A CELTIC XI, which included Kris Commons and Paddy McCourt, beat St Johnstone 2-1 at Lennoxtown on Wednesday afternoon.
Goals from Bahrudin Atajic and Darnell Fisher put the Hoops in charge at the break. And while the visitors pulled a goal back just after the restart, Celtic held on for the victory.
Despite the presence of Commons and McCourt in the side, it was a predominantly youthful Celtic side which started the match, featuring players from the Development Squad and the Academy.
Commons and McCourt were quickly to the fore for the hosts, and the former nearly opened the scoring for the Hoops, fastening on to a long pass and sending a left-footed shot wide of the far post.
As the half went on, Celtic began to stamp their superiority. After a neat exchange of passing down the right in the 27th minute, Fisher delivered an excellent delivery into the box which Atajic headed just past the post.
Collecting possession inside the visitors’ half, Commons then drove at the heart of the Saints defence, evading several challenges but he was unable to keep his effort on target.
The Hoops deservedly broke the deadlock in 39th minute. After a fine passing move, the ball was worked out to Rhys Murrell-Williamson and the winger released a trialist, whose low cross was finished off at the far post by Atajic.
Just before the break, they doubled their advantage. Patrik Twardzik played in Fisher and his low effort deflected off a Saints’ defender and into the net.
The Perth side, eager to impress new boss, Stevie Lomas, pulled a goal back straight after the interval.
However, the Hoops came close to restoring their advantage as Atajic bore down on goal but saw his low shot deflected wide.
And Commons, who got a valuable 90 minutes under his belt, presented the same player with another chance, beating the offside trap and teeing him up inside the box, but a Saints’ stopper managed to block his goalbound effort.
Inevitably, the visitors mounted some pressure in search of a late leveller but the youngsters held firm to take the spoils.
CELTIC XI (4-4-1-1) Feely; Fisher, McNally, O’Brien, Trialist; P. Twardzik (Yaqub 75) McCourt (Bogle 66) Trialist, Murrell-Williamson (Johnstone 55); Commons; Atajic (Alabi 80)