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Europa Conference League | Qualifying Playoffs | 2nd Leg
Aug 26, 2021 at 7pm UK
McDiarmid Park

St Johnstone
0 - 2

Rooney (79'), McCann (86')
Wotherspoon (76'), Rooney (84')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Balic (72'), Raguz (84' pen.)
Renner (6')

Preview: St Johnstone vs. LASK Linz - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: St Johnstone vs. LASK Linz - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa Conference League clash between St Johnstone and LASK Linz, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Two sides seeking to book their place in the inaugural Europa Conference League group stage will lock horns on Thursday evening, when St Johnstone welcome LASK Linz to Perth for their second-leg encounter.

Following a 1-1 draw from the first leg, the Saints are still searching for their first victory of the new campaign, while the visitors have failed to win any of their last five games across all competitions.

Match preview

St Johnstone head coach Callum Davidson revealed that his players came away from the first leg disappointed after their score draw in Austria last week.

Chris Kane had given the Scottish side the lead in the 17th minute, but they were unable to hold on as a 60th-minute penalty kick converted by Mamoudou Karamoko ensured the spoils were shared.

Since their first leg draw, the Saints suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat at home against 10-men Dundee United last weekend. This result means St Johnstone have failed to win any of their opening seven games across all competitions so far this campaign.

After enjoying a hugely successful campaign last season – winning two domestic trophies as well as finishing in their highest league position since the 2016-17 campaign – St Johnstone are hoping to make the most of their second chance to play in Europe this season as they aim to make it beyond the qualifying stage of a major European competition for the first time since the 1999-00 UEFA Cup.

LASK Linz, meanwhile, are looking to qualify for the group stage of a major European tournament for the third successive year, having previously competed in the Europa League in each of the last two seasons.

Their first ever European campaign in 2019-20 saw them progress from the group stage, before suffering a 7-1 aggregate defeat to Manchester United in the round of 16. Last season, Die Laskler were eliminated at the first hurdle, finishing third in their group behind Tottenham Hotspur and Royal Antwerp.

Head coach Dominik Thalhammer, who replaced West Bromwich Albion's Valerien Ismael in July 2020, has had a solid start so far this term, claiming four wins and four draws from nine matches, with LASK Linz's only defeat at home against Stum Graz, losing 3-1 in the Austrian Bundesliga two weeks ago.

Die Laskler had only ever played three matches against Scottish teams prior to the first leg, and have never come away victorious, with their only points coming in the group stage of the 1995-96 UEFA Intertoto Cup, in a 1-1 draw with Partick Thistle.

St Johnstone Europa Conference League form:
  • D

St Johnstone form (all competitions):
  • D
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • D
  • L

LASK Linz Europa Conference League form:
  • D

LASK Linz form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • D

Team News

St Johnstone's only injury concern is with experienced midfielder Craig Bryson who continues to recover from a knock.

David Wotherspoon returned to first-team training on Monday, after missing the last three games due to a period of coronavirus-enforced isolation, and the 31-year-old is set to be in contention to feature on Thursday.

Davidson is unlikely to make too many changes to the starting lineup from the first leg, which will likely see Michael O'Halloran keep his place up front ahead of Stevie May.

As for LASK Linz, Lukas Grgic (shoulder), Yannis Letard (calf), Philipp Wiesinger (thigh), Tobias Lawal (knee), Christoph Monschein (muscle tear) and Andreas Gruber (knee) are all ruled out with injuries.

Thalhammer is likely to stick with a 3-4-3 formation, with Florian Flecker and Rene Renner set to keep their places in the side on the flanks.

Karamoko, who scored in the first leg, has found the net four times so far this campaign and is expected to led the line in attack alongside Thomas Goiginger and Husein Balic.

St Johnstone possible starting lineup:
Clark; Kerr, Gordon, McCart; Rooney, McCann, Davidson, Middleton, Booth; O'Halloran, Kane

LASK Linz possible starting lineup:
Schlager; Boller, Andrade, Filipovic; Flecker, Potzmann, Michorl, Renner; Goiginger, Karamoko, Balic

We say: St Johnstone 2-1 LASK Linz (St Johnstone win 3-2 on aggregate)

St Johnstone and LASK Linz were forced to share the spoils in the first leg after a closely-fought contest and another tight encounter is set to be played out on Thursday.

There is little to separate the two teams, but we feel that the hosts may be given an added boost by their home supporters to help secure a slender victory in Perth.

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