Hoops march on

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jimbob
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Hoops march on

Postby jimbob » Mon Nov 17, 2008 4:28 pm

Yesterday’s game wasn’t the finest match ever, but results like this are how titles are won. It was also a fairly typical Celtic victory; in the time since Strachan took over, we have won 16 matches inside the closing five minutes. The fact is, when style is not enough to win games, or it’s sadly not on display, teams have to find heart, guts, and fight. This Celtic team has it all. They are capable of playing scintillating football, yes, at times, but they also have that ability to grind out results which separates us from the also-rans and makes us champions.

From the opening minutes, it was clear that we were going to be in a tough match. Perhaps the team are fatigued? If they are it’s not hard to see why. With an entire team out injured, we have just come through a punishing fixture list; nine games in twenty-nine days. Consider this; Rangers played nine games in twenty-eight games at the end of last season, and they imploded, dropping points everywhere, and putting us in pole position for the title. During our own spell we have not dropped a single domestic point, and gone four points clear in the league.

Hamilton taking the lead was a shock, but the biggest surprise was our lacklustre response to it. For the first time in many weeks, we looked off the pace, as though some of our players were feeling a little leg-weary. When we didn’t score straight away it encouraged the home side, and they came at us in a way we didn’t expect. Things just didn’t come off for us.

Anyone will tell you, aside from good football and the guts to fight when things don’t come off, title winning teams also need a bit of luck, and with ten minutes to halftime we got a break. Sheridan raced clear of the Hamilton defence, a Hamilton player clipped his heels, and although it happened outside the box, the ref pointed to the spot and flourished the red card. Nakamura stepped up and struck the ball sweetly past the keeper.

Facing ten men, we’d have been forgiven for thinking it would be easy. Hamilton weren’t going to make it that way. They battled for everything. By halftime it was clear that if we were going to get the three points we’d need to work hard for them.

To describe the second half performance as lacking would be an understatement. Passes went astray and promising attacks broke down against a tight, packed, home defence. Late in the match, a Samaras header was saved at point blank range, and at that point other clubs might have concluded it wasn’t going to be their day and switched off. Not Celtic.

We knew it would take a special moment to turn the tide, as well as suspecting we might leave it late, as we had fifteen times before in Strachan’s time in charge, and that’s how it proved to be in the end.

There were just four minutes left when an angled ball into the box forced the Hamilton keeper into a dive. His punch out reached Paul Hartley on the edge of the box, and after a neat one-two to put him in a decent scoring position he unleashed an unstoppable shot which bulged the net. His response was marvellous to see, an eruption of joy which nevertheless got him booked for leaving the field of play ……… something that never seems to happen to a certain side who play in blue.

No, it wasn’t the finest match in the world, not the most riveting or entertaining ever played, and it left some of us with finger nails chewed to the quick and others a little more grey-haired than before, but the three points are all that matter on days like that ……… and we got them, to maintain our four point advantage.

Games like this win titles.

robylon80
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Re: Hoops march on

Postby robylon80 » Mon Nov 17, 2008 5:42 pm

Not good match but the important is win and three points.


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