Saints 1-0 Celtic

Last updated : 07 March 2009 By Stuart Gillespie
This was a fully deserved and merited victory over the SPL champions. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Saints were absolutely fantastic. There were no failures. There were no passengers.

Yesterday I wrote on this site that if we went at Celtic and if everyone gave their all - players and supporters - then who knew what would happen. Now we do - the answer is a place at Hampden and a first defeat of Celtic in nearly 20 years.

The visitors were average at best. After we went a goal up there was no bombardment, no battering of our defence. Just a few tame crosses and shots that most keepers could have dealt with, let alone a down on his confidence stopper like Chris Smith. He was almost flawless. The defence was great, the midfield battled and the strikers got through a pile of work.

The first half was pretty much a non-event. Garry Brady nearly gave us the lead early on when his shot was parried by Artur Boruc (perhaps he should have crossed) and follow up efforts from Hugh Murray and Steven Thomson were blocked. There were then a few let offs. Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink somehow missed the target from Andreas Hinkel's cross when Smith was struggling, before Scott McDonald had the ball in the net only for it to be ruled out for offside. Interestingly, Sky didn't show it at half time and there was no mention of it from the managers at the end, suggesting it was the correct decision.

The first half ended and the second half started with poor efforts from the vastly overrated Aiden McGeady. Darren O'Dea should have done better than head over from Shunsuke Nakamura's corner before, eight minutes into the second half, it happened.

Saints moved forward, Andy Dorman got the ball and fed Craig Dargo. He charged towards the penalty box, skinning Stephen McManus before being sent flying by the defender. Stonewall penalty - and, if Jack Ross' dismissal last week is anything to go by, a stonewall red card. The spotkick was given, but McManus was only booked. It was quickly forgotten as Billy Mehmet smashed home the penalty as Boruc went the wrong way.

Now we were going to have a fight on our hands. It would be a long and painful 40 minutes. Except it wasn't. They didn't throw everything at us, in fact you'd probably have thought they were level and trying to push for a winner rather than looking to stay in the cup. Sure, they attacked, but they rarely threatened. The crosses were poor and there were few shots. We even managed a couple of corners, with the usual results.

They did have a penalty claim when Vennegoor of Hesselink went down, but it would have been a laughably bad award. We were getting a lot less from referee Charlie Richmond after our goal, but at least he didn't give them that. We had a half shout for a penalty, which was definitely not a spot kick, and we also had a tame shot from Dargo.

Celtic introduced Georgios Samaras as they tried to go for it but he hardly had a touch. In the final few minutes Vennegoor of Hesselink had a couple of headers saved by Smith and McDonald had a tame shot gathered by the keeper. And that was it. No dodgy injury time or penalty. Nothing from the team that gubbed us last week.

Instead, it us who march on to Mount Florida in April. It is us who will have a glorious day out at the national stadium. The players and management have been criticised recently, we've been struggling in the league, but by god are we going well in the cup for the first time since 1987.

What a week it's been - and what a way to end it.