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Celtic 1 Ross County 1: Hangover kicks in

This was a title-winning party that had been planned and laid out for so long that the finger buffet probably resembled the kind of unpalatable, dog-eared fare you might find in an old motorway cafe.

Celtic celebrate their title win but the performance against Ross County lacked fizzPhotograph: Getty
Celtic celebrate their title win but the performance against Ross County lacked fizzPhotograph: Getty

A campaign of complete and utter dominance in the SPFL Premiership delivered due reward for Celtic during the week with a 5-1 trouncing of Partick Thistle which clinched an inevitable title. The corks were popped that night and yesterday was an opportunity to continue the celebrations with an open house in the east end of Glasgow.

It was an afternoon for hanging out the flags but a game you wouldn't hang the washing out for. Ross County didn't mind that, of course. Well-organised and resolute, they earned a valuable and deserved point in their efforts to steer themselves away from the perils of the relegation play-off place.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon, was in carnival mood ahead of this bash and had insisted that "the shackles are off" and "we want to party". For long periods of the first half, his players looked like they had perhaps already partied too much as they ambled around in the manner of a mildly inebriated reveller looking for the toilet in a strange house.

County, meanwhile, took on the role of the guest who doesn't bring any cans but still gets into the spirit by cheekily taking the lead before the lacklustre hosts emerged from their slumbers to level through Kris Commons just after the half-hour.

"We were a wee bit flat, I understand that," admitted Lennon, who gave a competitive debut to 18-year-old academy defender Eoghan O'Connell. "The game really was an aside to the celebrations. We've had no preparation for this game really; you could see it by the way we played.

"I'm not angry or disappointed though. We will play better for the rest of the games that's for sure. I want six wins if we can. I certainly want a bit more vibrancy from what was on show today. The players had made plans for the evening and may have had half a mind on that. They deserve it though. I'd like to finish the season on a high and we'll do that."

It is nearly four years since County upset Lennon and Celtic in the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup and the Dingwall team set about becoming party poopers again as they forged ahead after 16 minutes.

Scott Brown was caught on the hop by Graham Carey, who stole possession and slid a tidy pass to Melvin De Leeuw. The Dutchman's finish was clinical, as he thrashed a low, left-footed strike past Fraser Forster.

Conceding goals is not something Celtic have done much of in the league this season. Their defences had been breached just 15 times prior to County's raid and, with not much else to play for, keeping that meagre tally to a record-breaking minimum is one of Lennon's remaining targets.

Reaching 105 points - two more than the 103 Martin O'Neill's Celtic racked up in 2002 - had been another quest but two spilled points means that can now "only" be equalled.

Commons did get Lennon's side back on track on 35 minutes, giving the champions a much-needed shake.

Leigh Griffiths thumped in a bouncing drive which Mark Brown could only parry back into the danger zone and Commons clattered home the rebound for his 23rd league goal of a prolific season. The hosts re-emerged with renewed vigour for the second period and Stefan Johansen's chip to the back post was headed off the woodwork by Liam Henderson.

That didn't signal an upping of the ante, however, and the proceedings possessed all the urgency of coastal erosion at times. County, playing in a sprightly diamond formation, mounted a few menacing thrusts forward as they sought a first-ever victory at Celtic Park. A winner almost arrived in spectacular fashion after 80 minutes when Carey unleashed a searing 30-yard drive that rattled the post.

"I'd have taken a point before the game but afterwards I was a wee bit disappointed we didn't take all three," said County manager Derek Adams. "I thought we were better than Celtic. We were positive and that maybe unsettled them. They maybe didn't think we would come and have a go."

County made a point. Celtic got their lap of honour. In the end, everybody left the party happy.

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