Celtic v Ross County: Match Preview: Full Steam Ahead

Yokerbhoy gives us another in depth look at our opponents ahead of what will be a rare home game over the next few weeks…

 

For the third time this season we take on Ross County FC, a team whose style (or rather whose defensive shortcomings) has made them comfortable for our lads to play against so far, as the hefty scorelines in our favour over the last two fixtures would suggest.

Their goal difference and defensive record (i.e. goals conceded) still stand out as the worst in the league but, even so, they manage to pull off some fine home results from time to time, notably their recent wins against Hibs and Killie.

At Xmas time though, they completely caved in and were routed 4-0 at Livi (at least we’re not the only ones who have a bum time at the Macaroni) when that gangly big rascal of a nº 9, London Bikes, ran riot with an impressive hat trick.

County are an erratic side, something which could be partly explained by their bad lack through injuries to players while frequent tinkering with  team selection by the co-managers could well be another telling factor.

What appears to be more relevant to me though, is their record against ourselves and the huns, where we’ve given them a couple of hidings (especially at CP) scoring 10 goals in the process, with the uglies bashing the staggies up in Dingwall four nil at the end of October.

Maybe it’s a bit early to call it a clear tendency but there is, at the very least, a strong suggestion that they fold a trifle easily when facing one of the big two, even at home.

In an attempt to plug some of the gaping holes in the centre of their defence as well as improve cohesion and ball distribution from the back, the Staggies have signed CB Coll Donaldson from ICT for an undisclosed fee.

The 24 year-old was signed a few years back from Livingston by QPR but he didn’t quite make the grade down in London. However, he featured regularly for Dundee Utd over a couple of seasons before going on to perform consistently well for ICT. He’ll notice quite a step up when he starts to compete in the SPFL but I expect him to be a first team regular as he simply can’t be any worse than those who’ve featured for the Highlanders in that position so far this season. Fellow CB Liam Fontaine, whose poor run of form continues, was suspended for the midweek game but is likely to line up at Celtic Park.

In midfield, one of Ross County’s better performers in recent games has been Aberdonian pub brawler Iain Angus Vigurs, now looking more comfortable in a deeper role. Having spent about half of last season on the sidelines through injury, ‘Vigorous’ is building up some good consistency, linking up well with fellow midfielders Josh Mullin (who was MOTM the other night against Hearts thanks to his ball-winning ability and tireless box to box running) and ex-Exeter (no stutter intended) lynchpin Jordan Tilson.

Having hamstring victim Ross Stewart out for anything up to two more months is a crushing blow for County’s attacking options as he is not only their top scorer but also their best overall player. Either veteran ex-Hibs forward Brian Graham (also just back from suspension) or Billy McKay could deputise on Saturday but another option could be Oli Shaw, purchased only a few days ago from Hibs and who made the bench the other night against the diet huns.

The 21 year-old was a great prospect a couple of seasons ago, netting against us on two different occasions but had fallen out of favour at Easter Rd since then. He’s mobile, quick thinking with nimble fast feet and a decent finisher although he has always seemed a bit lightweight. If he were to fill out a bit more and get regular game time for the staggies, he could carve out a successful career for himself, possibly at a much bigger club. 

County paid what for them is a considerable sum, and will be expecting great things.

  Stewart is not the only serious injury loss for the highland outfit – creative wide boy ‘Midge’ Gardyne will be out for 3 to 4 months while Cowie (midfield), Draper (DM) and Grivosti (CB) are also ruled out for the Parkhead encounter.   

 Ewan Henderson, of course, won’t be allowed to play. Thats because he’s been recalled to Celtic. 

 Recently he has been drifting out of the picture somewhat with quite a number of mediocre performances relegating him to the bench. Which, frankly, means he wasn’t learning and has been brought back to Lennoxtown before he ends up asking people if they want fries with that. 

  The current run of things at the club suggests that predicting the Ross County XI for Saturday’s game will be just as hard as predicting the Celtic team selection but I’ll give it a go:

 

Baxter

 

Fraser Donaldson Watson (or Fontaine) Kelly 

Spittal Vigurs Tillson Mullin Erwin

 

Shaw

 

 

Back in the east end, our team should take a bit of heart from a more than decent performance and result at the Rugby Park midden the other night. Playing at home I’ve got a feeling that Lenny might just change things around a bit and deploy both Jamesie Forrest (who we’ve been told will be ready to make a return) and Mikey Johnston to make full use of the wide areas in a 4-2-3-1 but with Griffiths and Ntcham doing well at the moment, who’s to say he won’t go with something similar to what we’ve seen at Firhill and Kilmarnock.

