Oh Off the Mark as Reo Shows Class

A late goal blitz saw Celtic cast St. Mirren aside 5-1 and book a place in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup.  With the Hoops holding a slender 1 goal advantage going into the final quarter of an hour, the home side turned on the style with an impressive 4-goal salvo that ultimately blew the visitors away. 

Despite the emphatic nature of the score line Celtic were made to work hard for yesterday’s victory against a resilient St. Mirren side who made life difficult for the Hoops until the concession of the second goal – and red card for Richard Taylor – on the 75 minute mark.

As noted on the post-match analysis pod St. Mirren, under Stephen Robinson, have found the rare balance of defensive organisation and ability to commit enough players forward in attack to cause Celtic problems.  Of course, the Buddies are the only side to have inflicted a domestic defeat on Celtic this season.

Where most sides opt for an ultra-defensive low block with little intent to attack, St. Mirren seem to have found the knack of making life uncomfortable for Celtic with a good mix of defensive physicality and directness in attack.

The end result of their more positive approach being that, while Celtic still control a large percentage of possession, the game becomes more open and in the case of yesterday’s fixture, still very much in the balance until the closing stages.

Thankfully, few sides have the stamina or quality to compete with Celtic over the 90 minutes as, not for the first time this season, the Bhoys lived up to Postecoglou’s famous “We Never Stop” mantra.


With the League Cup final on the horizon the early departure of Kyogo, as a precautionary measure after falling awkwardly, forced Celtic into an early reshuffle up front.  Liel Abada was given the nod over Oh to replace the Japanese forward with Daizen Maeda moving into a central role.

The enforced change paid off almost immediately with Abada providing a secondary assist as Maeda turned home a low cross from Aaron Mooy to give Celtic a 16th minute lead.

Unphased by going behind, St. Mirren continued to battle hard and Carter-Vickers had to be at his best to divert a goal-bound Alex Greive effort behind for a corner and maintain Celtic’s advantage moments after Maeda’s opener.

The away side continued to press Celtic and deny the midfield time and space on the ball and the half-time discussions centred around both Aaron Mooy and David Turnbull’s below-par performances.  The latter coming in for scrutiny given the recent calls for his inclusion in the starting line-up after a series of impressive cameo appearances.

Coming into the side with a point to prove, Turnbull struggled to have a major impact on the first 45 minutes, opening the dual debates of whether his role in the team is currently one of impact sub and whether or not he has a long-term future at Ange’s Celtic.


Given the high standards set by Ange, it came as no surprise that both Mooy and Turnbull were replaced just after the hour by Reo Hatate and Matt O’Riley, another player with something to prove as he goes in search of reclaiming a regular starting position.

With last season’s preferred midfield trio back in tandem, Celtic began to fully their authority on the game, and it was Hatate who doubled the Hoops lead from the spot on 76 minutes after Richard Taylor’s handball had denied Abada a clear goal.

It was also the midfielder’s pressing and quickness of thought that brought about the third goal of the game.  Reacting to keep a loose ball in play, Hatate’s back heel was eventually worked to Callum McGregor on the edge of the box whose shot was turned home by Oh after Carson spilled the initial effort.

The South-Korean showed great strikers instincts to pounce on the loose ball to put the game beyond doubt and also displayed just the right amount of self-assuredness in taking the adulation of the home support with his celebration by the corner flag.

In the words of Lawrence Connelly, Oh is already showing signs of being an upgrade on the departed Giorgos Giakoumakis.

St. Mirren hit back with a penalty of their own with three minutes remaining after Starfelt was judged to have fouled Kiltie before stunning strikes from O’Riley – finally bagging his first of the season – and Hatate again rounded off the scoring.

A place in the quarter-finals now awaits and the Treble dream lives on.

Aberdeen are up next for Celtic in a rare Saturday 3pm kick-off at home before the League Cup Final at the end of the month.

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