22 October 2000 – Sylla Sinks ‘Gers

On this day 2000 , St Johnstone met Rangers in a Scottish Premier League fixture at McDiarmid Park.

Going into the match Saints had failed to score in three successive matches as the team suffered defeats to Hibs 0 – 3 , Motherwell 0 – 4 and Celtic 0 – 2.

Manager Sandy Clark selected the following team: – Alan Main, Momo Sylla, Gary Bollan, Darren Dods, Jim Weir, Alan Kernaghan, Nick Dasovic, Keigan Parker, Paddy Connolly, Sean Evers, Paul Kane. Subs:- Kevin Cuthbert, Tommy Lovenkrands, John-Paul McBride, Paul Hartley, Ross Forsyth.

Saints started well, led by inspirational captain Jim Weir, and despite their three previous losses, were taking the game to the previous season’s champions.

After some end to end play, Saints went ahead on 17 minutes from the penalty spot. Keigan Parker had been brought down in the box and the referee had no doubt in awarding the spot kick. The youngster got up and took the kick himself, sending the Rangers keeper the wrong way.1 – 0 .

Minutes later it was nearly 2 – 0 minutes when ‘keeper Brown had to make an instinctive save to stop a Konterman header going into his own net.

As you would expect from Rangers they came back strongly in the second half forcing Alan Main into brilliant saves from Billy Dodds and Kenny Miller. However, he could do little to stop a Miller 25 yarder to bring the visitors level 10 minutes after the restart. 1 – 1.

Saints had to dig in now and Dods, Weir and Kernaghan stood up well to the challenge.

Then in 70 minutes. Sensation.

“Momo” picked up the ball just inside the Rangers half and set off on a surging run. He beat two Rangers defenders before sending the most wonderful curling shot into the top corner to make it 2 – 1.

Rangers were floored and despite all their efforts a Dasovic header and a Connolly shot ( when clean through ) could easily have increased Saints margin of victory.

The crowd of 7,763 had been well entertained.

After the match Sandy Clark praised his players for their spirit and character.

Momo Sylla was a Saints fans favourite. He was a Guinea International player who was signed at the start of the 2000/01 season from French club Le Mans with no fee paid due to the “Bosman” ruling. He played at total of 39 matches for Saints, scoring 5 Goals. Celtic paid a reported £750,000 for his transfer in August 2001.


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