McGowan holds hands up for costly error which put match beyond St Mirren

FORMER Celtic player Paul McGowan took “full responsibility” for the error which cost St Mirren a second goal yesterday.

Conspiracy theorists will no doubt have a field day with the fact that another former Celt, David van Zanten, put too much vim into his pass to McGowan which the midfielder then directed straight to Gary Hooper for the striker to score his second after 12 minutes.

McGowan refused to blame van Zanten for his poor pass that led up to the mistake “It came by me and I was at full stretch, but I will take full responsibility,” said McGowan. “I am not going to chuck the blame at anyone else.”

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Like all his St Mirren colleagues, McGowan shrugged off the poor start and did everything he could to turn things round.

“I didn’t hide and I didn’t shirk away from the ball,” said McGowan. “These things happen, people make mistakes and it is just unfortunate that it was me, but I’m a big enough and strong enough character to get on with things.

“We played well and created enough chances to get ourselves back into it, but Celtic had chances too, and I thought it was a good game.”

His manager, Danny Lennon, described McGowan’s error as “an honest mistake”, and said: “I thought his reaction and his character and the way he want about his business in the 80 minutes after that was terrific.”

Lennon pledged that his side would continue with the attractive football that has won them so many admirers of late, even against the Old Firm and even when down by two goals.

He said: “It is very easy to go down against the Old Firm and be on the end of a real going over, but the boys stuck together, they did not bend, and I was very pleased going in at half-time with the manner in which they finished the latter 30 minutes of the half.”

Lennon was also grateful for the home fans appreciation of the team’s efforts at the final whistle.

He said: “Fans can be forgiving if you are trying to play the football in the right manner, if you’re trying to play the beautiful game. We’ll try and play beautiful football on a weekly basis. We won’t bend, we won’t break it.”

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Two goal hero Gary Hooper is delighted to be reunited with his striking partner Anthony Stokes, who set up his first goal and was unfairly denied one of his own, according to Hooper.

“The first goal was a good example of our one-touch football, and the second one we pressed well,” said Hooper. “We’ll keep going and hope to be scoring goals and winning games.

“We scored 50-odd together last season, we have been really good at linking up and we know what to do, and it’s been a good partnership.

“He might have had one and I don’t know what the ref’s seen there. He said to me ‘he’s pushed him’, but I thought it was a good goal that he finished well.”

For Celtic as a club, meanwhile, all eyes are on tomorrow’s hearing by Uefa of the case against Sion FC, accused of playing five ineligible players including former Celtic triallist Pascal Feinduno who scored two goals in their 3-1 win in Switzerland last Thursday.

First team coach Alan Thompson stood in for manager Neil Lennon, who left Paisley on possible signing business, perhaps Mohamed Bangura of AIK Stockholm. Uefa president Michel Platini has made it clear FC Sion should be expelled for playing ineligible signings and Celtic hope that’s what happens.

Thompson said: “If Pascal Feinduno doesn’t play on Thursday night and doesn’t score his two goals, we’d have drawn 1-1 and we’re through.

“For Michel Platini to come out and document his views tells you about the views in the higher ranks of Uefa. If we get reinstated we’ll be delighted and we can go and enjoy six games in Europe and see what happens.”

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Hooper echoed that view: “They had a transfer ban for two windows and signed five players, and Pascal Feinduno scored two of the goals against us the other night, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

“We’d be happy to be in a big group with big teams like Udinese and Atletico Madrid.”