St Mirren's stand-in hero Dean Lyness insists rookie stars can shine again at Rangers after taking a point against Celtic

Like any good understudy, Dean Lyness betrayed not the slightest sign of nerves when he was thrust into the spotlight at short notice for St Mirren.

St Mirren's teenage midfielder Jay Henderson (right) challenging Tom Rogic of Celtic during the 0-0 draw in Paisley. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
St Mirren's teenage midfielder Jay Henderson (right) challenging Tom Rogic of Celtic during the 0-0 draw in Paisley. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Making his first league start since February, the 30-year-old goalkeeper delivered a display worthy of star billing as the Covid-hit Paisley side held Celtic to a goalless draw on Wednesday night.

With first choice number one Jak Alnwick among those sidelined as a consequence of the barrage of positive Covid test results which saw St Mirren try and fail to have the game postponed, Lyness was drafted in as the last line of defence in a remarkable rearguard action.

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Two excellent saves from Lyness to deny Mikey Johnston and Nir Bitton in the initial stages of the match set the tone for an evening when Celtic could find no way through.

St Mirren goalkeeper Dean Lyness marked his first league start since February with a memorable clean sheet against Celtic on Wednesday night. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

“I only knew I was going to play when the gaffer named the team late in the day,” said Lyness. “I was prepared as always, you have to be ready whenever you are called upon. Although I hadn’t played for a while, if anything it was easier to come in against Celtic because you go into it with a nothing-to-lose mentality.

“As a goalkeeper, playing against Celtic you know you are going to be quite busy. It was nice to contribute so early on with a couple of saves and hopefully it did give everyone in the team a bit of belief and a lift.

“It was just about getting through blocks of 10 minutes without conceding, ticking them off and then onto the next one.

“Have I ever been in a game before when the opposition were so much on top? When Jak got sent off against Hibs last season and I had to come on, it was kind of like that, although they didn’t pepper our goal quite as much as Celtic did.

“When you are playing the Old Firm, it is always going to be like that even if you have a full team. You have just got to try and grind it out.

“We had one or two half chances and they could have gone our way on another night. But we will not be greedy. We will take the point.”

Saints were also heroically served by the teenage trio of Dylan Reid, Jay Henderson and debutant Kieran Offord as manager Jim Goodwin looked to cope with the absence of key players such as Jamie McGrath, Alan Power and Ryan Flynn.

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It remains to be seen how many of the senior players are able to return for Saints’ trip to face Rangers at Ibrox on Boxing Day but Lyness believes the rookies are ready for the challenge posed by the champions.

“The young boys were absolutely superb,” added Lyness. “It is an incredible opportunity and experience for them.

“These boys have aspirations to play senior football week in, week out and this will only help in the long run.

“If they play against Rangers, we will just be encouraging them to make the most of it and to try and grasp the opportunity with both hands.

“It would be a special experience for them to go to Ibrox. But after the Celtic game, we will back ourselves. It was a massive confidence booster.”

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