Jim Goodwin spoke prior to St Mirren’s first game of the season about having a defence packed with leaders. There is great expectation for his backline considering who he has brought in.
The Buddies manager has four former captains to call upon in Marcus Fraser, Joe Shaughnessy, Conor McCarthy and Richard Tait. On paper it was solid but having it perform and gel quickly is another kettle of fish. Factor in a new goalkeeper too in Jak Alnwick, it’s basically starting from scratch.
On the basis of Saturday’s 1-0 win over Livingston, Goodwin may have found where his side’s main strengths lie.
Limited the threats
Much has been made of Livi striker Lyndon Dykes this season but in Paisley he didn’t really get a kick of the ball. Shaughnessy courted him really well whilst McCarthy mopped up the rest of the work in central defence.
At both full-back positions, Fraser and Tait turned in their usually steady performances fans of former clubs Ross County and Motherwell will be well accustomed too. Tait even got himself on the scoresheet with a fine diving header.
An opening day three points 💪 pic.twitter.com/06AAyunqc0
— St Mirren FC (@saintmirrenfc) August 1, 2020
Alnwick, whilst not having much to do, proved himself reliable with most of the things that came his way. The highest praise has to go to Shaughnessy on this occasion, who returned to the form shown in his days at St Johnstone with a superb debut in Paisley.
Despite only being together a few weeks, they already looked like a well drilled machine. That’s a testament to the work Goodwin has been able to do with them in a short amount of time.
Similar performances to the one on Saturday and the Buddies will do just fine this season. All they’ll need to do is get a regular tune out the attacking force, with Jamie McGrath in particular looking dangerous at the weekend. His assist for Tait was brilliant, a pinpoint cross right behind the Livi defence.
Last season St Mirren kept nine Premiership clean sheets, not bad considering they finished in the lower half of the table. With a seemingly improved defence this time around, Goodwin should be looking to take that number into double figures this term.
On Saturday’s showing, they are more than capable.