By Holly McCormack at Strathclyde Homes Stadium
ST MIRREN returned to winning ways tonight, with a 2-0 victory over Dumbarton. A goal in the third minute from Gary Teale got things going for the away side and then midfielder Steven Thomson wrapped things up with a lovely drive from just outside the box. The game also saw striker Steven Thompson make his debut in front of the St Mirren support in this pre-season friendly.
St Mirren looked comfortable in this game from the outset. With just a minute on the clock, Teale played a terrific ball through to Steven Thomson, but his swirling shot just inched past the right-hand side of goal.
The early dominance in this game would pay off though with three minutes played. Gary Teale sprang forward to beat the offside trap and fired Saint’s into an early lead with a lovely chip over Dumbarton keeper, Jamie Ewings.
It was refreshing to see a St Mirren team line up with such a positive attacking mentality, and at times, a wonder to watch the team successfully string a number of passes together as they pushed forward.
Teale is already shaping up to be an important player and the contribution he made in this match did not go un-noticed. With around 20 minutes played, he played a lovely through ball to Paul McGowan who failed to find the net just in front of goal.
Just a moment later it looked as if Teale would score his second of the night but the Dumbarton defence managed to close him down.
A deserved second goal was to come for Saints though and it came from Steven Thomson. It was McGowan who played the pass in perfect space just outside the box, Thomson calmly slotted the ball home with a beautiful drive which curled into the left-hand side of goal. It was terrific play from St Mirren and with just 24 minutes gone, Saints looked at ease on the pitch.
On the half hour mark it was Kenny McLean, who had his first real chance of the night. It was again McGowan with the assist and his long ball found the feet of McLean, but the youngster couldn’t find the target.
Dumbarton rarely threatened in the first half, and a defensive error from Paul Nugent could’ve been costly for the home side. The long ball was played forward by Marc McAusland and should have been easily dealt with by Nugent, although he let it bounce past him and into the path of Teale, but the ball just ran too far and Dumbarton managed to clear it to safety.
Thompson always looked lively in front of goal. With five minutes left to play in the first half, he met a pass from Graham Carey and attempted goal with an overhead kick, but just missed the target.
Half-Time: Dumbarton 0-2 St Mirren
St Mirren made no changes at half-time, although Dumbarton swapped ex Saints Coyne for Ramage.
Just after the break, Carey again linked up well with Thompson played a perfect pass into the box, but it just inched past Thompson’s grasp.
Nigel Hasselbaink then made his way on to the field for Thompson after 52 minutes. Hasselbaink was immediately involved in the game, when he received a through ball from Teale. He showed good composure going forward with the ball, but couldn’t get past Ewings in the Dumbarton goal.
Dumbarton looked outclassed in the first half, but certainly came into the match more as the game progressed. Scott Agnew had a terrific chance for The Sons when he sent a 30 yard screamer towards goal but it was well parried by Graeme Smith.
Saints started to ring the changes throughout the squad with Mair, McQuade and trialist Tessalaar making way for Carey, Teale and Barron.
The changes may have unsettled St Mirren slightly and with 20 minutes left to play, Mark Gilhaney should have scored a consolation goal for the home side. Gilhaney found himself through on goal with only Smith to beat but also at an awkward angle, and his final shot was wide of goal.
McLean commanded the ball well in midfield with Jim Goodwin and was involved in another terrific passing move from Saints. McLean’s ball found Steven Thomson who played the ball through to a determined Paul McQuade. The ball just ran too far from his clutches though but the move was another example of positive attacking football from Saints.
Danny Lennon made some more changes as the half progressed with Goodwin and McLean being replaced by McShane and McKernon.
Jon McShane was back at the Strathclyde Homes Stadium after a sucessful loan period with Dumbarton last season and he received a standing ovation from both sets of supporters as he made his way on to the pitch.
McGowan had another great chance to get on the score sheet with 15 minutes left to play. He received the ball through from Hasselbaink, but was indecisive in the box and the chance was wasted.
Darren McGregor nearly gifted Kieran Brannan a goal when he let the ball go past him, although Brannan had no killer edge to his shot and proved to be no trouble for Smith at the back.
Dumbarton continued to finish the game strongly and with eight minutes to go, it was Brannan again who tried his luck. This time he found himself with possession just yards from goal but couldn’t connect with the ball and mishit his chance to fire a goal back.
Into the last five minutes of the game and Saints made their final change of the match. McAusland made way at the back for Dominic Kennedy.
With the score looking as if it would finish 2-0, Dumbarton had one final chance just before the whistle. It was ex-saint Graeme Ramage who missed the target just inches in front of goal in what was the last chance of the match,
It was an encouraging performance from St Mirren, who can take a lot of positives from the match. All players looked in good shape and were all linking up well with each other, which will hopefully bode well for the season ahead. The team can now look forward to the match against Morton on Saturday, where they will be looking to retain the Renfrewshire Cup.
Full-Time: Dumbarton 0-2 St Mirren
Dumbarton: Ewings, Lyden, Borris, Nugent, Lithgow, Agnew, Gilhaney, Nicoll, Prunty, McBride, Coyne.
Subs: Ramage, Wallace, Brannan, Monaghan, McElroy, Pearson, Grindlay (GK).
St Mirren: Smith, Barron, Carey (trialist), McGregor, McAusland (Kennedy), Goodwin (McKernon), Thomson, McLean (McShane), Thompson (Hasselbaink), McGowan, Teale (McQuade).
Subs: Mair, Samson (GK).
Referee: Gary Hilland.
Assistant Referee: John Gilmour.
Assistant Referee: Chris Wake.
Star Saint: TBC.
Match pictures by Allan Picken - © Allan Picken Photography.