Saints Ready for Rivals

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Everything is looking pretty rosy at McDiarmid Park right now. Fancied by many to be slipping down the table at the expense of the returning Hibernian and a Hearts side strengthened over the summer, Tommy Wright’s men have hit back by posting their best start to a Scottish Premiership campaign. Saints are at it again – they just love to prove everybody wrong.

And while nobody wants to get carried away, the Perth side has once again shown they can compete with the country’s best and even came agonisingly close to ending Celtic’s unbeaten domestic record at the end of August.

The performances haven’t gone unnoticed either and Northern Irish boss, Wright, picked up the Scottish Premiership Manager of the Month award for August, while on-loan Rangers striker Michael O’Halloran was awarded August’s Player of the Month accolade.

Saints Cummins and EastonA blip in the Scottish League Cup against Partick Thistle is the only real blemish by Saints so far, who remain unbeaten in the league and will be hoping to extend that run this weekend at the expense of their Tayside rivals, Dundee. Neil McCann’s men sit bottom of the table with just one point from their opening five matches and the two club’s Premiership starts couldn’t be any more contrasting.

Despite their sluggish start, Dundee will still be a tough test for a Saints side that slumped to a 3-0 defeat at Dens Park in the final game of 2016. Although they bounced back with a 2-0 home win against the Dark Blues in March, this will be their first trip to the City of Discovery since Steven Anderson’s own goal helped then manager Paul Hartley’s boys pick up a comfortable victory.

Saints will be without midfielder Blair Alston for the match after it was confirmed that he would be on the sidelines for another fortnight and teammate Murray Davidson is also facing a late fitness test to be included in the match day squad. Apart from that there are no new injury concerns for Wright and he’ll have some decisions to make on who will be picked for the starting line-up on Saturday at Dens.

New signing Denny Johnstone could be in contention for his first start in a Saints jersey after the former Celtic and Morton striker made his return to Scottish football as a second-half substitute in the 1-1 draw with Hibs. Johnstone scored twice for Saints’ U20’s side 4-2 victory over Partick at the end of August and will be hoping to get an opportunity to impress from the off this weekend.

There will also be a familiar face in the home dugout on Saturday too. Former Saints defender, Graham Gartland, is Neil McCann’s number two at Dens Park and will be coming up against some of his former Perth colleagues. New signing Denny Johnstone could be in contention for his first start in a Saints jersey. The Irishman was at the club from December 2008 until January 2012, and will be up against some familiar faces including Steven Anderson, who lined up alongside Gartland at the heart of Saints' defence over four seasons. He'll be hoping his insider knowledge can give the home side a slight advantage over their Perth visitors.

Saints go into the game as favourites and will be hoping to keep their rivals rooted to the bottom of the Premiership come 5pm on Saturday evening. Wright will certainly make sure his side are not complacent and although the sides come into the game with completely contrasting starts to the campaign, form can often go out of the window when it comes to local derbies.


A strong away support is expected so if you’re making the journey along the A90 to Dundee make sure you give yourself plenty of time, particularly if you are paying at the gate.

Entry to the game is priced at £24 for adults, £16 for concessions and £10 for under 18s.

Pictures for this article are courtesy of local photographer, Stuart Cowper. You can view more of Stuart's photographs on his website.


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