It was heavy underfoot at Dumbarton yesterday afternoon but St Mirren made light work of it as they opened up an eight-point lead at the top of the Championship.
Second-half goals from Cammy Smith and captain Stephen McGinn eased St Mirren to their seventh consecutive game without defeat as they maintained their momentum in the drive to return to the top flight.
Jack Ross, who was named manager of the month on Friday for St Mirren’s exploits in December, enthused about a performance at a venue that has traditionally proved to be a little stickier but he was inevitably wary about discussing the promotion hopes of the Paisley side.
And yet it is difficult to ignore the head of steam that has been built up in recent months. Certainly, while Ross was keen to play down the possibility of looking at being back in the Premier League in potentially just two months, Dumbarton manager Stevie Aitken was far more forthright after watching the dismantling of his own side.
“St Mirren have momentum, a great group of players and a lot of quality. There’s no doubt they’ll go on and win the league and credit to them,” he said in the aftermath.
Little wonder for his unambiguous sentiment.
A staid opening period in which St Mirren played the better football and fashioned a couple of chances moved into a more tangible lead almost immediately after the restart, with the most notable aspect of St Mirren’s play the confidence with which they expected the goals to come.
The combination of Stelios Demetriou and Lewis Morgan on the left created an uncomfortable afternoon for Dumbarton with the duo responsible for much of the visiting incursions into the penalty box.
Demetriou was the architect of the opener, with his looing cross into the box converted by the head of Smith and from there on in there was little let-up from Saints.
By the time that McGinn doubled their lead with a raking left-foot shoot from the edge of the box the points were always destined for Paisley given the grip St Mirren had of the encounter. It was the midfielder’s first goal of the season, something that Ross revealed has been the cause of some ribbing on the training ground.
“He’s been getting a little bit of stick because he’s not scored this season, which is not like him because he has always popped up with goals in his career, but his finish is indicative of what he’s about,” said Ross. “I have a great view because of the angle I’m at and he’s got that sidefoot finish in his locker, he’s always had it. I am pleased for him because his all-round contribution has been terrific.
“He’s a good player. I say often enough about how much impact he’s had over the last 12 months and how we have progressed. For me, he’s a Premiership player playing at this level with the quality he has.”