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Mowbray refuses to admit title race is over as Hibernian put massive dent in Celtic’s championship hopes

The beleaguered Celtic manager, Tony Mowbray, refused to accept that the title race was a lost cause last night despite his side having fallen 10 points behind Rangers.

Celtic have yet to win a home game this year and the same old story missed chances - meant more damage was done to their challenge as Hibernian won 2-1 in a night which infuriated the home supporters.

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Rangers took full advantage of Celtic’s slip by securing a 2-0 victory at St Mirren with early and late goals from Steven Davis and Nacho Novo.

Celtic had dominated most of a dramatic match in which Hibernian came from behind to bring them down with a stoppage-time winner from 19-year-old Danny Galbraith. Captain Darren O’Dea admitted that not enough players were taking responsibility on the field. “It’s not going too well just now and players will have to step up quickly, win games and be men,” he said.

Celtic have a game in hand and two Old Firm games to come, but they are unconvincing and fail to put teams away. Mowbray’s high turnover of players in the transfer window seems to have disrupted the side and seven league points have been dropped in four games since the start of the year. He claimed to believe his new-look squad could win every remaining game in the campaign and then admitted that they probably wouldn’t.

When asked if Celtic now needed a miracle to win the title, Mowbray replied: “No, no, no. With due respect that’s not a very good question. We have still to play Rangers twice. How many games are there still to go, you tell me? Teams have dropped points this season, both halves of the Old Firm have, so we have to keep believing we are building a team and we have to hope it clicks into place.

“When I watch the football matches and see the flow of the games I believe we can win every match. We have lost one at home all season in the league. I strongly believe that might be the last game we 
lost at home. I don’t have a crystal ball beyond believing in my players. We had enough evidence tonight that we can win football matches. But if you look at the performance, the team that was driving the game didn’t win.

“Of course I’m concerned. I never said I wasn’t concerned by the 10-point gap. My message is that as a coach I believe we can win every game. Is it right to believe we can win every game? I think so. Will we? Probably not.”

Mowbray ended his post-match press conference abruptly when asked if there was any update on the transfers of Danny Fox and Stephen McManus, who are wanted by Burnley and Middlesbrough respectively.

Celtic felt Ki Sung-Yueng was fouled at the start of Hibernian’s counter-attack for the winner and that Galbraith was in an offside position when Anthony Stokes passed to him. But missed chances by Georgios Samaras, whose substitution was cheered by fans, and others was a greater contributory factor to Celtic’s defeat. Marc-Antoine Fortune gave them an early lead before Stokes equalised.

The Hibernian manager, John Hughes, played down the prospect of his young side splitting the Old Firm despite being only two points behind Celtic after 21 matches.

“I’m not getting carried away. I just want third spot and a place in Europe. There’s no chance of second. Celtic are still miles out in front of us but we’ll keep digging in. It’s nice to challenge our boys, though, and test the characters
in our dressing room.

“Is it my best night as Hibs manager? No, that was the night I became the manager.”

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