Rangers won earlier today. Celtic needed to win. It’s that simple. They didn’t. Losing the midweek tie wasn’t unexpected. Out go the youngsters Stephen Welsh and Dean Murray. I’m not a great fan of Welsh. Eighteen-year-old Murray is physically the better prospect. Then again, I’m no great fan of Nir Bitton. And I’d not seen Carl Starfelt, but he makes his debut, and loses the first ball in the air, which wasn’t an auspicious start. It got worse for the big Swede. Josh Ginnelly breezed past him on the right. The ball is played into the box. And I think Bitton slide-tackled it into the path of Gary Mackay Steven. The ex-Celtic couldn’t miss. We’re a goal down in eight minutes.
Starfelt loses yet another ball in the air at the start of the second half. Almost scored an own goal. Looks to me, even this early, as yet another dud. The soft centre remains.
Yet again losing goals from nothing balls into the box, as we did in midweek and all of last season. Tony Ralston was great midweek. Here he brought us back into the match. Ralston played a one-two with Edouard. Then he weaved into the box. What a superb finish, passing the ball past Craig Gordon.
Ryan Christie has a decent start to this season. But he has been dropped to the bench to make way for Forrest. Abada (quiet game midweek) on the right. I’ve yet to be convinced by the Israeli; he doesn’t go past defenders and tends to bring the ball backward, which we don’t need. He had a goal disallowed here. But I’m guessing, another dud.
The Scottish internationalist on the right wing, Forest was better when he went back to the right wing. Here’s hoping. We all know what Forrest can do, but midweek, he didn’t do it. Yet again, he had a chance in the ninetieth minute to equalise. Craig Gordon saves. That’s something Bain and our other keepers didn’t do all of last season. Makes saves when it mattered. Gordon repeats his performance. Making another save from a Starfelt header from the resultant corner.
Edouard…sigh. But Japanese internationalist Kyogo Furuhashi, on the bench, comes on for Turnbull. The ex-Motherwell midfielder had the best of the few chances we created despite dominating play in the first half, but he seems to have lost his mojo. He carried the team last season, this season he’s been average at best.
Simple balls, over the top, continue to trouble our defence. Misplaced passes from our own players created the most chances for the First Division Champions. The commentators reminded us that Celtic have not won away from home in their last seven matches. Make that eight.
We almost lose a goal from every corner, Boyce, unmarked heading over in the first half. He’s unmarked. Souttar guiding his header in at the post, after a cross from Armand Gnanduillet, but Bain saves. Yet another six-foot-six player who bullies our defence. A few minutes remaining.
We’re looking for a win, what we get is defeat (a replay of last season). Soro makes a needless foul, outside the area. Celtic keep a high line. Smith flings it in. Souttar attacks the ball. He sends a header past Bain. It still looks to me like we need four defenders and a goalie. I’m perhaps being a bit harsh on Ralston, who has delivered. We’re trying to play like Manchester City, but without the players we need. We know what system we want to play. So do the opposition teams. Last season they didn’t have to do much to score. This season, it’s even easier. I took a lot of stick last year for saying the league was gone before Christmas. That’s not the case here—but we need to beat Dundee, and win at Ibrox. Not impossible, but improbable. Stranger things have happened. Maybe we’ll find a centre half that knows how to defend. Maybe we’ll find a goalkeeper that makes vital saves, as Craig Gordon did. Parkhead has become a dud farm.