Sunday, June 4, 2023

It’s in our hands – Steven MacLean ‘positive’ in survival fight

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 14 May 2023


St Johnstone interim manager Steven MacLean stressed their fate was in their own hands after a home defeat by Motherwell left them in relegation danger.

Saints failed to test Motherwell goalkeeper Liam Kelly during a 2-0 defeat at McDiarmid Park.

Results elsewhere mean they are only five point off the bottom of the cinch Premiership and three ahead of 11th-placed Ross County, with Kilmarnock only two points behind.

Saints now face two away games at Rugby Park and in Dingwall before finishing their season at home to Livingston.

MacLean said: “We aren’t really interested in the other teams. It’s in our hands, we’d rather be in our position than the teams below us.

“We will go to Kilmarnock and be positive. The boys are disappointed but I will pick them up again. We will go down there and look to win the game.”

One major positive was Chris Kane’s comeback from a knee injury, which has been delayed by other minor fitness problems. The striker came on in the 84th minute for his first appearance since January 2022.

“It was great to see Chris back,” MacLean said. “I am delighted and now he has to push to be fit again for next week.”

Andy Considine went off with a head knock and will be assessed in the build-up to the game, while Melker Hallberg will be a doubt for the trip to Ayrshire after missing Saturday’s game with a hamstring injury he picked up in training 24 hours earlier.

Motherwell moved into seventh place after Kevin van Veen’s re-taken penalty and a stoppage-time strike from Mikael Mandron made it two wins from two games since the split.

Manager Stuart Kettlewell admitted some poor passing and St Johnstone’s aggressive approach had made life difficult for them in the first half but he was delighted with their improvement after the break.

“The most pleasing aspect for me is probably the character that they show, because it’s very easy to think you are in holiday mode and very easy to think you can stroll through that game,” he said.

“This is such a difficult venue to come and get anything from, especially when St Johnstone need points as well.

“The character, the personality and that wee bit of quality we came up with in the second half, and that element of going right to the very end, was pleasing.”


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