 

I reckon the teuchters will set up very defensively (even though they’re extremely poor at defending) as most teams that come to Paradise usually do, and try to somehow stay in the game up until the closing stages before bringing on a couple of forwards towards the end if they’re still in it by then. After all, despite Stewart being crocked, they’ve still got about 4 strikers vying for that leading attacker’s position.

 

One thing about them is that they’re not a team that likes to employ a high press (probably through lack of fitness) and their own shaky defence hates being pressed hard (even Livi had a field day by utilising that very tactic on them in December) so we should go for exactly that, an unrelenting high press. Not a moment’s respite for their defenders and they are likely to capitulate.

 

 

Forster

 

Bauer Jullien Ajer Taylor (or Hayes)

 

Brown McGregor

 

Forrest Rogic Johnston

 

Edouard

 

Subs: Gordon, Taylor (or Hayes), Jozo, Ntcham, Arzani, Klimala, Griffiths 

 

Prediction: Celtic 4 County 0 (McGregor, Rogic, Edouard, Griffiths)

 

COYBIG 

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Rebus67

Yoker,

A great analysis although I know nothing about RC. However, there are two nuggets in your report…..a) Draper is out, and b) Gardyne is out. The first lessens the chance of injuries and the second cuts down their creativity and energy. I hope we again go with 352. Bauer is fast, not as fast as Pingpong, but fast so he can be a wingback, perhaps IS a wingback. I’d like us to try, at least part of this game,without Brown, and give Scott Robertson a chance.

Rebus

Yoker Bhoy

Thanks again for another fine post Rebus.

Rebus67

I posted something but…….

StillSamarasMad

Getting on the bus for the game now.(Yeah it does take that long)

5-0 (Edouard 2, Johnston 2, Kimala)

PS Graham has been signed for PTFC

Paddy Mo

Any explanation for the Taylor enigma? To play so well, then be dropped for Killie, is baffling.

Yoker Bhoy

Yeah, you’d have thought that Rugby Park would have been ‘taylor-made’ for the bhoy but it wasn’t to be and this wasn’t mentioned in Lenny’s press conference yesterday. We know that he trusts Johnny Hayes and sees young Greg as a player with good potential, but not necessarily a first pick. I suppose his general idea is to share the workload between them although I’d like to see Taylor kick on and start to make the position his own as he is better defensively and is likely to improve with regular game time. Hayes has done well for us this… Read more »

Devoy45

Yokerbhoy, many thanks for the Ross County info and summary. Good craic. That is a lot of work on our behalf and I appreciate it!
I too want to see more of Greg Taylor and sometimes can’t follow Lenny’s “logic.” Today, two up front makes sense. We need to develop the idea of two stikers up front, so 3-5-2 or 4-4-2 seem the best way to go. The league is on to our 4-2-3-1. As a result our goals production is way down. Killie looked like a turnaround. Our defence still leaks
though.

Yoker Bhoy

Morning Devoy, I’ve got a hunch that Lenny prefers to use Hayes more in the harder games due to his experience. Whether or not that is positive for the team is open to debate. However, there’s a great chance Taylor could start today. I’d be every bit as happy to see both strikers on from the start although I also wouldn’t mind seeing two speedy wingers (both of whom could do with game time in their legs) torment that weak defence down the flanks whilst pressing them high. I think the central defenders should start to improve when they get… Read more »

The Cha

Great insight as per usual.

On the subject of loans, I was disappointed that Henderson’s had been cut short, hopefully due to a clash of styles rather than anything negative in his development.

I was also surprised that O’Connell was “only” going to Thistle, given that he’s already played for Ireland albeit in a low key friendly.

However the crucial thing is getting game time, which he may not get in the Premiership.

Yoker Bhoy

Hi Cha, I listened to Lenny’s press conference this morning and it looks unlikely that Hendo would be loaned out elsewhere this season so he’ll probably be training with the first team. I think he started well enough at Ross County but his form gradually went downhill from there. It’ll be difficult for him to get a game with us though, unless Rogic or Ntcham (or both) get sold next week but I doubt that’ll happen. I agree with you on O’Connor, Oxford Utd would have been a better alternative but the Thistle deal is better than nowt.

Morto

Taylor is more of a proper full back so won’t play if we go 3-5-2, hence Hayes on Wednesday. He can learn the attacking side though between now and the end of the season and expect to see a lot more of him next year.

Paddy Mo

And what did you make of the line up the day? Forrest in , Johnson in, Eddie out … at home?

