As we gradually approach the denouement of the pre-split fixtures, each weekend takes on a more significant tone. St. Johnstone welcome Motherwell to McDiarmid Park tomorrow afternoon (3pm kick-off) for a hugely important league clash.
Rather remarkably, it's a mathematical possibility that nine Scottish Premiership teams could find themselves in a different league position by the end of the week. St. Johnstone are one of the teams who may be affected by this potential weekend of transition. Depending on results in Perth and elsewhere, Saints could rise as high as 4th and drop as low as 9th. However, due to their superior goal difference, it is highly unlikely that they will fall below their current position of 7th.
Having said that, a win for 8th-place Motherwell would see them draw level on points with St. Johnstone. In addition to this, positive results for Hamilton and Kilmarnock would (to add insult to injury) ensure that Saints merely hold a four-point advantage above the team in the relegation play-off zone. In this worst-case scenario, Partick Thistle would be sitting in 11th. Their home match against Aberdeen â€“ scheduled for this evening - has been postponed.
Of course, Tommy Wright's men have the benefit of two games in hand over the trio of Motherwell, Hamilton and Kilmarnock. It's fair to say that they mustn't rely solely upon these additional fixtures. The league standings are too close for comfort. The hard work continues tomorrow afternoon as St. Johnstone endeavour to put an end to their current run of adverse form. Last week's lacklustre display at Dens Park can't be repeated. Kane Hemmings scored both goals for Dundee in a 2-0 home victory.
Saints have now endured nine matches without a win (in all competitions). Seven of these fixtures have taken place in the league. Mark McGhee's Motherwell side have recently suffered from a run of six matches without a win. Five of these six matches ended in defeat, including a harrowing 6-0 loss at Tynecastle. Yet they will come to McDiarmid Park full of a new-found confidence after Tuesday night's impressive 3-0 victory against relegation-threatened Dundee United.
The previous meeting between St. Johnstone and Motherwell resulted in a 2-0 victory for the Steelmen at Fir Park. Ben Hall and Stephen Pearson scored the vital goals on a cold Wednesday night at the end of December. Saints possess a favourable head-to-head record against Motherwell. They have emerged victorious from six of the last ten meetings between the two sides, with one draw and four defeats. Their home record is particularly good. Motherwell haven't beaten St. Johnstone at McDiarmid Park since 2012. Saints have won the last five matches against them on their home turf.
With the exception of injured pair Brian Easton and Dave Mackay, Tommy Wright has a full squad to choose from. Former St. Johnstone player and ex-internationalist James McFadden could play a part for the away side. He has recently signed a contract with Motherwell until the end of the season.
St. Johnstone are only one point below 4th place, having played fewer matches than the teams directly above them. Depending on tomorrow's results, they could return to that particular vantage point. As things stand, a Scottish Cup win for Celtic would mean European qualification for the team which finishes in 4th position. In a top-flight which is almost too close to call, Saints remain in the driving seat. It's imperative that they take full advantage of the situation by registering three points at McDiarmid Park tomorrow.
Be the 12th man tomorrow. Saints need your support as they look to recapture their earlier quality and bag a priceless home victory. Come on ye Saints!
match preview by Ollie Wale
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