ST MIRREN stopper Marc McAusland believes his centre-back partnership with Jim Goodwin is the perfect combination of youth and experience.

The duo have formed up at the heart of the Saints rearguard for their last five games, with the Paisley club's only defeat in that sequence coming at Celtic Park in an obdurate 2-0 loss.

Now with Ross County heading to Paisley in tomorrow's 12.45 kick-off, McAusland wants to underline his side's new-found defensive solidarity with a clean sheet.

The big centre-half is determined to wipe out memories of the horror show at the back that saw his side concede four goals against County the last time they came calling during their dramatic 5-4 success.

The 24-year-old said: "Things have been going really well with Jim and me. He is such a great communicator and I like to think that he is the brain and I am the legs in our partnership.

"But the great thing about playing alongside Jim Goodwin is that you learn so much. As a result I believe I have really developed this season and hopefully as our results have shown over the last five games we have become a lot harder to break down.

"I think we have conceded just one goal from open play recently and that is further proof that defensively we are tighter.

"But the last time County came to us they put four goals past us and that is a memory we are determined to wipe out.

"So I think that all the boys at the back will have an extra focus and determination about them tomorrow."

With a Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final with Celtic at Hampden on Sunday week looming, the Saints have plenty of other motivation ahead of this one to extend their unbeaten run to six games.

McAusland said: "The semi-final is a big consideration as everyone in the squad wants a jersey for the Celtic game at Hampden.

"But the only way you are going to do that is to make sure that you produce the goods against County.

"So this is a huge game for us going forward, but the main thing is that you take each game as it comes.

"We are on a good run and have shown consistency and it would be a big plus to go to Hampden next weekend with our unbeaten run intact and maybe a clean sheet behind us."

In complete contrast to the goalfest in Paisley in September, the last time the two sides met up in Dingwall at the end of November ended 0-0.

That is a result that clearly rankles with McAusland and he said: "We definitely had the better of it in that one and if I remember we hit woodwork.

"But County proved that they also can be very tough to breakdown so we are going to have to make sure we are solid at the back and sharp up top.

"We have momentum with us and are playing with real belief and at St Mirren Park we always fancy ourselves."