Friday, March 02, 2007

Can The Saints Go Marching On?

St Johnstone’s cup runneth over.

A second semi final in the same season. And the chance to go one better in the Scottish Cup. They’ll fancy themselves against Celtic, of course, but will hope for Hibs (who they could have beaten in the CIS Cup) or Dunfermline (who would probably be underdogs against the Saints).

The real treasures lie, inevitably, in the SPL and St Johnstone aren’t done there yet either.

Ten points behind Gretna, St Johnstone have two games in hand and still need to play everyone’s favourite fairy tale. A one point deficit and it’s suddenly, in the words of Sir Alex Ferguson, squeaky bum time.

And, right now, I’d say that St Johnstone are probably better suited to coping with the SPL. I don’t know what Gretna will spend in the summer and they may splash out big style if they get promoted.

But people often overlook the divide between the two leagues. It is easy to create a team that can storm the First Division and be suddenly caught cold in the SPL. The best players in the lower league might be just that – First Division players.

St Johnstone have a streetwise attitude that manager Owen Coyle always had as a player and is now embodied by their more experienced players. Gretna, under Rowan Alexander, have lacked that quality in some one off games this season.

The First Division run in is one to watch and Gretna hosting St Johnstone on April 7th is not to be missed.