St. Mirren 0 Celtic 2
Paddy McCourt scored his second brilliant individual Celtic goal in four days in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League win at St Mirren but accepted the stinging criticism handed out to him and the rest of his team-mates by Tony Mowbray.
Wednesday saw the Irishman cap his first 90 minutes for the Hoops since signing from Derry City last summer with a fine solo strike in the Co-operative Insurance Cup win at Falkirk.
McCourt produced an even better effort at St Mirren Park on Saturday, weaving his way past five Paisley challenges before driving past Paul Gallacher — but even that failed to lift the spirits of manager Mowbray.
Celtic finished the day four points clear of Rangers at the top of the SPL but the Parkhead boss pilloried his players, describing their performances as unacceptable and offered begrudging praise to the Northern Ireland international.
Mowbray's criticism was perhaps aimed providing a psychological spur ahead of Thursday's Europa League clash with Rapid Vienna at Parkhead but nevertheless it was accepted by McCourt.
“To be fair, the players know themselves,” he said. “You know when you come off if you have performed individually and as a team and if we are going to be honest, I don't think any of us could say we were really great.
“The manager is an honest fellow and he has told me that he wants me to play every week but said that there are some things that I have to add to my game.
“He is the first to praise us when we are doing well and when we are not really at our best, he won't be long in telling us.”
McCourt played down his 27th-minute strike which had the travelling support in raptures and insists he is ready for the European challenge on Thursday.
“It was nice to get the goal but it was important that we got the three points,” he said.
“When you get the ball you see how things open up and luckily enough I don't have to really think about it, it comes naturally and I was delighted that it ended up in the back of the net.
“I will be ready (for Rapid). If I do get the chance it will be up to myself to perform again but we will never know until I'm asked.
“But if I'm picked I will be doing my level best.”
St Mirren were left nursing a sense of grievance with regards Celtic's second goal 12 minutes from time, which ended any slim hopes of a comeback.
Shaun Maloney's curling shot took a touch off Scott McDonald — who appeared to have been in an offside position — and there was much moaning from the Buddies camp after the game.
However, the simple fact is that Gus MacPherson's side have now played 11 SPL games at home without a win since moving to their new ground in January.
Defender David Barron said: “It goes on, eh? We need to look towards the game next week against Hearts and try to get the three points.”