'Gogic extension a welcome boost in European chase'

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Striding out on to the pitch at a sold-out SMISA Stadium on Saturday, children in hand, Alex Gogic received the kind of reception reserved for those with an exceptional bond with supporters.

The ever-popular Cypriot signed a three-year contract extension last week, committing himself to the Saints in a long-term fashion not often seen in recent years.

Waiting for Gogic in the packed stands in Paisley was a painted banner, displaying the image of the centre-half which has come to define his outstanding season.

Stitched up and bandaged after clashing with Bevis Mugabi, Gogic strived to stay on the Motherwell pitch and see out a vital three points and clean sheet. Fists raised and yelling his trademark "Idemo!", that grit is a perfect reflection of both the Cypriot and this current Saints squad.

It's no surprise that this level of devotion to the cause inspires admiration from the stands, and the confirmation he will remain in black and white beyond the summer has provided a welcome boost as European qualification is chased down in the final couple of fixtures.

Unfortunately, this feelgood factor in PA3 didn't extend through to a result versus regular Saints bogey-team custodian Derek McInnes.

Despite the hosts dictating play for long passages and peppering Will Dennis' goalmouth and woodwork with shots, Killie took their gift-wrapped chance and held on to their clean sheet to cement fourth place.

The scenes in the away end after the final whistle, painful as they were to watch in our own patch, rewarded a side who have been good value for fourth this season and now have a minimum of two European ties confirmed after the summer.

The watching Saints club captain, manager and newly-contracted Gogic will have had a taste of that next level to strive for and know the fine margins that could bring that about next season.


Mark Jardine can be found at Misery Hunters

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