CELTIC failed to score for the second consecutive game as they were held to a goalless draw by a spirited St Johnstone team at Celtic Park.

The stalemate means that they are now just one point clear of Rangers ahead of their visit to Ibrox next week.

Here are the talking points from a frustrating afternoon for Brendan Rodgers and his men…

Wasteful Celtic still not firing on all cylinders

There is a very small window of grace being applied to Celtic’s performances at present as the players get to grips with the tactical tweaks of their new manager, Brendan Rodgers, but as the grumbles and moans audible around Celtic Park for large parts of this game showed, the patience of the fans is finite. And wearing thin.

Yes, Celtic completely dominated the ball here as you might expect, and though they often struggled to break down the blue wall standing strong along the St Johnstone box as the second half wore on, they certainly had their chances. And squandered them.

Matt O’Riley was the worst offender, twice arriving in the area with perfect timing to run onto cutbacks, but twice managing to shoot straight at Saints goalkeeper Dimitar Mitov – outstanding on the day – when he should have been bursting the net.

As time ebbed away, substitute James Forrest headed over another great opportunity after Anthony Ralston’s dinked cross, but the late bombardment that was expected never materialised.

It is clear that there is still a long way for Celtic to go to get anywhere near the heights of the free-flowing, free-scoring team that Rodgers constructed during his first spell in charge of the club, and after failing to find the net against Kilmarnock last week, it was another worryingly toothless display put on by the champions.

Defensive reinforcements required before Ibrox

It was a highly unfamiliar centre-back pairing for Celtic here in the shape of new arrival Gustaf Lagerbielke and out of favour Liam Scales, who spent last season out on loan to Aberdeen.

Injuries to Cameron Carter-Vickers, Maik Nawrocki and Stephen Welsh handed the duo an opportunity, and although this was hardly the sternest examination of their defensive abilities – St Johnstone forward Luke Jephcott ploughed a lone furrow to little effect before being replaced by Stevie May – there were one or two moments of real concern.

On the ball, both were fine. Lagerbielke in particular showcased his ability to play a forward pass, trying to get the ball into the feet of the advanced midfielders and Kyogo Furuhashi whenever he could.

Defensively though, they looked suspect. The first real scare came with 20 minutes to go as Scales found himself twisted inside and out by Dara Costello, the St Johnstone attacker only being denied a stunning opener by a sharp reflex save by Joe Hart.

Then, late on, Scales was again too weak in allowing Jay Turner Cooke to carve out a cross, before Lagerbielke got caught wrong side of May, Hart again saving the day.

A far sterner test awaits next week of course when Rodgers takes his men across Glasgow to face Rangers, and he will hope to have reinforced this now threadbare area of his team before then through the transfer market. If he doesn’t, the Rangers forwards may be licking their lips.

Alastair Johnston return provides a positive

The Canadian right-back has been a big miss for Celtic during his time on the sidelines through injury, and he showed why here as he lasted an hour on his comeback. He was unlucky not to have an assist or two to his name as well, teeing up Kyogo to flash just wide on the half volley in the first half, and then putting the ball on a silver platter for O’Riley, who couldn’t convert.

With the ineffective Daizen Maeda consistently looking to cut inside, Johnston provided the width that Celtic were badly needing, and had he been able to last the pace, he may well have made the difference.

And Hyunjun Yang showed he has something to offer on first start

In what was a hugely frustrating afternoon for Celtic, it was Hyunjun Yang making his first start for the club on the left wing that looked likeliest to provide a spark in the final third, particularly in the first half against the deep-lying Saints defence.

The South Korean was full of direct running and trickery, giving St Johnstone right-back Oludare Olufunwa a tough time of it and getting crosses into the area that he may have expected teammates to get be getting on the end of. When he did pick out David Turnbull 12 yards out, the midfielder skied the ball over.

Yang blazed another good opening for himself over the bar too, and then rather faded from the game after the interval, eventually being replaced by James Forrest with around 25 minutes to go.

He showed enough here in flashes though to suggest that he might be a useful addition to the Celtic attack once he is fully up to speed, and provide some much-needed creativity agaisnt packed defences.

Out with the old for Saints, whose new recruits show they have resolve

St Johnstone would have been viewed as mere cannon fodder by the vast majority of those who rolled up to Celtic Park expecting a demolition, but Steven MacLean’s strugglers showed they might not be such soft touches after all with a doughty display of defending.

It was out with the old and in with the new, as eight summer signings lined up and three debutants took their place in the team for what, on paper, should be the most daunting fixture on their calendar.

Yes, they were helped by the wastefulness of Celtic, and an accomplished display by impressive keeper Mitov, but these factors are a given for any provincial side to get a result in Glasgow.

What they also had was a willingness to dig in and fight for one another, and aided by fine displays from Sam McClelland in defence and Daniel Phillips in midfield, they will feel they deserved their reward.