Celtic’s third visit to Dingwall this season ended in a 1-1 draw with Ross County, a result that defied Betfair football betting odds, in a game that was played on a truly awful pitch and featured some poor refereeing decisions and poor performances from Celtic players who failed to put themselves in the shop window for the cup final.
Celtic made changes from last weekend’s defeat at Motherwell, with Zaluska replacing Forster in goal, Gershon starting alongside Wilson at the back, Commons and Ledley returning, Efe Ambrose in midfield, and Watt and Stokes up front.
And it was Stokes who gave Celtic the perfect start after four minutes, turning in a shot from a Kris Commons corner. After the goal the game went into a bit of a lull, but slowly Ross County became the better side, and it was no surprise they equalised four minutes from half-time, Vigurs hammering a shot into the top corner. There then followed the most controversial moment of the game, as on the stroke of half-time Watt put Celtic into the lead, but the goal was disallowed for off-side, replays showed that Watt was clearly on.
In the second half Celtic’s best chance came when an Ambrose header was cleared off the line, replays showed that the officials got this one right. Stokes had a shot tipped over the bar, whilst Zaluska made a save from Lawson and Wohlfarth headed over. Not even the introduction of Paddy McCourt could change the game, as it petered out into a 1-1 draw.
The main talking point is of course the disallowed goal, who knows what the outcome of the game could have been if it had stood. Despite this Celtic’s performance, especially in the second half was poor, with Ambrose’s performance in midfield showing why he’s usually played in defence. On the plus side Kelvin Wilson had another solid game, and it was good to see Kris Commons get some game time before the cup final. Celtic’s use of substitutions was a bit odd, as the likes of Atajic and Keatings were on the bench but not used, surely it would have been a better idea to bring one of them on rather than Kayal in the 89th minute? It should also be said that the awful pitch, which resembled a sand pit, was not conducive to good football.
I suppose it is hard for these players to get motivated as the league title is already won, but the recent domestic performances – especially away from home – have been very poor, indeed we haven’t won an SPL game away from home since we played Inverness in February. With the cup final coming up in three weeks, it is vital that Lennon and the players rediscover their from, or a season which promised so much could end on a damp squib.