Duffy: Ton can shine in New Year derby spotlight

Jim Duffy admits the New Year derby has an added lustre and wants his players to shine in the spotlight when they host St Mirren in their first Ladbrokes Championship fixture of 2018.

The BBC Alba cameras will be at Cappielow on Tuesday 2 January as the Ton welcome their Renfrewshire rivals to Cappielow as first foots.

Despite the fact Jack Ross’s Saints are the second tier’s pacesetters, the Sinclair Street side have fared well when the clubs have gone head-to-head this season.

They romped to a 4-1 win on home turf in August before twice fighting back from behind to take a point in Paisley in October, and Duffy believes they can claim another positive outcome with the right performance.

Speaking to media officer Jonathan Mitchell this evening, he said: “We begin 2018 with a derby against St Mirren. There seems to be an extra focus and spotlight on the New Year derby that gives the game an extra edge.

“I think from the point of view of the players and the supporters it is naturally the game that they look forward to more than any other.

“The BBC Alba cameras will be there and it’s always good to get that spotlight on the division. From our perspective, you want the players to put on a show anyway, but the cameras always add that bit to the game.

“As a manager it makes no difference whether it’s 1 January, 2 January, the first game of the season or the last game of the season: you prepare the game as you would normally.

“St Mirren have been one of the most consistent sides in the league this season, scoring a terrific number of goals.

“It has maybe taken them a couple of seasons to find their feet in the division, but they have certainly done that now.

“But we have enjoyed good games against them so far this season – winning 4-1 and drawing 2-2 away from home – and hopefully if we get the right performance we can enjoy another one on Tuesday.

“Like every derby match, there will be a real intensity about the 90 minutes and we need to make sure we do our jobs and don’t get caught up in the atmosphere and the pace of the game.

“The players need to keep clear heads and play to their capabilities, and if we do that, as I’ve mentioned many times – be it against St Mirren or anyone else – we can get a positive result.”

Danger man … Lewis Morgan fired St Mirren to a win over Dundee Utd while Ton were inactive   © David Bell

Ton come into the game rested after yesterday’s fixture at Dumbarton was postponed due to heavy snow, while St Mirren strengthened their position at the top of the table with a win over Dundee United.

But gaffer Duffy was unequivocal when stating that he would much rather have faced the Sons in their scheduled match rather than sat idle.

He explained: “Our game against Dumbarton was called off with the heavy snow. Like I’ve always said, there’s nothing you can do about it: it’s Scotland in winter. You can’t legislate for the weather.

“The fact that [the inspection] was on Friday helped, as we managed to book a gym to train yesterday, which might not have been the case if it was the next day.

“It wasn’t ideal, but it still gave us an opportunity to get some work done, and that’s always important. I would have 100 per cent rather have had the game, though.

“You want games played. Ultimately, I might have had to utilise the squad a bit more, but that’s what it’s there for and that’s what you do.

“Obviously St Mirren played against Dundee United on the Friday and got a terrific result, and that gives you an advantage because you’re playing a game and you’ve won it and your confidence is high.

“That’s a better way to go into a game than not having a game – but from our point of view, it doesn’t make too much difference.

“When it comes to the game, to a derby against St Mirren, then all that stuff doesn’t matter anyway. Those are issues that you shrug aside and focus on the game. When the whistle blows, the players will be ready.”


Images: David Bell