Season 2023/24 comes to a close with narrow defeat at Celtic

Season 2023/24 comes to a close with narrow defeat at Celtic

Season 2023/24 drew to a close for Saints with a narrow defeat at Celtic Park. Captain Mark O'Hara scored twice, but the Buddies were edged out 3-2 by cinch Premiership champions Celtic.

Stephen Robinson made four changes to the team that drew 2-2 with Hearts at The SMiSA Stadium on Wednesday night. Goalscorers James Scott and James Bolton came out, as did Jaden Brown and Mikael Mandron. They were replaced by Elvis Bwomono, Marcus Fraser, Caolan Boyd-Munce and Toyosi Olusanya. There was also a final outing for Keanu Baccus from the start with the manager confirming earlier in the week that the midfielder will leave following the expiry of his contract. 

There was a carnival atmosphere inside a sold out Celtic Park on the day that the hosts would receive the cinch Premiership trophy after winning the league. Celtic started quickly and could have taken the lead on just three minutes when Stephen Welsh rose the highest to meet a Luis Palma corner but glanced his header just wide of the far post. 

But Saints would stun the expectant crowd by taking the lead four minutes later when captain O'Hara blasted home from 12 yards out. The hosts' defence couldn't deal with Baccus' long throw with Callum McGregor knocking a header into the path of O'Hara who took it first time to slam into the corner of the net.  

Mark O'Hara opens the scoring at Celtic Park

Celtic equalised on 21 minutes when Kyogo Furuhashi beat the offside trap and held off the Richard Taylor. Alex Gogic came across to try and get clear but his header fell to the path of Matt O'Riley who lashed home. 

Saints hit the front again just five minutes later when O'Hara scored from the penalty spot. The Buddies were awarded the spot kick after Olusanya ran through when Welsh misjudged the flight of the ball over the top. The Saints forward was then bundled down by the Celtic defender and referee Matthew MacDermid pointed to the spot. O'Hara put the penalty high into the right-hand corner to score his 20th goal for the Saints, leaving Joe Hart with no chance despite going the right way. The skipper almost had a hat-trick when he met a Caolan Boyd-Munce corner at the back stick and headed off the post. 

Mark O'Hara scores his 20th St Mirren goal from the penalty spot

Celtic levelled for a second time on 37 minutes when Furuhashi slid in at the near post to turn Reo Hatate's low cross from the right beyond Zach Hemming. They came inches away from taking the lead just a minute later when Furuhashi's cross was met by Palma but the unmarked winger somehow headed wide from close-range. 

Hemming made a good block to deny Furuhashi early in the second-half and followed up with a good save from Hatate's effort from the resultant corner. 

Baccus' long throw-ins continued to cause the Celtic defence problems in the second-half with Olusanya pouncing on hesitant defending to bring the ball down on his chest, but he slammed wide of target. Two minutes later, on the hour mark, the Saints forward looked poised to put us ahead for a third time only for Hoops defender Maik Nawrocki to slide in and block the attempt. 

Stephen Robinson made two changes with Charles Dunne and Ryan Strain coming on for what is likely their last appearances for the club. The pair replaced Taylor and Bwomono on 66 minutes. 

Olusanya was a nuisance for the Celtic defence with his pace and he had another opportunity with just under 20 minutes remaining when he raced on to a ball over the top but he just couldn't quite shake off Liam Scales to open up and smashed his effort high and wide. That was his final contribution as he was replaced by Mandron on 75 minutes. 

Celtic took the lead in the final minutes of time when Anthony Ralston's cross found Palma who tapped home at the back post to win it for Celtic.

Saints can look back on 2023/24 with immense pride after securing a second successive top six finish, as well as European football for the first time since 1987.

Full-Time: Celtic 3-2 St Mirren

St Mirren: Hemming, Fraser, Gogic, Taylor (Dunne 66), Bwomono (Strain 66), Baccus, Boyd-Munce (Flynn 80), O'Hara (c), Tanser, McMenamin (Jamieson 80), Olusanya (Mandron 75)
Subs Not Used: Urminsky, Bolton, Scott, Brown

Celtic: Hart (Bain 88), Ralston, Welsh (Scales 65), Nawrocki, Taylor, O'Riley, McGregor (c) (Bernardo 77), Hatate (Iwata 65), Kuhn, Kyogo (Idah 65), Palma
Subs Not Used: Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Maeda, Forrest

Referee: Matthew MacDermid 
Assistant Referee: Daniel McFarlane
Assistant Referee: Steven Traynor
Fourth Official: Alan Muir
VAR: Kevin Clancy

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