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  • Frustration as Celts held at Fir Park

    Frustration as Celts held at Fir Park

    By: Mark Henderson on 18 Mar, 2018 16:17

  • Scottish Premiership
    Sunday, March 18, 2018
    Fir Park, Motherwell

    MOTHERWELL...0

    CELTIC...0

    CELTIC were held to a frustrating draw by Motherwell at Fir Park, though the champions still managed to extend their lead at the top of the table to 10 points, with a game in hand.

    The Hoops dominated large parts of the game, particularly after the home side were reduced to ten men when Cedric Kipre saw red for kicking out at Scott Brown just before the break.

    However, they couldn’t find a way through a resilient Steelmen backline, with substitute Patrick Roberts coming closest to finding the net for the champions when he struck the bar from the edge of the box.

    Fresh from coming off the bench to score a wonderful winner in the Glasgow derby last weekend, Odsonne Edouard was promoted to the starting XI in one of two changes for the Hoops.

    Jack Hendry, another second-half substitute in the Ibrox triumph, was also restored to the team at right-back. The suspended Jozo Simunovic and the injured Kieran Tierney dropped out.

    Despite the freezing conditions at Fir Park, Celtic certainly weren’t caught cold in the opening exchanges, forcing the home side back and fashioning some promising positions, with Olivier Ntcham firing over from the edge of the box.

    Scott Bain had retained his place between the sticks following his impressive debut display in the win over Rangers, and he was called into action for the first time in the 11th minute to save Chris Cadden’s drive from distance.

    It had been a good response from the Steelmen to the Hoops’ early pressure, and Bain had to react quickly to turn Curtis Main’s header round the post. The keeper was also well positioned to block Ryan Bowman’s volley.

    Back came the Bhoys, and some individual magic from Tom Rogic saw him evade several home defenders, before Forrest’s final effort was deflected wide. The resulting corner dropped for Hendry at the near post but he couldn’t steer his shot on target.

    Rogic looked the most likely source of inspiration for the champions and, after engineering some space with some nimble footwork, he curled wide of the far post.  

    As play surged from end to end, Bain showed strong hands to push Main’s ferocious free-kick, before James Forrest stung Trevor Carson’s palms after racing in behind the Motherwell backline.

    The hosts were working hard to disrupt Celtic’s normal rhythm, closing them down all over the pitch, and it took until the 38th minute for the visitors to get another sight of goal as Hendry was unable to keep his header down from Callum McGregor’s corner.

    As half-time approached, the Hoops were handed the initiative in a hard-fought contest as Stephen Robinson’s side were reduced to 10 men. After Brown beat Kipre to the ball, the defender lashed out at the Celtic skipper, prompting referee Craig Thomson to give the Motherwell player his marching orders.

    Holding a man advantage, Celtic took control as the second half got underway - Ntcham blasted over, Hendry had a shot blocked and Forrest was denied by Carson.

    Having won back possession, Rogic then darted into the box and smashed an angle shot on target t that Carson did well to divert wide. When the resultant corner fell for Rogic at the edge of the box, Carson again thwarted the Australian.  

    As the pressure on the Motherwell goal intensified, latch-ditch tackles from Tom Aldred and Richard Tait prevented Dembele and Forrest pulling the trigger in the box, while Dembele headed over from Rogic’s cross.

    Stuart Armstrong, Scott Sinclair and Patrick Roberts all entered the fray to provide further creative spark for the Hoops

    Roberts, making his first appearance since coming off injured at Fir Park at the end of November, almost broke the deadlock when he cut inside from the right and saw his strike hit the top of the bar.

    As the game entered its closing stages, Hendry had a shot blocked at the far post from a corner and then Armstrong sent a curling effort inches wide as the hosts clung on.

    There was still time for some late drama. As Motherwell saw a penalty appeal waved away, Celtic broke quickly and Sinclair sped in on goal only for Tait to save his side with last-gasp block.

    Carson then came to his team’s rescue deep into stoppage time, turning Dembele’s header over the bar, the final word on a frustrating afternoon for Brendan Rodgers’ men.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Bain; Hendry, Ajer, Boyata, McGregor; Ntcham (Armstrong 60), Brown; Forrest (Roberts 68), Rogic, Edouard (Sinclair 60); Dembele
    Not Used: De Vries, Lustig, Compper, Musonda

    MOTHERWELL (3-5-2) Carson; Kipre, Aldred, Dunne; Tait, Cadden, McHugh, Campbell, Frear (Hendrie 68); Main, Bowman
    Not Used: Griffiths, Bigirimana, Petravicius, Newell, Turnbull, Maguire

    Website Man of the Match: Tom Rogic

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