The Monday Match Review
Saturday went well then,didn’t it? I was happily ensconced in various bars in Oxford with my mate and his lass while 60,000 Tims were whooop whoop HOOOOOPING it up at Celtic Park. I don’t know who had the most fun.
I didn’t think a flag day could get much better than the one last year,when my pal’s grandson Ryan was the mascot for the day. Full family in attendance for the occasion,over from The States for it. The following day I was quaffing ales with them all at a wee gathering for family and friends in a village near Maidenhead. Beautiful day,thatched cottage,orchard in the grounds,cold beer and smashing company. Does it get any better than this,you may well ask?
Well,I had a nightshift to follow,so that was as good as that day got! But-Flag days? Yes,yesterday was special.
Our eighth consecutive flag was unfurled by the recently widowed wives of two of our greats. Mrs McNeill and Mrs Chalmers represented their men,their times,their sheer class if I’m honest. They took their pride and their sorrow onto the pitch yesterday,and while The Timdom Kingdom looked on in awe and pleasure,I reckon there may have been a couple of wee fluffy clouds zooming in from above for a closer look and holding their hands. It was a really wonderful thing to do,and the club and particularly the ladies deserve huge credit for it.
Moving on to the game,I have to say that I never like playing St Johnstone. A stuffy side,prone to thuggery at times too. One of those teams that if you don’t score early,you’re unlikely to do so at all. So what to do…
We lined up with two new full backs,and much needed too. Problem positions being filled,and time will tell on their quality to fill the roles. They sure didn’t have a lot of defending to do yesterday,but that was hardly their fault. Match highlights don’t show them much in their advertised roles,and they certainly had more of an eye on the opposition goal than on ours. If that sounds like damning with faint praise,it’s not. Yesterday wasn’t a day for exemplary defensive prowess. Much.
A central defensive pair of Bitton and Ajer was forced upon us by suspensions-neither of which was earned in the domestic game-but up ahead was some serious artillery. This wasn’t a team set up for a defensive midfield battle,this was a team set up to go for the throat.
It didn’t take long for Michael Johnston to do just that. In a finish reminiscent of Dixie at Hampden in 1972,he twisted the blood of defenders,the keeper,the entire audience. Then calmly stroked it into the far corner. Clearly remembering the advice from Bob Paisley forty years ago-if you’re not sure what to do with the ball,put it in the net and we will discuss it at half time!
This Bhoy is a player,for sure. A player who has clearly allowed his shocking experiences at Ibrox not to prey on his mind. And nor should he,he was hung out to dry both times and we are on the road to seeing what a quality addition he is to the squad.
Pissed me off,right enough-I’d backed Ryan Christie for the first goal! And to rub salt into the wounds,he scored the next one shortly after. And another on the half hour mark.
It took nearly an hour in real time to get the fourth,and it was Christie again. Three goals from midfield,all from the left foot and all from outside the area. The second owed a bit to fortune,aye,but we’ve been crying out for years for a player with the balls to take it on from distance. Is it a false dawn,sheer luck-or is it The Plan? I say f… it,if you can see the goal,go for it. Like Bob Paisley said!
His hat trick goal was scored in the magical 67th minute-well,yes. There’s a thing to treasure-and he was soon replaced alongside Johnston by Griff and Samuel Jackson,or Ollie Ntcham as his mum calls him. By this time,it was a turkey shoot. But at Celtic,we prefer a nice goal,a quality finish,a thing to discuss in the pub afterwards. In aff the corner flag,that’s for the huns and AlexMcDonald. Some great interplay in midfield saw Ollie break clear to score from just inside the box and a few minutes later,Leigh got the ball on his favoured foot about twentyfive yards out. Six up and my sister’s coupon is looking good. As is her betting slip(!)
Possibly the best was saved for last though. A peach of a pass from the centre circle by Griff put Eddy through to round the keeper for A Magnificent Seven.
It’s certainly a good start to the season. I’m quite a happy bunny as I write this,and you know the old saying about a Scotsman and a sunbeam. Four of those goals were scored from outside the area,another two from defence-splitting passes. Five from the left foot and another one from a player who twisted a defence inside their goal area. If we can repeat that on a regular basis we need have no fear of the season ahead.
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