OOOH, aaah, Jamie McGrath.

The midfielder’s 10th goal of the season gave St Mirren something to sing about with his late penalty taking the Paisley side within touching distance of a top-six finish for the first time in their history.

McGrath was calm as he dispatched the spot-kick after Ross County’s Leo Hjelde, the 17-year-old on-loan Celtic defender, was judged to have clipped St Mirren sub Collin Quaner from behind. It was a soft decision – the kind that irked Jim Goodwin very recently and did likewise for Ross County manager John Hughes on Saturday – but it will matter little to a St Mirren side who ended their five game sequence of draws.

The Paisley side are now four points clear of seventh-placed Dundee United although St Johnstone could still nick it with the games in hand they have. One more win would secure it but with Goodwin’s side up next at Ibrox they may face an anxious wait to have it confirmed.

In any case, Quaner fancies having a say in matters between now and the end of the season. The 29-year-old striker lasted just 19 minutes of his debut for the Paisley side before suffering ligament damage last month but his return to the fray was equally notable.

As he drove into the box he went to ground easily under a challenge from Hjelde but was insistent afterwards that he was guilty of taking a dive.

“We had the same situation in recent weeks and it's never nice to lose a game because of a penalty,” he said. "It's not my job to make the decision if it was a penalty, but obviously I'm quite positive going into the box and then there was definitely a contact.


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“Then it's up to the referee to make the decision. But it was definitely not a dive.

"For me it was unfortunate to get injured so early, but now I'm happy to be back and first of all the team's main goal of getting to the top six is most important.”

Ross County defender Hjelde inevitably had a different take on the matter.
“I haven’t seen it back yet but in the moment I felt it was a simulation,” he said. “I felt that I didn’t even touch him.”

While the teenager is focused on Ross County’s relegation fight between now and the end of the season, his long-term focus is returning to Celtic to stake his claim for a first-team place.

And his fellow countryman, Kris Ajer, who followed a similar path when he headed out to Kilmarnock on loan in the early stages of his Celtic career has been a source of advice since Hjelde arrived in Glasgow from Trondheim.

It is unlikely that the two will play together with Ajer looking increasingly likely to leave Celtic this summer but his style of play is something the teenager has tried to replicate.  

“Kristoffer is a very good player and he had the same career path like me too,” he said. “He had played more games by the time that he came to Scotland but he is someone that I definitely look up to. I like to be on the ball and try and create things to but my main priority always has to be defending. Getting this experience will hopefully be a benefit when I go back to Celtic.

“I keep in contact with him [Ajer] still. He has been very good to me and he still gets in touch and gives me advice.


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“I have spoken to the coaches a few times but it has just been to see how I am getting on.

“First-team football has been different but I feel like I am keeping up with it. Physically it can be difficult, especially if you are playing against guys at 6 foot 5 but you have to learn to play around that and be a bit more streetwise. That will come.

“This will hopefully put me in a better position to go back there and try to play football at Celtic. That is what my goal is and all the minutes I get here will help me.

"Every game I get just now is a bonus for me. You don’t see a lot of 17-year-olds playing in the Scottish Premier so I am looking to make the most of this experience.”