The brightness of the spotlight on St Johnstone’s defence has made it all the more satisfying that they are starting to shine under it, according to captain Jason Kerr.
The Perth side’s backline was solid as a rock against Hearts on Wednesday night, securing the first clean sheet of the Premiership campaign that it deserved and providing the platform for victory.
Kerr knew that his area of the pitch was getting talked about and targeted and he praised his fellow defenders for giving the perfect response to that in the 1-0 midweek win that has taken Saints up to eighth in the table on the back of their Hamilton Accies triumph a few days earlier.
It was the sort of performances club legends like Steven Anderson, Fraser Wright, Steven Anderson and Brian Easton would have been proud of.
“The old St Johnstone teams always used to get the first goal and when they did that you would always think they were going to go on and win the game,” said Kerr.
“The confidence went through the team when we got the goal and we got the clean-sheet and the win on the back of it.
“It was like an old school St Johnstone win.
“They sent Berra up front at the end and I thought we defended magnificently when they were trying to get the equaliser.”
The fact that 22-year-old Kerr is describing his defensive colleagues Wallace Duffy and Anthony Ralston, both 20, as “young” tells you everything you need to know about the age profile of the Perth back four.
“As young as Wallace and Tony are, I thought they were brilliant,” he said. “Scotty (Tanser) is the oldest (at 25).
“We’ve been scrutinised over the last few weeks which has been fair but we were really good against Hearts.
“It’s a young back four. There won’t be many in the country let alone in the Premiership to have a defence that young.
“Hopefully we can follow this clean sheet up with more.”
Kerr added: “We knew that Hearts would target me and Wallace and punt long balls up to Ikpeazu but I thought we dealt with that well.
“For Wallace these have been his first few Premiership games of his career. He’s going to make mistakes but he was brilliant.”
Saints will have to wait until next Saturday to get back on the pitch by which time they will have their sights set on three wins in a row.
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“It was obviously good to get off the bottom of the table but we won’t be getting too far ahead of ourselves,” he said.
“That’s two good back to back performances, which we’re delighted with.
“It’s good to get a break because we’ve had two tough games.
“We’ll be raring to go again when Hibs come here next weekend and we’ll be trying to get even further up the table.”