IF you don’t buy a ticket, you don’t win the raffle. Celtic debutant Cameron Carter-Vickers’ numbers came up big-time to help his side to finally break down a resolute Ross County, with the defender’s deflected long-range effort giving Ange Postecoglou’s men the spark they needed to grind out three points that momentarily looked under threat.

If Celtic’s previous home games in the Premiership so far this season have been built on flair, this one was more about persistence, with a little bit of fortune mixed in. Not that the hosts were lucky to win a game, which was rubber-stamped by an Albian Ajeti double. They dominated proceedings and certainly deserved the three points. But this was more like the late stages of ‘Lennyball’ at times than the ‘Angeball’ the home fans have come to know and love.

Still, with all the distractions off the pitch over the 24 hours that preceded the match following the surprise departure of chief executive Dom McKay, the Celtic manager would have been pleased that there wasn’t another shock on the field to contend with.

Postecoglou had expressed concern in his pre-match press duties that his players may take some time to readjust to the style he demands from them after being away on international duty, and those fears were well founded.

There was plenty of endeavour, and there were chances created, but it was all a little laboured from Celtic against a visiting side that frustrated well and also posed an occasional threat going the other way.

Adding to the complications for the home side was the need to bleed in a few new faces. There were debuts for deadline day arrivals Carter-Vickers and Joao Jota, while Josip Juranovic made his home bow at right back with Anthony Ralston missing from the squad. Stephen Welsh was also missing, and with numbers light at the top end of the pitch following the injury to Kyogo Furuhashi, Ajeti led the line.

Jota was lively early on, but it was Liel Abada on the other wing who came closest to breaking down the massed ranks of County defenders in the opening stages, bursting in from the right and getting a shot away that Ross Laidlaw helped onto the face of the crossbar.

It was Jota who had the next go though, exchanging passes with Tom Rogic and firing over from inside the area, before Ajeti had his first opportunity of the day, firing meekly at Laidlaw after being played in by Callum McGregor.

It wasn’t all one way traffic though, and after some slack play from Rogic, County broke to give Celtic their first scare of the day. Blair Spittal got down the right and fired in a low cross, and Ross Callachan was inches away from connecting as he strained to make the telling touch.

The home fans were beginning to get a little frustrated, even more so when Abada’s deflected shot found the crossbar once more before the winger somehow fired a golden opportunity into the side netting from close range.

Greg Taylor was forced from the action at the start of the second half with a recurrence of the shoulder injury that he picked up in Alkmaar, with young Adam Montgomery coming on.

It was more of the same though, with Celtic slow to get the ball forward, and if anything Laidlaw was more comfortable than he had been in the first 45.

As the hour mark came and went, it was getting more and more difficult to see where a goal was coming from for the home side. But then, one appeared from nowhere.

Carter-Vickers came forward unchallenged, and with the crowd urging him on, took a pot-shot at goal from 25 yards.

The big defender didn’t catch it cleanly, but the ball spun up off the luckless Callachan and looped over Laidlaw to nestle into the net.

County almost hit back in quick order as a dinked cross from Regan Charles-Cook found substitute Dominic Samuel nipping in at the back post, but from point-blank range, Joe Hart managed to beat away the forward’s diving header.

It would prove a costly miss, as Celtic finally buried the game visitors moments later. A deep cross from Abada found the hitherto ineffectual Ajeti peeling off his marker, and the forward rose well to bullet a header into the top corner and ease nerves around Celtic Park.

And wouldn’t you know it, having waited since February to net for Celtic in the league, another came along for the Swiss striker almost immediately. Ajeti showed his predatory instincts were still there to put a decent sheen on the scoreline, stopping to head home after substitute James McCarthy had nodded David Turnbull’s cross off the bar.

So, job done for Celtic and Postecoglou. It can’t always be pretty, but at home in such matches, it must always be three points if his side are going to maintain a title challenge.