Steven MacLean thrilled to secure safety for St Johnstone

·2-min read
Graeme Hart/PA Archive

St Johnstone interim boss Steven MacLean was thrilled to see his side secure their cinch Premiership safety with a crucial 1-0 victory over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

Saints captain Liam Gordon headed home the only goal of the game after 11 minutes and the hosts would be reduced to 10 men on the stroke of half time following a poorly-timed challenge by David Watson.

MacLean, who has collected seven points from his four matches in charge was quick to pay tribute to previous manager Callum Davidson and revealed the former McDiarmid Park gaffer had been in touch to offer his congratulations in the aftermath of securing their survival.

“I’m delighted for everyone at the football club, from the chairman, his dad, the supporters, the players and even Callum who was the first person that text,” he said.

“I’m delighted for everyone concerned – I was confident. I challenged the players before the game and asked them where they wanted to be in eight days’ time, in the play-off or safe?

“It’s not just about me – it’s about everybody concerned with this football club.

“I want to win every game, we’ll enjoy tonight – the aim was to stay up and that’s us safe now, but we want to go finish on a high.”

Despite having led the Perth side to safety, MacLean insists that he has yet to ponder what the future holds for him at Saints.

He hopes to have a sit down with club chairman Geoff Brown early next week but remains focused on finishing the season in style.

“I’m expecting a sleep tonight,” MacLean added. “I’m delighted and just thinking about the next game.

“I’ve not really thought about it (getting the managerial role on a permanent basis) to be honest – I’ve just thought about winning games of football.

“I’ll speak to the chairman and what will be will be.”

Derek McInnes was frustrated as his side passed up an opportunity to move clear of the relegation dogfight.

Defeat for Killie leaves them in 10th spot, one point above Ross County in the relegation play-off position and three ahead of Dundee United at the foot of the table.

Kilmarnock will now face their relegation rivals in their final two league fixtures, starting with a trip to Tannadice on Wednesday before hosting Ross County on the final day.

“We missed an opportunity today, a few weeks ago we thought we were playing for 10th really,” McInnes said.

“We spoke to the players about tenth was first in our league table – it was Ross County, Dundee United and ourselves.

“St Johnstone in recent weeks have come back to us a wee bit and we had the opportunity to go ninth.

“There’s no grey area now, we knew by not winning the game it would add to the pressures and the pressure is there clearly.”