Saints 0-2 Celtic
Report of match 28th August 2011
Reporter Stuart Gillespie
On Thursday night, Celtic failed to recover from a shocking start and crashed out of Europe. Today, we got off to an even worse start and pretty much gifted them a decent end to a woeful week.
Before the match, many Saints fans saw this as a chance to pile the misery on a struggling Celtic side. However, those hopes were extinguished after 12 minutes when bad play saw us two goals behind. At that point I feared the worst, but this Saints team is different. We didn't feel sorry for ourselves, dug in and created plenty of chances. It may have been a defeat, but there's still plenty to be positive about - if not the result.
Craig Samson again did well in goals, the Thommo twins were good and Jeroen Tesselaar once again did well. If we hadn't shot ourselves in the foot right at the start of the game then we could have easily taken something from this one.
Unsurprisingly, Danny Lennon went with the same team that narrowly defeated Morton in Tuesday's thriller. Nigel Hasselbaink was deemed fit enough to start, while Joe McKee was on the bench after joining on loan from Burnley. Paul McGowan got to start against his former employers, with Graham Carey left kicking his heels on the bench. Celtic were dumped out of Europe on Thursday and Georgios Samaras and Joe Ledley paid the price. In came Anthony Stokes and James Forrest, with Daniel Majstorovic keeping his place after his red card.
It's important against the Old Firm not to gift them an early goal - and we nearly did just that. A quickly taken free-kick allowed Celtic to break and when Gary Hooper slid the ball through to Stokes, he looked odds on to score. Instead, he slid wide. Seconds later he did score, but Willie Collum decided there had been some sort of foul. No idea what it was but thankfully he gave it - although a booking should have been dished out to Stokes for playing on after the whistle. Robin van Persie was sent off in the Nou Camp for less...
Celtic were getting far too much time on the ball and we seemed all too willing to stand off and let them play. It was an approach that backfired terribly after six minutes when a throw-in made it through to Hooper, who passed to Stokes before making his way around Lee Mair to put the return ball past Craig Samson from close range. Oh dear. It did not bode well, especially as Majstorovic headed a free-kick over the bar a few minutes later.
Things went from bad to worse before we'd even reached the 12 minute mark or made any meaningful attack on the Celtic goal. David van Zanten could have sent the ball back to Samson, but instead tried playing it across the park to no one. McGowan tried to recover the situation but only succeeded in playing a glorious through ball to Hooper, who cheerfully accepted it, raced in on goal and popped the ball into the bottom corner.
There was a glimmer of hope a few minutes later when Nigel Hasselbaink played a delightful through ball for McGowan, but his shot was no more than decent and Fraser Forster made the save at the expense of a corner. McGowan went close again when Gary Teale picked him out with a corner, but his volley from 25 yards was blocked by the head of Steven Thompson. It pretty much summed up McGowan's day as the shot may well have been on target. Hooper then headed a Charlie Mulgrew cross wide as he went for his hat-trick.
I said in my preview we needed to get in Celtic's faces but it just wasn't happening. Again we allowed Celtic to pick us apart before Forrest shot wide. McGowan was having a poor afternoon and missed the ball completely as he tried to smash the ball into the net, quickly followed by Hasselbaink skinning Majstorovic only to see his cross go through the hands of Forster. Further proof that it wasn't McGowan's day came when Hasselbaink played a Thompson cross back to Steven Thomson, only for his shot to be blocked. No prizes for guessing who was in the way...
It took until nearly half-time for the first blatant piece of Old Firm favouritism - rather late by the usual standards. Saints got a free-kick when McGowan was caught late by Beram Kayal. Jim Goodwin tried to take the free-kick, at which point Kayal decided to stand in front of him - and tie his shoe lace. Mr Collum was straight over there - and told him not to be so nasty. Can't help but thinking there'd have been a booking if one of our players tried that.
We had managed to regain a bit of composure and could have pulled one back just before the break. More good play saw Jereon Tesselaar deliver a fantastic ball. Unfortunately, it was going to Hasselbaink and the diminutive striker was at full stretch to try to slot it home. The fact he got anything on it was a miracle and it was no surprise to see the ball fly out for a throw-in.
We needed to come out suitably fired up for the start of the second half, but instead it was like the beginning of the game as we gave Celtic far too much time and space. As a result, Stoke was able to stride forward without any of the nearby Saints defenders thinking of putting in a tackle before he produced a low shot that Samson got down to turn behind. We then had more Old Firm favouritism when Hasselbaink spun Kelvin Wilson and began running towards the box, only for Wilson to pull him down. Booking? Don't be silly! Still, Tesselaar proved we have another free-kick specialist when Forster had to be sharp to turn the free-kick behind.
We were getting forward at times but Celtic always looked the more likely team to score. A bit of a scramble saw Scott Brown's effort blocked by a flailing Saints boot before Stokes was once again thwarted by the efforts of Samson. While we were able to do some attacking, we didn't really look like scoring, Wilson nearly changed all that when he completely misjudged the whereabouts of Foster as he tried to head the ball back to him and he watched in horror as the ball flew narrowly wide of goal.
Another Thomson cross was just out of the reach of Thompson but Cha knocked it behind. However, the corner came to nothing as Hasselbaink headed wide after McAusland knocked the ball back across. The disappointing teal was then replaced with Jon McShane as we tried to find a goal back - although I'd rather have seen Carey come on. It made little difference and Forrest almost put the game beyond doubt when he gathered the ball and drove into the box before firing in a shot that Samson did well to turn behind. McGowan tried once more to redeem himself but shot low and wide from 20 yards.
There was more frustration when McShane sent in a good cross from the right that found Thompson, but his header lacked power and Forster plucked it out of the air before launching a Celtic counter-attack that saw Ki denied by Samson's legs. Mulgrew then sent a free-kick just wide before Hasselbaink was replaced by new boy Joe McKee. But it was Goodwin who had the next chance to get one back, although his shot from a silly distance was always going wide.
Forrest could have piled on the misery with a few minutes left when he got himself in behind the Saints defence, but thankfully Samson blocked the shot.
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|Competition: Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier Date: Sunday, 28th August 2011 Kick off: 12:45 Venue: Greenhill Road|
||0 - 2||Celtic
Hooper 6, 12
|2||David van Zanten|
|21||Gary Teale (McShane 71)|
|6||Jim Goodwin (McLean 90)|
|11||Nigel Hasselbaink (McKee 80)|
|13||Joe McKee (Hasselbaink 80)|
|17||Kenny McLean (Goodwin 90)|
|19||Jon McShane (Teale 71)|
|18||Sung-Yeung Ki (Ledley 85)|
|16||Joe Ledley (Ki 85)|
|St. Mirren cards shown|
|Celtic cards shown|