St Johnstone's Europa League opponents 'technically better', admits Tommy Wright

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright
"We didn't get in and about them as much as we should have" - Wright

Tommy Wright admits that St Johnstone's recent Europa League opponents are more technically gifted than his players.

Reflecting on the 2-1 qualifying defeat by Lithuanian outfit Trakai, the St Johnstone boss said his side made "too many mistakes".

"The teams that you play in this competition, even the Armenian side [Alashkert in 2015], were all technically better than us," he added.

"Making a simple pass shouldn't really determine on your fitness."

Wright's side had their Europa League hopes dashed by Alashkert in July 2015 and face a stern test in Lithuania next Thursday to overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit.

"Obviously the result is disappointing and it wasn't the result we were setting out to get," he told BBC Scotland.

"They were always dangerous on the counter attack and always looked a threat.

"You could argue that, while it finished 2-1, they could have sneaked another one.

"We probably didn't do enough over the 90 minutes and a lot of our play was sloppy; decision-making was poor and ultimately, for the second goal, no-one takes responsibility.

'Out before the party has even started'

"We just made too many mistakes and gave away good possession; our crossing into the box was poor. We had good opportunities when we did pass it."

Addressing his side's technical failings in contrast to Europa League opponents in recent seasons, Wright added: "That's where we've got to make sure that we don't allow them time on the ball and don't allow them to express themselves.

"We didn't win enough tackles, we didn't get in and about them as much as we should have.

"They've looked threatening without really creating anything other than the two goals.

"It's a really disappointing night for us. We have to be better and I think we will be better.

"Whether we can get the two goals that we need - or we have to take it extra-time - the two goals are a huge advantage for them.

"We found that when we played Spartak Trnava [in August 2014], where we played extremely well and took the lead then got caught chasing a goal."

St Johnstone lost at home to FK Trakai
St Johnstone will seek to overcome a 2-1 first leg deficit in Lithuania next Thursday

Former Scotland international Darren Jackson believes Scottish football is lagging behind when it comes to technique.

"I can only speak for myself and the clubs that I have worked for - you do work on technique, you do work on people's first touch, you do work on their movement, you do work on their skill, going and taking people on, and all that," he told BBC Scotland.

'Players scared to try things'

"But going into a game there seems to be a little bit more pressure so I don't know if players are maybe scared to try things."

Former St Johnstone defender Allan Preston, now a BBC Sportsound pundit, said the Perth side's defeat and Rangers' 1-0 win at home to Luxembourg outfit Progres Niederkorn in Europa League qualifying were "totally underwhelming".

Preston believes summer football is the best way to combat the perennial problem of Scottish clubs being eliminated from European competition early.

"Sometimes we're out before the party has even started; we're out before the stamps are licked to invite us to the party," he said on Sportsound.

"It's time and again it seems to happen and we need to do something about it.

"We always seem to get caught out in these early rounds in Europe. St Johnstone will get better and hopefully can turn it round. You don't write them off - far from it."

On the difference in technical ability on display at McDiarmid Park on Thursday, Preston added: "You know that the Europeans are technically very gifted and they train in better weather.

"The pitches are always better and they don't have a howling gale half the time or pouring rain.

"Hence the reason why we should be going to summer football. I expected the Lithuanians to be technically superior."

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