Football: I HAD NO DOUBT DARGS WOULD END HIS HOODOO; Saints Star Dorman Salutes Goal Hero Craig

Article excerpt

Byline: BY CRAIG SWAN

ST MIRREN 2

GRETNA 0

MEANINGLESS MATCH? Try telling that to Craig Dargo after he ended his agonising 14-outing St Mirren goal drought.

Or Love Street boss Gus MacPherson who lives to win games.

Or Saints' young Mark Docherty and Marc McAusland who will remember it forever after earning first-team debuts.

Or the Gretna players who used it as another precious 90 minutes to showcase their abilities in a bid to save their careers.

For some, St Mirren against Gretna, the bottom two, may have mattered little in the grand scheme of the SPL.

The home team went into the match knowing relegation wasn't an issue, yet no chance of making it to the top-six either.

Gretna, meanwhile, needed 16 snookers, all the colours and a miracle to avoid relegation after a nightmare season.

It began with a 4-0 thumping by Falkirk and has steamrollered downhill since into such a state that they are in administration and danger of closure.

But, for others, it meant everything and, although few of the 3577 paying punters who witnessed the 90 minutes will recall events in their elderly years, it mattered plenty in the current climate to some individuals for vastly differing reasons.

Dargo will certainly remember his day.

After joining Saints last summer, the first half of his season was obliterated by a serious knee injury before he came back three days before Christmas last year.

Hard work for his team followed in his first 13 games for MacPherson, but, despite upbeat public statements, the lack of a goal was nagging him.

But, in the 27th minute on Saturday, the agony was over when Jim Hamilton's shot hit team-mate Andy Dorman and fell into Dargo's path just eight yards out.

When you're on his type of run it's a dream opening and he put eight months of pain into his raging finish which crashed into the Gretna net.

In an instant, the old Dargo was back in action. Before referee David Somers could whistle for half-time the striker had hit a post, smacked another shot just over and come within inches of scoring a sublime first-time lob on the run from 30 yards.

The significance for him and his team of this match and that goal is likely to become clear over the next couple of seasons as natural goalscorers don't just lose it.

Dorman said: "Dargs has laid me on a few times in the last few months so I had to return the favour some time!

"He's been working hard in training and in games to create chances for other people rather than himself. It's good for him to get a goal.

"You can see how hard he's working and the fact he's created chances for me and others meant I couldn't say too much to him when he wasn't scoring because the supply might have been cut off!"

Four minutes after half-time, it was 2-0 when Billy Mehmet squeezed his eighth goal of the season home after Gretna had failed to deal with a corner and Saints were on their way to a vital win in their fight to climb the standings.

MacPherson was then able to give a couple of his starlets their day to remember when Docherty and McAusland took advantage of knocks to Ian Maxwell and Will Haining to secure dream debuts.

All in all, a decent day's work for the Saints gaffer and his team without them ever hitting the heights.

The impressive Dorman, though, gave another indication of his value to the squad.

Considering it was freezing in Paisley, the midfielder could easily have allowed his mind to wander back to the sunny US of Aand his old life in the MLS.

Just hours after the game at Love Street was over, Dorman was on the internet checking the progress of his old team New England Revolution as their league season began against Houston, but he said: "The weather's not the best but I'm happy here.

"I wish all the lads at the Revs good luck and I'm sure they'll do well again this season. …