Johannesburg - Bloemfontein Celtic coach Clinton Larsen says his team were playing like true professionals after the workmanlike 2-0 Premier League win over a struggling Platinum Stars at the Free State Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
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"I drummed the message into the players that if you don't concede a goal in a game, you can't lose and it's paying dividends," Larsen said.
"The defence is playing as a unit, everyone is working hard and the concentration level of the players is good."
The success of Larsen's simple, but devastating formula is reflected in the fact that Celtic have only conceded two goals from their last six matches, winning three of them and drawing twice.
In the process, the team has recovered from a shaky start to the season when they were wallowing near the relegation zone, with Sunday's win elevating them from 10th position in the log to seventh.
It has been a striking success story as well for the 44-year-old former Manning Rangers and Orlando Pirates midfielder, who was fired by the Bloemfontein club earlier in the season only to be recalled after a brief spell with Maritzburg United.
"It certainly has been something in the form of a successful homecoming for me and nothing has been more gratifying than the enthusiastic reception I have received from our great band of supporters," he said.
Larsen's happy tidings were in direct contrast to the sombre mood of Platinum Stars coach Allan Freese, who appeared at a loss to explain the startling decline of the club.
Stars are now wallowing in second-bottom position in the PSL log table and Freese questioned the consequent mind set of the players after slipping into the dangerous relegation.
"We were down a goal within two minutes," Freese said.
"This should never happen if the players go onto the field with their minds right and concentrating from the opening whistle.
"We'll have to go back to the drawing board and analyse what has gone wrong but I still believe we will regain our touch and move up the log table to a position more in keeping with our ability."
Celtic showed they meant business from the outset with a stunning opening goal in only the second minute as an opportunist Alfred Ndengane pounced on a misplaced clearance from a crowded penalty area and volleyed an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.
Another impressive scoring effort, this time from Lerato Lamola from the edge of the penalty area in the 39th minute, fired Celtic into a dominant 2-0 half-time lead.
A solid, well-oranised defence then placed a stranglehold on Stars' scoring efforts in the second period.
Stars' decline is partly due to the exodus of several key stars that were at the root of the team's success.
They have not won a game since beating fellow-strugglers Moroka Swallows on December 6 and although only losing three of their last seven games, four points from four draws has done little to ease their position.