Dec 4 2012 by Maurice Coyne, Perthshire Advertiser
Their William Hill Scottish Cup tie at Cowdenbeath may have been frozen out by the big chill but St Johnstone players have been warned complacency could leave their Hampden hopes out in the cold.
Manager Steve Lomas yesterday lavished praise on Perth-based Arbroath boss Paul Sheerin for masterminding a shock 1-1 draw away to Celtic.
And he said it served as a timely warning to his own players, who face a fifth-round trip to Paisley to face St Mirren on February 2 if they overcome the Central Park hurdle.
The fourth-round tie planned for Fife was cancelled on Saturday morning and was immediately pencilled-in for tonight. But it again fell foul of the freezing conditions and will now take place on Monday with a 7.45pm kick-off.
Lomas said: “We would have preferred to have the cup tie on this week because games will be coming thick and fast throughout December. We want to avoid a backlog. But there isn’t much you can do about it.”
Saints had to retreat indoors to work up a sweat at the Stirling University campus as the first snows of winter gripped central Scotland.
“Arbroath getting a draw at Celtic Park is a warning to my players what can happen in the cup if you don’t focus fully on the task in hand,” said Lomas.
“It’s no coincidence that shocks happen in cup competitions. You get found out if your mentality isn’t spot-on.”
The Angus Second Division minnows stunned Scottish football with their late leveller against Neil Lennon’s Champions League hopefuls.
Lomas said: “It is a fantastic result for Paul and his players. Unbelievable really, and a dream result for Arbroath. All credit to Paul because no one expected it. I know how difficult a venue it is for opposition teams and I tip my hat to him.”
A wintry Central Park, with its stock car track, is a long way from the glamour of Hampden Park in the spring but Lomas is adamant that his players won’t feel they are slumming it.
“A lot of the lads, like Gregory Tade, Murray Davidson, Nigel Hasselbaink and Chris Miller, have played there in lower-league games. It won’t be a problem. It’s all part of cup football and ultimately it boils down to a pitch and two sets of goals.
“When we get the game played, I can assure you we will give Cowdenbeath total respect. I played against their manager Colin Cameron in England and he will have a team as competitive as he was as a player. He will want to turn us over and we have to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Defender Steven Anderson has sampled Central Park before and he is adamant first-timers will be clued-in.
“A postponement was always on the cards I suppose but it was still disappointing. When the match does get played we will have to be right at it. We all saw what Arbroath did at Celtic. That was some result so we certainly won’t take anything for granted. When you play a so-called lesser team, you have to win your battles.”
Anderson, one of the longest serving players in the Perth ranks, admits he would relish a Hampden final after coming agonisingly close on several occasions, losing in extra-time and even after a penalty shoot out with Rangers.
“I would love to reach a final with Saints but the first priority is winning against Cowdenbeath. The club makes revenue from these competitions but I am sick of being a losing semi-finalist so I’d love to go all the way. It’s about time we made it to a final.”
He spent a rare Saturday afternoon in the company of Jeff Stelling and the Sky Sports team.
Anderson is one of the few defenders who isn’t ruled out of the weekend trip to face St Mirren.
“We have some injuries but that is what we have a squad for. Everyone will be pulling together,” he stressed.