Posted on Monday, 4th March 2013 by admin
The other month I posted a venomous article on the state of Neil Lennon’s management and the attitudes of the players in cup competitions against inferior teams. The response was mixed. Had we went out of the Scottish Cup against the same team who gubbed us in the Semi of the League Cup, there was going to be a reaction of apoplectic proportions.
Thankfully , an uproar was spared as we progressed 2-1 in Paisley against a very ordinary St Mirren.
Joe Ledley and Gary Hooper returned back to the starting eleven, with Rogne and Wilson in the last line of defence and Wanyama and Ambrose holding in midfield.
Flair players are restricted at St Mirren’s compact park, with the majority of games there being kick and rush affairs, but one player decided not to go down the hump and hoof road and contributed heavily towards our win. James Forrest was in tremendous form in the first half and after five minutes, he darted down the right and sent over a cross which Joe Ledley stooped to head past a stranded Samson. The Welshman started the game in a heavily effective manner, displaying more glimpses of the form which made him a stand-out in 2011-2012.
The lead didn’t last long though as Esmael Goncalves, a handful at Hampden in the last meeting between the two sides, capitalised on some primary school defending from Izaguirre, to prod home from a yard out. The very fact a long hopeful diagonal ball can frequently trouble our defence is a massive cause for concern and hopefully this issue will be addressed sooner rather than later.
Shortly afterwards, a nice short corner and perfect cross found Stokes who continued his excellent recent form and headed past Samson to score one of the easiest goals you will see this season. If you’re a St Mirren fan, you’re raging at the ease in which we scored what proved to be the winner. If you’re a Celtic fan, you’re not caring as it’s about time we benefited from a worse defence than Marge Simpson when she was sent to jail for 30 days.
The second half was, sadly, a very dull affair. I watched the game in my local ‘pub’ and the second 45 minutes were so tedious I spent at least ten minutes counting how many bottles of Peroni were stocked in the fridge behind the bar. I’m not kidding. I’ve got problems. However, the game was dire and yet again the entertainment values of watching Lennon’s Celtic were once again questioned. Why was there only one creative outlet all game in Forrest, who was strongly marked in the second half, meaning his contribution was limited ? Why did we not bring on Commons sooner or attempt to exploit St Mirren on the break or in other areas apart from down their left ? Gary Hooper, again poor, had a great chance to put the game beyond doubt but decided to thump his shot rather than place it, which the goalkeeper did well to tip onto the bar.
In the end, Fraser Forster saved us with a terrific save from a Carey freekick and Lee Mair fired into the side netting with the last kick of the ball to prevent a boring replay at Celtic Park.
Despite the close scoreline, it was a straightforward win, the Paisley side were rather stale and offered nothing that asked too many questions of a less than comfortable looking Thomas Rogne after Stokes goal.
Hey, we went through and it was a potential banana skin of a tie, so credit to Lennon for seeing us through. His new suit was also very ‘dignified’. The pressure on him, including from our own support, was immense, so he deserves plaudits for progression to the semi finals at……HAMPDEN.
Surely this is the time to do the business and end this national stadium hoodoo ? Easier said than done though, with Hibs looking impressive for it this year they may very well see 2013 as ‘their year’ and the time to end their long wait to lift the Scottish Cup. Dundee United have been gubbed in the league, but as we all know, anything can happen with us at Hampden. I do think we will probably beat Falkirk if we get them though.
Final word – it was odd to see us bring a large away support to Paisley on Saturday. We turned out in numbers. Bizarre. I could have SWORN I’d read we would all be giving up on Celtic after the Lord Nimmo Smith hearing!
Then I remembered it was the ‘internet bampots’ who hit out with that. They’re wrong once again. No one should turn their back on Celtic over the LNS verdict. The act of a true walloper.
One day they’ll get something right!
I’ll see you at Hampden, Celtic! I’m sure you’ll get it sorted.