Conceding as many as three goals was a relatively new experience for Deniz Mehmet. Last season only the away games in Dundee and Airdrie saw him pick as many out of his net but the 30 year old keeper who set a club record for shut outs last season, still felt the friendly against St Pauli provided a very helpful element to his pre season. In some matches last season he barely had a save to make but after being kept very busy by the German visitors he gave his analysis:-
“It is nice to make some saves but they were a good side and you could see that by the way they moved the ball about, especially in the second half when the rain started coming down. We were saying ‘the pitch is dry it needs to rain a little bit’ but looking back on it the rain is the worst thing that could have happened.”
Deniz had plenty saves to test him and the home support witnessed him at his best to keep St Pauli out when they seriously threatened to score more. He added:-
“At times they banked in, I expected that coming against a team that we knew were a good side. They are a decent team in Germany so it was always going to be a tough evening but the boys got what they needed out of it.”
Deniz’s opinion on classing the game as enjoyable might be something more likely to materialise after much reflection:-
“Maybe when you look back on it and see the atmosphere that there was for a pre season friendly. There were really good numbers and the atmosphere made a good vibe about the place and between the players the whole night. There were a few late challenges but you are going to get that here and there in pre season when boys are getting tired but there was no real malice. It was a good evening I think, a good occasion but yes the result is disappointing but it was a training session more than anything I think.”
As the match headed towards full time there was a tremendous volley from Etienne Amenyido only to be denied by the crossbar. James McPake would say that the St Pauli player deserved the goal for such an acrobatic attempt. As for Deniz, he confessed:-
“I didn’t see it. I saw him shaping up to it and I thought ‘okay then have a go’ and then thought ‘oh maybe not’. Everyone was clapping and I felt like clapping him myself to be honest for that effort but what a strike.”
To perform the way they did in the first week back in pre season training was something that impressed Deniz as he added:-
“We have been back in since Monday, we hardly touched a ball on Monday it was pretty much all testing. The boys have been doing a lot of running, me and Max (Littl) were included and running on Tuesday afternoon as well. Normally you are ten days to two weeks into pre season before you get a friendly so it was an early start. St Pauli started on Monday as well but their season finished a lot later so they were a lot more familiar with the ball than we are at the moment. The beginning of May was our last game of the season but you get what you can get out of it and it definitely was a fitness thing.”
Traditionally warm up friendlies in pre season start against lower league opponents but Deniz claimed that the bar had been set rather high in taking on the German 2.Bundesliga side in the opening fixture:-
“It is nice to get an overseas game, you see a different style of football and you are up against players you don’t really know anything about. It is a good challenge in that sense but it is all about the minutes and the time that we can all get from the game and just build on it in every pre season game that comes along.
“We have four more friendly games before the Raith game in the League cup comes so there is time to build on that performance, get the base fitness up and as much ball familiarity as we can as well.”
Deniz signed a new three year deal earlier this month and he is delighted to be back in the squad for the Championship challenge. Contract talks had been going on since mid season and Deniz felt confident that an agreement would be reached:-
“It was always getting sorted out and just a matter of ticking the boxes. I was happy to get it sorted but it was pretty much done and dusted a month before I actually signed it. It was just a matter of me going home, back to London, and by the time I came back up it was a month later.
“It has definitely been good to get back in. It has been a nice holiday, the time off has been more than I have had for many years. We had six weeks but it goes by like a click of the finger – you come in and you don’t feel like you have been off. Coming to the last week or two of your summer, you are looking to getting back in and start again. Then when you start running you realise you shouldn’t have thought like that.”