St. Johnstone have been enjoying quite modest success in recent years. In 2014, they won the Scottish Cup for the first time beating Dundee United 2-0. They also finished fourth in the Scottish Premiership last season and have competed in the UEFA Europa League for the last four seasons on the bounce.
In addition to their senior success, St. Johnstone's youth development squad have been working a treat over the past few years. Currently, fifth in the SPFL Development League, they are also competing in the Little Big Shot Youth Cup. On 14 January, they earned a surprise victory over reigning cup champions Celtic, defeating them 2-1 in a closely contested fourth round tie, followed by a 2-1 victory over Rangers in the Development League this Tuesday. The young Perth Saints are set to face Motherwell in the quarter-finals of the cup with a date to be confirmed.
After their shock victory in the cup over Celtic adding to their resurgence in form, St. Johnstone go into their quarter-final fixture as strong candidates to win the cup, which striker Bradley Sinclair says the squad are delighted about. “It was a great feeling beating the favourites for the cup,” said Sinclair. “We now have the next round of the cup to look forward to which all the boys are buzzing for and of course the rest of the league campaign.”
Manager Alec Cleland spoke highly of the team effort put in by the squad against the fearsome Celtic. “It was always gonna be a team effort against Celtic and that's what it turned out to be” said Cleland. He also commended playing four attackers stating that “we've always played that way this season. Two strikers and two wide attackers and that's the way we've won most games at the start of the season."
Special praise was reserved for match winner George Hunter who Cleland stated “put a great shift in.” Hunter himself was delighted with the result and his two goals. “It was a great team performance from the boys and I'm buzzing to get the two goals,” said Hunter. His 20-yard strike that levelled the game was special. “I can't really remember the first goal,” Hunter claimed. “I got it at my feet and just hit it and it went in."
Kyle Lander also earned praise from manager Alec Cleland and in particular George Hunter. “Kyle is my best mate. Our link up play is brilliant and we always know what each other are doing”.
In their first four games of 2016, St. Johnstone having won three of them. With the form the boys are showing at the moment, they will be a tough team to break down going into the latter half of the season.