Saints off the Bottom

Guest post by Kyle Gunn.

St Mirren are finally off the bottom of the Scottish Championship table for the first time since September last year.

The Paisley side decided to axe management team Alex Rae and David Farrell on the 18th September after failing to win any of the first ten league games of the campaign.

The Buddies decided to turn to former defender Jack Ross as the next permanent solution. The 40 year old lost his first six league games at the helm, meaning the side were six points adrift of second bottom Ayr United at the turn of the year.

The former Alloa boss appointed former Killie midfielder and Queen of the South manager James Fowler as his assistant, and they decided to take a gamble, making significant changes to the squad in January – ten players in and ten out.

Although losing the first six Championship games, fans could see a definite improvement in the team’s performances, and then came a crucial couple of wins. Firstly on a cold Tuesday night in December, when Stevie Mallan’s stoppage time winner gave The Buddies their first league win of the season. It was two wins in a row four days later when Lewis Morgan scored the only goal of the game against Raith Rovers in Paisley.

Then came the changes, Saints took what at the time seemed a massive gamble. Ten players left the club including Tom Walsh and Ryan Hardie, who were on loan from Rangers. Lawrence Shankland who was on loan from Aberdeen and Jason Naismith who joined Scottish Premiership side Ross County also left the Paisley 2021 Stadium. They were replaced by players including returning midfielder Stephen McGinn and Manchester City loanee goalkeeper Billy O’Brien.

Fans’ favourite and returning midfielder Stephen McGinn also replaced Andy Webster as club captain as part of the shakeup.

Many had written his side off but Jack Ross always insisted that the clubs’ fortunes would turn – and he was right. In the last ten a Championship outings Saints have accrued eighteen points.

Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Stevie Aitken’s Dumbarton moved St. Mirren off bottom spot for the first time in seven months, courtesy of a better goal difference than Ayr United. However, Saints could have moved clear of the playoff spot with a win, frustratingly missing a penalty as well as other opportunities.

The squad travels to Greenock tomorrow night to play their game in hand against rivals Morton at Cappielow. SPFL Championship Manager of the Month for March, Jack Ross knows if the current form can continue and his team can take all three points back to Paisley they will overtake Raith Rovers, and go in to eighth place.

Although Jack himself maintains staying up won’t be seen as a sense of achievement in comparison with where the club wants to be. However, considering the position of the club when he was appointed in October, if he does indeed complete the aim this season and keep Saints up, it will be seen as an achievement, and a sizeable one at that.

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