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Manager inspired players to write a little piece of history for Perth club

"WE can't change history.

Stevie May celebrates after bringing St Johnstone level on 61 minutes, before adding the winning goal six minutes from full time. Picture: SNS
Stevie May celebrates after bringing St Johnstone level on 61 minutes, before adding the winning goal six minutes from full time. Picture: SNS

But we can create it."

The stirring words of Tommy Wright, the St Johnstone manager, signalled the storming of the Perth side to their first Scottish Cup final in the 130 years of the club's history.

Two goals by Stevie May, the 21-year-old striker, brought St Johnstone back from a goal down in front of 19,000 spectators at Ibrox to beat Aberdeen 2-1 yesterday and give Scottish football a Tayside final as they join Dundee United in the climax to the season on May 17.

St Johnstone did not only beat Aberdeen but overcame a dismal history in the William Hill Scottish Cup. They had lost eight semi-finals in the competition since 1934 and 14 previous cup ties against Aberdeen, stretching back 88 years, had not brought one win.

Wright, the 50-year-old Northern Irishman, addressed this dismal past in a meeting with his players.

"I was well aware that we could make history. I know how much this means to the club and the supporters," he said last night. "They have had a lot of disappointments in the past, losing semi-finals along the way. I spoke about it at the team meeting and to be honest didn't focus on the game too much."

He added: "I knew we'd worked on a few things so I just said to them that we can't change history but we can create it. There is a belief about this squad that it could be our year. We can beat anyone on our day and we showed it here."

Wright declared he was proud of the way his side fought back after losing a goal to Aberdeen through Niall McGinn in the 15th minute of the tie.

"Most people thought that for us to win this game we'd have to go in front but we did it the other way," he said, highlighting the "character" of his players.

He looked forward with keen anticipation to the final at Celtic Park.

"Dundee United gave us a bit of a doing at their place and then we beat them at home the next time," he said. "The game last time was very close and this one will be very tight."

This was a reference to the SPFL Premiership match at Tannadice last month where May scored the only goal and both managers were sent to the stand and subsequently disciplined by the Scottish Football Association.

Wright also said a tactical switch involving May had been the key to the victory.

"We moved Stevie out to the left because Aberdeen changed their shape," he said. "We went 4-3-3 and that's something we've thought about because he likes coming in from out wide. The first goal came from a corner and was a great finish, and the second was all about what he does. He can get by people and finish."

He added, however: "Stevie will get all the headlines but it was a real team performance. We lost Lee Croft to an injury yesterday and brought Michael O'Halloran in, who was excellent for us."

Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, bemoaned his side's missed chances but added: "We knew we would have to play very well to win and I don't ever think we had real control of the game. We got a very good start with a very well-worked goal and I thought we had assurance for 10 minutes after that.

"But St Johnstone responded well and finished the first half the better team. I must congratulate them, they showed enough tenacity and determination to make it their day. They are no mugs. They are a good side."

Aberdeen have already won the League Cup this season and McInnes was adamant that the possibility of another final had not burdened himself or the team .

"I'm comfortable with the expectation. That comes with working for Aberdeen," he said. "The players have dealt with it all season and that wasn't what beat us today. We missed chances when we could have put it to bed and never had any real control of the game. That's not just down to us. St Johnstone deserve credit."

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