St Mirren won’t back down from their relegation fight. Just when you think you can write them off, Oran Kearney’s men come up and salvage some points from nowhere. That was the case on Saturday, with Danny Mullen and Brad Lyon strikes securing a crucial 2-1 win for the Buddies over Dundee.
They now face a monumental challenge against an in-form Celtic side at the Simple Digital Arena on Wednesday night. Riding high from their Rangers success, Neil Lennon’s side are overwhelming favourites for their clash in Paisley.
They’ve upset Celtic already this season, with a 0-0 draw back in September. They’ll need an equally heroic performance if they want to get anything from this fixture, in a time where every point counts.
Ryan Flynn will be looked to for inspiration from midfield. After moving into a central position in January, the Englishman has been reborn. He gives the Buddies drive and aggression in midfield and Flynn will be called upon to put in his biggest St Mirren shift yet against the champions.
Two other players that will be called upon are Saturday goalscorer Mullen and defender Gary MacKenzie. They’ve both struggled with injuries this term, but Saturday proved these two players will be crucial for Kearney in games like this.
Much needed returns
Against Dundee, Mullen made his first start since November and MacKenzie made his first appearance since April 2018. It was a gamble to throw the latter in with no game time under his belt in a game of such importance, but it was one that paid off for Kearney.
The defender had been one of St Mirren’s better players last season and he was like a new signing on Saturday. He turned in a stunning shift with a few great tackles and blocks, managing to play the full 90 in his Premiership debut for the Buddies.
Mullen was one of the goalscorers on his return to the starting XI and he showed what he’s capable of. He chased down everything in front of him, hassling the Dee defence at every opportunity. He was rewarded for his endeavor with his first goal since netting a double against the Dens Park outfit in August.
Both men played starring roles against Dundee and they’ll need to up that even more against Celtic. They will prove a stern task for Kearney’s side and both players will have to be 100% if the Buddies are to do the impossible.
A tough task for the Buddies
MacKenzie will have his hands full as he will most likely be tasked with handling Odsonne Edouard. If his Dundee performance is anything to go by, he has the ability to keep tabs on the Frenchman. This will be a true test of his capability in the top flight.
Mullen will be up against a makeshift back four after Kieran Tierney and Dedryck Boyata suffered injuries against Rangers. Whilst their replacements will no doubt still be high quality defenders, they may take time to settle into the game. If the Buddies striker puts in the same hassling shift against the Hoops, the replacements may be unsettled by his style of play.
These are bonus points for St Mirren. No one expects them to win or draw. If they do it’s a top achievement. To get anywhere near the points though they need their key men to have exceptional games.
MacKenzie and Mullen fall into this category and their contribution could make the difference in the relegation dogfight.