Hasselbaink: Saints come first

BY foxsports • October 21, 2012

Nigel Hasselbaink insists his own satisfaction plays second fiddle to St Johnstone's delight at moving up to second in the SPL.

The Perth outfit's 2-1 win over Kilmarnock on Saturday ensured they matched a sequence stretching back to 1971, when the legendary Willie Ormond was in charge.

Their latest triumph should have been a lot more comfortable than it was and Hasselbaink was the main culprit in a second half dominated, at least in terms of chances created, by the home team.

The Dutch youngster was guilty of a horrendous miss in the 62nd minute when he failed to score into an empty net from just six yards. Instead, the ball bounced horribly off his shin and slipped wide of the target.

Seconds later, the 21-year-old had an early opportunity for redemption but could not squeeze his shot past Kilmarnock's returning goalkeeper Cammy Bell.

However, the former St Mirren and Hamilton striker was finally rewarded for his persistence when he found the net in the 90th minute to add to Murray Davidson's first-half opener for Steve Lomas's side.

The strike proved crucial as James Fowler's deflected goal just moments after gave Kilmarnock hope before time ran out.

Hasselbaink admitted he was thrilled to make up for his earlier miss but insisted securing another three points had been more significant.

"It was just a bad miss for me, but it's happened and it's in the past now," he said.

"I just had to be focused. You miss one, you miss two but you just have to say to yourself 'the goals coming, the goals coming'.

"I stayed focused and I got my goal. I took a bad touch.

"If it happened in the midfield it's okay, but it happened in front of the goal and it was a bad miss. If I had touched it with my left foot it would have been in, I was just two metres from the goal.

"It was important because Kilmarnock scored right after. I was scared for the few minutes after they scored but the team did well.

"We've now won five games in a row in the SPL and everybody in the dressing room is happy.

"It was good that I scored but it was most important that we got the three points. There's a very good team spirit at the club. Everyone was saying in the dressing room that we needed to win this game to go into second place in the table.

"The gaffer told us that it had never happened that we had won five times in a row in the Premier League, so that was a good aim for the boys, to push up and show we can do it with this squad."

Without a win in their opening seven games of the season, including the Europa League tie with Turkish side Eskisehirspor, St Johnstone have now racked up six straight wins, counting their Scottish Communities League Cup success against Queen's Park.

It is a run that was sparked by a shock victory over champions Celtic last month and one that made this success far less of a surprise.

The opening exchanges were even but Saints always looked the more likely to score and the goal came with 28 minutes on the clock.

Liam Craig whipped in a corner that Steven Anderson bulleted towards goal. When Bell could only parry the defender's header, Davidson emerged from a ruck of players with the credit of forcing the ball over the line.

After the break, Bell brilliantly clawed Davidson's low drive away from the bottom corner of his net and then blocked Hasselbaink's effort before Rowan Vine curled narrowly over.

With Hasselbaink's comical miss came growing fears that Kilmarnock, who enjoyed greater possession as time wore on, could force their way back into the match but the second goal eased nerves in the home ranks.

Gregory Tade, a menace to the visitors' defence all afternoon, slipped a pass through for Hasselbaink and the youngster finally beat Bell.

Fowler's deflected drive from the edge of the box then deceived Alan Mannus moments later but Rugby Park boss Kenny Shiels was left to rue a Cillian Sheridan free-kick that crashed back off the post seven minutes before the interval.

He said: "I see positive things, that maybe others don't see. But I certainly saw some positivity there and the free-kick would have been a massive turning point."

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