PLAYMAKER Paul McGowan has told his team-mates to ditch the long-ball game that cost St Mirren dear against Hibs if they want to get pass marks this season.
Saints boss Danny Lennon blasted his players following Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to the Easter Road men after they temporarily wandered from the passing philosophy he has carefully implemented over the last 12 months.
The perplexed gaffer said his side’s first-half show against Pat Fenlon’s men was “unrecognisable” from the displays they have put together over the last year as the Buddies inexplicably decided to ignore his tailored tactics and instead shell the ball long for strikers Steven Thompson and Sam Parkin.
Star midfielder McGowan agreed with his manager’s assessment and urged his top-team pals to return to their refined ball-retention gameplan.
He told Express Sports: “The gaffer and wee Tommy Craig said to us after the game that it looked to them as if we had just decided to start going long because big Thommo and big Sam were playing up top.
“But that’s not our game and they drilled it into us that we need to get back to passing the ball.
“Certainly playing long balls isn’t the way I want to play and I’m sure it’s not the way the guys in the team want to do it either.
“We are a passing team and we have got a lot of good footballers in our dressing room so I’m sure we can rectify that.”
Saturday’s defeat was their first of the campaign for Saints but cost the Buddies their proud place at the summit of the SPL.
It also spiked the soaring spirits of the team after they had fought back from 2-1 down to claim an opening-day draw with Inverness before handing top-flight new boys Dundee a painful lesson as they picked up a 2-0 win at Dens.
With five new members of Lennon’s squad still finding their feet on Greenhill Road, however, McGowan admits it’s taking the fresh arrivals a bit of time to gel with their team-mates.
“It’s been a real up and down season so far and it was really disappointing to lose to Hibs on Saturday,” said the former Celtic kid. “But I suppose the good thing to look at is that we are still sitting on four points when we haven’t really got going yet.
“We need to get back to the way we started last season but that might take time. We have got a few new boys in and that might take them a while just to get used to the way we play. But I’m sure they will come round to our way of doing things.”
Saturday’s result was agonising in more ways than just the result after popular defender Darren McGregor was rocked by another nightmare knee injury.
He ripped the cruciate ligament in his right leg just 12 months after doing the same to his other knee.
And McGowan – who missed a first-half spot kick – admits the cruel luck endured by McGregor put his own disappointment in the shade.
He said: “Darren’s injury put everything into perspective, including the defeat to Hibs. The result meant nothing after what happened to the big man.
“There is more to life than three points when things like this are happening.
“But he’s big enough and strong enough to get through it. If anyone is, it’s Darren and he knows we are all with him.”