Interview: Gary MacKenzie


By James Hunter
It has been a frustrating start to the season for summer signing Gary MacKenzie as he has been sidelined with injury and has had to bide his time to make his debut for St Mirren. So after a couple of outings with the under-20 side Gary started in Saturday’s IRN-BRU Cup tie against Albion Rovers and while it was good to get his debut under his belt he had a baptism of fire to his life as a Buddie as the Saints had to battle back from two goals down to win the tie 4-3.
Gary said: “It was good to get out on to the pitch and play a proper game. Obviously the game didn’t go to plan and I didn’t plan on playing extra-time as well but that is just what you have got to do.
“We need to stop giving away soft goals, that is clear for everybody to see. Three set-plays with what we have got in the team shouldn’t happen, so that is disappointing but in terms of general play I thought we dictated play and showed a bit of character to come back into the game and get in front. But again we shoot ourselves in the foot by giving away a soft goal from set-plays, that needs to stop and it will stop, I’m sure it will, people just need to take more responsibility and make better decisions.
“But in general play I thought we passed the ball about pretty well on a tricky surface, it wasn’t the best surface I’ve ever played on but we tried and we kept probing away and got the result which is the most important thing in the cup, getting through and get your name into the hat and trying to take some positives out of it, but also sort the frailties that we showed because that is unacceptable.”
It has been a frustrating summer for the defender but he knew he had to be patient with the process of recovering from his injury.
Gary said: “When you’re sat at the sides and the boys have had a bit of a stop-start season that makes it all the more frustrating and you want to get back out and play but with the problem I’ve got I need to do it properly, I can’t rush back and then end up breaking down in a couple of weeks or a month’s time and it happens through the season.
“So we agreed when I got the injection that it would take its time and do it properly so that hopefully it sets me up to then play for the rest of the season. So made the sacrifice at the start to hopefully gain throughout the season. I’m just glad to be back, I’m obviously tired and stuff [after Saturday’s game] but the most important thing is getting the result and also I’ve got minutes under my belt now that I can take on to next week.”
Gary played last midweek with the under-20 side and wasn’t banking on playing an additional thirty minutes of extra-time on Saturday but now that it is done the defender is glad to get his Saints career up and going with a win.
He said: “I was feeling a bit leg weary after about eighty minutes to be honest. I played seventy or eighty minutes last Tuesday. To be fair to them [Albion Rovers] they made a game of it but as I said we shot ourselves in the foot by giving away soft goals. We made it more difficult than it should have been but that is football, you never know especially in the cup. You just need to take it as it comes and we showed good character to come back and get the win.”

Interview: Stephen Mallan


By James Hunter
Stephen Mallan says he is looking forward to St Mirren taking on Albion Rovers this weekend in the IRN-BRU Cup. St Mirren enter at the third round stage of the revamped competition and have been drawn away to League One Albion at the Exsel Group Stadium. Midfielder Mallan believes that cup competition will take minds off the Championship for a weekend and could be a good opportunity to boost the morale of not just the players, but the supporters too.
“It takes your mind off the league,” he said. “We did that last season in the cup games when we were slow to start but when we got back into the league we were flying. It’ll give us a wee bit of a distraction and hopefully we can go into that game and get a win.”
The Buddies made it to the semi-finals of the competition last season and picked up an excellent 4-0 win over then League One side Dunfermline on the way amidst a difficult start to the league campaign. Mallan scored two goals that day and believes they can try to use the cup to help give something back to the supporters.
He said: “If we get a good cup run and get a good few wins under our belt it’ll boost the team’s confidence and the morale of the fans. You can see they’re down just now, with our performances, and rightly so because we’ve not been up to scratch so it’s something we need to help for ourselves and for the club as a whole.”
Mallan admitted that St Mirren were fortunate to gain a point against Ayr United in the Ladbrokes Championship on Saturday after substitute Tom Walsh scored a late equaliser for the Buddies.
“We were lucky to salvage a point with Tom,” he said. “It was a good goal for him but the full game as a whole we should have done a lot better – especially in the first half where we started slow in the game.”
However, he does believe that the late goal can help kick start the season. Walsh nodded home from a Lawrence Shankland throw-in and Mallan feels that a moment like that can help provide a spark for the Saints to push on.
He said: “Yeah obviously it can lift the spirits. You can see we were kind of struggling for a goal and the fans weren’t happy but it gives them something to talk about on the way home as a point is better than nothing. Obviously we want the three points but Saturday wasn’t the day, but we’re always fighting till the last minute and because we got the goal you can see the fight in the team so hopefully we can take that into next week.”
Mallan has been impressed by the way both Walsh and Walsh’s fellow loanee Ryan Hardie have settled in to the club since joining on loan from Rangers this summer.
“They’ve done very well,” he said. “Obviously they know each other very well, they’ve linked up well and you can see the quality they’ve both got. It’s good that they’ve come in and we just need to try and give them the ball because they are both good ball players. We need to try and supply Ryan a lot more I’d say, get him a few goals and if Walshy is playing, you can see on Saturday that he’s come on, changed the game and got a goal.”
Supporters will be able to pay-at-the-gate on Saturday with adult tickets costing £10 and concessions and children’s tickets costing £5.