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Daily Record
Ben Ramage

Stephen Robinson's first year with St Mirren in focus as boss steadies ship and rejigs squad

Today marks exactly one year since Stephen Robinson took over the managerial reins at St Mirren. It’s been an eventful tenure so far, with highs and lows on the pitch and a big turnover of players moving in and out of the club.

Here we’ve taken a look back on Robinson’s first year in charge, with the club firmly in contention to secure a top-six finish in the top flight for the first time since 1985.

February, 2022

With club legend Jim Goodwin taking over at Aberdeen, St Mirren were on the hunt for a new boss to steady the ship and keep their top-six hopes afloat.

Hearts coach Steven Naismith, Celtic icon Scott Brown and former boss Jack Ross were all in contention, but the Saints board quickly made former Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson their top priority.

They persuaded the Belfast man to leave struggling English League One side Morecambe to come to the SMiSA Stadium, joining on a two-and-a-half year deal.

(Jeff Holmes JSHPIX)

His first game in charge against Dundee at Dens Park was unfortunately postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

He would go on to lose his first game in the dugout to Hearts, who ended the Buddies’ eight-game unbeaten run with a 2-0 win at the SMiSA Stadium. Connor Ronan’s early red card was a big factor in the defeat.


Robinson was desperate to get his first points on the board but a trip to Celtic Park was always going to be a tough ask.

The Hoops won 2-0 in Glasgow, with St Mirren also losing 1-0 on the road to Ross County as they began to slide down the Premiership table.

Ronan was the hero at Dens Park to bag Robinson his first win in charge, netting deep into injury-time to earn all three points.

Stephen Robinson celebrates Connor Ronan's late winner with Saints coach Jamie Langfield (SNS Group)

The manager came with a history of taking Motherwell on excellent cup runs, with the Saints hopeful he could repeat the feat when they travelled to Tynecastle to take on Hearts for a place in the Scottish Cup

A brilliant quarter-final tie saw the hosts take a two-goal lead before Eamonn Brophy pulled one back. Ronan then scored arguably one of the club’s greatest ever goals, smashing home from 30 yards to emphatically get his side level.

Unfortunately for Robinson Hearts went on to seal a 4-2 win, with the month closing out with a damaging 2-1 home defeat to Dundee United that saw the club nearing the relegation zone.


After a lot of initial positivity, the Buddies faithful were rightly concerned when the Saints lost their next three games on the spin, conceding four goals to both Motherwell and Rangers before another 1-0 loss at the SMiSA.

Saints manager Stephen Robinson cut a frustrated figure at Fir Park (SNS Group)

That saw them consigned to another bottom-six finish, with a defeat to Hibs further increasing the danger of falling into a relegation
play-off spot battle.

A crucial 1-0 away win against St Johnstone, sealed by Greg Kiltie’s fine finish, gave the club some breathing space.


The 2021/22 season finished on a more positive note in Paisley, with a 2-0 home win against Dundee ensuring St Mirren would stay in the top flight.

Goalless draws with Livingston at the SMiSA and Aberdeen at Pittodrie secured a ninth-place finish, with the Saints support taking great delight in the club ending the campaign above Goodwin’s Dons in the Premiership table.

Greg Kiltie applauds the travelling St Mirren fans at full-time (SNS Group)


Robinson immediately set about revamping the St Mirren squad, bringing in a number of players he’d worked with previously at Motherwell and clubs in England.

Goalkeeper Trevor Carson was brought in to replace Jak Alnwick, who left to join Cardiff City, with striker Jonah Ayunga making the move up from

Mark O’Hara arrived to help fill the gap left by Ronan, who returned to parent club Wolves, while Ryan Strain and Declan Gallagher arrived to bolster the defence.

A deal for highly-rated Australian Keanu Baccus was also sealed.

Jonah Ayunga has signed a two-year deal with St Mirren (St Mirren FC)


After a pre-season trip to Robinson’s native Northern Ireland, St Mirren’s competitive start to the 2022/23 campaign got off to the worst possible start.

