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

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - ERIC NICOLSON

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

Pic­ture: PPA.

Saints new boy Ste­fan Scougall cuts a de­jected fig­ure at full-time.

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