April 25, 2014

U20: Inverness Caledonian Thistle 3-2 St Mirren

Yesterday afternoon the St Mirren Under-20 side lost 3-2 to Inverness Caledonian Thistle at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium in a Clydesdale Bank U20 League fixture.

Saints went north to Highlands with the same squad that won 3-1 against Stenhousemuir in the Scottish FA Youth Cup on Sunday.

Although David Longwell tried to freshen the side up they were a goal down before a full minute of the game had been played.  A mix up in midfield meant Saints lost possession of the ball and the home side capitalised by running upfield and opening the scoring, the first shot came rattling off the post but the home striker followed up and netted the rebound.

Saints got back into the game on the 23rd minute when Declan Hughes finished off a fine move with a good left-footed finish. Just before half-time Saints had the chance to take the lead but as Jack Smith rounded the home goalkeeper he lost his footing, and the chance, with an open goal in front of him.

The home side started the second half strongly and Saints didn’t respond well enough as on the 47th minute Caley Thistle were ahead again.

St Mirren battled their way back into the game as John McGinn, Lewis McLear and Anton Brady began to influence proceedings.  Further chances fell to Hughes and Smith but they failed to capitalise on their opportunities.

With 5 minutes remaining it looked as if St Mirren would equalise but the home keeper made a stunning stop on a shot from McGinn which looked to be heading into the top corner.

Saints continued to push for the equaliser but were caught out with a sucker-punch on the 89th minute as the home side broke up the park and scored to make it 3-1.

A minute later Saints were awarded a penalty-kick which was converted by Jack Smith to reduce the deficit again but it was too little, too late as time ran out for Saints.

David Longwell, St Mirren’s Head of Youth Development, said after the game: “We took up the same squad that won against Stenhousemuir on Sunday afternoon so we knew it would be a tough task with less than 48 hours between the games, but we tried to freshen up the team and save legs.

“We were caught out with the early goal and for the next twenty minutes or so we were awful and not in the game but somehow managed to keep the score down to 1-0. We managed an equaliser and could even have snatched the lead before half-time but Jack Smith slipped with an open goal at his mercy.

“Once against we started the second half poorly and after a couple of minutes we were behind again, but for me a very dubious offside decision led to the goal. After that though we did well as we imposed ourselves on the game and went all out for the equaliser.

“I thought we had scored late on to square it up when John McGinn swivelled and volleyed a right foot shot that looked destined for the top corner but somehow the Caley Thistle keeper made a wonder save to keep their lead.

“Overall it was pretty much a similar story for us; creating enough chances but not scoring enough goals as well as poor defending and mistakes costing us goals. But in fairness it was a big ask after Sunday’s match in the cup and again we had a much younger team than Inverness today.”

The Under-20 side’s next outing is scheduled for Tuesday 6th November when they host their counterparts from Heart of Midlothian at St Mirren Park. Kick-off time is as yet to be confirmed.

For more news on the Clydesdale Bank U20 League directly from the SPL please click here.