Reaction: Alex Cleland Post-match Interview

Tuesday 13th March

Following tonight’s 3-0 defeat to Dundee at McDiarmid Park, Saints Under 20s coach Alex Cleland spoke to the Official Website about his thoughts on the game. “Well first half we did well. It was a good game, we created some good chances as did Dundee. They had an experienced side which was a wee bit more experienced than us but we were always in the game in the first half. The second half was completely different. We got a man sent off which was always going to be difficult. They have got to learn that when they play against good players like El Bakhtaoui, Wighton and Wolters they have to make sure that they play for the ninety minutes because these players have always got a little bit of magic and the young boys have got to make sure that they keep going. The minute they lose concentration is the minute they lose a goal and that’s what has been happening quite a lot so it’s a little lesson for them again. It’s also a lesson for Ben as that’s the second time that he has been sent off this season only because he has not been organised quick enough when we have had the ball and we have lost it. We are disappointed to lose 3 goals in the end as I thought when we changed it our shape was good but we lost a little bit when Matty Willock went off because he was the one that was playmaker for us and dominating. I thought with 3 players in there it was a good battle and we were matching with their 3 in there and it was a good game. There was a lot of good play from both sides but once the sending off happened they had just that wee bit more experience than us. I was really disappointed with the mistakes we made. We could have done better with the first goal, Cammy Lumsden could have put the tackle in as the cross came in too easy. Then Cammy Lumsden again let Wighton run up the inside of him for the second and it was a good finish by Wighton. The third goal it was poor from Jack, he should have been organised properly and he wasn’t as the Dundee player was able to come through the middle and score. So, disappointing with the goals we lost, it was basics we should have been doing better but happy with the first half however, Dundee used their experience to comfortably win in the end 3-0.”

Tonight’s game was the first home game the young Saints have played at McDiarmid Park for a few months as the side has been using the facilities at New Central Park, Kelty over the winter months for their home games. So, Alex then reflected on how the team has been progressing over the past few months. “The team has been up and down, typical young players. There performances have been good at times. 45 minutes in games have been good. 65 minutes they lose their concentrations and lose goals. It’s been a bit like that all season. So, they need to rectify that, they know the mistakes they are making and they know what they need to do to improve and hopefully they can take on board what we have said to them after every game and try and improve for the next game.”

Finally, Saints have a couple of young players out on loan just now; Danny Jardine at Stirling Albion and Ben Mackenzie at East Fife, and Alex commented on how they are progressing. “They have been going well. Ben was needing games and we do that with all our players. Ones that we think will need a better level than the under 20s level. If we got games like we did against Dundee tonight every week then we would be fine but we don’t get games like that all the time. Sometimes the games are younger games like an under 18 game and there is no point playing Ben Mackenzie in that as he is past that. It is the same with Danny Jardine who is also past that now as well. They need to be tested at the next level and both of them have been doing well going by the reports we have received. We have not got out to see them yet but the people who have been at games and the reports we are getting back has been positive for both Danny and Ben so hopefully they can keep that going. This is something we have used in the past and its worked really well for us. I would have liked to have had more players out on loan especially around about that age group, 19/20, but it’s been a bit difficult this season to get them out on loan. I don’t understand why as we have got good young players at the club however, the two we have out are doing well.”

Interview by Daryl Scott