Reaction: Alex Cleland Post-match Interview

Monday 2nd April

Following tonight’s 3-2 win at home to Kilmarnock, Saints Under 20s coach Alex Cleland spoke to the Official Website about his thoughts on the game. “In the end we ended up making it hard for ourselves. I was happy with the first half, we created a lot of good chances and played really well. The second half if I am being picky we probably could have worked a little harder. I didn’t think we could lose the game although it got a little edgy when it went to 2-1 but we got the third and then we gifted them a penalty. The boy was running away from the goal and it was a silly challenge from Aaron who is an experienced player. That let them get back into it when we really should have the game out of sight.”

Saints first goal tonight was scored by captain Ally McCann and it was his fourth goal of the season. The midfielder has also featured for the first team this season when he came on as a substitute against Albion Rovers in January and Alex commented on the 18 year olds progress along with the younger members of the first team who featured this evening. “I’ve been very pleased with Ally’s development hence the reason he has moved up to the first team and is training with them. So, the manager, Callum and myself have been delighted with his levels of performance in the 20s which has got him promotion into the first team. Tonight, we just felt he needed games, even though he is in with the first team and is getting better. He can’t quite class himself as a first team player yet until he has played 30/40 games in the first team. Having the likes of Liam Gordon and Aaron Comrie involved in the 20s games as well the younger ones in the squad, Kyle McClean and Mark Hurst, it is important they come back down and play games to get the level of fitness up in case we need them for the first team. I thought their attitude tonight was brilliant especially Liam Gordon, I thought he was excellent; he showed the manager, Callum and myself he is ready, as did Aaron, Ally and Kyle. Although I thought Kyle could have done a wee bit better second half. It is important they get games to show the management team that if called upon they are needed for the last 5-6 games for the first team.”

The last 5 minutes of tonight’s game saw young under 17 striker Oliver Hamilton come on as a substitute and Alex went on to say a bit about the player. “Oliver is a little bit like Shaun Struthers in that he is a good finisher although obviously not as strong as Shaun yet but he is a centre forward who I would describe him a bit like Chris Kane. He is quick and runs the channels and has got a good eye for goal and has scored a lot of goals for the under 17s so he has done well to get promoted up. We didn’t have another striker hence the reason we had to bring Oliver in. It’s the school holidays so it gives him that little bit of experience. He has proved that he is good enough to play in the 20s now. Like John Robertson and Ross Sinclair tonight if they are doing well in the under 17s then we promote them up to the 20s. It is good for the players in the under 17s to see the likes of Oliver get a game. We have also got to remember that both John Robertson and Ross Sinclair are still under 17. John was good tonight and Ross was good as well, especially his kicking. We want to try and promote our under 17s and keep pushing them and that is what we are doing with Oliver. He is ready for the 20s and hopefully he will feature in a few games before the end of the season. He has got a really good work rate and is one for the future.”

Interview by Daryl Scott