Wednesday 26th September
Saints put in a battling performance against Celtic in the quarter finals of the Betfred Cup this evening before ultimately losing out 1-0 to the holders at McDiarmid Park.
The first half had few chances, with Leigh Griffiths and Callum McGregor coming closest for the visitors.
Saints defended well and created chances of their own as they tried to break the deadlock. However, Leigh Griffiths proved to be the difference as his 83rd minute strike would be the only goal of the game to send Celtic through to the semi-finals.
After Celtic’s Dedryck Boyata was sent off for dissent Saints almost levelled in added on time to take the game into extra time however, Jason Kerr couldn’t make a connection with a David McMillan header as the ball went the wrong side of the post.
Next up for Saints is a trip to face the league leaders Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday.
Saints were looking to bounce back from a 5-1 defeat to Rangers at Ibrox on Sunday, as they welcomed Celtic to McDiarmid Park this evening for a Betfred Cup Quarter Final tie. Tommy Wright made one change to the side that started three days ago as Ross Callachan came in for Matty Kennedy.
Saints got the game underway
The first Saints chance happened on 18 minutes when a Wotherspoon free kick was rolled short to Liam Craig however, his curling effort was an easy catch for Scott Bain in goal.
A great powering run by Drey Wright down the left led to a chance for Tony Watt, as the ball fell to him but the Celtic defence dealt with it well, a scrappy minute with Saints trying to challenge Scott Bain ultimately led to Celtic clearing the ball away. As the half hour mark approached it still remained goalless.
Celtic got a great chance to open the scoring on 30 minutes however Leigh Griffiths’ header from the 6-yard line was saved by the feet of Zander Clark. The Celtic forward should have buried Celtic’s first good chance of the game, but Zander Clark pulled off a great save to deny Griffiths.
First real spell of possession just before half time for Saints was down the right, a ball floated into the box fell to Blair Alston on the 18-yard line however, his volley flew over the bar.
A sleepy St Johnstone defence allowed Callum McGregor to run down the left-hand side, who was in one-on-one with Zander Clark, however he put his effort wide of Clark’s left hand side post. This was the best chance of the half as it drew to an end.
Straight from kick off Celtic took control of the game and the Betfred Cup holders created a well worked a good quick move which led to the ball falling at McGregor’s feet, however his shot on the 18-yard box looked it was going to creep into the far post, however Zander Clark tipped it around the post. The resultant corner fell to Ntcham on the edge of the box and his thunderous effort was tipped around the post, Clark keeping the score at 0-0.
Another Celtic corner was floated into the box picking out Boyata whose header looped over Zander Clark, however the ball clipped the cross bar and went out for a goal kick. Brendan Rodgers team coming out the strongest in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
An end to end first 10 minutes as Blair Alston’s shot tested Scott Bain. This led to a Celtic counter attack, in which Callum McGregor’s effort was crucially saved by Zander Clark again, with the resultant corner coming to nothing.
Alston did well to win the ball off the Celtic defence, as he stormed through the centre of the pitch before lashing his effort wide of the visitor’s goal.
Then on 73 minutes Griffiths got away from Joe Shaughnessy, however his powerful shot was straight at Zander Clark. Saints then countered through David Wotherspoon, who cut inside and his shot was inches from nestling in the top corner.
A scramble in the box with 7 minutes remaining kindly set up for Leigh Griffiths who smashed the ball past Clark to break the deadlock in favour of the visitors. The Saints defence were unlucky to concede such a scrappy goal, after being extremely resilient to the Celtic attack up till that point.
Then as the match approached 2 minutes of additional time Celtic had Dedryck Boyata sent off for foul and abusive language, after a Chris Kane challenge on Lustig. The final chance fell to Saints as they very nearly levelled the match to take it into extra time. A long ball into the box saw McMillan direct the ball goal wards as Jason Kerr tried to latch onto the ball but unfortunately for Saints the ball trundled the wrong side of Bain’s left-hand post.
An end to end game, with both teams having chances to score despite the score line. With Celtic edging the game slightly, but a great effort all round. Saints head to Tynecastle next, facing Hearts in Edinburgh on Saturday.
Saints: Clark, Tanser, Kerr, Shaughnessy, Foster, Craig (McMillan 85), Wotherspoon, Alston, Callachan, Wright (Swanson 66), Watt (Kane 45)
Unused Substitutes: Mitchell (GK), Anderson, Nydam, Kennedy
Celtic: Bain, Lustig, Ajer (Hendry 33), Boyata, Tierney, Ntcham, Brown, McGregor (Rogic 75), Forrest, Edouard (Morgan 65), Griffiths
Unused Substitutes: Gordon (GK), Sinclair, Christie, Mulumbu
Sent Off: Boyata
Scorer: Griffiths (83)
Referee: John Beaton
Match Report by Ruairidh Smith
Photo: David McMillan has a shot at goal
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