St Mirren 2-0 Celtic: How the Paisley side ended their 38-match league unbeaten run


Celtic gave him little space when they lost to St Mirren on Sunday

A year is a long time in football, and 364 days is almost as long. And that’s the length of time Celtic went without losing a Scottish Premiership game until St Mirren ended it with a 2-0 victory on Sunday.

What made the difference? Who made the difference? Was he one of the scorers? The doorman? Outstanding defender?

Curtis Main was coach Stephen Robinson’s choice when he singled out the striker for praise, noting his tirelessness. The boss led from the front but everyone behind followed.

Discipline and determination

St Mirren excelled in an area so many other Premiership sides have struggled against Celtic, limiting space.

Unlike Celtic’s 5-0 win at Kilmarnock, their 9-0 drubbing of Dundee United and their 4-0 derby victory over Rangers, there was little or no penetrating ball behind the defense for the wingers to run on and cross.

The Paisley side were content to keep Celtic’s defenders and deep-lying midfielder Callum McGregor in possession of the ball away from goal and limit their forward passing options.

In five of their opening six league games, Celtic were ahead at half-time, usually by more than a goal. The decision was made not to make St Mirren’s list.

“You have to give St Mirren so much credit for the way they approached the game, they negated Celtic’s threat, how organized they were and the work rate. It was outstanding,” former Paisley striker Steven Thompson told Sportsound.

Choosing the moments to jump

Mark O'Hara
Mark O’Hara scored his second goal of the season

Ryan Strain broke down the right and Mark O’Hara crossed to complete St Mirren’s lead just before the break.

A forward run by Jonah Ayunga caught Celtic’s defense out of position, and there was more of it in the second half.

Declan Gallagher’s long shot was the catalyst for the second goal, with a bit of header tennis from Main to nod Ayunga in front of goal.

And it could have been more with O’Hara nodding to another impressive Strain submission.

“Full credit to the players,” Robinson said. “We work on things all week, it’s not too far from what we do in general in games, maybe a little bit further down the field and we spring and break it. Good rhythm. It’s the guys who do it.”

Few clear chances for Celtic

As expected, Celtic dominated possession and attempts. In fact, only two of St Mirren’s four shot efforts were on goal.

But Celtic hardly tested Trevor Carson in St Mir’s goal. There were some comfortable catches for the experienced goalkeeper and he assisted with a clearance from Richard Tait after delivering a low cross into the six-yard box.

Thanks to the visitors’ 14 shots, the attacking players had little space to get their shots away. Celtic did not get the freedom they were so used to in 2022.

“Usually when Celtic’s opponents get a result like this, you’re talking about the keeper making a huge game, making saves in the face-off – that wasn’t the case today,” former Parkhead goalkeeper Pat Bonner told Sportsound.

Manager Ange Postecoglou admitted his players were not up to previous levels but also praised St Mirren’s tactics.

And Robinson added: “Celtic are the top side. When you play, you have to be brave and get the ball. That’s the most enjoyable part of the game for me, we played and we passed and we hit the break.

“At any point in the game, Celtic can turn heads with their quality with a moment of brilliance, but our shape and discipline held for 94 minutes.”

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