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  • 10-man Celtic held to a goalless draw against St Mirren

    10-man Celtic held to a goalless draw against St Mirren

    By: Tony Connelly on 14 Sep, 2018 21:52

  • Scottish Premiership
    The Simple Digital Arena, Paisley
    Friday, September 14, 2018



    Celtic returned to action in the Premiership with a frustrating goalless draw in Paisley. The Scottish champions played the majority of the game with 10 men, but despite being the more dominant team in the second half, they weren't able to fashion a goal and had to be content with a point for their efforts.

    Olivier Ntcham’s sending-off in the first-half aftter picking up two yellow cards handed the home side a numerical advantage but Celtic enjoyed the better chances in the second period despite being a man down.

    Filip Benkovic made his Celtic debut in the heart of defence alongside Dedryck Boyata as the Scottish champions returned to action following the international break.

    The home side were playing their first game under new boss Oran Kearney, and the Buddies looked understandably looked keen to impress their new manager as they aggressively pressed Celtic high up the pitch at the start.

    Within minutes of the referee’s whistle they had forced a good save from Craig Gordon. A handball on the edge of the penalty area gave Jack Baird an opportunity from a free-kick, and he made good work of it with a powerful strike which Gordon comfortably pushed clear.

    Celtic soon found their footing and began to dominate possession as the home side sat deep and limited the space for Celtic to attack in the final third.

    The Hoops’ first effort came from James Forrest after he snatched the ball just inside St Mirren’s half. He set off on a darting run towards goal before taking aim for the bottom far corner, but he dragged his effort wide of the mark.

    St Mirren’s Ryan Flynn almost put his side ahead early in the first half when he ran into a gap in the centre of the Celtic defence to meet Lee Hodson’s cross, but he couldn’t keep his header down and it flew just over Craig Gordon’s bar.

    There was little free-flowing football in a scrappy first half in which both sides pressed each other and limited any pockets of space which could have created an opening. Both still managed to forge a couple of opportunities before the break however.

    Lee Hodson came close with a half volley 20 yards from goal which flashed narrowly wide of the post. He then saved his own side with a goal-line clearance to deny Dedryck Boyata after the Belgian internationalist had beaten the keeper with his header.

    St Mirren were gifted an advantage just before the break when Olivier Ntcham was shown a second yellow for a challenge on Stephen McGinn deep inside St Mirren’s half. With the extra man, Oran Kearney’s side looked to attack Celtic from the start of the second half but the Scottish champions cleared their lines and looked to catch their opponents on the counter-attack.  

    A tactical change from Brendan Rodgers saw Benkovic make way for Leigh Griffiths. Kristoffer Ajer moved back into the centre of defence, leaving James Forrest to take up his more familiar role out on the right.

    The change had an immediate effect with Forrest cutting inside from the wing and slipping a well-timed ball in for Griffiths. The Hoops striker cut a good pass back into the six-yard box, but St Mirren had packed the box and managed to stifle the danger.

    Celtic seemed to grow into the game as the second half progressed and, despite being a man down, were dominant with possession, showing more attacking intent than in the first period.

    Dedryck Boyata’s dominance in the heart of a Celtic back three allowed the Hoops to push forward in search of a goal which looked far more likely to come in the second half. The best chance came when Griffiths ran on to Forrest’s low, driven cross into the box but he couldn't keep it down.

    Callum McGregor came agonisingly close to securing the win for Celtic shortly before the final whistle. The Celtic midfielder showed excellent footwork to dribble his way into the St Mirren box, but his attempt to pass the ball on to the bottom corner beyond Craig Samson was narrowly off target.

    Substitute Ryan Christie had only five minutes to turn the game around and he came close to doing so when he directed Boyata’s cross into the box towards the bottom corner but he was unable to generate enough power on it.

    Griffith found the back of the net in the dying minutes of the game but, after expertly controlling Boyata’s long ball over the top and volleying it in, he looked over to see the linesman’s flag raised and the final whistle blew moments later.

    CELTIC (4-2-2-1): Gordon; Ajer, Boyata, Benkovic (Griffiths 59), Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Forrest, Rogic, McGregor, Edouard (Christie 86).
    Not Used: Bain, Sinclair, Lustig, Johnston, Mulumbu.

    ST MIRREN: Samson, McGinn, Baird, Ferdinand (MacPherson 73), Hodson, Magennis, McGinn, Flynn, Smith (Coulson 78), Edwards, Mullen (Willock 86)
    Not Used: Muir, Kirkpatrick, Jones, Erhahon


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