Celtic beat St Mirren in a game where the most important thing was to end our recent run of bad results before it turned into a full on slump and thankfully that is what transpired. Celtic were by no means firing on all cylinders tonight but they did more than enough to take the three points and move on towards Sunday, where a meeting with our bogey team Livingston awaits.
St Mirren have done extremely well so far this season and have built a well drilled team that are hard to beat. Although they lost manager Jim Goodwin to Aberdeen, former Motherwell boss Stephen Robinson has stepped in and the players would be keen to impress. When I looked at our current run of fixtures earlier I honestly felt like starting with the match tonight, the next few games could go a long way to deciding the league champions. Last night was the first hurdle we had to negotiate and we conquered it.
The first half was slightly worrying, although it was clear to see that we had more tempo to our play than against Hibs on Sunday, we still looked to be struggling to work out how to break down another team who had come to sit in at the back and play for a goalless draw. We definitely looked more lively than we have done recently though, which was encouraging.
Frustration had been prevalent in the stands throughout the game, which I’m sure the players noticed, but as the second half kicked off it was clear they had come out determined to get that all important goal and thankfully it came before the crowd started to get really edgy. Cameron Carter-Vickers was the man to provide it, the goal coming from a set piece, something I have been annoyed about lately as we seem to waste so many opportunities that arise from these situations. Lets hope this is the start of a trend.
You could see the pressure release from the players after that goal, and with Ange deciding to get a host of fresh legs on it felt like another goal would come as St Mirren had to come out and try and find an equaliser. That goal duly came when captain Callum McGregor picked up Jota’s blocked header after great work from Juranovic on the right, and struck a lovely low shot between players and past the keeper. We could all take a sigh of relief and relax from here onwards.
Cameron Carter-Vickers was named man of the match tonight and I doubt anyone could disagree with that, his goal was vital and he was defensively perfect all night. Due to St Mirren sitting so deep he was often tasked with being an almost makeshift playmaker and disregarding the odd failed pass, he actually coped well with that extra duty.
I also have to say I thought Juranovic was very good tonight as well. He puts in a hell of a shift and makes some fantastic overlapping runs on the right wing. If the Croatian works a bit more on his crossing/final ball he could become an absolute star.
It was also good to see young Karamoko Dembele and Yosuke Ideguchi get a run out late on. Both have been on the end of horrendous tackles which have curtailed their chances so far this season so it will do them the world of good to just get on the pitch and feel involved once again.
We have another two teams next who will again try to play for a 0-0 draw as both Hibs and St Mirren have done in the past week. Livingston and Ross County have already played ultra defensive tactics against us this season. We are yet to score against Livingston and we needed a last minute winner by Anthony Ralston the last time we played Ross County.
Both will be tough matches but if we can get six points out of six we head into the next Glasgow Derby with nothing to fear and the potential to widen the gap enough to make us firm favourites to be champions once again.