An honest Ross Lyon isn’t shifting his expectations on St Kilda’s younger brigade as he demands for greater consistency off the back of Saturday’s four-point loss to Essendon.

The Saints had eight players with less than 50 games to their name today at Marvel Stadium, including first-gamer Angus Hastie, who entered the fray as the substitute in the final term as the third AFL debutant for the club in as many weeks.


Despite chances to pinch the lead back late, St Kilda as a whole squandered its opportunities forward and failed to keep composure to allow Essendon back into the contest.

But Lyon is determined to stick by his “babies” - from an experience sense - as the season progresses, with today’s outing a lesson he believes will hold them in good stead.

“We were a little bit thin on purpose. We moved on some foot soldiers and loyal servants (last year) to get some youth in and that’s what we’re seeing a little bit,” Lyon said.

“Windhager and Nasiah played great last week, but it’s a brutal competition. We’ve got Corey Enright and Robert Harvey; to be those guys, you’ve got to come up every week, not every second or third week, and that’s the feedback they get today.

“And that’s okay, right, because they’re babies. But we’ll wrap our arms around them and try and bunk them up.

“As they get fitter and stronger, and mentally stronger, they can keep doing it week in, week out, or getting it every four out of five like Pendlebury, Harvey and those guys.”

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Lyon said that too much was left to too few by the final siren.

“Off last week you feel pretty good about yourselves, (but) all you need is one player to go ‘oh, I’ll let Steele do the work’. One becomes two, and then you’re looking for an easier game,” Lyon said.

“It’s a demanding competition where people are dog-hungry and it leaves yourself vulnerable, and I think that’s what happened.”

The Saints were “comprehensively” beaten at centre bounce clearances 13-7 despite the best efforts of the experienced Seb Ross, Jack Steele and Rowan Marshall, with Essendon also registering a staggering 101 uncontested marks under the roof.

Lyon also lamented his side’s “hot potato” over-handballing, which invited in more pressure as the Dons made their late charge.

“We were really good the week before, we’re just looking for consistency in there. It felt like we knew what they wanted to do,” Lyon said.

“We never felt safe and then they did what they did. We knew coming in they’re a pretty good clearance team - Merrett, Parish and those guys - and we got done around the ball, really simply.

“Every time we spread the ball we looked super dangerous, but at the clutch we had opportunities where we didn’t make good decisions.

“I thought when the game was up for grabs they worked really hard and looked a bit more higher end, but in saying that, we had opportunities late that we slaughtered, to be fair.

“We walk away disappointed, frustrated, but as I said to the players it’s a ‘fail business’ quite often, even if you’re a good team. We need to learn like we did after Geelong.”