Championship side Arbroath, who had only just started their pre-season, earned a surprise 1-0 win at the SMiSA thanks to Dylan Paterson’s dramatic
extra-time winner.

Things went from bad to worse when the Paisley club were embarrased by League One side Airdrieonians, who picked up a 2-0 win to knock them out of the League Cup at the group stage. Wins against FC Edinburgh and Cowdenbeath weren’t enough to save their skin.

St Mirren’s Premiership campaign also got off to a rocky start, with Motherwell sneaking a 1-0 win at the SMiSA despite a brilliant performance from the Buddies.

St Mirren boss Stephen Robinson was gutted to see his side lose in extra-time (SNS Group)


The Saints rocky start to the season continued with a painful 4-1 defeat at Pittodrie, with Aberdeen greatly aided by Declan Gallagher’s first-half dismissal.

Things were to improve for the Buddies though, with a 1-0 win against Ross County quickly backed up by a superb 3-0 win at Tannadice.

Hibs were then seen off at the SMiSA, which was increasingly becoming a fortress for Robinson’s


A poor 2-0 away defeat at St Johnstone didn’t give anyone a clue as to what was coming next for the Paisley Saints.

Arguably Robinson’s best result in his tenure so far, St Mirren dominated Celtic at the SMiSA to end the champions’ almost year-long unbeaten domestic run.

His summer signings O’Hara and Ayunga were both on the scoresheet in a massively deserved 2-0 win.

Mark O'Hara celebrates at full-time after helping his side beat Celtic (SNS Group)


This month saw a pattern play out that has come to symbolise the club’s season as a whole.

Away points were and have been harder to come by, with a 4-0 loss at Ibrox followed up by away defeats to Hibs and Ross County.

The Buddies continued to impress at home though, with wins over Livingston and Dundee United keeping them in the mix for a top-six finish.

Robinson was linked with the vacant Northern Ireland international job, but was quick to dismiss the speculation.


The Saints started the month with an entertaining 2-2 draw with St Johnstone, before the visit of Rangers tested their home form even further.

St Mirren looked set to do an Old Firm double, with Ayunga again finding the net to give the hosts the lead heading into the last ten minutes of the match.

Jonah Ayunga celebrates with Mark O'Hara after putting the Buddies ahead (SNS Group)

A James Tavernier penalty earned the Glasgow side a point, but it was another feather in Robinson’s cap having run the title hopefuls so close.

The draw saw bookies link him with a return to his former club Luton, with the gaffer again stating he’d had no contact over a potential move away.

Eventually the job would go to Rob Edwards.


The World Cup break gave the Buddies time to recover, with summer signing Baccus bringing in the club a significant fee for his appearances at Qatar with Australia.

St Mirren returned to action on Christmas Eve with a welcome 3-1 win against Aberdeen, which heaped further pressure on struggling Dons boss Goodwin.

January, 2023

Draws against Kilmarnock and Hearts kept the Saints firmly in the mix for the top six, before defeats to Hearts and Celtic saw Livingston and Hibs claw their way back into the hunt.

Carson’s penalty shootout heriocs helped the club navigate past Championship side Dundee in the Scottish Cup, with a narrow league win against Motherwell boosting the club’s hopes of a top-half finish.

Ethan Erhahon and Dylan Reid would go on to leave the club on transfer deadline day, with another of Robinson’s former players, Tony Watt, joining on loan from Dundee United.


Another 3-1 win against Aberdeen, this time at Pittodrie, lifted the Buddies up to an impressive fourth spot in the Premiership table.

Stephen Robinson celebrates with Declan Gallagher after he notched St Mirren's third goal against Aberdeen (SNS Group)

That gave rise to hopes of a Scottish Cup upset against Celtic at Parkhead, with the home side eventually cruising to a 5-1 win after Richard Taylor’s contentious red card.

Recent league defeats to Hibs and Motherwell were sore to take, but last weekend’s win against Ross County has given the Saints a great chance to finally finish in the top six this

That would represent a huge achievement for Robinson in just his first full season in charge in Paisley.


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