St Johnstone were left dejected at full-time against Celtic as the away team struck twice late on to secure a 2-0 win in Perth.
A quiet first half had Celtic frustrated before the Perthshire Saints had the first big chance after 48 minutes, Craig Conway hitting the post. The Hoops left it late to spoil St Johnstone’s day, Leigh Griffiths and Patryck Kilmala striking after 90 minutes to seal a last-gasp victory.
St Johnstone knew that this was going to be a difficult match to break their poor run of late. Callum Davidson’s side had won just two of their nine Premiership matches prior to this, scoring four times.
No goals had been scored in their last five and Davidson would need something going his way in attack if he was to secure a shock victory. In fairness to the Saints, they did well during the first 25 minutes.
Celtic dominated the ball as expected but created very little in terms of goalscoring opportunities. They were allowed to roam into St Johnstone’s half though as the home team got deeper and deeper.
Whilst at one end they were doing fairly well, at the other it was a similar story. Next to no clear opportunities were created for the men in blue, a Conway cross not dealt with properly by Celtic keeper Vasilis Barkas the only glimpse of attacking hope.
Davidson will have been pleased with his side’s endeavour in the first half regardless, getting in at 0-0 with Celtic failing to carve out any proper chances. Fashioning their own in the second half had to be the goal for the Saints.
And almost instantly in the second 45 they were given a massive chance. A ball was flashed across the Celtic box, Conway only managing to hit the post with his effort despite having the goal at his mercy.
It’s the type of chances you have to take against Celtic but St Johnstone were certainly in the ascendency second half. The away team had few chances, the clinical Odsonne Edouard subbed after an hour as he was isolated in attack.
His replacement, Kilmala, came close for Celtic with a nice flick that missed the goal by inches after 64 minutes. But that was all they could muster until the 80th minute when Shane Duffy blazed a header over.
But heartbreak was to come for the home team. Caught on the break from a counter, Griffiths got on the end of a Hatem Abd Elhamed cross to hand Celtic a win and leave St Johnstone dejected. Kilmala added a second as Saints were still reeling from the first goal, adding misery to a horrible end for boss Davidson. Here are three things we learned from the 2-0 defeat.
Much better from Saints
Davidson will be delighted with the performance if not the result. Not only did St Johnstone match Celtic throughout this contest, their team effort looked to have earned them a point but a tough end was to come.
It was a hard-working display, Neil Lennon’s side frustrated throughout the afternoon by the Saints. It’s encouragement for Davidson ahead of a League Cup group stage schedule.
What could have been?
Everyone at St Johnstone will be gutted with the final outcome here, probably feeling a tinge of what could have been. Again a goal evaded them, now failing to score in six successive matches.
Should they have had a finisher in this one, they could have had three points, as St Johnstone were presented the best chances prior to the Hoops goals. Davidson wants more incomings at McDiarmid Park before the transfer deadline and a striker surely has to be one.
There might not be a better time for St Johnstone to go on a run. Next up for them is two matches in the League Cup, one against Lowland League champions Kelty Hearts and another against Brechin City who finished bottom of League Two last term.
Now not facing a current member of the top six until they meet Celtic again on December, Davidson must look at this performance as a springboard for consecutive wins.