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FOOTBALL: NIL BY MOUTH; ST MIRREN 2 CLYDE 0 Saints keeping quiet on title chances.

Byline: By John Traynor

YOU could make Gus MacPherson lick a hospital floor for a week or watch non-stop repeats of Scotsport SPL and that might get him to predict his team will win the First Division title

But short of torture, the St Mirren boss will keep his thoughts to himself and the same goes for his players. Even so, Saints are well capable of going all the way.

At least that's the way it looks at this point and if they continue to improve, then maybe by early spring someone at Love Street will be willing to wag their tongue.

But Clyde boss Graham Roberts had no hesitation when after Saints proved too much for his grafters he said the Paisley side will be in the top two all season.

Right now, they trail leaders Ross County by one point and it seems a safe bet John Robertson's northern lot won't be feeling entirely secure. St Mirren are beginning to shape up as a really good side, one that's more than capable of hitting top spot and staying there.

But John Sutton, who netted Saints' second after the interval, circumnavigated the issue like a crafty politician when he said: "We're a young team and we're continuing to improve, so if we don't do as well as we might this season, then maybe next time.

"I know this is cliched but we've got to take it one game at a time so all I'll say is I think we're capable of doing well." That was probably as close to a straight answer about his team's championship chances as anyone is likely to get this autumn or winter.

After all, bold predictions often put a team under unnecessary pressure and come back to haunt them.

Sutton added: "Since I came back up here it has been excellent. I jumped at the chance to sign for St Mirren and I'm delighted to be here."

Paisley fans are also delighted he's there as Sutton,who was lured from Millwall,certainly gives MacPherson's team a different dimension,as does Charlie Adam who is on loan from Rangers.

Certain aspects of the young midfielder's play still need fine tuning but he'll learn much under MacPherson and his assistant Andy Millen. Stewart Kean also played his part on Saturday and he opened the scoring from the penalty spot in 28 minutes after being fouled inside the box by Chris Higgins.

Then in the 71st minute Sutton finished Clyde off with a diving header his big brother Chris would have been proud of.

Meanwhile, St Mirren must turn their attention to tomorrow night's CIS Cup third-round tie against a rampant Motherwell side.

However, whether they take an SPL scalp or not doesn't matter.

The only thing that does is winning the First Division championship but while torturing a prediction out of MacPherson might have a dark appeal for some, it's taking things a bit far

CAPTION(S):

HANDS UP IF YOU LIKE THAT: Kean; hails his opener from the spot, inset, before Sutton savours the second
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 19, 2005
Words:510
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