Saints looked to book their spot in Sunday’s Scottish Cup semifinal draw and make it seven games in a row unbeaten as they took on Celtic at McDiarmid Park.
Goal heroes last time out in Perth Cal Hendry and Stevie May started up top once again as Saints took on the holders.
Tommy Wright’s men came fast out the blocks and Stevie May’s cutback within 90 seconds was swept clear.
And within five minutes, Matt Butcher and David Wotherspoon had powerful strikes off and on target respectively.
Hendry came close on the quarter hour mark, rising highest and nodding a Wotherspoon free kick inches wide.
Saints continued to press and soaked up the holders advances before Drey Wright almost caught Fraser Forster out with a whipped cross which was palmed over.
The Englishman tested Forster again with five minutes of the half to go with a 25-yard-thunderbolt which was well saved. The resulting corner picked out Jamie McCart whose header was acrobatically tipped over. Saints were looking the better team.
The teams went in at the break without opening the scoring and Wright’s message would be to keep up the resolute defending and if they could take one of their chances, a trip to Hampden could be a reality.
Celtic looked more at the races in the opening minutes of the second half, but Saints hopes their ante as well as Drey Wright turned Greg Taylor inside out before delivering a cross to the front post which was blocked from yards out.
Stuffy Saints soaked up everything the visitors threw at them and countered well. With 65 minutes played, Bournemouth loanee Matt Butcher turned his defender and lashed a powerful strike from the edge of the box inches wide.
Celtic were getting rattled and a point blank stop from Zander Clark thwarted Christie when it looked like the Hoops had opened the scoring. Moments later Edouard was denied twice from inside the six yard box as Saints cling onto their clean sheet.
Ali McCann threaded a pinpoint pass to May who was denied by Forster, but the Saints onslaught continued with the midfield trio won every second ball to launch a tirade of half cleared chances, culminating in a Tanser free kick which struck the wall.
The leftback had a penalty shout waived with just over ten minutes to play as the home side worked their socks off.
But Celtic did what Celtic do and hit Saints with a sucker punch on eighty minutes, converting from a free kick. 0-1.
Both sides lost their discipline in injury time, but none of the scuffles resulted in anymore goals and Saints’ Scottish Cup journey came to an end.
SAINTS: Zander Clark, Jason Kerr (c), Liam Gordon, Jamie McCart, Drey Wright, Scott Tanser, Matt Butcher, Ali McCann, David Wotherspoon, Callum Hendry, Stevie May
UNUSED SUBS: Elliott Parish, Callum Booth, Liam Craig, Danny Swanson, Jason Holt
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