Mike

An excellent read Yoker.
London Bikes, a name like a Bordello, well he does put it about a bit.
Vigurs, a sex pill, he does stand up for the team.
But teuchters Yoker, your skating on thin ice there bhoy, careful now, we don’t want to see you getting gored by a stray bull. 😉
Ewan Henderson, well the lads got talent, no doubt about it, but look at what he’s up against, Oh Jeremy found out earlier this week, thuggery, they don’t like getting it up them Yoker do they?

Yoker Bhoy

Ha ha good stuff. Plenty of Spanish teuchters down here that get up to some pretty mad stuff with there stray bulls as well.
😉

Once again Yoker thanks for your hard work and effort it’s a great addition to the site and one I look forward to reading. Working in Englabd we see results in the press but no team selections etc So its appreciated. I think Hayes deserves his place in the team he has never let us down. If Lenny keeps going with 3 at the back then Hayes would be first pick. I think we should score at least 5 today someone us due a tanking and looking forward to going back to paradise today. Like to see Rogic play and… Read more »

Yoker Bhoy

The good thing Jimmy is that despite our injury issues, we’ve still got pretty good options in all areas of the pitch, both playerwise and formationwise. I was glad to see a bit of zest back in our play last Wednesday something that had been sadly missing in December. Enjoy the game m8!

SteveNaive

As in depth and balanced as usual Yoker, well done again. Far too good for the mess of a press in Scotland. They will defend then chuck everything at us in the last 15 if we don’t kill them. Young Welsh, centre half, has been recalled from Morton. My boy at Alloa Arbroath midweek ( his mate was playing) and said Alloa playing great pass and move football. Who is Manager there ? Bit windy here today but good for football. Us and us only.

Yoker Bhoy

Thanks Steve. I suspect that was a rhetorical question about Alloa’s manager but just in case anyone is unaware who he is, it’s our one-time midfield slugger Peter Grant, who has done wonders with such a small team of part-timers that are vigorously competing in the second tier. Hope we see a good few goals fly in at Parkhead the day Steve.

Yoker Bhoy

My reply didn’t come through Steve but’ll probably pop up later. Enjoy the game m8.

SteveNaive

Teams up, Bauer and Simo and Johnny,
Johnson Forrest Griff plus usual. Welsh on the bench.Where the hell is Shved ?

Yoker Bhoy

A surprise to see Ajer not involved and Odsonne on the bench. Maybe the gaffer thought both could be rested in view of the fact we aren’t facing very strong opposition.
Interesting to see wee Dembele on the bench.

Monti

At the bottom of the garden m8.

Mike

Yoker I did post earlier, but a faery stole it and hasn’t returned it. Without Odsonne we are Donald Ducked, quality counts and wee strikers are mince. Will they-he ever learn?

Yoker Bhoy

So true Mike, the man is practically irreplacable. Talking of strikers, big Dykes scored yet again today. Could he be worth a punt if we can get him on the cheap? He’d certainly offer something a bit different.

Mike

London Bikes? That was maybe the reason that my post was stolen, cos I said he sounded like a Bordello, you know, he puts it about.
If not maybe Monti ate it. 😉 But the truth is if we do not find another tall athletic striker soon then say TaTa Tae Ten.

Yoker Bhoy

A big goalscoring striker, strong and good in the air. Also a complete and utter bastard – ideal for SPFL games. 🙂

Mike

Just the ticket, especially if he carries a club, especially designed for devious blue hued refs. bastards! 😉

Yoker Bhoy

🙂

rebus67

Mike, These players are out there. Hopefully, our scouting was done before the window and that we are not still evaluating targets. I suspect that the Board have given up on the coaching team and that they will not release serious funds this window. They will manage and hope until the end of the season when NL will be gone. The best that we can hope for is loans a la Burke and Weah. The ones that we have at the moment have worked out fine..Bauer, Foster, and Elyounoussi. That performance today was dire…from back to front. CB’s too far… Read more »

henkesdreadlocks

You must have been watching with your eyes shut. Forrest hiding again, give us peace. Bauer, never a footballer in a million years and Hayes not to far behind.

Rebus67

Henkes,

Certainly one of us had our eyes shut! At least we agree on Hayes, although he always tries 100%

Do you really think Forrest played well? Come on, get real.

Rebus

henkesdreadlocks

He did well enough and as for your ridiculous observation about passing backwards, watch the game back and I think you may feel your view is slightly warped.

bgbhoy

we’re literally nothing without eddy

highseastim

A fair injury list, refs at it as usual since the break but 6 points out of 6, that’ll do me. In Lenny I trust!!

