CELTIC step onto the Scottish Cup tightrope once more tomorrow night when they face the last team to beat them in domestic competition at Parkhead.

It was St Mirren who inflicted the previous home loss on the Hoops on January 30 2021 and the fall-out of the defeat and awful performance was to have severe repercussions on manager Neil Lennon.

Within a month, the Northern Irishman had departed the club, just a couple of days after an inconceivable 1-0 loss to relegation-threatened Ross County in Dingwall on February 21.

TOUCHLINE TORTURE…Neil Lennon screams instructions to his players.

The encounter against the Paisley club two years and a month ago was in the midst of a catastrophic campaign with the quest for a historic tenth successive crown buried under the rubble of a disastrous sequence of perplexing and unfathomable results.

Lennon had watched in anguish while his team flopped against a visiting side managed by Jim Goodwin as the nine-in-a-row champions contrived to drop their TWELFTH point out of a possible 18 since the turn of the year. The term was agonisingly transforming into an extended and excrutiating fiasco.

As the CQN match reporter observed at the time: No-one wins titles with form like that.

Since moving into 2021, the once all-conquering Celts had suffered a calamitous form collapse and had lost at Ibrox as well as against the Saints. They had drawn twice against Livingston and once against Hibs and their only success in a miserable run came in a 2-0 victory over Hamilton Accies.

NIGHTMARE IN PARADISE…boyhood Celtic fan Shane Duffy struggled during his year’s loan from Brighton.

At the stage of the meek surrender to the Paisley club, Celtic were a ridiculous 23 points adrift of Steven Gerrard’s Govan outfit. It didn’t really matter that the reigning champions had two games in hand.

Reflecting on that loss on January 30 two years ago, CQN reported that no-one could complain about the outcome. St Mirren turned up with a game plan, led twice in the first-half and did enough after the interval to take the three points.

In the home team that crisp, cold afternoon in the east end of Glasgow were players such as Shane Duffy, Nir Bitton, Kristoffer Ajer, Ryan Christie, Mohamed Elyounoussi, Albian Ajeti, Odsonne Edouard, Tom Rogic and Leigh Griffiths.

None remains at Celtic today.

Coincidentally, two others, Mikey Johnston and Ismaila Soro, are currently on loan to Portuguese clubs.

Lennon utilised all five substitutes with Stephen Welsh among them. Scott Bain was in goal, but, if we are being critical, the former Dundee netminder was never an impressive or commanding figure in the Celtic goalmouth.

These days, he is No.3 in the pecking order behind Joe Hart and Benji Siegrist.

MIDFIELD BATTLER…evergreen Celt Callum McGregor gave his all for the team in the season to forget.

Callum McGregor, Greg Taylor and David Turnbull have survived the oblivion express. CQN‘s reporter noted: McGregor and Turnbull tried manfully to spark a revival, but nothing was happening in the firing line with Edouard and Ajeti far from being the dream team up front.

The misery began in the 18th minute when the visitors capitalised after a hesitant defence had been shredded and Kristian Dennis snapped onto a pass to rifle a low drive under Bain who got a touch, but couldn’t prevent the effort from hitting the net.

Shortly afterwards, the home players then appealed for a penalty-kick when a right-wing corner-kick appeared to strike Joe Shaughnessy on the arm, but referee Bobby Madden ignored the claims.

Celtic levelled in the 33rd minute when McGregor set up Edouard and the Frenchman took a touch before whipping a low drive past Jak Alnwick.

However, the strike was nullified four minutes later after a dreadful blunder by Duffy allowed Ilkay Durmus a clear shot at goal. The error-prone central defender lost the flight of a left-wing ball from Kyle McAllister and that gave the Saints striker the opportunity to nick in, control the pass and wallop a close-range shot beyond the stranded Bain.

KILLER GOAL…St Mirren striker Ilkay Durmus prepares to lash the winner past Scott Bain in Celtic’s last home loss to Scottish opposition just over two years ago.

The Republic of Ireland skipper followed the ball as it bounced back out of the net and volleyed it high into the stand in frustration. He knew he was culpable.

It was noted that whatever Lennon said to his troops during the interval it wasn’t working. They struggled to get any sort of rhythm into their game and the visitors looked fairly comfortable as they stroked the ball around. It must have been painful watching for the Hoops manager and his No.2 John Kennedy.

It was all over for Lennon when Jordan White rose unchallenged to a left-wing free-kick to power a header high into Bain’s net in the Highlands 22 days later.

Kennedy was put in charge for the remaining 10 games of a wretched crusade.

Ange Postecoglou delivered while Eddie Howe dithered and Celtic had a new manager on June 10 2021.

The Greek-Australian has yet to sample a domestic defeat at the club’s citadel in the east end of the city.

Postecoglou will not require a warning from the past to remind him every opponent must be treated with the utmost respect.

Otherwise, disaster lurks around every corner. We only need to glance back to an event on January 30 two years ago to acknowledge that fact.

Click Here for Comments >

About Author