Saints Hit the Goal Trail against The Sons (2008)

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Aberdeen, 27th August 2023)

Saints made their debut in the Co-Operative Insurance Cup of 2008/9 when they were paired in the second round of the tournament against Third Division Dumbarton.

St. Mirren v Dumbarton 2008

St. Mirren v Dumbarton 2008

St. Mirren were struggling at the beginning of that season's League campaign, having gained only one point and scored one goal from their first three outings. Meanwhile, the Sons of the Rock had made an undefeated start to the League, but had only narrowly squeezed past Scottish League newcomers Annan Athletic in a penalty shoot-out in their first round Cup tie.

Issue number 2 of St. Mirren's full-colour Official Programme, produced by Garthland Design and Print and merely entitled "Saints", featured striker Billy Mehmet on the front cover. Manager Gus MacPherson, in his piece on page three, covered the recent signing of Scott Cuthbert from Celtic and the 0-0 home draw with Kilmarnock, which he conceded was a fair result given that neither side had dominated the game. He welcomed the visitors from the other side of the river, but cautioned that a home Cup draw was not to be taken lightly, given the experience of the previous season’s Cup defeat at home to East Fife.

In "Past Matches", Jim Hamilton reviewed previous Scottish Cup and League Cup matches between the sides and "Guess the Mug" on page 7 asked the reader to guess the identities of sixteen 1970s players.

An action photo of Franco Miranda against Kilmarnock and three pages of pen pictures of the visitors were followed by a piece by Brian Wright on the media's inconsistent coverage of matches. David Grier's "View from the North Bank", in which he reflected on Saints' recent controversial defeat at Celtic Park, was followed by Jim Crawford's "Attic Attack", looking back at a 1926 magazine article on St. Mirren.

Following the centre-page photo spread of Stephen O'Donnell, there was another interesting piece by Brian Wright in "The Love Street Years" covering the problems of introducing floodlighting to the Paisley ground, given its proximity to Glasgow Airport.

The remainder of the issue covered Marketing and Hospitality, the Academy side's recent away victory over Celtic, Ticket Office news, an action shot of Antonio Tonet, Statistics and Team Line-ups. Around 20 pages of the 48-page issue were devoted to adverts.

A crowd of 1,747 turned up to see if the home side could kick start their season, however it took them a while to impose themselves on their lower league opponents and a couple of Billy Mehmet attempts were all they could muster in the first part of the game.

Billy Mehmet

Billy Mehemt celebrates a goal

However, following the first of several impressive first-half passages of play, Mehmet finally split the Dumbarton defence after eighteen minutes, allowing Steven Robb to speed through the centre and dispatch his shot past David McEwan from the edge of the box.

Mehmet should have got on the scoresheet himself just four minutes later when he took a Franco Miranda pass in his stride 16 yards from goal but he fired his angled shot wide of the far post.

Ten minutes later, Mehmet grabbed the home side's second goal with a close-range drive after Dumbarton defender Michael O'Byrne had made a mess of clearing a Miranda cross from the left.

The Dumbarton defence were now struggling and six minutes from the interval Andy Dorman worked a clever one-two with Jim Hamilton before dinking the ball over McEwan from 12 yards to give Saints a comfortable 3-0 half-time lead.

The situation worsened for the visitors just five minutes after the break as Mehmet grabbed his second and Saints' fourth. Taking a pass from Hamilton, he turned Michael O'Byrne just outside the six-yard box to slot the ball home. His hat-trick was completed just two minutes later when he headed Garry Brady's cross past the helpless McEwen.

Craig Dargo and Dennis Wyness replaced Hamilton and Mehmet, with Hugh Murray later substituting Dornan, but the flow of traffic continued towards the Dumbarton goal.

In the 70th minute, in the face of constant pressure, McEwen pulled off a fine save down at his left-hand side from Wyness' low drive. But Saints were not to be denied, with Dargo and Mason stretching their goal tally to seven in the 75th and 77th minutes as Dumbarton imploded.

The reward for St. Mirren was a third round draw away to Dunfermline Athletic. However, with Saints' elimination from the tournament at the hands of the East End Park men, the Dumbarton match turned out to be the last ever League Cup tie to be played at Love Street.