Bbgbhoy… Sad but True

Monti

Pish

Mike

Never let a left footed player take a penalty, everybody and their granny knows where he’s going to put it, the Left Hand side of the keeper.

Monti

Well done Bhoys….eventually!
Hail Hail!

Reading Yokers pieces are so professionally informative and interesting
I think it needs a proper name for his ” column” inches 🙂
I’d suggest “YOKERS YELL”.
Perhaps there could be a competition 🙂

Yoker Bhoy

I like it Weered, that’s definitely better than YOKER’S YODEL. 😉

Yoker… I think that Yokers Yarn sounds better

Yoker Bhoy

That”s a cracker.

SteveNaive

Great result seeing as the back four forgot how to play football never mind defend ! Had they a striker they would have been three up and we were a shambles. Could have scored again second half but for the Wall’s foot. His distribution is also like a wall. As Rebus said, Bauer ( booked again, unfairly) all over the place, ball over the top of the two CB’s causing havoc and Hayes and Johnson no telepathy at all. Olly was good then missing Brown and Cal were good, Forrest marked one to one but he didn’t hide and Griff… Read more »

Monti

Steve,
It’s ok, we are trying to sign a winger 🙂

I really thought we would come out flying today and put down a marker. But we were flat really poor and Eddy was the changer.
Sad really that new signing never started along with Griff.
So much for getting players in who are ready to go.
Very worrying that County got so many decent chances.

Iancelt67

Didn’t see. Though it’s three points with a lot of experimentation. My fear is that we are against a resurgent hun well beatable but we have limited opportunities to beat them. Rodgers leaving has evened the contest no question. I’m sure he seen it coming and it was too close for comfort, too close to spoil his resume. It’s down to Lennon to come up with the right formula. That’s totally in question I see erratic choices of line ups I hope there’s good method in his madness. Never a big fan o Lenny only the quality of his past… Read more »

Where has my good post gone, long time passing

Monti

It’s because you’re an old cnt…..ask Mike for some advice 🙂

Monti

God bless the west Cork brigade!

Cheers ya bollic

Una

Nurse!! Monti has started talking to himself again

Una… You should let sleeping dogs lie

Monti

Evening wench, you washed the car yet?

SteveNaive

“We were a bit flat first half’ We can’t afford that Neil. Train better, coach better, promote better or buy better. The first half and the start of the second was not good enough. Get the press, hunger and pace back.

Monti

Steve, The defence is causing me anxiety, in my opinion we don’t have a proper international class left back, KT had that position as his own, up & down the left he ran that side, that’s what’s missing. As we have previously discussed at length, Ajer in central defence isn’t & shouldn’t be the answer, these same issues keep repeating themselves & it’s frustrating as fuck. How can you take in £25m for KT and end up with Hayes, Bolifkngoli & Taylor as his replacement? We haven’t strengthened or maintaned the standard at left back. I’m happy enough with Frimpong… Read more »

I see that ex cliftonville /Ross CountyLiam Boyce signed for hertz… What’s he thinking of ffs

I’m glad he did 🙂

Jimmbee… Yes siree 🙂

The Boyce of the old brigade 🙂

Jimmbee… Indeed 🙂 he was a prolific scorer for the Reds, Ross County and Burton

BroxburnBhoy

Well well well looks like the second incarnation are fallible after all! I wonder if their sites will be apoplectic with rage focusing on their rookie manager and his pisspoor decisions and tactics? I must say that will settle the MSM for a week at least. No spinning this one. Oh and we are still five points clear. The “rangers” are very beatable

Sorry Liam… Nice one

Monti

STUPID, STUPID HUNS!

Mike

Oh Steve, Steve I’m a bit anxious Steve, its the defence.. Steve, I’m worried Steve. 😉

Iancelt67

Not much noise coming out of the south side. Think I got that corona virus slice of lime on the top of my head seems to have settled

Yoker Bhoy

Happy days with unhappy huns.
🙂

charlie

liam boyce scored another goal in the first hawf today aganst yon zombies bbc never showed or mentioned it oan thur show anybody got footage

charlie

weered is it true boyce scored aganst linfield and cocked his leg and pretended to piss oan a union jack

Charlie.. Wouldn’t surprise me

Charlie.. Highlights on BBC football pages

charlie

aye but theyaint showing boyce other goal

charlie…that was an assist for that unpleasantness Naismith to score…

charlie

naw he scored wan in the first hawf mate

Charlie.. Was it offside?

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