McGregor goal saves Celtic as Curtis is the Main man for Saints

A late Callum McGregor goal spared Celtic the ignominy of a second successive league defeat as the Hoops produced another lacklustre post-split performance.  McGregor’s goal ten minutes from time ensured a share of the points at Celtic Park and stretched Celtic’s unbeaten home run in domestic fixtures to 51 games.

However, visiting manager Stephen Robinson will have every right to feel that his Saints side was deserving of all three points.  Twice in front thanks to goals from Curtis Main, St Mirren caused Celtic problems throughout the game, and could easily have walked away with all three points.


Looking to make amends for last weekend’s derby loss, Ange Postecoglou recalled Greg Taylor, Daizen Maeda, and Kyogo to the starting lineup. Alex Bernabei, Liel Abada, and Oh were the players dropping out of the side.

While those changes could largely have been expected, the inclusion of Tomoki Iwata at centre-back in place of Yuki Kobayashi came as a surprise and raised more than a few pre-match eyebrows.  In need of a confidence boost after struggling against both Hearts and Rangers in recent weeks, Kobayashi was expected to retain his place in front of the Parkhead faithful.

Iwata, of course, has played in defence before for Yokohama F Marinos, but having played all of his previous minutes for Celtic in midfield, the call to start him at centre-back today caught most observers off guard.




The decision to replace Kobayashi with Iwata had an instant impact on the game, but not the one Celtic were looking for.

Hesitation between Iwata and Ralston resulted in the two defenders getting in each other’s way as they tried to deal with a long clearance by Saints’ keeper Trevor Carson.  Curtis Main was quickest to react, driving into the box before cutting the ball back and drilling it low and hard beyond Joe Hart to open the scoring after just 5 minutes.

The goal was a calamity, similar to Rangers third at Ibrox last weekend and set the tone for some early nerves settling in.

Ralston and Iwata remained unsure in their play for some time after the opening goal and errors in passing and positioning crept in across the backline.

Middle to front, Celtic began to dominate possession as St Mirren sat in to protect their advantage, but just ten minutes after going behind, Celtic pulled level.  Kyogo smashing past Carson after being set up be Reo Hatate.

The goal was Kyogo’s 31st of the season and one of his more emphatic finishes.

Having pulled level, Celtic were expected to drive on and get their noses in front and went close through O’Riley and Hatate before St Mirren hit with a sucker punch to regain the lead.

The Celtic defence failed to properly clear a long throw into the penalty area and when the ball was returned to Curtis Main there was only one outcome.  The Englishman had an unchallenged header around 10 yards out which he planted past the rooted Joe Hart.



Main continued to cause problems in the second half with this aerial ability and strength in ground duals leading him to get the better of Starfelt and Iwata more often than not.

The St Mirren forward came close to extending the away side’s lead on three occasions in the second half, twice going close with headers before striking the post after an error by Iwata had allowed him in on goal.

As with the first half, Celtic dominated possession but remained the makers of their own downfall with passes often going astray or making the wrong choice of pass in the final third.  There was a lack of urgency and flatness to Celtic’s play for large spells with attacks often becoming predictable and lacking inventiveness.

A triple change with 20 minutes to go saw Abada, Haksabanovic, and Oh introduced to the fray. More importantly, they finally brought some much-needed urgency to the attack.

Oh came close to levelling with a long-range effort that hit the post before Callum McGregor rose to the captain’s role once again to curl home a wonderful effort from outside the area to bring Celtic back on level terms.

Celtic pressed for a winner but none was forthcoming as the Hoops slipped to a second successive home draw.  Next up is a trip to Easter Road in midweek before finishing the league season at home to Aberdeen next weekend.

After today’s performance, there are still cup final places up for grabs and all to play for in the next two games.


Leave a Reply