2 October 1971 – Celtic 0 St Johnstone 1

On this day in 1971 St Johnstone travelled to Glasgow to meet Celtic who were the previous Season’s Champions.

Going into the match Saints were on a high after defeating SV Hamburg 3 days earlier in the UEFA Cup at Muirton Park.

However our record at Parkhead was not a good one. In 27 previous visits dating back to 1925 Saints had managed to register only 3 victories. 2 – 1 in the Scottish Cup in 1936, 1 – 0 in the League Cup in 1961 and 1 – 0 in the League in 1965..

Benny Rooney was still injured and Henry Hall had not recovered from the injury he received against Hamburg so Jim Pearson was the only change from midweek.

Manager Willie Ormond selected the following team : – Jimmy Donaldson, John Lambie, Willie Coburn, Alex Rennie, Alex Gordon, Ian McPhee, Kenny Aird, Gordon Whitelaw, Jim Pearson, John Connolly, Fred Aitken. Sub John Muir.

Jock Stein chose the following team for the hoops: – Williams, Craig, Brogan, Hay, McNeill, Connelly, Johnstone, Dalglish, Wallace, Callaghan, Macari. Sub Lennox.

40,000 fans turned up at Celtic Park to watch two in form teams and they would not be disappointed.

Both teams were known for their attacking football and the game set off at a fast pace with chances being created and spurned at both ends.

Aird and Pearson for Saints and Callaghan for Celts missed good opportunities and Jimmy Donaldson had to bravely dive at the feet of Wallace to keep his goal intact.

Play continued to go from end to end before John Connolly broke the deadlock in 32 minutes. Pearson got away from his marker and passed to Connolly. Despite McNeill and Craig being close-by he managed to create enough space to fire in a 20 yarder which beat Williams all ends up. Great goal. 1 – 0.

Minutes later Fred Aitken “scored” from a free kick but the referee disallowed it taking the view that the kick was indirect.

Just on half time Macari thought that he had equalised but his “goal” was disallowed for a foul on Lambie.

In the second half the fast tempo continued with Donaldson firstly turning a Dalglish effort onto the bar and then shortly after that he again saved at the feet of Wallace. From time to time the big keeper also liked to do something unusual and today was one such occasion. The ball had run towards the corner flag and Jimmy decided to leave his goal to retrieve it. However, instead of merely punting it upfield he chose to dribble past Macari before clearing his lines. Thankfully he got away with it or it could have been embarrassing for him.

Saints were still giving as good as they were getting and Gordon Whitelaw forced a fine save from Williams. Connolly “scored” again in 69 minutes after a nice one-two with Pearson but this one was chalked off for offside.

In the remaining minutes Celtic went all out for the equaliser but Saints defence held firm to record a rare win at Celtic Park.


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