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  • Quarter-finals await Celts after East Kilbride victory

    Quarter-finals await Celts after East Kilbride victory

    By: Martin Dalziel on 07 Feb, 2016 16:56

  • Scottish Cup Fifth Round
    Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie
    Sunday, February 7, 2016


    (Griffiths 20, Kazim-Richards 50)

    CELTIC cruised into the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup with a 2-0 victory over Lowland League side East Kilbride at the Excelsior Stadium in Airdrie.

    The Bhoys dominated proceedings in the one-sided game between the Scottish champions and the Lowland League outfit, but could only find the net once in either half, despite creating a plethora of chances.

    Leigh Griffiths broke the deadlock on 20 minutes when he squeezed a close-range shot over the line after Gary Mackay-Steven’s corner before  Colin Kazim Richards sealed the Celts’ progression to Monday’s quarter-final draw in similar circumstances five minutes into the second-half.

    The Bhoys hit the post in the second-half and reached double figures in corners but Matt McGinley’s saves in the East Kilbride goal combined with some resolute defending saw Billy Ogilvie’s side keep the score respectable.

    Celtic will now find out their opponents in the next round following the draw on Monday.

    Ronny Deila made five changes for the game following the 2-1 defeat to Aberdeen on Wednesday evening and the reshuffled line-up saw a return to action for Hoops midfielder Charlie Mulgrew.

    The 29-year-old last featured for the champions in the UEFA Europa League clash with Ajax at Celtic Park last November, where he aggravated an injury and was subsequently side-lined for over two months, but he won his place in the starting XI following a strong 45 minutes for the Development Squad in their recent 3-0 victory over Rangers.

    Colin Kazim-Richards also made his first start for the Celts, partnering Leigh Griffiths up front as Ronny Deila switched to a 4-4-2 formation. Craig Gordon, Mikael Lustig, Stuart Armstrong and Callum McGregor were the others to drop out and they were replaced by Logan Bailly, Efe Ambrose, James Forrest and Mulgrew.

    The Celts started the game briskly and won a series of early corners. Mulgrew’s glancing header from the first went just over the bar before East Kilbride’s defence had to act quickly to thwart a low shot from Griffiths in the six-yard box moments later.

    Erik Sviatchenko had a volley parried by Matt McGinley in the Kilby goal before Griffiths also went close again with a direct free-kick in the first 15 minutes as the Hoops dominated proceedings.

    The Lowland League side had ridden the early storm but their resistance was eventually broken on the 20 minute mark when Griffiths put the Celts in front from another corner from the right.

    Dedryck Boyata initially won the header from Mackay-Steven’s set-piece but the ball was blocked on the line and fell to the feet of the Hoops striker, who bundled it home to put the Bhoys into the lead.

    However, the anticipated deluge of chances and goals never came as the Lowland League side held firm in the wake of Griffiths’ strike.

    The Celts pinned Kilby back with corners but a pair of curling efforts from distance from Forrest marked the Hoops best chances in the aftermath of the goal as half-time approached.

    A stinging volley from the lively Mackay-Steven was well saved by McGinley but there were no more goals in the first-half.

    East Kilbride opened the second-half with much more intent and won an early free-kick on the left but the Hoops defended well and broke up the pitch.

    Another wave of corners from the Bhoys kept Billy Ogilvie’s side pinned in and eventually brought the second goal, which was poked over the line after another Mackay-Steven corner by Kazim Richards in almost identical fashion to Griffiths’ opener.

    In a difference from the first goal, however, Celtic stepped up the pressure immediately after finding the net and could have added to their lead almost instantly through Griffiths’ acrobatic shot and a careless clearance from Craig Howie, which skimmed off the right-hand post Kilby goal.

    Wave after wave of Celtic attacks kept East Kilbride camped in their own 18-yard box but a combination of brave defending and excellent saves from McGinley kept the Hoops out.

    Ronny Deila then swapped the industrious Mackay-Steven with Scott Allan with just over 20 minutes remaining as the champions sought to add to their advantage. The returning Charlie Mulgrew was also withdrawn shortly after and replaced by Nir Bitton following a solid contribution from the Scotland internationalist.

    As the match drew to a close the Celts continued to pepper the Kilby goal with crosses and only the post denied Scott Brown from finding the net as he struck a sweet, curling effort from distance.

    Ogilvie’s side defended well until the end, however, and kept the score respectable, despite Celtic’s best efforts.

    CELTIC (4-4-2) Bailly; Ambrose, Boyata, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Mackay-Steven (Allan 68), Brown, Mulgrew (Bitton 72), Forrest; Kazim-Richards, Griffiths (Christie 80)

    Not used: Fasan, Izaguirre, Lustig, Armstrong

    EAST KILBRIDE (4-5-1) McGinley; Stevenson, Howie, Russell, Coll; Lachlan, Brady (Millar 89), Johnstone (Templeton85), McBride, Hastings (Gormley 62); Smith

    Not used:  Kean, Morris, MacDonald, Craig,

    Website man of the match: Leigh Griffiths

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