As infuriating and costly as they were, the “two mad minutes” at McDiarmid Park on Sunday won’t slow down St Johnstone’s forward momentum, according to Perth defender Liam Gordon.
The Saints centre-back and his outfield team-mates gave Zander Clark as comfortable an afternoon against Celtic as the goalkeeper has ever known in that fixture.
Clark has been man of the match on several occasions, even when the scoreline against him has reached four, five, six and seven.
He barely had a shot to save at the weekend but the quick-fire double from Odsonne Edouard that he could do nothing about was enough to seal victory for Neil Lennon’s side.
And it has provided a stark warning to Saints that standards at the back can’t be allowed to dip, with a cup final and a batch of crucial league fixtures on the horizon.
“I was speaking to the big man (Clark) about how little he had to do in the game,” said Gordon. “Compare it to the number of saves he had to make at Parkhead or in other previous games here in recent seasons.
“There were a few trundled shots that he took in quite comfortably but that was about it really.
“I feel sorry for him because picking the ball out of the net twice was the most work he’s had to do all afternoon.
“That shows how well we’ve defended for large parts of the game but at the end of the day we’ve conceded two goals that we’re disappointed in and need to look at.
“The first one was a great finish but we can defend the box better. If you switch off, you get punished.
“We’ve got massive games coming up and we don’t want that to happen again. But if we can keep playing with that energy and quality we’ll pick up a lot of points and pick up the result in the cup final that we wall want.”
The former Hearts man added: “It was a really tough one to take and the boys were all bitterly disappointed after the game.
“It came down to a mad two minutes that cost us which is really frustrating from our point of view.
“We did so well to limit the clear-cut chances they got in the rest of the match. You usually expect to have a lot more than we had against us.
“We felt we were in a comfortable position at 1-0 up.”
Only the Old Firm duo have beaten Saints since the turn of the year, making it two defeats out of their last 10 matches.
That form has taken Callum Davidson’s men to within one match of Betfred Cup glory and, as far as Gordon is concerned, into contention for a top six Premiership place.
“We can mix it with the very best in the league,” he said. “We’ve shown that against Rangers and Celtic.
“We’ll dust ourselves off after the Celtic disappointment and be ready for Motherwell on Saturday when we’ll be looking for three points to keep us moving up the table.
“There’s no doubt that we’re looking up the way rather than behind us.
“I know it’s still quite close but there’s no way we’re looking down.
“With the way we’ve been playing and the results we’ve got against other teams around us recently we’re positive and confident about what we can do.
“The aim is to win the cup and push for the top six which is still there for us.
“Last year we timed our run well but I feel as if this year we’re playing a lot better. We scraped a lot of games last year. I feel that the squad is stronger and there is so much more to come from this team.”
There was an impressive 20-minute substitute appearance from Glenn Middleton at the weekend.
The on-loan Rangers forward didn’t take any time to adjust to the pace of the game – as was the case in a shorter run-out against Aberdeen on his Saints debut.
He was heavily involved, making tackles, taking on defenders, drawing challenges and getting crosses into the box.
Middleton got on the ball on 18 occasions, Opta revealed.
The man he replaced, Craig Conway, reached a total of 35 in his 70 minutes on the pitch. And the man who came on at the same time as Middleton in a double attacking substitution, Stevie May, had five touches.
Another interesting statistical comparison is the six touches Michael O’Halloran made when he was introduced off the bench on 67 minutes in the previous match against Celtic at McDiarmid Park in October.
Gordon believes the Scotland under-21 international will have an important role to play as the season reaches its conclusion.
“He’s looked really lively when he’s come off the bench and in training,” he said.
“I saw him a few times at Rangers and really liked him.
“He’s got speed, power, gets on the half-turn and has a great left foot.
“I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of him.
“It’s been tough for him to go straight into the team because all the other boys have been doing really well.
“He’s got the ability to turn defeats into draws and draws into wins. I’m sure he’ll get us goals and assists.”