St Johnstone don't fear a '˜hiding' against Rangers says Blair Alston
But the midfielder and his team-mates went on to pull off a shock or two, with Alston weighing in with some spectacular strikes.
He’s continued his strike rate against Rangers since switching to St Johnstone and he’d love to avenge a 5-1 spanking doled out at Ibrox before Tommy Wright’s men suffered a 6-0 thrashing from Celtic which proved an unlikely turning point in the Perth club’s campaign.
“Any time you do well against the so-called big teams you always get more attention. It doesn’t matter how you play,” said Alston. “I have tended to be quite lucky with goals against Rangers, for Falkirk and St Johnstone.
“I must have played them eight or nine times at Falkirk. We seemed to draw them in cups and they were in the Championship for a couple of seasons. I have played Rangers when they were head and shoulders above Falkirk. It was men against boys. You wondered what was going on. But by playing more games against them you begin to feel more comfortable.
“When we played them at Ibrox and it finished 5-1 it did look like men against boys again. But we don’t go into games thinking ‘we could take a hiding here.’ We go in thinking there’s no reason we can’t do something. Our attitude is ‘let’s see what we can do against them.’”
Bizarre as it may seem, Alston admits the home hammering from Celtic was a turning point for Saints.
“In that 6-0 game we were probably the first team that Celtic played when they just clicked.
“It could have been 26-0. They took us apart. But in a way losing to Celtic was the best thing that could have happened to us. From then on we got back to what we are good at. We were a lot more solid and won five in a row without conceding a goal.
“OK the result was embarrassing at the time and we all came off saying ‘crikey what’s just happened?’ But that run was better than maybe sneaking a draw against them and following it up with a few more. So it probably is the best thing that’s happened to us this season.”
After strikes from the bench against Hearts and Aberdeen, Alston, 26, is desperate to feature against a Rangers side which dropped another two points on their travels against Hibs in midweek.
“I was hoping to be involved more against Motherwell but there are probably ten other guys that would say the same thing. That shows the strength of the squad we have here this season. The manager lives and dies by his decisions and he hasn’t got much wrong. I missed a large part of the good run we were on with injuries. So I didn’t want to let anyone down when I came back in. And it was always going to be tough getting back up to speed. But hopefully I have done enough in the last couple of weeks to get a start against Rangers.
“All the pressure is on Rangers. They’re expected to win. We have done well before against them, especially at Ibrox, when people haven’t given us a chance.
“There is definitely no fear that they will take five or six off us again. We think we have a good chance.
“These are games you want to play in. When we play Rangers and Celtic here these are our biggest crowds.
“We haven’t won in Perth for a while against them but Motherwell hadn’t beaten us in years here so these runs have a habit of ending when you don’t expect it.”