Alloa 1—2 Celtic.

The Celtic goals came in the first-half. We have a poor record on plastic pitches. Five changes from Monday night’s win against Hibs. Liam Scales comes in for Taylor. And Tony Ralston for Juranovic. He gave the ball away in the middle of the park in the first minute. And Mouhamed Niang could, and perhaps should, have scored, but his chipped shot went over the bar. A mix up between McGregor and Ralston again lets in the Alloa forwards. Julien was on the bench. This was probably a good game to give the French man a start. ‘Carl Starfelt has had a good game,’ said John Hartson. Commentator’s curse or wishful thinking? Sammon got in front of him and Stephen Welsh to bring Alloa back into the game and make it 2—1, and the nomadic former Kilmarnock player won most of his headers. Joe Hart had to make a good save from him ten minutes before half-time.  Starfelt clearly pushed Sammon in the back in eighty minutes as a sign of his frustration. Hart remains our number one, but Stephen Welsh replaces Carter-Vickers. Our soft-centre remains.

Further forward Georgios Giakoumakis gets his chance. With the first ball into box in 14 minutes, he opens the scoring with a superb finish into the top corner. A minute later he had a chance from inside the box, and with only the keeper, Hutton, to beat, he put it past the post. A header in the second half went straight into the keeper’s midriff.

 Maeda plays wide left and had three chances in the second-half: one a header and two chances from inside the box. He looked both sharp and blunt. He should have scored at least one goal.  

Liel Abada looked to have put the game out of reach for Alloa with a superb finish from outside the box, which he took on after a misplaced pass to Ralston came back to him. After a challenge with Niang, who made a number of fouls, Abada sat on the astroturf pitch and was taken off.

When Jota came on for an injured Israeli, the Portuguese winger briefly lit up the game, before it slowed and went back to fast walking pace at the edge the Alloa box. His trickery caused problems and he had a few pops at goal. Great to see him back. His goals took us up the table (five in five games). Whether we sign him at the end of the season is a moot point. Let next season take care of itself.

With Kyogo injured, the wealth we have in our forward line has become diluted, especially with our Japanese internationalists going to play for their country. Tom Rogic also disappearing for international matches. They’ll be missing big games against Hearts and Rangers.

McGregor gets injured with a head knock and possible cheek injury. McCarthy comes on. Guchi gets a start, and, as expected, looks tidy, but also got injured in the second half. Bitton, who has been excellent before Christmas, came on for him to help see the game out. We shouldn’t really be saying that against Alloa, but they had a chance, cut back from the edge of the box in the 92nd minute. A poor performance could have been disastrous. It was one of those games where Alloa can feel chuffed. They didn’t get hammered and Barry Ferguson can go with the plucky underdog tag. Celtic got the job done. We’re in the fifth round. That’s all that matters. Bring on the Rangers.  

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