Eric Nicolson picks out three talking points as minds turn to another game against local rivals, Dundee.
Too much ego
John Beaton isn’t the worst referee out there.
But he’s becoming the worst type of referee.
You’ve got the likes of Alan Muir, who are more regular with their unfathomable decisions, the inexplicable penalty awarded to Aberdeen at Pittodrie last season being the worst example.
But even more infuriating are the officials who have this unwelcome knack of bringing an ego to their day job.
Little has to be said about the judgment Beaton made in the 60th minute at Easter Road.
It simply wasn’t a penalty. There is no debate.
It was a mistake. Move on.
First chance to see penalty incident back. These things happen but twice they've gone against us against Hibs with John Beaton in charge in the past two seasons. pic.twitter.com/02xncySxo6
— St Johnstone 1884 (@stjohnstone1884) September 26, 2021
The less tolerable Beaton intervention was the red card he showed to Jamie McCart.
If a referee can’t show a bit of empathy – and have a quiet word – with a player who legitimately feels wronged by one of his decisions and sarcastically applauds (doesn’t abuse) a linesman then his attitude can justifiably be called into question.
It was petty, unnecessary and felt as if driven by self-importance.
Little wonder Beaton has earned a reputation, with the statistics to back it up, of the most card-happy referee in the country.
Replacing Jamie McCart
Other than possibly Zander Clark, McCart would have been top of Callum Davidson’s ‘please don’t get suspended’ list.
On Saturday, for the first time since he became St Johnstone manager, Davidson will almost certainly have to field a back three which doesn’t include Jason Kerr, Liam Gordon or McCart.
With James Brown also likely to miss out, central defence will be an intriguing selection area – and one Dundee boss James McPake won’t be able to second guess with confidence.
Ideally, you would want a left-footer attempting to do so but Callum Booth has been playing very well of late – he was man of the match at Dens Park in midweek and yet again kept Martin Boyle quiet on Sunday.
So you would understand if Davidson is reluctant to move him one inside.
My choice would be a left to right of Booth, Hayden Muller, Efe Ambrose, Shaun Rooney and Michael O’Halloran.
Eetu Vertainen’s first start
— SPFL (@spfl) March 4, 2021
The Israeli didn’t properly make an impact for Saints in 2020/21 until the turn of the calendar year so time is still very much on Vertainen’s side as far as that comparison goes.
You wouldn’t imagine he’ll start a match (Dundee) before the next international break, however.
Of the three forward players on the bench at Easter Road, he was the only one who didn’t get game-time when Saints were chasing an equaliser, albeit with only 10 men.
Livingston at McDiarmid Park in mid-October looks to be the earliest realistic target.
With Chris Kane continuing to be the best bet to get Saints up the pitch and one of Michael O’Halloran and Glenn Middleton (or both at the same time) needed to give the side pace, where to fit the Finn into this team remains as big a question as when it will happen.