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St. Johnstone 0-1 Celtic: Saints Bow Out of Premier Sports Cup

Callum Davidson's St. Johnstone were narrowly defeated 1-0 by Celtic at Hampden on Saturday afternoon, with the Glasgow giants proving to be just one step too far for the Perth side.

[Celtic fans pay tribute to Bertie Auld]

St. Johnstone's remarkable 15 game unbeaten run in domestic cup football came to an end against Celtic at the national stadium, with a James Forrest goal all that could split the sides.

Saints fans came and backed their team in full voice on the day and hats off to the Fair City Union for setting up a flag display which was mesmerising on the day. The atmosphere was electric and didn't stop from minute 1-90.

[Saints fans were out in full voice]

Nobody could fault the effort levels on show with the team fighting until the final whistle, St. Johnstone put everything they had into the game and came close to snatching something at the end.

Celtic enjoyed most of the possession as expected and created the best chances of the game, they had spells of domination and gave Saints very little time on the ball however, St. Johnstone stood firm and resolute for the majority of the game - limiting Celtic to just 3 shots on target to Saints' 2.

[McCart closes down Furuhashi]

The opening 15 minutes were incredibly difficult to watch as a Saints fan with Celtic having the Perth side penned in for most of the opening quarter of an hour. Ange Postecoglou's side maintained an incredibly high press which penned Rooney and Booth back, suffocating us leading to long punts and big clearances as our only out.

Celtic came with a clear game plan and kept forcing the ball in between the Wing Backs and the Centre Backs, with Jota and Abada trying to stretch Saints. This often left McCart or Brown isolated in defence - leading to a few close calls.

[James Brown chases after Jota]

However, despite all of this St. Johnstone grew into the game and had some chances of their own, with O'Halloran looking dangerous on the counter as well as pressing the Celtic defence well - he almost put his side 1-0 up after he caught Joe Hart dilly-dallying with the ball but his block ricocheted just wide.

Craig Bryson had a couple of shots from distance, with one flying wide and the other taking a wicked deflection which almost caught Hart out, the Englishman managing to just catch the ball. David Wotherspoon also set Chris Kane up with the Saints Striker firing an effort agonisingly wide. So close.

[Kane strikes from range]

Celtic almost took the lead on numerous occasions, with Cameron Carter-Vickers glancing a header just wide from a corner, Liel Abada having an effort blocked by Bryson which looked destined to put his side ahead, with Callum Mcgregor forcing Gordon into a last-ditch block just before the half-time whistle.

Despite all of this the teams went into the half-time break level, with the score tied at 0-0. A goalless first half but an eventful one to say the least.

Into the second half and it remained a cagey game, with Celtic having more of the ball but play getting lost in midfield.

Disaster struck for St. Johnstone on 52 minutes with David Wotherspoon going down and it did not look good. The Saints winger instantly signalled to come off and the stretcher was even brought out at one point, luckily it was not needed. Wotherspoon sadly was forced off with a knee injury, which hopefully isn't as bad as first feared - best wishes go out to St. Johnstone's number 10.

Due to the absence of natural replacements Stevie May and Glenn Middleton, Ali Crawford was subbed on in 'Spoony's' place.

[Crawford challenges Ralston]

On 69 minutes Celtic made the first substitute of the affair, bringing James Forrest on for the ineffective on the day Liel Abada.

Craig Bryson slotted Ali Crawford through on the left and he was on his own in attack, with no teammates in sight - so the Bolton Wanderers loanee attempted to lob Hart from distance but his chip failed to hit the target.

Celtic then took the lead mere minutes later, with a first time Zander Clark kick out being taken down by Jota (with a strong suspicion of handball) who then drove in behind, cutting it back into the box - McCart stepped up and blocked but his clearance only made it as far as substitute James Forrest who fired home from close range. Celtic had the lead, 1-0.

[Forrest celebrates taking the lead]

Things nearly went from bad to worse as Shaun Rooney 'over enthusiastically' went after a ball in the air, catching Welsh with his elbow - forcing the Celtic defender to be substituted

[Rooney is booked]

Saints didn't let the heads drop and the supporters remained as loud as ever in an attempt to spur the team on. Eetu Vertainen and Liam Craig were introduced for James Brown and Craig Bryson who both put in great performances.

St. Johnstone tried to grab a leveller and threw bodies forward the later the game got, however, Celtic are such a dangerous team packed with attacking talent that you've got to remain wary of a counterattack.

Eetu Vertainen looked like a player who wanted to have the ball at his feet and change the game, he almost grabbed a goal after evading the Celtic defence, turning the ball onto his left foot in space but his shot lacked power and was gathered well by Hart.

Saints just couldn't manage to create a clear goalscoring opportunity at the end of the day. Celtic almost doubled their advantage late on with Jota and Johnston being denied by Gordon and Clark deep into stoppage time.

Some brilliant high pressing from Saints once again almost led to a goal, with Hart under immense pressure but Celtic withered the storm and came out winners.

Referee Nick Walsh lost control of the game in the second half, seeming to give every 50/50 decision Celtic's way and flashing 10 cards in total, with the majority of those being rather soft - Murray Davidson found himself in the book for having the ball kicked off of him, which effectively had him walking a tightrope.

[Murray Davidson is booked]

A poor performance all-round from the man in the middle, however, Celtic were the better side on the day and probably did enough to win the game.

Heartbreak for St. Johnstone, who at the end of the day just missed out on a 3rd successive domestic cup final by a single goal.

The players have nothing to be ashamed of and 2021 will always remain the greatest year in the club's history. They didn't owe us anything and Saints managed to go toe-to-toe with Celtic despite the fact many fans and media personnel expected a thumping. We were in the game until the very end and gave a good account of ourselves.

[Saints lift the Scottish Cup]

What a run it was but all good things have to come to an end, 5 trips to Hampden in one season is absolutely incredible.

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