DANNY Lennon today saluted his side's gritty defensive showing at Celtic Park.

Although the Buddies' 2-0 defeat was their eighth on the bounce against the Hoops under manager Lennon, and means the Paisley men have conceded 22 goals without reply during that time, the Saints gaffer was not downcast.

Lennon said: "It was very important, with us going to Celtic Park on a good four-game unbeaten run, that we didn't suffer a damaging defeat, and we have done that.

"The big positive for us was that we got that little bit closer to Celtic, and we stayed competitive in the scoreline.

"We had a game plan and, despite losing the early goal, we stuck to it. That enabled us to throw on the extra striker and we created a couple of chances in the second half.

"We can take some solace in all of these things and now look forward to Motherwell on Friday night."

With just 16 minutes gone, another hard afternoon in the East End looked on the cards when the Paisley men conceded their 21st goal without reply in eight games against Celtic under Danny Lennon. Victor Wanyama converted a Charlie Mulgrew corner at the second attempt.

But a plucky defensive effort by the Paisley men restricted the champions to just one more goal, Gary Hooper's late effort making it 2-0.

Eight minutes after the break Saints did threaten when Kenny McLean's neat turn saw him elude Ambrose, but the young midfielder blasted over.And, after 67 minutes, John McGinn drew a decent save from Fraser Forster with a solid strike from 20-yards.

Paul McGowan made it onto the bench, although unused, for the first time since shoulder surgery, and the Saints boss was keen to accentuate the positives. He said: "Paul has worked so hard to get himself back to fitness and it was great to reward him with a place on the bench.

"Obviously he has been a huge miss for us in recent weeks and now he is back in the frame.

"Getting him back was another big plus for us. But you look at the performance of young John McGinn and he will have learned a tremendous amount from his first game at Celtic Park."

Lennon added: "But our season will not be decided on how we do at Celtic Park."