Stephen Robinson encouraged by impact of new signings as St Mirren slip to 3-1 defeat against Northampton Town in final pre-season friendly

The Buddies were back in action on home soil after their successful training camp in Northern Ireland last week.
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Stephen Robinson insists there was plenty of positives to take from his side’s performance as St Mirren slumped to a 3-1 defeat against English League Two side Northampton Town in their final pre-season friendly at the SMiSA Stadium.

Ahead of starting their Premier Sports Cup campaign this weekend, Buddies fans had an opportunity to cast their eye over several of the club’s new signings for the first time on home soil.

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The Paisley side recorded back-to-back victories over Crusaders (3-0) and Linfield (2-1) during their seven-day training camp in Northern Ireland last week and Robinson admitted he has been encouraged by how his new-look squad are gelling together.

Reflecting on his side’s display, the former Motherwell boss refused to look too much into the result.

He said: “I didn’t take anything from the results against Linfield, Crusaders and the game against Motherwell behind closed doors. It was all about fitness and giving people game time leading into the competitive action.

“We believe we’ve got an idea of what our strongest team is. We mixed and matched tonight and it was a competitive game for 45 minutes especially until both teams made a lot of changes.

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“I thought some of the young kids did really well. Kieran Offord was outstanding when he came on and nearly scored a super goal.

“Some of these young boys coming in aren’t ready for the first-team. We’ve just given them a little taste, a little flavour of it.

“Murray Campbell at 15 years of age got on and was getting a wee lesson from an older pro about not making contact in the box, so it’s a brilliant learning curve for all our young players.

“There were some very good performances from some of the first-team boys as well, especially in the first-half. Obviously we’ll go with a full strength team on Saturday in the cup.”

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Saints have completed the majority of their transfer business early in the window, with new recruits Trevor Carson, Mark O’Hara, Jonah Ayunga, Ryan Strain, Toyosi Olusanya, Keanu Baccus and Declan Gallagher arriving this summer.

The home side looked sharp from the outset and one of their recent additions opened the scoring after 14 minutes following a well-worked move.

Ayunga received the ball on the right-hand side before picking out Alex Greive 20-yards from goal. The New Zealand international laid the ball off to Mark O’Hara who drilled a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner.

Saints lead lasted just six minutes as the visitors equalised from a Mitch Pinnock corner. The former Kilmarnock midfielder’s delivery caused havoc in the Saints penalty area and after a goalmouth scramble, Ben Fox turned the ball home at the back post.

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Trevor Carson was then forced into a smart save on the stroke of half-time after Fox’s initial effort from distance was palmed away before Pinnock blazed over the rebound.

Northampton, who narrowly missed out on promotion to League One last term after losing to Mansfield in the play-offs, made NINE changes at the interval as boss Jon Brady utilised almost every member of his travelling squad.

Carson had to be at his best again early in the second half as he got down low to save Danny Hylton’s header before Jonah Ayunga blazed over from a promising position at the opposite end as both sides continued to trade blows.

A flurry of substitutions followed on the hour mark as Robinson introduced six players, including highly-rated youngster Murray Campbell who has been linked with numerous Premier League clubs this summer.

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It was the visitors who were next to threaten on 72 minutes as Joshua Tomlinson low shot on the turn inside the six-yard box was expertly saved by the outstretched Peter Urminsky.

Kieran Offord went close to regaining the hosts’ lead moments later after his vicious strike from the right fizzed narrowly wide of the target.

Northampton took the lead on 77 minutes when Miguel Ngwa’s shot from the right by-line was parried away by Urminsky but the Saints defence were slow to react, allowing Hylton to nip in and fire home from close range.

Danny Hylton scored twice in the second-half.Danny Hylton scored twice in the second-half.
Danny Hylton scored twice in the second-half.

The visitors were then awarded a penalty minutes later as Hylton was brought down inside the box by Campbell and the experienced striker dusted himself down to coolly dink the ball straight down the middle.

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Saints now turn their attention to Saturday’s Premier Sports Cup opener against Arbroath but Robinson admits he is likely to be without two key strikers for the clash.

“Hopefully everybody comes through okay. I know what I want to do (against Arbroath) but sometimes that’s dictated by injuries.

“We’ve got Curtis Main and Eamonn Brophy still to come back. I don’t think either of them will take part on Saturday. Main is bit behind because of his operation and Brophy needs to get back fit and stay fit.

“He keeps coming back and breaking down injured. Even before I was here as well he was constantly injured all the time.

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“We have to try and break that cycle of rushing him back and getting injuries because we need him fit for the season.

“We’re working him hard and getting him to a general level of fitness that I don’t think he’s had in a long time and hopefully that will break the cycle of injuries.

“Toyosi hadn’t trained for ten days either, so that was his first competitive football and for 45 minutes he was just getting his second wind. He’s very quick when he gets going but I thought he looked a bit tired tonight.

“That will do him good as it will all of the players. The experienced boys looked comfortable and we’ll build on that for Saturday.”

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St Mirren: Carson (Urminsky; 60), Fraser (Tanser; 45), Gallagher (Shaughnessy; 74), Dunne (Campbell; 60), Tait, Flynn (Taylor; 74), O’Hara (Kiltie; 60), Erhahon (Reid; 60), Olusanya (Henderson; 45), Greive (Jamieson; 60), Ayunga (Offord; 60)

Unused: Strain

Northampton Town (first-half): Burge, Trialist, Sherring, Guthrie, Dyche, Haynes, Sowerby, Fox, Pinnock, Trialist, Appere

Northampton Town (second-half): Maxted, Odimayo, Nolan, Guthrie (Tomlinson; 61), Dyche (Ngwa; 61), Koiki, Abimola, McWilliams, Hoskins, Cross, Hylton

Unused: Connor

Referee: N/A

Attendance: 2,211

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