St Johnstone’s narrow defeat to Celtic was self-inflicted, according to manager Callum Davidson.
The Perth boss was left frustrated after the hard work of going in front against the champions through a Shaun Rooney header early in the second half was undone by defensive failings that contributed to two Odsonne Edouard goals in under three minutes.
“It’s a real difficult one to take,” said Davidson. “We’re walking off thinking: ‘How did we lose the game?’
“First half, we didn’t play well enough with the ball but worked extremely hard without it. Celtic broke on us from our own throw-ins a couple of times but apart from that we were solid.
“Second half, we asked the players to be a bit braver on the ball.
“I thought we were and got a deserved goal.
“But with Celtic you need to make sure you defend properly and have that mindset of not conceding too soon after you score.
“The longer it goes on you can frustrate them and hopefully get the victory.
“But I’m really disappointed with the way we defended our box for the two goals.
“You can say it’s good play from them but for me we’ve got to do better. We didn’t get near them and allowed them to score too easy.
“That’s the most disappointing thing.”
Goalscorer Rooney believed he was pushed in the back by Shane Duffy as he attempted to make it 2-0 with another header and that wasn’t the only decision by referee Steven McLean that the Saints players were aggrieved about.
“I couldn’t really see it,” said Davidson.
“It was a great ball and I thought he was going to get his head on it.
“I thought we had a challenge on Glenn (Middleton) when he was going through to have a shot on goal that brings him down.
“It’s the consistency. He gave a foul in the first half on Callum Booth after saying he went through the man to take the ball. It looked to me the tackle on Glenn was the same thing, if he even did get the ball.
“So yeah, I’m really disappointed with a couple of decisions.”
Celtic have now won their last four games and Neil Lennon was convinced that his team were deserving winners at McDiarmid Park.
“It was a very good performance,” he said. “I was disappointed not to be ahead at half-time because I thought we were very good in the last 20 minutes of the half.
“We took a blow with the first real attempt St Johnstone had on goal and our reaction was excellent. We scored two brilliant goals and we could have won the game by a lot more.
“The body language and performances are very good at the minute. We are not grinding out results, we are playing very well.
“I think there is a team spirit and they are all playing for each other. We have had a really good reaction to the defeat against St Mirren. That’s four wins on the bounce. Although we are a long way back we just need to keep working away at the performances.”