Michael O’Halloran made a move that will always go down as the biggest of his career in 2016, heading to Rangers after a brilliant spell with St Johnstone.
The first time around in Perth, O’Halloran was electrifying. His pace was tremendous and he had a keen eye for goal too, deserving of his chance to move up the football food chain. Things haven’t quite gone according to plan since though.
It never really happened for him in Govan, rarely played under one boss and bombed under the next. O’Halloran faced criticism for this, often called one-dimensional as he struggled for light blue form.
In fits and starts during his third spell in Perth has O’Halloran shown the form that managed to earn him a move to Glasgow four years ago. At the weekend in a 2-1 St Johnstone win over Kilmarnock, he returned to the form of 2016 and 2017, where he scored four in his first five during a loan spell back in Perth.
Creativity and pace
The attacker got the winning goal in stoppage time as Callum Davidson’s men beat Killie 2-1. It was one of his best performances in three fairly frustrating seasons for him. His talent to score anything from a 30-yard rocket to pinpoint corner shot is there, he just hasn’t been able to showcase it consistently.
For this effort, he brutally punished Scotland international Stuart Findlay for a lapse in concentration at the back. Before the Killie defender had even made his undercooked pass towards his goalkeeper, O’Halloran was already off chasing the ball.
It allowed him to snatch it, and under intense pressure, he fired past Danny Rogers from a fairly tight angle as the keeper hesitated in the duel against the McDiarmid Park man.
The weekend was a great response from O’Halloran after a dismal opening day. He was sent off against Dundee United after testing the referee too much at Tannadice, struggling with the 5-2-3 system Davidson implemented.
But he came back in Ayrshire with a point to prove. The 29-year-old completed five successful dribbles, more than double anyone else on the park, hit two shots on target and made 26 completed passes alongside his stoppage time heroics.
Davidson talked him up in pre-season and again post-match in Kilmarnock. When O’Halloran is in full flow and contributing effectively to the team, there are few better at Premiership level than him.
But he needs to build on this now and not let it be a flash in the pan, a flashback to what once was. St Johnstone have enjoyed two good results at the start of this campaign and they can look forward to more if O’Halloran finds consistency.