JASON Scotland has been taking a ribbing from Perth colleagues for missing a chance to hoist St Johnstone to the top of the table.
But the striker gets a chance to atone for his slip tonight when he tries to dispatch former club Dundee United from the CIS Cup at McDiarmid Park.
The Trinidad and Tobago centre would still be plying his trade at Tannadice but for a controversial work permit panel decision which declared he wouldn’t be an asset to the SPL.
And he admits he still has a place in his heart for the Tangerines.
But that won’t stop him going all out to inflict a cup upset on United in the Tayside derby.
Scotland said: “I enjoyed my time with United and the fans there were good to me. I was still learning all about Scottish football and was on the bench a lot of the time. I wasn’t up to the pace.
“But they backed me when I came on and obviously I was upset when the panel refused me the permit I needed for the two year deal that had been offered.
“I could still have been playing in the SPL. Sometimes I still think about what might have been but Saints are aiming to get there at the end of this season.”
If Scotland had bagged a snip near the end of a weekend win ground out over Airdrie, Saints would be topping the league on goal difference, in advance of the weekend trip to Livingston.
He laughed: “The gaffer and the lads have let me know all about it! Usually I’m happy as long as we win games but I was disappointed at full-time because I knew I should have scored. But it’s good to know we are creating chances.”
Scotland shared top billing last term in the First Division strike charts and admits there will be no room for sentiment tonight. United and his international colleague Collin Samuel are in his sights.
“We are the underdogs in this game but Morton showed last week in the Challenge Cup against us that it means nothing. Hopefully we can put in the sort of performance required to make the quarter finals. We will certainly give it a go. Anything can happen in a game like this.”
United are coming off the back of a goalless draw in Inverness and Perth boss Owen Coyle is relishing the chance to see how his players measure up against SPL opposition.
But his team plans hinge on late fitness tests, with skipper Kevin James already ruled out with a hip injury. Winger Willie McLaren, who has been suffering the ill effects of tooth trouble which demanded a trip to a dental school last week, is cup tied. Kevin Rutkiewicz remains sidelined and it’s probably too early for Paul Lawson, the on loan Celtic midfielder, who joined in training yesterday for the first time.
“We have a couple of players in the doubtful bracket and won’t be taking risks. They are important players for us,” said Coyle, who faces Livi, Dundee and Gretna in quick succession after tonight’s cup tie.
“There’s no doubt we were the better team against Airdrie and deserved our win, even if we didn’t play to anything like our best. But Airdrie Utd have been something of a bogey team in recent seasons. I know that from my own time there. It was important to get the three points.”
“There are a few relationships which makes this an intriguing cup tie. Obviously I was coaching there for a spell and further back Craig Brewster and I were among the team which won promotion to the SPL. But Jason and Steven Anderson were also there before coming to Perth.
“It’s always disappointing not to have Kevin James in my team. Everyone knows how influential he is on and off the field. But Steven was the U21 skipper and a youth international at Tannadice and he acquitted himself well at the weekend.
“There are a few Falkirk ties and throw in the fact that Martin Hardie and Alan Archibald were great mates at Partick and there’s plenty going on.
“United have been improving and they are an established SPL club. For the first time this season we go into a game as underdogs. No one outside Perth expects us to advance. We certainly won’t underestimate them in any way but this is an opportunity to gauge ourselves against an SPL team. And we are aspiring to reach that level.
“I want my players to show everything they’ve got in their lockers. This isn’t a time for regrets. They will be prepared well for the game and I want them to be positive and have a real go at making the quarter finals.”