SPFL Match 15 - November 21st 2015 - Celtic Park
SPFL Match 15 - November 21st 2015 - Celtic Park
No. of Shots
Shots on Target
Jamie MacDonald, Mark O'Hara , Conrad Balatoni, Mark Connolly, Scott Robinson, Steven Smith, Kevin McHattie , Rory McKenzie (Greg Kiltie 41), Tope Obadeyi, Kalum Higginbotham (Jamie Hamill 88), Josh Magennis .
Subs Not Used: Mark Ridgers, Lee Ashcroft, Craig Slater, Kris Boyd, Dale Carrick
James Morrison @ Celtic Park (the posh seats!)
One of the biggest regrets of my lifetime following Killie was not making the effort to head to attend the game on 27th October 2012 when Killie defeated Celtic at Parkhead in the league for the first time in my life. They had last won there back in 1955 before even yours truly was born! [Aye right!]
I did actually swither about accepting a corporate invite to go to see how Killie would fare on their first (and only?) trip to the Scottish Champions this season - the main reason being I had witnessed the 4-0 thumping in an evening game in January last year and then the team losing 2-0 last season in the BOGOF game. There was very little for Killie fans to get excited about in those games. Of course Killie did take the lead on their last trip to Parkhead when Darryl Westlake scored in an eventual 4-1 reversal.
Anyways, I checked out the Celtic website and duly accepted a very kind invite for a package which seemed to cost over £200 plus VAT ! I wondered : Would it be any better than Killie's Park Suite hospitality? How would it compare as value for money? Did Celtic have an equivalent of the legendary Killie Pie ? Could the team repeat that wonderful performance which saw Sheridan and Liam Kelly score the goals?
It was a cold crisp morning with a wintry feel as I left Ayrshire - perhaps a perfect day for football? Having let the train (packed with early Christmas shoppers!) take the strain to Glasgow's rejuvenated East End I would soon learn the answers and duly made my way to the large and impressive the Board Room within the main stand at Celtic Park for a champagne reception.
There were a number of former Celtic players acting as "ambassadors" with the likes of Bobby Lennox, Tom Callaghan, Evan Williams and former Killie player George McCluskey mingling with the guests. It was then onwards to the Wilfrid Restaurant where I have to say the food and service were both excellent.
I noticed a gathering of fans outside - this was to greet the arrival if their heroes who have dominated league football for the last few years but failed in Europe in recent times. The team lines were handed out and Killie had made three changes from what had been a settled line up: the enforced one was the return of skipper Mark Connolly for Celtic loanee Stuart Findlay, Tope Obdayi came in for Greg Kiltie and the one that did concern me was the replacement of Craig Slater with Scott Robinson.
I considered some pre match facts:
I avoided the bookie's sheet on the table as I would never bet against Killie!
It was a privilege to take a padded seat in the middle of the main stand and actually enjoy a decent view of a Killie game at Parkhead - that was as unique as the super hospitality I was enjoying. There was a perfectly observed minutes silence for the victims of the awful events which had happened in Paris.
The match kicked off and, in all honesty, there was very little for the fans of either side to excited about in the first 45 minutes. It took 17 minutes for any goal threat when the pest that is Griffiths (who seems to score regularly against us) controlled a fine through ball from Lustig and what looked like a certain scoring chance turned into a feeble effort due to the timely intervention of the determined Connolly.
Almost immediately Killie went up the park and our Northern Ireland striker Josh Magennis knocked a Tope Obadeyi cross past the post before he was booked by referee Bobby Madden for a hefty challenge on the Scott Brown who was returning from injury. It was not really a surprise to then see Kallum Higginbotham getting stuck in to Brown - to the annoyance of the home fans.
As the half drew to a close Killie lost Rory McKenzie to a hamstring injury - he was replaced by Greg Kiltie. However they spurned a great chance when they were awarded a free kick directly in front of the goals following a cynical foul by Boyata (who was rightly yellow carded) on Magennis. For some reason McHattie was given the kick over Smith and his feeble effort did not trouble Gordon. The Jungle natives were starting to stir and boo'ed the officials off the park.
I have to say that despite the efforts of the small band of Celtic Ultras and as the game progressed the small band of Killie fans the atmosphere was virtually non-existent. Half time fare was a rather pastry laden little pie which wasn't a patch on even a mini Killie pie.
The second half was then dominated by the home side in terms of possession and territorial advantage. However, due to the terrific efforts of Smith and Robinson as well as the fine back line excellently marshalled by Connolly and Balatoni the home side rarely troubled the purple shirted Jamie MacDonald. He was called into action a few minutes into the half when Scott Robinson gave away a free kick for a foul on Rogic with MacDonald saving well from Griffiths.
On the hour mark speed merchant Gary Mackay-Steven replaced Stuart Armstrong; there were shouts for a penalty from the increasingly grumpy and crabbit Celtic fans - but not the player - when the substitute went down in the box when challenged by Obadeyi. Referee Madden was unimpressed. Blocks and last-gasp tackles were becoming the order of the day for Killie whose threat in attack had all but disappeared following the break.
There were around ten minutes left when Killie showed some bravery breaking forwards. Celtic keeper Craig Gordon was forced to make three fine saves from substitute Greg Kiltie, Magennis and Obadeyi; resultant corners came to nothing. I really thought that Kiltie had nicked it but the fully stretched Gordon turned his shot around the post.
Many restless home fans had left when their team actually forced MacDonald into an excellent safe turning an Boyata header onto the bar with a few minutes left. Jamie Hamill had come on as a substitute after 88 minutes and I did wonder if there would be time for him to tangle with Scott Brown....again.....but it just didn't happen.
The red shirted Madden blowing for full time was greeted by a chorus of boos from the home fans still in the stadium at the end. Job done for Killie and an excellent bonus point. Super organisation and a terrific effort from every one of the Killie players.
Special mention for the returning Mark Connolly who seemed much more like the player we admired for most of last season. Gary Locke also got his selection and tactics spot on and I have to say Scott Robinson had his best game since joining in the summer. Oh...and who are the only club in Scotland unbeaten against Celtic this season having played them twice? The mighty Killie! Bring on Thistle. #WeAreKillie
Gary Locke: "I'm really pleased. Everything we worked on all week, the game plan and the way we set up, worked a treat. We could have nicked it in the end with a couple of chances on the counter attack, so I couldn't be happier with the performance. If you open up against them too much they have got players who will hurt you. We were well organised, worked hard and got a thoroughly deserved a point in the end."
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