For reasons that are not clear to me, St Mirren are a proper football team. They benefited from a central defensive lapse to take an early lead and limited Celtic large spells of unproductive possession. Then, after going behind, finished the game playing some of the best football we have seen from a Scottish opponent all season. Performances against them will go some way to determining the outcome of the season.
Despite this, the team with the better squad won. Unlike Sunday at Hibernian, Celtic were able to look to the bench and bring on players who turned the game. Daizen Maeda brought his customary sharpness, a reminder to his few doubters of his value. He was not involved in the winning goal, but he sufficiently increased Celtic’s intensity to push St Mirren deeper, which itself was consequential.
Odin Thiago Holm returned for his first appearance in four weeks and rewarded the faith I have in him. He created the winner and, like Maeda, was clinical throughout. And remember, he is still (only) 20 years old.
The role of the striker can be difficult to assess. Kyogo was scarcely involved before he dropped deeper after the arrival of Oh. Midway through the second half he fluffed a header in front of goal, then with St Mirren pushing for an equaliser, was clean through on Zach Hemming. The keeper made an outstanding save, but really, Kyogo should have made sure of the result.
If this was your first look at Celtic, you would have left wondering what all the fuss over Kyto was about, and why Oh had to wait for his chance. The big Korean striker made no mistake when the hour came. Watching the two strikers was a lesson on how forgiving you need to be, even of the greats, if they are to flourish.
Yang had to sit on the sidelines and watch Liel Abada’s place in the team filled by Luis Palma, James Forrest and Mikey Johnston. The signs were ominous, but he did one of the bravest things a footballer can do last night: took players on in a tight match with a stadium full of doubters. Like Maeda on the opposite wing, he pushed St Mirren deep. They were both pivotal to the outcome.
I try to avoid refereeing decisions here, they would consume me otherwise, but…….. The obstruction rule is clear. You are allowed to obstruct the progress of an opponent by putting your body directly in his path only when you are in possession of the ball and can play it without having to move.
If you actively move to block the progress of an opponent when you are not in possession of the ball, you have committed a foul, and an indirect free kick should be awarded against you. Kyogo was obstructed inside the St Mirren box and referee John Beaton booked him, awarding a direct free kick to St Mirren instead. Falling down is an enormous tactic in Scottish football.
The incident had no consequence on the game, it was simply poor refereeing. If Beaton is one of the best we have, we are in trouble. He needs to spend time reading The Rules of the Game, or better still, go back to being a fulltime fan.