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  • Ten-man Celts held at Hamilton

    Ten-man Celts held at Hamilton

    By: Mark Henderson on 26 Feb, 2016 21:50

  • SFPL Scottish Premiership
    New Douglas Park, Hamilton
    Friday, February 26, 2016

    HAMILTON ACCIES...1
    (Brophy 75)

    CELTIC...1
    (Griffiths pen. 35)

    TEN-MAN Celtic were held to a 1-1 draw by Hamilton Accies in a feisty encounter at New Douglas Park, leaving them seven points clear at the top of the table.

    Leigh Griffiths had put the Hoops ahead from the penalty spot after he had been fouled in the box by Dougie Imrie. It was the prolific striker’s 60th goal in his 94 game for the club.

    Dedryck Boyata controversially saw red before half-time when he looked to have got a touch on the ball when tackling Carlton Morris just outside the box.

    Griffiths missed the chance to double the Bhoys’ advantage 20 minutes into the second half when they were awarded another penalty after Mikael Lustig had been pulled in the box by Ziggy Gordon, with Michael McGovern diving to his left and making a fine save.

    That meant Celtic’s lead remained precarious and Hamilton managed to grab an equaliser in the closing stages as substitute Eamonn Brophy lashed home following a corner.

    Despite the draw, the champions extended their advantage over Aberdeen at the league summit by an additional point, though the Dons will have a chance to close the gap tomorrow (Saturday) when they face  St Johnstone.

    Scott Allan came in for his first Celtic start in domestic football as Ronny Deila made three changes to the team that defeated Inverness Caley Thistle 3-0 last week.

    The 24-year-old’s only previous start for the Hoops came in the 1-1 UEFA Europa League draw with Fenerbahce in Istanbul back in December.

    But, having impressed in his several outings from the bench in recent weeks, he earned an attacking midfield berth for the trip to Lanarkshire. He replaced Stuart Armstrong in the side, with the former Dundee United player named among the substitutes.

    Kris Commons was also restored to the team after spending over a month on the sidelines at the expense of Nir Bitton who dropped out the squad.

    Between the sticks, Logan Bailly came in for Craig Gordon, the Belgian shot-stopper featuring for the first time since the Scottish Cup win over East Kilbride earlier this month.

    Allan was prominent in the early stages as Celtic quickly established control of the contest, dictating possession and fashioning several promising positions down either flank.

    Aside from a number of crosses from the enterprising Lustig, however, they were unable to trouble the home rearguard or test goalkeeper McGovern.

    Indeed, despite being preoccupied by defensive duties during the opening exchanges, it was Martin Canning’s side who had the first two attempts on goal.

     Lucas Tagliapietra’s header from Ali Crawford’s hanging free-kick was easily saved by Bailly, but Crawford then spurned a golden chance to open the scoring when sent clear by Morris, the midfielder scooping his shot over the bar.  

    Commons replied with a first-time effort from the edge of the area that trickled wide, but the Accies had been encouraged by their effective start, fuelling their desire to close down and deny the Hoops space to exploit.

    Their good work was undone, though, 10 minutes prior to half-time. Griffiths turned sharply in the box was tripped by Dougie Imrie and referee Craig Thomson immediately pointed the spot. Up stepped Griffiths, who confidently drilled the ball down the middle for his 33rd goal of the season.

    It was vital breakthrough for the Bhoys, and Commons shot over from distance moments later, before Bailly had to rush out quickly to deny Morris from a tight angle.

    The match took another twist as half-time approached, though. Boyata tackled the onrushing Morris on the edge of the area and the Belgian defender was adjusted to have fouled the striker by referee Thomson, who brandished a red card, reducing Celtic to ten men for the rest of the game.

    Charlie Mulgrew was introduced for Commons to fill the defensive void as Hamilton finished the half on top, with Bailly making a smart save from Crawford to keep the visitors in the lead as the teams headed in at the interval.

    Ronny Deila’s side emerged for the restart in a diamond midfield formation and Griffiths ploughing a lone furrow up front.

    Mackay-Steven had moved in off the right wing to operate as the most advanced midfielder and he close to doubling the advantage five minutes into the second period.

    Showing tremendous desire, Tierney won a 50-50 tackle down the left, sending the ball in behind the Hamilton backline. Mackay-Steven won the footrace but McGovern was out smartly to block the 25-year-old’s effort.

    With their extra man, the hosts were having more of the ball without really threatening Bailly, while the champions looked dangerous on the break.

    Griffiths curled narrowly wide after one purposeful counter and the same player saw a shot parried by McGovern after being fed by Brown.  Mackay-Steven’s rebound was deflected over by Tagliapietra.

    McGovern came to his side’s rescue again in the 65th minute when he thwarted Griffiths from the penalty spot. Lustig was fouled by Ziggy Gordon from a corner and Thomson had no hesitation in awarding a second spot-kick. This time, however, Griffiths went for the corner and McGovern guessed correctly, pushing the attempt wide.

    That was to prove costly as Hamilton levelled the match. Celtic failed to clear their lines from a corner and Brophy, only on a few minutes as a substitute, lashed the loose ball into the top corner.
    It was now end-to-end stuff as both teams sought a winner, but it was Accies who came closest when Greg Docherty saw a shot blocked by Lustig in the box.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Bailly; Lustig, Boyata, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Johansen;  Mackay-Steven (Christie 74), Commons (Commons 44), Allan (Kazim-Richards 86); Griffiths
    Not Used: Gordon, Mulgrew, McGregor , Roberts, Armstrong,

    HAMILTON ACCIES (4-2-3-1) McGovern; Gordon, Devlin, Tagliapietra, Kurakins; Lyon (Brophy 69), MacKinnon; Crawford, Imrie, Kurtaj (Docherty 78); Morris (Diaby 90+1)
    Not Used: Martin, Gillespie, D’Acol, Mandiangu

    Website Man of the Match: Kieran Tierney

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