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Jak Alnwick backing Buddies to ‘kick on’ in 2021 and put horror year behind them

Soccer – Capital One Cup – Second Round – West Bromwich Albion v Port Vale – The Hawthornes
(Image credit: Tony Marshall)

Jak Alnwick is glad to be leaving the bleakness of 2020 behind as the St Mirren keeper looks ahead to the end of the coronavirus crisis.

The past 12 months have been a nightmare for everyone but the Buddies at least had something to cheer as the year came to a close after they dumped Rangers out of the Betfred Cup quarter-finals last month.

A trip to Hampden now awaits for Saints and they will have the chance to repeat the club’s 2013 triumph if they can see their way past semi-final opponents Livingston later in January.

A top-half Scottish Premiership finish could also be in sight if Jim Goodwin’s team can keep pace with sixth-placed Livi, who sit three points ahead having played a game more than the Paisley men.

And that has only added to the renewed sense of optimism Alnwick is feeling.

With the prospect of a coronavirus vaccine offering hope that the end of the pandemic may be in sight, the dream of silverware is another welcome shot in the arm for the Saints number one.

He said: “For everyone, 2020 has been a difficult year. There is no getting away from that.

“But we are privileged to have our jobs. There are people who have lost jobs and lost family members. For us to come out and play football every day is a privilege.

“We look forward to coming into training every day and look forward to playing in games.

“Hopefully in 2021 we can get fans back when it is safe to do so.

“For the club, we are in the semi-final of a major competition and in a good position to kick on in the league.

“We are not going to look behind us and think we have done brilliantly up to now. There is no good doing that and then not winning a game from now to the end of the season.

“We have to kick on and hopefully we can.”

Lightning may not have struck twice for Saints as they lost their Rangers rematch 2-0 on Wednesday.

But Alnwick is looking for his team to bounce back in the same way they did after losing to Hibernian two days before Christmas.

They responded with a solid 2-0 win at Ross County and Alnwick says that must be the aim when they head to Kilmarnock on Saturday.

And he believes his team can take heart from how well they coped with Steven Gerrard’s rampant league leaders over the course of 180 minutes.

“We got a good win at Ross County after we last lost a match,” he said. “We put in a decent enough performance against Rangers on Wednesday. We lost two sloppy goals but apart from that they didn’t hurt us that much.

“Considering what they have done to a lot of teams this season I thought we coped quite well.

“Early in the season, we got battered by Rangers. There’s no getting away from that.

“In the cup game we ended up being the better side and winning the game. On Wednesday, there was a deflection and a mistake by Joe Shaughnessy – which will happen for all of us this season.

“Take them out and I don’t think there was a lot in the game. I don’t think we did enough to win it, but you look at how well Rangers have done in Europe – tearing apart some teams with massive budgets. We have to take heart from how we have done in playing them twice in quick succession.”