ago, Celtic secured a Scottish Cup semi-final place with a 2-1 victory over St Mirren at the same ground but it's fair to say that on too many occasions this season, Celtic players have switched off and taken some games for granted.

Retaining the title is only a matter of weeks away and a bit of gloss can be put on a bizarre season by winning the Scottish Cup. But with the same domestic circumstances in place for next season, the big test for Neil Lennon will be to try and ensure his players are at the top of their game for the weeks building up to the new campaign when the qualifiers for the Champions League take place.

Thankfully, Celtic supporters had something to get their teeth into this season with qualification for the knockout phase providing the best memories for the fans.

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Graeme Souness

Kop stars or flop stars?

Anfield is still special, says Graeme Souness, but Liverpool are a shadow of what they were....

Jamie Carragher

Carra: Drop Mario for Madrid

Jamie Carragher says Liverpool must leave out Mario Balotelli to get a result against Real Madrid in the Champions League....

Latest News RSS feeds

Cardiff battle past Ipswich

Goals from Peter Whitingham, Frederico Macheda and Adam Le Fondre saw Cardiff come back from behind to beat Ipswich 3-1.

Rampant Chelsea maul Maribor

Chelsea took command of Champions League Group G thanks to a convincing 6-0 victory against Maribor at Stamford Bridge.

Late penalty denies City

A controversial late penalty earned CSKA Moscow a 2-2 draw with Manchester City in their Champions League Group E clash.

Liverpool v Real Madrid preview

Team news for Wednesday's Champions League Group B clash between Liverpool and Real Madrid.

QPR 'sorry' for Taarabt row

QPR have issued an apology for the ongoing war of words between manager Harry Redknapp and midfielder Adel Taarabt.

Features

Champions League Goal Zone: Join us on Soccer Special for the goals as they go in

Champions League Goal Zone: Join us on Soccer Special for the goals as they go in

The Champions League is back and you can keep up with all the action in our brand-new Goal Zone on Sky Sports News HQ.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are closing in on Raul's UEFA Champions League goalscoring record of 71

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are closing in on Raul's UEFA Champions League goalscoring record of 71

With Barcelona and Real Madrid once again among the favourites for Champions League glory and El Clasico coming up this weekend, the rivalry between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo shows no signs of abating. There's even a game between Argentina and Portugal in London next month.

Sky Sports Scout reports on young forward Jack McKay

Sky Sports Scout reports on young forward Jack McKay

Sky Sports Scout is our exciting feature where we scour the globe looking out for the best talent and bring you a report on what we find.