Soccer

Stephen Robinson pays tribute to Jonah Ayunga’s perseverance after injury battle

St Mirren boss Stephen Robinson (Andrew Milligan/PA).
St Mirren boss Stephen Robinson (Andrew Milligan/PA). St Mirren boss Stephen Robinson (Andrew Milligan/PA).

Stephen Robinson hailed Jonah Ayunga’s performance as St Mirren moved back into third place in the table with a 2-0 defeat of Ross County.

Ayunga’s goal was his first since a serious knee injury that kept him out for almost a year and gave Saints a two-goal cushion following Ryan Leak’s own goal.

Robinson praised the Englishman’s perseverance – and the club’s medical stuff – for ensuring his return to action was as smooth as possible.

The St Mirren manager said: “I’m delighted for Jonah.

“When you’re out injured it’s a lonely place, so a special mention for Jonah and (physio) Gerry Docherty and Gary McCall, the strength and conditioning coach, who have spent hours getting him to this level.

“It’s testament to how hard Jonah has worked and he’s got his just reward.”

Ayunga celebrated by sticking the ball under his jersey as a nod to his pregnant partner.

Robinson added: “I’m not sure how long (she has) to go. That will be a special moment.

“What you don’t appreciate when you’re out injured is how it affects your other half – they take the brunt of everything. They’re the real strong ones and I’m sure Jonah would agree.”

St Mirren could have scored more after missing several chances in the first half and late in the game, but Robinson was stoic about it.

He added: “I’m never happy to be honest as it should have been more. But to put on that level of performance when we haven’t won for a couple of weeks shows how tough mentally the squad are.

“We demanded we play our way and not get drawn into a long-ball game. That’s credit to the mentality of players.

“We could have won by more as we had plenty of chances, but we got what we deserved.”

His opposite number Derek Adams did not disagree with that assessment as he tasted defeat for the first time since returning as County manager.

He said: “The first goal was always going to be pivotal in this game. St Mirren got it, as quite rightly the VAR ruled it over the line.

“We didn’t play as well as we have done in previous weeks. Coming away from home, it’s a venue which Ross County haven’t done well at over the years.

“I was a bit disappointed in the way we didn’t take the game to them. When we were 2-0 down we were still trying to pass it, forgetting the object of the game is to score goals.

“That was a wee bit disappointing. But we didn’t play as well as we can do or have done. We didn’t deserve to win the game.”