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  • Young Celts edge five-goal thriller

    Young Celts edge five-goal thriller

    By: Mark Henderson on 27 Apr, 2015 21:09

  • SPFL Development League
    Rugby Park, Kilmarnock
    Monday, April 27, 2015

    (Cairney pen.33, McKenzie 80)

    (Thomson 25, Rogic 51, Nesbitt 75)

    CELTIC’S Development Side cemented their grip on second spot in the league after edging a five-goal thriller against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

    Joe Thomson fired the youngsters in front with a wonder-strike in the 25th minute but the home side quickly cancelled that out through a Paul Cairney penalty.

    Tom Rogic restored the young Hoops’ lead early in the second half, before Aidan Nesbitt gave them a two-goal cushion with 15 minutes remaining on the clock.

    That rendered Rory McKenzie late counter meaningless as Stevie Frail’s side banked a thoroughly deserved three points after a dominant display.

    There were four changes to the team that defeated Hamilton 2-0 last week, with Jordan Hart, Sam Wardrop, Jamie Lindsay restored to the starting XI at the expense of Lukasz Zaluska, Darnell Fisher and Joe Chalmers.

    As the weather rapidly alternated between rain, snow and sunshine, the young Hoops made a positive start, moving the ball around briskly and harassing their opponents at every opportunity

    Within the opening three minutes, Rogic set Thomson scampering clear down the right but his cross failed to pick out any of his team-mates in the middle.

    Rogic was prominent in the early stages, picking up the ball in pockets of space in front of Kilmarnock’s back four and driving forward. One purposeful burst from the Australian internationalist saw him tripped by Greg Kiltie, leading to the midfielder earning a stern telling off from the referee.

    Thomson had the ball in the net in the fifth minute but the offside flag cut short his celebrations, before Rogic shot wide after a weak clearance from goalkeeper Devlin Mackay.

    Nesbitt had a shot block and Michael Duffy headed Wardrop’s inviting cross powerfully on target but Mackay was right behind it as the momentum remained with the visitors.

    Frail’s side forced a raft of corners as they continued to stretch the home defence, and Killie centre-half David Syme almost volleyed into his own net from one of Thomson’s searching set-piece deliveries.

    A sweeping move from the Bhoys midway through the half saw Aidan Nesbitt pick out Thomson and his low shot from an acute angle forced Mackay into a low save.

    But the Kilmarnock keeper was left helpless moments later as Thomson made the breakthrough, lashing home an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net from 20 yards with his left-foot.

    It was no less than the young Celts deserved, with a Jamie Hamill free-kick, easily scooped up by Jordan Hart, on the half-hour mark their only meaningful effort on goal.

    But against the run of play they levelled the match. Rory McKenzie’s cross from the right struck Jamie McCart’s hand and the referee pointed to the spot, with Paul Cairney converting from 12 yards.

    Recovering swiftly from that setback, the young Hoops resumed their offensive. Kieran Tierney had shown plenty of enterprise from left-back, always willing to thrust forward on the overlap.

    And another effective run from the 17-year-old saw him hit the byline and pick out Duffy in the middle but the forward’s final effort was charged down.

    It only the youths a matter of seconds to fashion their first chance of the second half as Thomson shot narrowly wide, before Duffy experienced a similar outcome after bursting into the box.

    In the 51st minute, they broke Kilmarnock’s resistance again through a fine solo goal from Rogic. Spinning away from two challenges, the midfielder drove towards the box, before rifling a shot beyond Mackay via the aid of a deflection.

    Duffy headed over from Thomson’s corner as Celtic continued to pile on the pressure.  Even some robust challenges from the hosts couldn’t disrupt the Hoops’ rhythm, with the referee producing a flurry of yellow cards.

    The away side continued to churn out the chances through some fluent, high-tempo football, with the best openings falling to Nesbitt, who was denied by a combination of last-ditch defending and a save from Mackay.

    But shortly after Thomson had almost bulldozed his way through, the winger’s perseverance paid off. After the Bhoys had cut open the Ayrshire outfit with several slick passes, Lindsay showed impressive composure to pick out Nesbitt in the middle, and he applied the finish.

    That looked to have killed of the contest but the Rugby Park side were handed hope by a mix-up between Fiacre Kelleher and Hart, which allowed McKenzie to roll the ball into an empty net.

    However, it was the Frail’s side who should have put a more accurate reflection on the scoreline in the closing stages.

    First, Thomson struck the post from Paul McMullan’s cutback, before the latter spurned two golden chances, curling over from inside the box and then steering Duffy’s low delivery wide as the Hoops youngsters finished strongly.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Hart; Wardrop, Kelleher, McCart, Tierney; Lindsay, McManus; Thomson, Rogic (McMullan 61), Nesbitt (McGrath 85); Duffy
    Not Used:, McCabe, Chalmers, Findlay, Hay

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