Celtic 3 – 0 Hibs
Comfortable enough yesterday against,on paper,our most difficult domestic opponents to date. It was hardly a game where any of us would have settled for a draw beforehand,of course-especially after the MIB assists that the huns got earlier in the afternoon. This was all about the three points,but the performance was about much more than that.
I’d go as far as to say that by and large,this was our best performance of the season to date. We needed it,and the players stepped up to the plate.
Injuries probably forced NL’s hand for much of his team selection,with both Jamesie and Jullien absent from the squad and Eddie still not back up to speed. This left us with a back three of Ajer,Duffy and Bitton with Frimpers and Taylor supplying the width on the wings as well as additional cover at the back. The midfield duo of Broonie and CalMac were either going to be augmented with Mo or Christie-whichever one wasn’t supposed to be helping out The Yeti up front. For me,it looked like the latter dropping back with Mo working as an auxiliary striker.
Broonie,CalMac and Christie really worked well together in the first half,though Christie was replaced at half time by David Turnbull. To be fair to the young fella,he slotted in superbly. He will be pushing for a place of his own soon enough,I reckon. And Ajeti and Mo worked well together too,which might give NL some more food for thought.
There were a few moments though when we really didn’t cover ourselves with glory,and they all came at the back. Ajer was guilty too often of being caught by the press and doing what he always does,which is try to turn round on to his right foot to either play it back to the keeper or across the pitch to Duffy. Nir Bitton was guilty of being caught up the pitch,not getting back,and really Duffy cannot do the work of three men if the three are meant to be in different places at the same time-though this game won’t be on his highlights reel either.
Fortunately Frimpers and Taylor in particular were there most of the time to help out,Frimpers in particular motoring like a Tesla in Manic Mode to cover the ground in each direction when required. In fact,Ross Jack took off his marker at half time after a call from the NSPCC about child cruelty,such was the hammering the wee fella was giving him. He promptly did the same to the newbie too! Once he improves his final ball,which I think only means putting on the brakes for a split second,he will be unstoppable in his current form. Though we all know the ways that defenders have been trying to stop him since Day One.
As well as bringing on Turnbull,NL also used the rest of his substitutes to give players a rest and others some game time. Eddie,Klimala,Ntcham and Soro all getting a go,albeit the latter three were barely on long enough to warm up.
But to the goals then. CalMac picked up the ball to the left of the area and fired it into the opposite corner from 25 yards. A goal which we know he has in his locker,having seen it so often,but no less a peach for that. Only eight minutes on the clock too,and just the start we had all been hoping for.
The second one,half an hour later,was more of a team goal,and much of the credit goes to Ryan Christie for it. He is at times too trigger happy in my opinion and inclined to shoot on sight. In fact,if he could strike it as accurately and powerfully as CalMac,I’d be fine with that! This time,he seemed to slalom into the box,surrounded by three or four defenders who couldn’t get near him. He slipped it to Frimpers who gave it inside to Mo. His shot was saved by parried out. Straight to The Yeti who needs no further invitation in that situation.
Sadly that was the last we saw of our new predator for the day as he went off with what seemed a muscle pull. Let’s hope he got the ice pack and the magic sponge on it right away! But Eddie isn’t a bad replacement,even if as I say he isn’t up to speed yet.
We started the second half much like the first,but Hibs weathered the fifteen minute storm where we looked like we could score at will but just couldn’t work the magic. In fact for the next fifteen minutes it was Hibs who took the game to us. But that changed with just over ten minutes to go when Turnbull picked up a ball in the central area and played an absolutely delightful ball for Mo to burst clear and finish from just inside the box.
All in all,a great many things to be happy about with,as I say,perhaps our best performance of the season. The defence is a mixture of the new and the makeshift,with a new signing and an injured absentee,and trying to adjust to the new system. I’ll cut it some slack while we work on the fine tuning. In midfield and up front though,we clicked really well and I hope we can continue that.
Man of the Match is definitely Frimpers,he puts a smile on your face every time he gets near the ball.
Above article by BMCUWP.