Well well well…(haud oan, it was Kilmarnock, not the Steelmen! – Ed)
Happy new year and all that to everyone.
The domestic League campaign restarted with a trip down to foggy old plastic slidy pitch land in Ayrshur.
Ayrshur, land of Burns, a Masonic man who could conjure a phrase to turn many a head…a bit like Kris Boyd without the transplant and Monster Munch breath. But we can come back to that later.
And so after a professional win over Partick in the Cup, it was back to the SPFL and I for one wondered if the Taylor-Calmac-Rogic link up play would continue to blossom.
Celtic duly announced the line-up and I got my answer.
A big fat No. ( enough Kris Boyd references – Ed)
No Rogic, No Taylor..even though he knows that pitch and the Killie team better than anyone at Parkhead, and Calmac duly moved to join Broony and Ntcham in a Midfield 5 with Frimpong and Hayes..yes Hayes, out wide. The 3-5-2 formation certainly raised a lot of eyebrows, most notably with the back 3 including Jozo aka “They call me Mr Glass” appearing on the artificial surface which was previously deemed his kryptonite.
The 3-5-2 formation was a dual purpose action of course. One to combat a physical well drilled Killie side, but more importantly to get our 2 main strikers on the pitch at the same time. Its only natural that Griff and Eddy need gametime together to understand each others movement and touch and Lenny is at least recognising theres more to life that a stranded Eddy up the park wondering when the rest of the team will catch up to help him.
And so the game kicked off and Celtic soon took control.
The first interesting moment came when the Killie keeper misjudged the bounce and clattered into Griff whilst also spilling the ball straight to Eddy. Somehow the calm Frenchman passed the ball to the outside of the gaping goal while the Referee ignored the penalty claims from Griff.
The referee would go on to have quite a terrible night. How his cards stayed in his pockets for so long is a mystery to all of us, the fog wasn’t that bad that his fingers couldn’t find his pocket whenever a Killie player went charging in, or on occasion a Celtic player got over-excited!
Thankfully the first goal would come and be for the Timaloys.
Just as I was typing up a tweet saying I thought Frimpong could do with some assistance out wide in respect to making some space, Ntcham played the ball out to the sprightly young flying Dutchman ( Thanks Delbhoy!). Frimpong turned and beat the first man with ease and ran 20 yards with the ball. Facing another 2 Killie players, he still managed to get the ball into the box.
Job done by the young wing-back, now it was up to the strikers.
Up stepped Eddy.
Its easy to forget how good Eddy is, purely because he makes it all look so easy.
Its as if he operates in Matrix Bullet Time and the rest of us see panic and chaos as he sees everything in a calm assuring manner.
The ball came in from Frimpong as Eddy and a Killie player charged into the box. Eddie collected the bobbling ball at shin height, immediately bringing it under control. Then he spun not once but twice to send the Killie player all over the shop before calmly striking the ball passed the keeper to give us the lead. It was so cool and calm and collected that people were equating him to Tom Rogic, that’s how good his close control under pressure was. Whilst running AND under pressure from a defender,remember!
Celtics next best chance of a goal would be Callum McGregor passing an attempt wide after brilliant dribbling and link up play with Eddy but the first half would end with the Hoops 1 goal ahead.
The second half would soon have the Celtic fans smiling as Griff stroked the ball home for the second. The Killie team all appealed for off-side but the cannae man from Leith was a yard on and the goal was never in doubt. Griffiths celebrated by turning his attention to Kris Boyd who had said the Celtic man had only 4 weeks to save his Celtic career over Xmas. 2 goals in the first 2 games is quite the return so far.
The rest of the half was much of a muchness. Killie scored when Jozo made a poor clearance and then stood still while a Killie forward leant down to head a bouncing ball home. Thankfully the Hoops would restore the 2 goal advantage with big Jullien heading in a corner to make it 3-1 and secure the 3 points.
The only “controversy” or 2 or 3 or 4 were Griff being shown throwing old shin-guard tape towards gesticulating Killie fans, who had apparently been giving him abuse all night. Some feared he might get called up to the Compliance Office for that but if history has taught us anything then not to worry!
We also had a shocking follow through from Killie man Power on Frimpong which saw the wingback stretchered off the park. We also had the strange switch of Griff for Mikey Johnston. Why risk the slight young man on that pitch and why not bring on the new signing Kilmala? Then we also had Bayo come on…which seems even weirder.
Most controversial of all though was after the game. Kris Boyd, a man who champions a Mental Health Charity, used his Sky Sports Scotland Platform whilst clearly flustered, to have a go at Leigh Griffiths mental health issues and absentism from Celtic. Twitter went into meltdown and there was a large demand for Celtic to ensure this sort of attack does not go unpunished, unlike Power on Frimpong.
So that was that.
3 points in a tough venue and we have to be happy with that.
Big positives are some more game time together for our strikers and hopefully Frimpong will be okay, at last reports he was walking around despite the amateurism of the stretcherman at Rugby park, At one point he was heard to cry out “Oh F***” when they were trying to attend to his injury!
So onto Ross County… here we go…a Home game..that very rarest of things indeed!