Goodwin happy with performances of St Mirren debutants despite defeat at Hibs

Ilkay Durmus, Sean McLoughlin, Sam Foley and substitute Jonathan Obika all made their first appearances in the 1-0 defeat at Easter Road.

By Press Association Published: 4 August 2019 - 10.33am

St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin is confident his squad are good enough to compete in the Ladbrokes Premiership after handing four players their debuts in Saturday’s narrow loss to Hibernian.

Ilkay Durmus, Sean McLoughlin, Sam Foley and substitute Jonathan Obika all made their first appearances in the 1-0 defeat at Easter Road just days after joining.

A hugely disappointing Betfred Cup group campaign, which saw the Buddies finish third in Group H, had highlighted the need for fresh faces.

However, after seeing his team put up a fight against Hibs, former Alloa boss Goodwin is encouraged by the direction his team are going in.

He said: “There were a number of really good individual performances, and collectively as a unit we looked organised and hard to beat, and we looked dangerous on the counter-attack.

“Four of the boys only met each other on Monday so it doesn’t allow you a great deal of time with them to get them up to speed.

“Two or three of them are lacking in fitness – that was Ilkay Durmus’ first game for about six weeks.

“We just have to be careful with them. We don’t want to ask too much of them too early and then they end up breaking down and getting injured.

“You can see the quality we’ve added, just in that one performance. Of course we’re not getting carried away because at the end of the day we’ve lost the game.

“But Sam Foley was outstanding in the middle of the pitch, breaking things up and keeping things simple. Ilkay Durmus showed what he’s capable of in terms of getting forward, being positive, getting at people.

“The four debutants in particular were excellent, considering they’re still getting to know the lads. Sean McLoughlin and Gary MacKenzie were brilliant, and give us a good bit of balance at the back.

“Big Jon comes on with 35 minutes to go and you can see he’s got presence, you can see he’s got quality. Once we get those guys up to speed and get the fitness levels up, we’ll be in a much better position.”

Winger Durmus had caused Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano problems in the first half, while defender McLoughlin wasted a good chance in the 80th minute when he headed wide at the back post.

Saints were made to rue that missed opportunity when Scott Allan forced his way into the box before planting an effort past Vaclav Hladky five minutes later.

Hibs manager Paul Heckingbottom said: “I was glad we’ve got that out the way now.

“And credit St Mirren, we’d spoken about and prepared for winning the game in the last five minutes.

“We knew they were a good Premiership side, good manager, made signings and going to be organised, so if they wanted to sit deep and play on the counter they were going to be tough opposition.

“We wanted to be patient and that’s why it was important we didn’t go long. We kept passing, keep moving the ball and we got the goal that way.”