Fourth-placed St. Johnstone will look to get back on track with the visit of struggling tenth placed Hamilton Accies.
Although both sides were dumped out of the William Hill Scottish Cup last weekend, it was the Accies who suffered the biggest shock, going out to Second Division Annan Athletic by a bumper 4-1 scoreline, which has heaped the pressure on boss Martin Canning.
The Accies have been sliding down the SPL table at an alarming rate after a run of four defeats and a battling draw at Motherwell. That performance at least gave gaffer Canning a ray of hope as Ali Crawford’s dramatic last-gasp penalty saved them from going down to five defeats in a row.
But it was too close for comfort for Canning, whose team fought back from behind to lead but it had looked like they were going to blow it until Crawford stepped up and showed nerves of steel. They remain just above the relegation play off place and have picked up just six points from their last ten games. That’s relegation form and it’s just the fact that Kilmarnock have been as poor that’s kept Hamilton’s neck above the drop play-off zone.
Killie’s 1-0 cup win at Saints was another surprise but the Perth side’s form isn’t great going into this one either, with three defeats and a draw in their last four.
But when you weigh up the fact that Hamilton simply can’t afford to lose this one – it is imperative that they bounce back from last weekend’s Cup shocker – then this game could turn into a desperate battle.
It’s not clear whether the Accies have the quality to pick up the points and you get the feeling that another defeat could see the board eying big Canzo’s position. He knows that, the players know that and the fans know that. They are literally playing to save the manager’s job and that pressure could have an adverse effect on the performance.
Saints are just six points behind third-placed Hearts and have a game in hand on the capital side so they’ll look at this one as a massive opportunity to put last weekend’s disappointment behind them and make some more progression in the League.
They were beaten by an early Craig Slater free kick and Killie deserved the win so Tommy Wright will encourage his team to get at the leaky Hamilton defence which has conceded 37 times already this season – and will be even more nervous after shipping four at Annan.
But that’s the drama of knock-out football and this is going back to the bread and butter stuff of the SPL and it looks like this one could be a lot less open with both sides defending their back lines with a packed midfield.
Don’t expect a lot of goals or goalmouth action as the game will be stifled by plenty of tackles and dogged defending but I fancy St. Johnstone to nick it by a goal or two against a team that are struggling big time.
St. Johnstone Stats W9 D4 L7
Recent Form DWLDLL
Hamilton Stats W6 D5 L10
Recent Form LLLLDL
31/10/2015 Hamilton Accies 2 St Johnstone 4
12/09/2015 St Johnstone 4 Hamilton Accies 1
04/04/2015 Hamilton Accies 1 St Johnstone 1
04/01/2015 St Johnstone 0 Hamilton Accies 1
16/08/2014 Hamilton Accies 1 St Johnstone 0
St. Johnstone (4-1-3-2) –Mannus, Fisher, Mackay, Anderson, Easton, Millar, Davidson, Kane, Craig, O'Halloran, MacLean.
Hamilton Accies (4-1-4-1) – McGovern, Gordon, Garcia Tena, De Lima, Kurakins, Gillespie, Mandiangu, MacKinnon, Docherty, Crawford, Morris.
St. Johnstone: none.
Hamilton: Imrie (susp).