Mark O’Hara aims to keep scoring run against Celtic going and discusses Kyogo penalty praise

There aren’t many players who can say they’ve scored against Premiership champions Celtic every time they’ve played against them this season.

Mark O’Hara is one of the few exceptions, having netted in his three outings against the Hoops so far – including the opener in the Buddies memorable 2-0 victory in Paisley last September.

The marauding St Mirren midfielder has 12 goals to his name in total so far this campaign, with free-scoring Celtic hitman Kyogo Furuhashi even praising his penalty technique after O’Hara netted the opener from the spot in the pair’s last meeting in Paisley in March.

And the former Motherwell and Killie man is determined to keep his clinical streak up against Ange Postecoglou ’s side when they travel to Glasgow today hunting three points for their European push.

O’Hara told Renfrewshire Live Sport: “I’ve scored against Celtic every game I’ve played this season, so let’s hope that carries on.

“It would be good to get another one. The thing that’s helped me is probably the manager trusting me to play in a position where I can get forward more often.

“The last few seasons I probably played a wee bit deeper, but here I’ve got the chance now to go box to box and get myself into positions where I can grab goals.

“That’s always how the manager has seen me and how I’ve seen myself.

“With the penalties I’ve actually spent a bit of time with Jamie Langfield so we can work on different techniques.

“But a lot of it is down to confidence. The first penalty I scored this season was against Aberdeen. I hit the post but it went in off the goalie.

“That was the least confident I’d been stepping up but the more you get, the more confident you get.

“Every Friday I spend time practising them and Jamie has definitely been handing me some tips.

“I don’t want to give away too much of what I’ve been doing, but the more I get, the more confident I’ve become.

“Kyogo came up to me and said ‘good penalty’ in the last game here in Paisley. It’s nice to get a compliment off a player like him.

“I’ve always been a No.8 but I’ve just not had that run at it. Now I’ve had a full season at it and you’re seeing the results.”

The first start of Mark O’Hara’s professional career came at Celtic Park back in October 2012, with the youngster chucked in at right back at just 16.

He helped Kilmarnock secure an unexpected 2-0 win, with the midfielder hopeful he can repeat the feat this afternoon.

O’Hara said: “It’s scary thinking about it. I still feel like a young man but that was the best part of 11 years ago.

“It was crazy to win that day and hopefully we can replicate it on Saturday.

“I was up against James Forrest. I was playing right-back – the first time I’d ever played that position.

“But Kenny Shiels wasn’t scared of doing that. I think our team that day had three or four teenagers playing.

“I wasn’t 100 percent sure I’d be playing but Kenny talked me through it. We were obviously very defensive but I didn’t have much to do. I wasn’t having to bomb forward.

“Luckily it went well. Most people were probably envisioning a demolition.

“It was all a blur at the time – I don’t think I fully appreciated it. Winning 2-0 at Celtic Park on my first start, it was kind of crazy.”

While dropping points so late in the game last weekend against Hearts was a sickener for the entire club, O’Hara insists his Buddies aren’t out for the count just yet with three games left to make a late challenge for a European spot.

He added: “We’re going to have to do it the hard way. People haven’t given us much chance.

“The Hearts game was hard to take, but we’ve got three massive games left and we’ve taken points off all three teams this season.

“I don’t think many people will give us a chance but that’s been the story of our season, proving people wrong.

“Will we use it as fuel? Definitely.

“It takes a bit of the pressure off us in a way too. We can come from the darkness because nobody will be expecting much from us.

“It’s fuel to prove everyone wrong and show that we deserve to be in that top five.”


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Daily Record – Paisley