Saturday 26th August
Saints completed August unbeaten after a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park this afternoon.
Steven MacLean opened the scoring in the 40th minute but Callum McGregor equalised on the 80th minute for the hosts.
Saints made the trip to the east end of Glasgow today for a top of the table clash with Champions Celtic. Tommy Wright made one change to the team that defeated Partick Thistle 1-0 last weekend as Aaron Comrie came in for his first competitive start, replacing Stefan Scougall who dropped to the bench. There was also a place on the bench for new signing Denny Johnstone who joined the club this week on a season-long loan deal from Colchester United. Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers made two changes to the side that start Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League Playoff Qualifier against FC Astana as Kristoffer Ajer and Callum McGregor dropped out to be replaced by Tom Rogic and Anthony Ralston.
Saints got the match underway shooting towards the West Stand. Saints midfielder Murray Davidson is used to taking a knock during a match but there was concern raised after the midfielder had taken a bad head knock in the first minute following a clash with Aaron Comrie on the edge of the Celtic area. The stretcher was summoned and following a lengthy period of treatment on the pitch Muzz was stretchered from the pitch and replaced by Liam Craig.
Celtic got their first sight of goal on 11 minutes as Tom Rogic did well to evade the challenge from Paul Paton before passing to James Forrest who crossed the ball from the right into the Saints box. The ball then fell to Leigh Griffiths who fired his effort into the side netting.
Play very quickly switched to the other end and Michael O’Halloran did well to beat his man before setting up David Wotherspoon who had a shot at goal which was well held by Craig Gordon.
The home side were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box on 19 minutes following a foul on Scott Sinclair by Comrie. The free kick was taken by Griffiths whose ball into the box was knocked behind for a corner which the Saints defence comfortably cleared. Celtic threatened again 3 minutes later as Scott Brown found Forrest on the edge of the area but his effort was well held by Mannus.
Despite Celtic passing the ball around with more intent Saints created a decent chance on the half hour mark as Steven MacLean setup Craig but he curled his effort just over the bar.
Saints though took the lead on 40 minutes as Craig played the ball through to MacLean who was in acres of space and he guided the ball past Gordon and into the bottom corner of the net. It had looked like Macca was in an offside position but the North Stand assistant Douglas Ross signalled that it was a goal.
As the match entered 6 minutes of additional time at the end of the first half Sinclair went on a mazy run into the Saints box before unleashing a strike which was saved by Mannus.
Celtic made a double change at the start of the second half as Stuart Armstrong and Jonny Hayes came on for Olivier Ntcham and James Forrest.
Paul Paton was the first player in referee’s Willie Collum’s book on 52 minutes as he was shown a yellow card for a foul on Tom Rogic. From the free kick Griffiths saw his effort go over. Then a couple of minutes later Mannus made a brilliant save as he tipped Armstrong’s effort over for a corner.
Saints came very close to doubling their lead on the hour mark as Brain Easton’s cross from the left found the head of MacLean who directed the ball goal wards but it was saved by Gordon. The loose ball then broke to Macca who this time saw his effort hit the side netting.
Celtic continued to threaten and on 66 minutes Rogic saw his strike go wide and then 3 minutes later Bitton headed over from a Griffiths corner.
The home side eventually found a way past the Saints defence on 80 minutes as McGregor’s powerful, low strike gave Mannus no chance.
Tommy Wright then introduced new signing Denny Johnstone into action as he came on to replace Michael O’Halloran.
As the match entered the closing stages Saints had to weather the storm as both Sinclair and Lustig had efforts which hit the bar. Then in added on time Mannus made a great block at his near post to deny Hayes.
Overall, Saints were well worth their point and go into the international break sitting in joint second place in the league.
Man of the Match: Alan Mannus
Celtic: Gordon, Bitton, Brown, Griffiths, Sinclair, Rogic, Ntcham (Armstrong 45), Lustig, Forrest (Hayes 45), Ralston (McGregor 61), Tierney Unused Substitutes: De Vries (GK), Simunovic, Benyu, Ajer Booked: Lustig, Hayes Scorer: McGregor (80)
Saints: Mannus, Shaughnessy, Anderson, Davidson (Craig 8), MacLean, Wotherspoon (Tanser 76), O’Halloran (Johnstone 82), Comrie, Paton, Foster, Easton Unused Substitutes: Clark (GK), Scougall, Gilchrist, Cummins Booked: Paton, MacLean, Craig Scorer: MacLean (40)
Referee: William Collum
Match Report by Daryl Scott
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