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  • Frustration as Celtic draw against Kilmarnock

    Frustration as Celtic draw against Kilmarnock

    By: Martin Dalziel on 21 Nov, 2015 16:56

  • SPFL Premiership
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Saturday, November 21, 2015

    CELTIC...0

    KILMARNOCK...0

    CELTIC were held to a goal-less draw against Kilmarnock at Paradise today but retained their six-point lead at the top of the SPFL Premiership after Hearts also drew 1-1 with Dundee at Tynecastle.

    Ronny Deila’s side were full of endeavour and attacking intent all afternoon but Killie’s defensive set-up proved too difficult to breakdown despite the Bhoys’ best efforts.

    James Forrest was a constant menace on the wings as Celtic controlled the game but Jamie MacDonald was solid in the visitors’ goal and was on hand to deny Dedryck Boyata in the dying seconds to earn his side a point.

    It was a disappointing afternoon for the champions who now look ahead to Thursday’s clash against Ajax in the UEFA Europa League.

    Celtic captain Scott Brown returned for the match after missing the previous four fixtures and anchored the midfield alongside Nir Bitton. Jozo Simunovic also made a welcome return from injury to replace Efe Ambrose in central defence.

    The match was preceded by an impeccably-observed minute’s silence in memory of those who lost their lives in the Paris attacks last week, followed by a rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone from the Celtic support.

    The Bhoys opened the match brightly and on the front foot as they tried to establish their passing style early on. Both Forrest and Stuart Armstrong looked sprightly in the early stages but Kilmarnock’s well-drilled defence snuffed out their threat.

    Boyata won the first sight of goal for the Celts with a header at the back post which Scott Robinson cleared off the line but the Belgian defender was adjudged to have committed a foul in the process.

    Leigh Griffiths showed his attacking intent just after 15 minutes when he did well to reach a searching pass from Mikael Lustig and control in the area, but the Killie defence pressured him off the ball and into a weak shot.

    Josh Magennis then clipped a wayward header towards Gordon’s goal on a Kilmarnock counter-attack as the game opened up.

    Magennis was then booked for a bad tackle on Brown, crashing in on the captain’s ankle before Higginbotham was also given a verbal warning after he clattered into the skipper but he escaped punishment, with the referee drawing the crowd’s ire, and not for the first time.

    Celtic continued to push forward and tested the Killie keeper with a shot from Griffiths after good play from Rogic but the striker’s effort was straight down MacDonald’s throat.

    The keeper was then forced to act quickly to smother a flick-on from Simunovic at his near post as the champions pushed for the opener but they remained frustrated at half-time with the score at 0-0.

    Celtic sought to change that instantly at the restart when Rogic drew a foul from Steven Smith, allowing Griffiths to curl an effort at goal from the set-piece but MacDonald did well to turn the ball away at full stretch.

    Scott Brown then looked to have been fouled in the box but the referee again waved away Celtic’s protests.

    Forrest had resumed his role as principle creator for the Bhoys as the champions played with more urgency but his direct running and cut-backs couldn’t prise open the visitors’ defence.

    Gary Mackay-Steven was introduced to play with 30 minutes left to inject further pace into the attack and he too had a strong claim for a penalty waved away when he gathered a ball in the box and looked to be clipped as he moved towards goal before Smith also scythed down Rogic as he went to shoot, but nothing was awarded for either incident.

    Nadir Ciftci replaced Rogic with 20 minutes left as the Celts beefed up their attack in a bid to break down Kilmarnock’s resistance and Mackay-Steven went close with a shot from distance, but again it came to nothing.

    A rare venture forward saw Killie substitute Greg Kiltie force a great save from Craig Gordon from distance before the Hoops keeper saved Magennis’ header from the resultant corner and put the Bhoys back on the attack.

    Scott Allan came on in the dying minutes, replacing Emilio Izaguirre but there was little the attacker could do to affect proceedings and the champions were forced to settle for a share of the points, despite Boyata crashing a header off the bar in stoppage time.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic, Izaguirre (Allan 84); Brown, Bitton; Forrest, Rogic (Ciftci 71), Armstrong (Mackay-Steven 59); Griffiths.
    Not used: Bailly, Ambrose, Tierney, McGregor

    KILMARNOCK (4-5-1) MacDonald; McHattie, Balatoni, Connolly, O’Hara; Obadeyi, Smith, Higginbotham (Hamill 88), Robinson, McKenzie (Kiltie 41); Magennis.
    Not used: Ridgers, Boyd, Ashcroft, Slater, Carrick

    Website man of the match: James Forrest

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