Football: Smith delighted to get monkey off his back

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Peterhead stopper Graeme Smith has spoken about his elation at recording a first clean sheet of the season in the victory over Queen’s Park.

Voted Player of the Year last season following a series of impenetrable performances at the back, Smith has struggled to replicate that form this year.

He has conceded goals in every game - league or cup - since preseason and has never hid his disappointment.

Now he hopes to put that problem behind him.

Smith said: “I’m ecstatic. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great on a personal level to get a shut out but in all honesty the most important thing is winning games.

“It was about getting the first clean sheet and getting that monkey off my back.

“The gaffer spoke to me last week saying that last year I was keeping clean sheets but I was busier.

“Now I’ve had to make fewer saves but we’re conceding more - it’s a bit of a strange one.

The 30-year-old, who sat on the bench for Rangers in the UEFA Cup final against Zenit St Petersburg, benefited from a new look defence on Saturday.

Returning from injury, Scott Ross joined impressive loanee Reece Donaldson and coach Craig Tully in a defence boasting pace and experience.

Smith said: “Tully’s come in because we were struggling with injuries but his performances have given the manager a real selection headache.

“December will be massive. We play the teams around us and if we can get a good points tally this month then hopefully we’ll be looking down from the top of the table rather than looking up at it.”

This weekend Peterhead face a visit from Montrose who will look to capitalise on the Blue Toon’s indifferent Balmoor form.