St Johnstone’s opening foray into Europe fell flat last night after they went down 2-1 at home to Lithuanian side FK Trakai in the Europa League 1st qualifying round.
ST JOHNSTONE 1 FK TRAKAI 2: Wright defiant despite losing Europa League qualifier
St Johnstone will have to do it the hard way if they are to progress to the second qualifying round of the Europa League.
The Perth men were beaten 2-1 by FK Trakai at McDiarmid Park last night, with all three goals coming in the first half.
The Lithuanians showed why they are second top of their domestic league, with an impressive display against Tommy Wright’s men putting them in the driving seat for the return leg on Thursday.
As well as Joe Shaughnessy’s goal, there were several other near-misses for Saints, which has given the Perth boss reason to believe it is far from mission impossible in Vilnius.
He said: “I wouldn’t rule us out yet. There is more to come from us. There are things we need to be better at but I know we can go over there and win the game. It would be foolish to write us off. We caused them problems and got into good positions but made the wrong decision.”
Wright continued: “We have to learn from that but the way we got in behind them gives me encouragement.
“We created chances. Blair Alston, Stefan Scougall, Liam Craig and Graham Cummins all had good chances.”
He added: “We are disappointed to lose the game. I think we lost it in the first half even though we had the best chance of the first 45 minutes.
“We started OK but let them have too much time on the ball. We should have been tighter at the first goal.
“It was naive and a lack of communication and responsibility. We let Silenas score a wonder goal but the build-up was total naivety from us.
“I thought we were the better team in the second half and with the opportunities we should have had we scored.
“We made too many wrong decisions in the game.
“Every one to a man in there knows they can play better.”
Stefan Scougall came on as a second half substitute to make his debut and hit the post as well as producing other moments of class.
Wright said: “Stefan was lively when we got him on the ball, that’s what I expected from him.
“He’s still way short of match fitness because of the break he’s had but I was encouraged by his performance.
“He was unlucky with his shot and put a very good cross in for another chance, so I was very pleased with his performance when he came on.”
Wright dismissed suggestions his side paid the price for a lack of sharpness against a team 16 games into their league campaign.
“I don’t want to single him out, but it doesn’t matter how fit Graham is, he should score from six yards,” he said.
“The keeper’s down early and Blair should lift the ball. I don’t think that’s anything to do with fitness, just poor finishing.”
Trakai manager Oleg Vasilenko said: “The game went really well. They guys played their own football from the first minute to the last.”
We let Silenas score a wonder goal but the build-up was total naivety from us. TOMMY WRIGHT
Saints new boy Stefan Scougall cuts a dejected figure at full-time.