ST. MIRREN - TEAM OF THE ROUND
St. Mirren may have scored fourteen times en route to Hampden this season however, it took only one goal in their Semi-Final tie to win them the title of Co-operative Insurance Cup Team of the Round.
After scoring six against East Stirlingshire, two against Ayr United, two against Kilmarnock and three against The Steelmen of Motherwell, Gus MacPherson’s side saw off Heart of Midlothian 1-0 at Fir Park at the beginning of February to win through to their first League Cup Final since season 1955/56.
It was a tense and nervous game as Semi-Finals often are, in front of over 9,000 fans and Paisley striker Billy Mehmet settled it with a well placed curling shot six minutes after half-time.
MacPherson was delighted to accept the award saying, “I am delighted that our fantastic achievement in winning through to a national Cup Final has been recognised in this way.
“The first half was an incredibly tight game but we played very well in the second period and to beat a club of the stature of Hearts makes this award all the more special.”
The New St. Mirren Park boss praised match winner Mehmet for his goal saying, “Billy’s goal was worthy of winning any game.”
The Semi-Final win was all the sweeter for MacPherson’s troops as it came just 10 months after they failed at the same stage in the Scottish Cup against their opponents this weekend.
That result against Rangers played a part in MacPherson’s team talk before the Hearts game.
He said, “We have had only a few changes in our squad since that game and I reminded the players of the carrot available in a Cup Final appearance and how we let it slip the last time. To their credit, they went out and won through this time.”
MacPherson has a League Cup runners-up medal in his possession from his playing days at Kilmarnock when he was a defender in a Rugby Park side that lost 3-1 to Celtic.
The 41-year-old said, “No doubt a few people will be bringing that game up this week. We gave a great account of ourselves in the first half when Ian Durrant was running the show. Unfortunately, he got injured and went off just before half-time and then Henrik Larsson took over and scored a hat-trick. I have often wondered what would have happened had Ian stayed on.”
Although there is little parallel to draw between that occasion and this one, MacPherson is sure of one thing stating, “It will be a great experience for me to lead the team out but the most important people are the players.
“It is really a game for them to look forward to and I am sure their families will be very proud of them when they see them emerge from the Hampden tunnel.”