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Celts hold hands up to Mannus

FORMER Shamrock Rovers 'keeper Alan Mannus was the St Johnstone hero last night as they took a point from Celtic in a 1-1 draw.

Mannus set the tone for the evening with two great saves from Gary Hooper in the first five minutes but was unable to keep out an Efe Ambrose header in the 36th minute with Neil Lennon describing the first half as the best football in his time as manager.

That counted for little when substitute Nigel Hasselbaink equalised in the 81st minute ending Celtic's six-match winning run in the SPL.

Mannus left Rovers in the summer of 2011 and established himself as the first-choice keeper at St Johnstone in the second half of last season following the arrival of Steve Lomas as manager.

"We cut them open at will and if it wasn't for their keeper Alan Mannus it could have been 6-0 at half-time," Lennon admitted.

"He had one of those nights and I need to tip my hat to him.

"We looked a quality side and I'm scratching my head at how we failed to win.

"We should have been out of sight.



"But Motherwell lost and we have gained a point in the championship, so it's not been a bad night overall.

"Our attitude was good and the football was excellent. We are still on a really good run and the consistency is excellent.

"The first 45 minutes was the best football I have seen under my time here. On a glue pot of a pitch, the football, the pace, the movement was exceptional and it is a travesty we haven't won the game because in that 45 minutes alone would have won two games. But for the goalkeeper it should have been six."

Saints boss Steve Lomas believed the introduction of Gregory Tade was crucial to his side's second-half resurgence.

The former Northern Ireland international said: "We had a change when we put Gregory Tade on, went to four in midfield and were then able to compete and I think we were well worth it in the second-half.

"But we are not stupid, we know it could have been well and truly over by 30 minutes and we could have been looking at a long evening if it wasn't for Alan, who made four or five great saves, and the back four.

"You have to hold your hands up and say Celtic's passing and movement was a joy to watch."