Celtic 3—0 Raith Rovers.

Celtic play St Johnstone, the holders, at Hampden in the semi-final. I’m old enough to remember when Raith Rovers beat us in the League Cup in 1994. After the dismal defeat at Livingston, the most important thing wasn’t our performance, but quite simply we win.

 Anthony Ralston comes in, Josip Juranovic drops to the bench, as does Stephen Welsh and Bolingoli. Only Carter-Vickers retains his place in the back-line that lost at Livingston. The much maligned (by me) Starfelt comes back to partner the American international. Adam Montgomery, who I think is our best option, plays on the left with man-on-the-match Jota.

Jota scored in just under 30 minutes. A few minutes earlier, Turnbull had an early free-kick from the edge of the box, which hit the wall. A poor effort. But McCarthy played in Jota, inside the box and he took it on and scored his first goal for Celtic. McCarthy was a surprise selection. He was so poor on Sunday, he wouldn’t have gotten into the Livingston team. Tonight he got pass marks, because his passing was better.

Jota created the second, just before half-time, cutting in and driving it at goal.  MacDonald palms the ball up into the air and Abada in 40 minutes, nipped in and headed the ball into an empty goal. Against a lower division team that had seen little of the ball this should have been game over—and so it proved to be.

David Turnbull picked up the ball and drove at the Raith box, he bent the ball into the net, but McDonald was poor. Three minutes into the second-half, it’s just a matter of how man Celtic will score.

Zanatta booked after a foul on Rogic, and minutes later it’s from yellow to red as he chopped down Ralston on the touchline. Two soft bookings, but he’s off and with half-an-hour to go. We expect to see Giakoumakis—even for this Celtic defence, the game was over.

 But Liam Scales made his Celtic debut. He comes on alongside Josip Juranovic, for Ajeti and Abada. Bitton and Soro replace McCarthy and Rogic. The game peters out with no Greek striker.  Ange Postecoglou explained why, in his post-match interview. Giakoumakis had injured his calf in the warm up, and left for hospital at half-time. Perhaps a cautionary scan and we’ll see him against Dundee United? Ajeti remains our only fit striker, and is holding the line. Playing Jota through the middle didn’t work as was shown here tonight. We lost much of our attacking flair with him in the centre, and he didn’t look comfortable. But needs must. The semi-final is at Hampden. I’m not sure that counts as an away game. With our recent record… well, you know as well as me. Wait and see what Celtic team turns up.  Hopefully, an all-green final before Christmas.  

Celtic 0—2 Ross County.

Celtic were playing at Livingston last year, we were losing (it ended up 1—1) and somebody whispered in Lennon’s ear, Rangers were also losing, but at home to Hamilton. He smiled, a lip reader would suggest he said, ‘you’re fucking joking’. You can imagine how the Ranger’s manager must be feeling now.

Two things make me happy, or at least less grumpy (fuck Christmas): Celtic winning and Rangers losing.

Beaten on Thursday by a Sparta Prague team struggling in the Czechoslovakian league, yet who scored eight goals to our two, over two Europa league ties, and are no better than Kilmarnock. Kilmarnock who beat Ross County with ten men last week. A Ross County team that hasn’t won since 19th September, seven games without a win. And over seven games Celtic scored 26 and lost 1 goal, before today. This is a Ross County team that if James Forest played them himself, the Celtic winger would still manage to score a hat-trick without playing particularly well, and then add another. When Neil Lennon (surely now the ex-Celtic manager) was asked if he was able to field his strongest team this season, he was able to say ‘No’. No Forest for him, meant it wasn’t his strongest team. He’s tried a back three and back four, he’s shuffled players about, as he did again today. Same old, same old. We can’t defend and we concede with seemingly every cross ball.

A turgid first half. Celtic have a change of goal keeper, Vasilis Barkas comes in. Change of shape, with two up front, Edouard and Ajeti. We see most of the ball, but don’t look like scoring. Ten Ross County men behind the ball. Ayer loses the ball on the touchline (and most of his headers) and Ross Paton gets to the touch line. It fizzles out. A shout for a penalty for hand ball in the Ross County box, it wasn’t. A free kick from Edouard and an easy save from the County keeper.

The first goal encapsulates Celtic’s season. Josh Reid on the right wing hooks a ball forward, past Elhamad, takes out three other Celtic defenders. Reid picks up his own wayward pass, drives into the box. His cross across goal is met at the front post by the County target man, Ross Stewart. He wouldn’t have scored, but no matter, Julien clips him. Penalty. He scores from the spot. Rogic plays in Ajeti, who hits the inside of the post. Everything that can go wrong, does, again.

Second half. I can use words like ‘ditto’. Neil Lennon. ‘ditto.’

We bring on McGregor, for Bitton, who had a shocker. I don’t know if we were resting McGregor for the next big one, which is now. Ajeti, has another game where he falls over and moans about decisions, goes off for Elyounoussi, who at least plays well, in one-in-three games. This is his chance. He has a header and misses. Edouard swivels and hooks past the post.

Duffy comes on for Elhamad, and wipes out man of the match, Ross Stewart on the half-way line. Jaccovitti scores with a header from another cross ball from five yards. He’s unmarked, as you’d expect from a Celtic team with four players in the team that are over six-foot five. The League cup is gone. The one that doesn’t matter than much.

But let’s be honest, Rangers will win it now. Rangers will win the league. Transition season in which we’ll probably beat Hearts in the final and win last year’s Scottish Cup, this year. And our best chance of a trophy is this year’s Scottish Cup.  Even Ronny Delia wouldn’t have survived that one. Keep the faith, reads to me, like keep being stupid. I’m daft enough, but I’m not blind. I’ll wait and see who the next Celtic manager is. Usually, new mangers get a bounce, two or three games when pundits start talking about how much fitter the team is and how they’ve gelled. Same old pish. This season is gone.

Tear along this line. Played ten, won two. Lost to Ross County.

————————————————————————————————————

 Thank fuck it’s lockdown so I don’t have to listen to their shite.