Celtic 2 – 1 Motherwell
We’ve all heard of “A game of two halves”,of course. Well,Saturday wasn’t that so much as a half of two halves following on from a half of one-way traffic. Anyone who hasn’t been paying attention this season would still be wondering how Celtic came so close to throwing away a well-deserved and straightforward stroll in the park,only to come out of it by the skin of our teeth thanks to a last gasp clearance-literally as the ball was about to cross the line-from Diego Laxalt.
Blinkin’ flip,I’ve certainly been paying attention and even I’m still shocked at how quickly we went from total control to total disarray! Yesterday could have been our season in microcosm,bar the fact that we actually won. But for all that we looked terrific at times in the first 75% of the match,we were hiding behind the settee for the rest of it. Despite the fact that this should have been a comfortable victory long before the wheels began to come off.
The team lined up looking strong enough,Ajer and Welsh continuing at the back with a full back on either side. We had Broonie,CalMac,Rogic and Turnbull in the middle and that looked like a fairly balanced midfield too. Up front,Ajeti and Eddie were given the chance to continue from Tuesday-but they look too often like two strikers rather than a partnership if truth be told. Having said that,it didn’t take us too long to go in front,with Stephen Welsh opening his account for the club with a smart header from a DT corner planted right on his napper after only two minutes.
It’s always a pleasure to see a young fella scoring his first goal for the club,and his smile was as broad as The Clyde! And we proceeded to build on that advantage in every way that mattered except the scoresheet! Both full-backs were firing the ball across goal,only to see it just evade a final touch every time,or that the Well keeper was having one of those days. Eddie missed narrowly from a header that he would have scored last season,DT was firing from range and even Kenny had a shot parried away by the keeper. One way traffic summed up the first half-except that maybe “Could’ve have done wi a couple more” would be a better description!
Still,the second did’t wait too long before arriving a few minutes into the second half. Awell-worked move saw CalMac,Taylor and Eddie link up before the ball got played to Eddie on the edge of the area. For once,faced with a wall of defenders in front of him,he chose not to try to tiptoe through the tulips and just fired it low to the bottom corner. Moments of sublime brilliance like this remind us of just how good a player we have in him. Sadly,they only serve to remind us of how good a player he should have been a damned sight more often this season. There won’t be much room on his highlights reel for 20/21,I’m afraid to say.
We carried on in much the same vein for about twenty minutes or so,DT having one touched over by the keeper,Ajeti missing poorly with a header etc-and then,as I said,the wheels came off. It might be more accurate though to point out that the substitutes came on! That’s not to say that the substitutes were to blame,more that the substitutions,the reasons behind them,were. Motherwell managed to fluke one via a deflection which looped over Bain,and to be fair,they had been looking a bit more up for things for a few minutes by then. On came Griff for a frankly disappointing Ajeti,but Griff did nothing at all in the time he was on the pitch. This was followed by the arrival of Soro for Broonie and Laxalt for Taylor. Nothing much wrong with that-except that we had already surrendered the midfield,so taking off Rogic-who had played well when we were in control-and giving Broonie and Soro a chance to both shore up the middle and to play together for a change would have been the call. Either way,I don’t think we got up the park again!
This was turning into desperate stuff,and while I don’t blame Bain for the goal,his performance after it certainly didn’t inspire confidence. When was the last time a Celtic keeper clearly screamed-“MINE!!!!!”-when a cross came into the box? I think it must be another four letter word they use-cos I know I do. No wonder my hair is grey-the only surprise is that I’ve got any left.
Actually,another surprise is that we didn’t fold completely-even if much of that is down to the last gasp clearance for Laxalt,who clearly wasn’t for giving up on one of them lesser spotted win bonus things that he’d been promised four months ago!
We move onto midweek with one of those rare things,a weekend which saw us reduce the chasm in the table. We must be thankful for small mercies,I suppose. Motherwell can probably consider themselves unfortunate not to have taken a point-but they can certainly think themselves lucky that they won’t have one and maybe two players suspended for their next games,thanks to the referee applying the laws in that usual selective fashion. One of which in particular beggared belief. Celtic,natch,will say nothing.
Above article by BMCUWP