Celtic 3-1 Hearts
And a Happy Bank Holiday Monday to those of you fortunate enough to take advantage of such things! It’s certainly rare to get a decent spell of weather over a Bank Holiday weekend,but a very healthy crowd basked in the sunshine at Celtic Park as they handed out a bit of a caning to a surprisingly poor Hearts side.
This was their tenth league game without a victory,but you should be wary of reading too much into that stat prior to the kick off. We know from experience that Hearts always raise their game against us-as well as their studs and their fists. And so it was yesterday as they put on their usual “robust” display,ably abetted by the spineless Willie Collum.
To say our starting line-up had an unfamiliar look might be a bit of an understatement. Nir Bitton and Christopher Jullien formed the central defence,with Kris Ajer and Boli at full back. Fraser Forster made a surprise second debut behind them,while up front we had Vakoun Bayo leading the line in his first start of any importance. In the middle,we had Broonie with Ollie Ntcham,Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie playing with great fluidity alongside and in front of him. James Forrest completed the team in an unusual wide left position.
I was watching this on a fairly unreliable stream,and Bayo impressed me early on with his willingness to get into the Hearts box and stay there. That for me is always a good thing from a striker. Then I realised that my stream had frozen,and got it back again just in time to see him have a decent header saved on the line. Surely it wasn’t going to be one of those days for an able and willing striker,a day where he can do everything right and still not score? We’ve seen that before,and when you’re new to a club-especially when you aren’t even close to being a first pick-a run of simple bad luck like that can wreck things before you even get started. Fortunately that wasn’t to be the case.
Ryan picked up the ball from deep and sprayed it wide and long to Jamesie. He crossed it-with his left foot,Dad!-into the danger area where Bayo outmuscled Berra as they went for it together. It was inconclusive,IMO,which of the two got the last touch. What is absolutely certain is that had Bayo not been there breaking his neck to get onto the cross,Berra would have cleared it easily. Back of the net and 1-0. I’m giving the credit for the goal to Bayo regardless.
We played out the rest of the first half in much the same manner,though Hearts did offer the occasional non-violent threat. One of which saw,typically,a Celtic player get the first booking of the match as big Fraser cleaned out a mini-hun whose name escapes me. Meanwhile Hearts were merrily kicking our troops whenever they could catch them,a trend which continued after the break.
The best way to answer that-my preference of a boot in the bollocks lacks the guile and subtlety to get away with it too often-is to put the ball in the net,and we duly obliged. Bit of a peach it was anaw. This time it was Nir who sprayed the ball wide and long. Kris Ajer took it,passed it inside from where it found its way to Callum,who showed he has a left foot too as he drilled it into the corner from about twenty yards.
That should have been game over,time to rest a few of the players for Thursday. While Neil Lennon was still considering his options,Nir played another pass long and wide to Kris. This time he drove the ball across the six yard box where again Vadoun was rushing in to attack it. Again,he might or might not have got the last touch on it. Again,it wouldn’t have been a goal either way but for his presence there. Again,back of the net and I’m giving him the goal. 3-0 and cruising.
There was still time for the big fella to hit the bar before he was replaced,to a standing ovation,by Leigh Griffiths.
The game largely petered out after this,the only excitement of note being Scott Brown culpable in his own area again to give away a penalty. We’ve grown accustomed over the last five years or so to our keepers diving out the way of the ball at these,but big Fraser clearly remembered the moment his Celtic career took off,a penalty save against Hearts almost a decade ago now. And promptly did it again! Sadly he could only parry it back out,and Hearts had their consolation goal.
Overall,a result that most of us would have been more than happy with at 255pm. And certainly a performance from which we can take much,erm,heart. We have a big week ahead of us,that’s for sure. Negotiate our away tie in Stockholm and we have our place in the group stages of the Europa League,and European football until at least Christmas. And then we have a visit to the toilet on Sunday,where the spending a penny trope goes out the window. £52 to attend a bigotfest. Bloody sure I wouldnae.
Our display yesterday will certainly have given the huns something to think about. They rode their luck in Paisley,with the Saints hitting the bar,missing a few sitters-including one in the last minute when it looked easier to score-and having,surprise,a stonewall penalty denied as their Swede turnip of a centre-half rugby-tackled in the penalty area. But more than their own display giving them cause for concern will be ours. Particularly the way we used the passes long and wide to crack open the twin banks plan of stuffy defence adopted by Hearts. Stevie G might have to think of a Plan B,and I suspect it will be to ensure that his club’s favourite linesmen are there to call as many offsides as they can.
I’m looking forward to reading CELTICBNUMBERS when he posts his stats from the game on e-Tims. Particularly for our peck passes. We looked very good at taking opponents out with clever use of the ball,and I hope that this is a trend which we will continue to work on.
Additionally,of course,the week ahead sees the end of the transfer window,which I believe is 11pm BST on Monday 2nd September. I still think we need the following…
A must-have is a left back. Boli looks to be settling in,but it is still the case that our only viable option there at the moment is Jonny Hayes. Now,I like Hayes. I believe that he has never had a bad game for us. But is a steady type,a nearly-but-not-quite type,good enough for such a vital position? Sadly,I’m inclined to say not.
We still need a new right back. Elmahad has performed well for us,but already has missed a few games through injury. And Kris is picking up a few of them at the moment too. Besides,Kris would be my first-choice centre back at the moment. He doesn’t get injured there either,btw.
Defensive midfielder would not be a priority just now,but it would be bloody good to get one! Get our scouts told to find the next Big Vic for either of the next two windows,but the sooner the better. Meantime,remind Joe Lewis at Spurs how the huns shafted him for £20m and it would surely gladden his heart to see Big Vic back in The Hoooooooops charged with the mission of hunskelpin!
Up front,well… Lord knows,we relied heavily on I Wanna last season. And I suspect we will be doing that this season too. Leigh Griffiths gives us everything he has,every time he pulls on that shirt. Bayo gives us a different option,he is a different,more traditional,striker to the other two. It’s still way too early to say he will be a success,but his confidence will be high after yesterday. And so is mine. If those three can stay fit,with the emergence of Michael Johnston,we can probably do without another project signing. If there’s a chance of the real deal,I’d take it.
A good few days,folks. Four big big games for our season in eleven days,as well as the end of the transfer window. Two comfortable wins so far,as well as the emergence of a new striker and an added dimension to our game. No complaints from The Swindon Branch of Sentinel Celts.
Now,eyes on the prize,Celtic. I’m hoping to be writing a glowing report like this a week from now too!
Above article by BMCUWP. We always welcome contributions for Article of the Day from our members. If you have something to say,mail it to Mahe