By Blair McNally
An inspired defensive performance proved the difference at The Tony Macaroni Arena as St Mirren came away with a 1-0 victory against Livingston.
The home side started the better of the pair and it wasn’t long before the first great chance came for Livi striker Jay Emmanuel Thomas. A speculative Alan Forrest effort from all of 30 yards was fumbled by Jak Alnwick.
All JET had to do was finish calmly, however, his rebounded header flashed across goal and missed the target completely, much to a scrambling Alnwick’s delight. St Mirren soon had a chance of their own, an excellent Jamie McGrath free kick from the right found the feet of a wandering Richard Tait at the back post, with only a solid connection needed to put the ball in the net.
Tait failed to manage this and instead a weak volley trundled into Max Stryjek’s arms. St Mirren then came out the more energetic of the pair in the second half and were rewarded shortly after.
Fresh from the ranks of Aston Villa, Jake Doyle-Hayes seemed keen to impress in his first spell in Scotland after being released by Villa. This came in due course as a McGrath corner was cleared to the edge of the box, allowing Doyle-Hayes to smash home a sweetly struck volley.
It deflected off Marvin Bartley in the process and flew into the top right corner, leaving Stryjek with no chance. Soon after Livingston’s frustrations became evident. Jason Holt flying high into a 50/50 with left-back, Brandon Mason, and was perhaps lucky to have stayed on the park.
A Frustrated Gary Holt made a last-ditch attempt to salvage a point in the dying embers as he flung on three attacking substitutes. However, it was not to be for Holt’s men as a defensively resolute St Mirren side hung on to ensure all three points joined them on the team bus back to Paisley. Here are three things we learned.
St Mirren have improved from their stop-start beginning to the season. Jim Goodwin’s compact and clinical approach at Alloa, which led to his plaudits and return to the Premiership as St Mirren boss, has finally started to pay off.
After going unbeaten in their last six, The Buddies will be looking to kick on up the table as they seem to have found the winning formula defensively.
As explained by both managers post-match, this game was to be decided by one goal. Unfortunately, it looked like St Mirren would be the only ones capable of breaking the deadlock.
Lions striker Emmanuel Thomas was left unaided all afternoon by his teammates. Other attacking stars like Alan Forrest and Craig Sibbald weren’t able to provide the goods either for the most part as an important goal evaded Holt.
The likes of Max Stryjek, Nicky Devlin and captain Bartley were all willing to lead by example to guide and control the players around them throughout this game.
This could prove pivotal as times get tough as the squad will have plenty of options for people willing to step up to the plate and lead by example.