WHEN you have to shell out a pretty penny to heavily police a match where fans aren’t permitted entry, then perhaps it is a sign that everything in the garden isn’t so rosy.

Celtic may have belatedly found a way through the steel ring erected by St Johnstone around their area, avoiding what looked to be heading towards another defeat thanks to Chris Kane’s goal for St Johnstone 10 minutes from time, but it remains to be seen whether Moi Elyounoussi’s quickfire equaliser will be enough to save Neil Lennon’s job.

It was 20 years to the day since Lennon first walked through the doors of Celtic Park as a player, but there must be serious doubts that his name will remain on the club’s wage bill for much longer. It wasn’t just that Celtic dropped two more points in what has been an abysmal defence of their title to date, falling 13 points behind Rangers at the top of the table. But the manner of the performance hardly suggested that Lennon is on the verge of inspiring these players to a remarkable turnaround in fortunes.

It was a landmark day for some of those in the Hoops as well as their manager, with Scott Brown making his 600th appearance for the club and Callum McGregor his 300th. Alas, it won’t be one that they will fondly recall.

The credit for that goes to St Johnstone. Callum Davidson’s men hadn’t tasted defeat in the 10 matches since Celtic’s last-gasp victory at McDiarmid Park back in early October, and it never really looked like that long impressive unbeaten run was going to come to an end.

As for Celtic, there appears no end in sight to their own woes since that day in Perth. Just two wins in 12 matches is clearly unacceptable form for the reigning champions.

There was an early warning sign for the hosts as a clumsy free-kick concession by Kristoffer Ajer allowed St Johnstone their first look at their opponents’ well-documented set-piece weakness. And lo and behold, the Celtic defence coughed up a chance. David Wotherspoon swung the ball in from the right and it bounded off Christopher Jullien into the path of Stevie May, whose first-time effort was headed off the line by Nir Bitton.

Celtic were proving rather more adept with attacking set-pieces, as Ryan Christie’s clipped free-kick to the back post was headed back into the centre of the box by Jullien, where Tom Rogic really should have done better than to steer his header wide.

Odsonne Edouard then had his first look at goals as McGregor sliced the home defence open with a rapier of a pass that had the Frenchman scurrying in on goal, but his effort with the outside of his right foot was too close to Zander Clark, who made the save.

In truth though, these were rare shoots of interest among a largely plodding and uninspiring Celtic performance.

The start of the second half wasn’t that much better, but a chance was fashioned by Celtic from a corner as Jullien headed towards goal and the ball came off Bitton, but Clark managed to save from point-blank range without knowing a great deal about it.

The Celtic set-up with three central defenders and Brown sitting in front simply wasn’t allowing Celtic to penetrate St Johnstone, who were crowding the centre of the pitch, and on the hour Lennon realised that a change was required.

Brown’s landmark appearance was cut short and Leigh Griffiths came off the bench as the hosts went two up top. Not a lot changed though, and with Celtic struggling to find any sort of inspiration, Lennon then turned to David Turnbull to provide it.

He immediately swivelled and picked out fellow substitute Griffiths in the area, but the striker couldn’t get the ball down and it was smuggled behind. From his corner, Jullien headed over, but at last there were some signs of life from Celtic.

It was Turnbull who then got a strike away that was deflected on target, only for Clark to pull off a good save low to his left, but the former Motherwell man had certainly added a spark at least.

But just as it looked as though Celtic might be gearing up for a late bombardment of the Saints area, they were undone by a classic sucker punch.

Scott Tanser played a lovely ball inside the dozing Jeremie Frimpong, and May looked up and slid the ball across the six-yard box for Kane to tap home.

It looked like curtains for Celtic’s season and for Lennon right there, but the manager threw on Elyounoussi for Ajer as a final throw of the dice and the gamble paid off immediately.

Christie got down the right and his in-swinging cross was flicked on by the substitute, and it looped over Clark and into the net.

Celtic couldn’t find a winner though as their bid for 10 in-a-row now looks increasingly hard to save. Whether they have saved their manager’s job, only time will tell.