Five-star St Mirren just far too strong for Spartans in cup
Spartans' Scottish Cup dream ended in tatters when they were outplayed in all departments by a hugely impressive St Mirren side, who have struggled in the Championship but can now look forward to a fourth round trip to Premiership Dundee.
The part-timers fought bravely, but were no match for their senior opponents.
Saints, desperate to put their woeful league form behind them, were first to threaten after five minutes when Stevie Mallan sent a raking pass through to John Sutton, who scored for the Paisley side in the only previous Cup meeting between the sides, a 3-0 win back in 2006 after a reply. But there was to be no repeat, with his thundering 16 yard angled drive sailing over the bar.
The Championship side were dominant in the early exchanges, enjoying the bulk of possession and putting their Lowland League opponents under extreme pressure. After 10 minutes Lawrence Shankland exploited space in midfield to thread the ball through to the overlapping Jason Naismith, but his driven cross was cleared brilliantly by Chris Townsley.
Spartans were starved of the ball, but set their stall out with a steely determination to frustrate Jack Ross’sside, limiting the home side to long range efforts, until Saints finally made the breakthrough in 15 minutes. The impressive Kyle Magennis showed skill and vision to pick out a superb pass to Shankland bursting in from the right, He looked up and curled a superb left foot shot high into the net from 15 -yards.
Four minutes the Saints doubled their lead when Kyle McAllister sent Naismith down the right. His cutback found Mallan 25-yards out and the midfielder ran on to the ball to crack a wonderful shot high into the net past goalkeeper Blair Carswell.
The Capital side were ripped apart for a third time in 32 minutes with a goal of sheer class from teenager McAllister, who jinked his way downfield, leaving three players in his wake before sending a fantastic shot high past Carswell from 18-yards.
Saints were relentless and continued to torment the Ainslie Park outfit, and five minutes from the interval Mallan almost added a fourth when he got in front of Spartans captain Eddie Malone, but his 20-yard effort drifted just wide.
Such was Saints dominance that Spartans didn’t even manage a shot off target in the first period let alone trouble Paisley goalkeeper Scott Gallagher, who could enjoy watching the artistry of McAllister and Magennis.
Spartans in a bid to revive their efforts brought on Scott Maxwell at the break for Andrew Mair, who had little service in attack in the first period.
Saints began the second half in the same positive manner and after 51 minutes Lewis Morgan burst down the left and cut the ball back perfectly for Sutton, but Carswell got down well to save from his 12 yard first time snap-shot.
The 75 brave Spartans fans who made the trip through to Paisley finally had something to cheer about in 56 minutes when Paul Thomson launched a high cross which goalkeeper Gallagher flapped at under pressure from Jack Hay, but Alan Brown’s follow up was cleared off the line by Ben Gordon.
Carswell was in action again in 58 minutes saving from Mallan’s low 18-yard shot. But he could do nothing about Saints fourth in 63 minutes when Sutton knocked home a rebound from close range. Everything was going Saints’ way.
Shankland got his second and Saints fifth when he ran on to a Sutton pass and clipped the ball over Carswell with ease.
Spartans got some consolation in 73 minutes when Beesley knocked home the rebound after Gallagher saved from Jamie Dishington.
St Mirren: Gallagher, Naismith, Irvine, Gordon (Quinn 59), MacKenzie (Baird 63), Sutton (Orsi 81) Mallan, Morgan, Shankland, McAllister, Magennis. Subs not used: Langfield, Clarkson, Gallagher, McLear.
Spartans: Carswell, Herd, Townslie, Tolmie (Salutregi 73), Thomson, Malone, Brown, Stevenson, Mair (Maxwell 46), Hay (Beesley 63) Dishington. Subs not used: Gilpin, Watson, Ward, Comrie.
Referee: K Graham.