Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

St Johnstone analysis: 4 key categories that will determine Perth side’s play-off fate v Inverness

St Johnstone captain Liam Gordon.
St Johnstone captain Liam Gordon.

St Johnstone’s season is about to reach a dramatic conclusion.

The 2021 double winners will either be consigned to the Championship by Inverness Caledonian Thistle or they’ll cap a second half of the season improvement by grasping their play-off lifeline.

Courier Sport looks at four key categories that will determine which it is to be.


Energy

There’s a good reason that no club has ever gone the full distance in the Premiership play-offs and emerged as the last team standing.

At the end of a long season, six games in 19 days is a gruelling schedule.

For Inverness you can add into the mix that the fourth of those was dragged out to over 120 minutes, a man and then two men light.

Yes, they’ve had a week to soothe tired limbs but there can be little doubt that the freshness disparity between Caley Thistle and St Johnstone is a significant one.

By securing the play-off place last Wednesday night, key Perth players were rested at Easter Road on Sunday for their final league game.

It should also be noted that Inverness were slow starters in the quarter-final and semi-final first legs.

Had Partick Thistle taken their chances in the first of the four halves, they may well have won.

The same applied to Arbroath.

This isn’t a match that Saints should be looking to easy their way into with a ‘we’ll do the job at home’ mindset.

They need to go for the jugular and make their opponents – who will have a soon to be 38-year-old at the heart of their defence – feel as if there is a physical chasm that can’t be bridged.


Availability

With two players suspended for the first leg (Danny Devine and Wallace Duffy) and another one likely to be ruled out of both through injury (Shane Sutherland), Billy Dodds’ options are more limited than he would care for.

By contrast, Callum Davidson is playing with a much stronger hand.

He’s got a choice to make in midfield and another up front but if it turns out that the original 11 isn’t working there are options for a selection plan B on the night or back in Perth for the second leg.

Apart from the long-term injured crew, Davidson has arrived at the play-off start line with pretty much all of his key men good to go.


Football styles

If Dodds doesn’t throw a formation curve-ball in Davidson’s direction this will be a tactical match-up that should suit Saints.

The system that has served Caley Thistle well of late – and has got them to this stage – is a 4-2-3-1.

Significantly, it’s the same as Aberdeen’s at McDiarmid Park last week.

On that occasion Saints produced their best football since February’s 2-1 victory against Hearts.

The ‘styles make fights’ aspect of this play-off may even edge Davidson towards picking the same men who produced such a controlled performance in beating the Dons.


Form and faith

These are the big imponderables.

Like Kilmarnock last season, Saints were in better fettle in the second half of the season than the first, with positive recent results to hang their hat on.

But the defeat to St Mirren – and the nature of it – speaks to a potential fragility that can’t be dismissed.

There is no way of being sure about the size of the gap (either way) between the standard of the Premiership’s 11th-placed side and the Championship’s third until after they’ve played.

Inverness have only lost once in their last 12 fixtures, nine of them being victories.

That in itself is an in-built advantage.

So too is the impact of coming through four games of play-off football and feeling like there’s a bit of destiny aiding your cause when you’ve won a penalty shoot-out after going down to nine men.

A team that has been involved in a relegation battle simply can’t come close in terms of momentum and the stars supposedly aligning.

But they do have it in their power to quickly make that results-based and fate-based confidence feel hollow.

The importance of doing so can’t be over-stated.

It’s another reason that Saints have to be bold and aggressive.

Strip Caley Thistle of the ‘it’s meant to be’ cloak that they picked up at Gayfield and make sure they never get the chance to try it on for size again.

St Johnstone stars’ play-off pedigree revealed: From Michael O’Halloran’s Wembley drama to Shaun Rooney v Callum Booth

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]
Tags

Conversation

[[title_reg]]

Please enter the name you would like to appear on your comments. (It doesn’t have to be your real name - but nothing rude please, we are a polite bunch!) Use a combination of eight or more characters that includes an upper and lower case character, and a number.

By registering with [[site_name]] you agree to our Terms and Conditions and our Privacy Policy

Or sign up with

Facebook Google

[[content_reg_complete]]

[[title_login]]

Or login with

Forgotten your password?

[[title]]