Publication:

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - 2021-11-21

Data:

Davidson lauds his men for defending trophy with pride

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By Graeme Croser

CALLUM DAVIDSON last night hailed his St Johnstone players for the pride with which they defended — and ultimately conceded — their League Cup crown. Last season’s double cup winners made their Hampden semi-final against Celtic a thoroughly competitive affair and were only undone by a late goal from substitute James Forrest. He said: ‘I’m pretty proud of my players and the way they went about their business against a top team in Celtic, who are on their way up at the moment. ‘If you’d asked me beforehand if we could limit Celtic to three or four chances, I’d have snapped your hand off. ‘The boys worked extremely hard, we tried to work off our shape and limit them. ‘We could have used the ball better, we needed to be more clinical. ‘But the players have defended their trophy with a lot of pride and it’s credit to them that we are disappointed at losing a semi-final to Celtic. ‘For me, it was about performance. We didn’t play very well in the last game but we were back to our old selves today.’ Saints’ tenacious adherence to the game-plan meant goalkeeper Zander Clark had little to do throughout the match. However, a poor goal-kick from the Scotland squad man gifted possession to Celtic in the lead-up to Forrest’s winner. Davidson continued: ‘Zander’s kick wasn’t good but I think we could have been stronger after that. ‘I don’t think Celtic really cut us open in the game so, yes, I am disappointed with how we lost that. It’s not Zander’s fault. I don’t blame him personally.’ The day came at a physical cost for Davidson (below) with key creator David Wotherspoon forced off after apparently injuring his knee soon after half-time. ‘He’s not great,’ sighed Davidson. ‘At first I thought it was a kick but it’s how he’s landed. ‘We have already lost Stevie May for a long time, hopefully not David, too. When you play against Celtic you need to be able to change your front three. ‘I had a gameplan in my head but with Stevie and Glenn (Middleton) out and then David getting hurt we weren’t able to do that as we would have wanted.’ Davidson insisted he was oblivious to suggestions that Celtic’s goal might not have stood had referee Nick Walsh spotted a handball from Jota in the lead-up. However, he did expand on his palpable frustration with the match officials as the game developed. He added: ‘If I look back at the game, I don’t think there was a bad tackle yet there were ten bookings, so that’s frustrating. ‘Four or five of those I think you just wave play on. With Ali Crawford, he didn’t even know the player was there. ‘So it was me getting a bit frustrated. ‘But listen, we’ve come here and defended our trophy with a lot of pride and courage. ‘I don’t think we had a bad performance. As a manager, I couldn’t ask for any more.’

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