No. of Shots
Shots on Target
Jamie MacDonald, Luke Hendrie, Will Boyle, Scott Boyd, Steven Smith , Greg Taylor, Rory McKenzie, Gary Dicker (Callum McFadzean 88), Adam Frizzell, Jordan Jones (Souleymane Coulibaly 78), Flo Bojaj, (Nathan Tyson 58)
Subs Not Used: Devlin MacKay, Iain Wilson, Martin Smith, Charlee Adams.
James Morrison @ Rugby Park
Friday evening was cold...very cold. Choices had to made as a Killie fan. Do you...
A) Stay in the comfort of your house and watch the game from Rugby Park against the Glesca Eastenders on the telly whilst enjoying a refreshment or three?
B) Get well wrapped up and head to Killie in fear and expectation of what MAY happen against the runaway league leaders and having shipped 6 goals to them only a few weeks earlier?
I can fully understand why home fans who were asked to pay £26 to watch the team against the Old Firm chose to watch the game from the comfort of their couches and arm-chairs and, indeed, I think a number of season ticket holders did that as well. Anyways, better wrapped up than some Christmas presents and hoping for something more encouraging than my last home report (against the Dons) the freezing conditions were braved and I hardly recognised the away side in a bizarre “Lisbon Cerise” strip - I’m positive a team in a similar colour lost the previous Friday night!
Killie were forced in to a number of line-up changes with injuries to Burn, Addison and Kris Boyd meaning starts for Boyle, Frizzell and Bojaj. Celtic also brought in Boyata for his first start since April with the much vaunted Lee Griffiths not even in the squad following his rare Scotland appearance at Wembley.
The first attacking threat came from an almost Eremenko-esque through ball from Armstrong who found Forrest racing to the bye-line; his cut back found the supposedly predatory wonder striker called Dembele who fluffed his shot due to the intimidating presence of Will Boyle. The visitors also missed the target when a Sinclair corner was headed past by Sviatchenko.
The main chance of the first 44 minutes saw Forrest produce a curling left foot shot after a mazy run – fortunately for Killie Jamie Mac produced a typical and excellent one handed stop turning the ball away for a corner.
I felt that the game was possibly the wrong match to start Flo Bojaj as the ever industrious Tyson had pestered the Hearts defence a few weeks earlier at Rugby Park and could well have profited from the lapses of Boyata. However, Bojaj almost cashed in when the dopey Boyata played a loose ball towards the once retired Scotland player called Brown which was snapped by Greg Taylor who exchanged passes with fellow Killie youth product Adam Frizzell before fizzing in a left foot cross which was headed narrowly over by the on-rushing Albanian.
As half time approached it did look like stalemate but the away side got the break and bounce of the ball at the edge of the Killie penalty box; Demebele stab a pass through a ruck of Killie players to find the on-rushing Armstrong who opened the scoring with a composed finish. Cue celebrations from the ranks of away fans at either end and expect the clamour for the former Dundee United player to be included in the next Scotland squad (I think he will be as WGS only picks SPFL players if they play for the Old Firm).
At the start of the second half Celtic did race up the park and McGregor forced MacDonald into an excellent left footed save with Sinclair blasting the rebound into orbit. Killie gradually came more and more into the game with youngsters Frizzell and Taylor causing problems and the dependable Dicker mopping up most attacking threats.
Only referee Robertson will know why he didn’t book Boyata and then Brown for crude clumsy challenges yet he showed yellow cards to both Dicker and Armstrong for petty fouls. MacDonald produced an excellent left handed save after Smith, Boyle and perhaps Jamie himself seemed to slip and lose their footing allowing Roberts to fire a left footed on target.
Celtic’s goal did have a narrow escape when Gordon had to dive smartly to his left to turn a wicked deflection around his left hand post and avoid what would have been a spectacular own goal. The introduction of Tyson brought even more pressure on the hesitant Celtic rear guard and following a Scott Boyd goal line clearance the ball was cleared up to the Killie sub who held off the fouling Boyata and laid the ball back to Frizzell - the youngster did fire off a left foot shot but it was easily saved by the Celtic keeper.
In the dying minutes Lustig’s shot skimmed MacDonald’s left hand post following yet another cut back from Forrest.
A battling performance from the lads in the stripes and apart from possibly starting with Tyson it did seem the Killie tactics were spot on. We failed to capitalise on some sloppy Celtic defending as the Hoops repeatedly try to overplay their way out of defence. I was negative and critical after the Dons match – this time there were plenty positives in the performance, attitude and application. It’s just a pity that the next match is not until 3rd December and that is already looking like a “must win” game against Dundee.
Finally it was amusing listening to around 8000 away fans chanting “Come on you boys in green” - they must be colour blind or need eye tests from Urquharts the Opticians…their team did just win...but wearing fuchsia pink!
Lee Clark: ""I'm disappointed for the players - I thought they were terrific. I thought the game plan was really strong, defensively we've done great - one lapse and Celtic have scored. We grew into the game as an attacking force and second half we played a lot more on the front foot and created our own chances. If my players deliver that type of performance in the seven games in 28 days in December, we'll give ourselves a great opportunity to put ourselves in a good position in the league. Overall, my emotion is pride in my players' performance, because we were depleted."
All images © Sandy Ferguson and should not be reproduced without his permission