MIKEY JOHNSTON knows the feeling of going from zero to hero in the space of a week.
The 20-year-old Celtic attacker and his team-mates copped a lot of flak for a dire display at Ibrox where they lost for the second time this season.
Unfortunately for Johnston, he figured in both losses in Govan. The slight raider was tasked with leading the frontline in the 1-0 defeat just before the turn of the year. As the team stumbled through a mistake-strewn performance, the forward was largely anonymous and was hooked on the hour mark with Odsonne Edouard taking his place.
It was a similar story eight days ago when he made little headway in an attack that could muster only one effort on Wes Foderingham’s goal – and that came six minutes from the end and was fluffed by on-loan Oliver Burke with just the keeper to beat.
Johnston, like his first sortie against Steven Gerrard’s team, had already departed the scene in the 65th minute with Scott Sinclair taking his place.
However, the memories of two abysmal afternoons across the city were obliterated yesterday with the lithe and pacy winger firing in a double to dump Hearts 2-1 on Flag Day in the east end of Glasgow as the eighth successive title was presented to Scott Brown and his triumphant colleagues.
CRASH…Mikey Johnston fires the first goal beyond Bobby Zlamal.
Johnston walloped in the opener in exactly one minute and 22 seconds – as timed in the CQN match report– and made certain of the points near the end with a rasping drive from outside the penalty box that ricocheted into the net off the inside of Bobby Zlamal’s right-hand post.
That made certain the Hoops had claimed the crown with a nine-point advantage over the side that had caused the youngster so much pain and frustration on his two trips across the Clyde.
Jaunty Johnston, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “A lot of people were saying stuff, but you need to block it out and show a bit of confidence.
“It has been tough, it’s hard to block it out. But you have to bounce back and if you can do that it only makes you stronger.
“I have played in two huge games, which is great experience and you can only benefit from it in the long run.
“When you are a forward it’s hard to play well when the team doesn’t play well, but we bounced back well and you could see it in our performance.
“When you are not confident it can show at times, so you have to play with a bit of arrogance.
“It’s tough for a young player to have that belief and confidence all the time, but I know the lads here and the manager are backing me.
“Getting the goal so early helped calm me down, it gave me that confidence I needed.
CELEBRATIONS…Mikey Johnston takes a bow after his second goal.
“Hopefully, I can keep repaying everyone for the faith they’ve shown in me. This is an unbelievable way to end the season, totally unbelievable.
“I’ve been trying to add more goals to my game so to get two on a day like this is fantastic. I’m pleased because it was a really good team performance.”
Johnston is hoping he has done enough against the Edinburgh outfit to merit a place in Neil Lennon’s thoughts ahead of the Scottish Cup Final against the same opponents on Saturday where the title kings are zeroing in on the phenomenal treble treble, all nine domestic pieces of silverware up for grabs over a spectacular three-year period.
Johnston added: “I just turn up every day and work hard in training. All I can do is try to show the gaffer what I can do and play my best any time I get a chance.”