After a disappointingly premature Scottish Cup exit at the hands of Kilmarnock, St. Johnstone will be hoping to bounce back with a league victory against tomorrow's opponents Hamilton Academical (3pm kick-off, McDiarmid Park). A precautionary pitch inspection will take place at 10am.
At the beginning of December, Saints were the 2nd top scorers in the Scottish Premiership. Only Celtic had proved themselves to be more prolific in front of goal. However, following a run of four consecutive matches without a goal, Saints have been overtaken by Hearts and Ross County in the 'goals scored' column of the league table. Having said that, Saints' nearest rivals have scored 36 times, only one goal better off than Tommy Wright's men.
Come the end of the season, these statistics will probably mean very little. Despite St. Johnstone's recent goalscoring drought, they remain within touching distance of 3rd place Hearts. They are currently six points behind the Jambos with a game in hand. Nonetheless, Ross County and Inverness are closing the gap beneath Saints. A home victory against Hamilton could be vital in reinvigorating the team ahead of a tough away trip to Celtic Park and, of course, the League Cup semi-final at the end of the month. Although the goals have dried up somewhat, there is no doubt that Saints have been creating plenty of chances. The potential return of Graham Cummins could add extra impetus to the attack.
Tomorrow's fixture provides St. Johnstone with a welcome opportunity to get back on track, although, like any other match in the top-flight, it will undoubtedly be a tough challenge. Hamilton's recent results have been disappointing. The Accies have only won one match since September (a 2-1 victory at Tannadice), and their most recent defeat was a humbling 4-1 loss against League Two Annan Athletic. It remains to be seen whether that scoreline will act as a positive incentive or a demoralising influence for Martin Canning's men. Saints must be prepared for a tough match against a team who will be desperate to make amends for the manner of their cup exit. In terms of their league campaign, Hamilton are currently in 10th place. A victory could potentially lift them as high as 8th in the table.
St. Johnstone have enjoyed playing against Hamilton this season. They won 4-1 in the previous meeting at McDiarmid Park. A Lucas Tagliapietra strike merely acted as a consolation goal for the visitors. A Liam Craig opener was followed by a fantastic hat-trick from Steven MacLean. In the most recent encounter between the two sides (at New Douglas Park), Saints won 4-2. A Graham Cummins double was followed by goals for David Wotherspoon and Michael O'Halloran in a thoroughly entertaining match. Two set-piece opportunities - a free-kick and penalty - reduced the deficit for Hamilton (courtesy of Garcia Tena), but it was too late for the Accies to mount a comeback.
Saints have a favourable head-to-head record against Hamilton. They have won six of the last ten clashes, with two draws and two defeats.
Chris Millar will unfortunately miss out through injury, and Liam Craig is doubtful. Simon Lappin could be back in the reckoning and Graham Cummins is also in contention for a start. Come along to McDiarmid Park tomorrow afternoon and support St. Johnstone as they aim to get back on track with a valuable three points. Come on ye Saints!
match preview by Ollie Wale
Adult - Â£23 Senior Citizens (65 and over) - Â£14 13 - 16 year olds - Â£13 Kids aged 12 and under (must be accompanied by an adult, maximum of two children per adult) - FREE
Adult - Â£22 Senior Citizens (65 and over) - Â£12 17 â€“ 18 year olds - Â£11 13 - 16 year olds - Â£8 Kids aged 12 and under (must be accompanied by an adult, maximum of two children per adult) - FREE
ORMOND STAND (SSE FAMILY SECTION)
One adult and up to two children aged 12 or under can gain admission at a cost of Â£15. Unaccompanied adults or children aged 12 or under will not be admitted. Children aged 13-16 can gain admission at a cost of Â£8. Additional adults within a 'family group' are admitted at a cost of Â£15.
Hamilton Accies fans will be accommodated in the north end of the Main Stand (as well as in the SSE Family Section of the Ormond Stand for the above prices).
Adult - Â£22 over 65s - Â£12 13-18 year olds - Â£11 Kids aged 12 and under (must be accompanied by an adult, maximum of two children per adult) - FREE
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