Monday, October 8, 2007

Celtic FC Plays Awful Against Gretna, Still Wins.

Clydesdale Bank Premier League
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Fir Park, Motherwell

(Yantorno 37)

(Killen 86, McDonald 91)

GRETNA (4-5-1) Fleming; Barr, Horwood, Innes, Collin (Grainger 14); Cowan, Murray, Jenkins, Skelton, Yantorno (Paartalu 81); Grady (McMenamin 64)
Subs not used: Caig, Graham, McGill, Hogg

CELTIC (4-4-2) Boruc; Hartley (Kennedy 19, O’Brien 75), Caldwell, McManus, Naylor; McGeady, S.Brown, Donati (Jarosik 80), Nakamura; Killen, McDonald
Subs not used: Brown, O’Dea, Riordan, Sno

It looked like ‘one of those days’ at Fir Park yesterday as Premier League new boys Gretna were on course to record a dramatic win over Celtic as the match entered the dying minutes.

And as he looked back on a game where his side played below par, Gordon Strachan praised their dogged determination in sealing the latest of late wins.

Celtic’s leveller came from Chris Killen with just four minutes of normal time remaining before Scott McDonald, Celtic’s last minute hero in the UEFA Champions League match against AC Milan, popped up with another 90th minute clincher.

“There was a moment where there was an incredible header off the line to deny Scott McDonald and I thought, ‘yeah, it’s going to be one of those days, I can see that’,” said the Celtic manager.

“But thankfully the boys didn’t see that and kept going. We got the equaliser and then thought, ‘we can go for this, we can win it’.

“It’s ironic,” he added, “because we went to Easter Road and produced what I thought was one of our best performances this season, but couldn’t pick anything up due to extraordinary goals. Then we came here and got a win but that’s football, it’s a crazy game.”

The equalising header from Chris Killen was the Kiwi striker’s first goal in Celtic colours in what was also his competitive debut for the club.

Gordon Strachan did, however, have some sympathy for the striker, who is nearing the end of a long road to recovery from serious injury.

“I felt sorry for Chris today because we were playing football that wasn’t conducive to any striker,” he commented.

“We were trying to thread balls through the middle on a bobbly pitch when we should have been switching the play more and getting more width to the game.

“But we persevered going through the middle and it wasn’t good for them. What Chris needs is a bit of more variation and he’ll definitely create chances.”

While happy with the win, the aftermath of the Gretna game does leave the manager with a dilemma, as stand-in right-back Paul Hartley suffered a hamstring injury and winger, Jim O’Brien was forced to step into a defensive role.

With natural right-backs Jean-Joel Perrier-Doumbe and Mark Wilson still on the injured list and talented reserve, Paul Caddis also crocked, the Celtic boss is now left with centre-back Gary Caldwell as his only experienced option for that position.

“I don’t know how many we played there on Sunday,” he concluded with a rueful shake of the head. “I think we went through three of them in the 90 minutes, so it’s a spooky position at the moment.

“Jim came on and we told him, don’t play right-back, we’ll just play man-for-man at the back, but Paul’s feeling his hamstring and might be struggling for two or three weeks.”

Hail! Hail!


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