Jim Goodwin praised his “warrior” St Mirren defence after their hard-fought 1-0 Premiership win over Livingston.
The Buddies boss gave debuts to goalkeeper Jak Alnwick and defenders Joe Shaughnessy, Marcus Fraser and Richard Tait, and it was the latter who ultimately gave Saints three points with a bullet header on the half-hour mark from a Jamie McGrath cross.
Livingston responded, especially after the break, but the new-look St Mirren backline held firm and indeed the home side came close to adding to their tally with a couple of chances later in the game.
A delighted Goodwin said: “We had to stand up and be counted and every player out there put in a shift for the team.
“Defensively we looked fantastic and we’ll improve on the attacking front.
“We knew going into the last 15 or 20 minutes if the score stayed 1-0 they would chuck everything at us and they did that.
“Jak Alnwick made some great decisions, caught a couple and punched at the right times.
“Joe and Conor (McCarthy), Joe in particular the ball was like a magnet to him. Then there were Marcus and Taits in the full-back positions.
“It’s the most comfortable I think I’ve felt throughout my short managerial career on the sidelines when balls were going in the box.
“I’ve got four real warriors at the back who enjoy defending and Sam Foley in there in front of them who’s very disciplined as well and a really composed goalkeeper. So it is a great start, 1-0, and clean sheet.
“I’m just delighted we got the first points on the board in the opening game of the season.”
Livingston boss Gary Holt was unimpressed with his side’s work-rate before the break.
He said: “In the first game you want to put down a marker and I don’t think we done that.
“In the first half I didn’t think we got in with the hard work, the sleeves rolled up and get in about them.
“I think we tried to play football first and foremost, let the talents show rather than putting in the hard graft first.
“The second half was a marked improvement from the first half. But we need to be at it from minute zero.
“We can’t come in at half-time thinking we play football – no we are grafters.
“We work hard and within that you get to play. I have always said that and that’s something we will have to get right.
“Forget what went on, forget what’s happened in the past and get back to what we are good at.
“I can take losing games. I can almost understand it and accept it as long as you are doing the right things and I don’t think in the first 45 minutes we did.”
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