Positive atmosphere at Barnetts Park

Saints boss Craig Morrison.
Saints boss Craig Morrison.

There’s a fresh air of positivity around Barnetts Park as St Andrews United kick off their new league campaign.

United were given a reprieve from relegation from the East Premier League during pre-season thanks to Kelty Hearts joining the senior ranks and the knock on effect that had down the divisions.

Craig Morrison took over from Ian Barrett at the club last year, and has just completed his first pre-season with the side.

Having added several players towards the end of the last campaign, there has been no need for sweeping changes in personnel at the town club.

Lee Shiavone and Michael Perrie have left St Andrews with central defender Stewart McDonald joining from Glenrothes.

Boss Morrison says his side is ready to attack the new season when it starts with an away trip to Tranent on Saturday.

He said: “At the end of last season, when it looked like we’d been relegated we sat down with the players and told them that our target had to be to come straight back up.

“We discussed a lot of things and spoke about what had gone wrong and all the boys took it on board.

“Since we’ve come back for pre-season there’s been a real positivity about the new season.

“There’s a different atmosphere and a sense of us all being in it together.

“It’s still early days and there’s fine tuning still to be done, but the boys are all really looking forward to the season.”

Pre-season has gone well for the side, with a win at the club’s home tournament amongst the positive results.

It’s a cliché in the game, but results are not the most important thing during this stage of the new campaign.

It’s all about the fitness, and Morrison reckons that could be key to a positive season for the Saints.

He said: “It’s gone very well.

“We had a plan set up and some objectives and it all came together pretty well.

“In terms of out fitness levels, we’re where we want to be and going into the last 20 minutes of our friendly games have been looking very strong.

“Having that level of fitness allows us to create the platform to showcase what we can do.

“We’re in a confident mood.”

Saints’ are fortunate to be given a second crack at the Premier League, and it’s one Morrison is keen to take.

Despite their apparent relegation last season, the boss never lost faith in his side, and felt their were unlucky to be in the position they were.

“I’ve said before that there are really fine margins between failure and success,” he said.

“We needed to add some players to key areas and have worked on that but I honestly thought we were really unlucky in a lot of games last season.

“There were games we dominated and came away with nothing.”

This season’s East Premier League is sure to be a tricky one, with plenty of sides capable of putting together the kind of form which can see them reach the top tier.

Morrison knows what it takes to win the league, having guided Dundonald Bluebell to the title a couple of seasons again.

So he’ll be backing his Saints to do likewise, with Tayport, Musselburgh, Downfield and Tranent all fancied to challenge too.

And it’s a visit to Tranent which starts United’s league campaign on Saturday.

“Unfortunately we’re down to the bare bones for the game,” said Morrison.

“I have seven players missing.

“But I know the 11 who start the game will go there in a confident mood and positive we can take something.”