Life doesn’t get much easier for Accies, after they quite simply fell apart on Wednesday night against Aberdeen, after a bright opening 20 minutes. Yesterday they travelled to Parkhead to face the champions in which is arguably the hardest away day of the season.
The South Lanarkshire side came here on the worst possible run of form, failing to win in nine matches. After the result yesterday afternoon, Celtic currently sit top of the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership by three points after Kilmarnock were held to a draw at Pittodrie. Its been far from a stroll in the park like recent seasons for the Celts, with Rangers improving season by season and lets not forget about Kilmarnock, who sit in second spot after Stevie Clarke has worked wonders at the Ayrshire club. What a time it must be to be a Killie fan.
Brendan Rodgers made two changes from the 4-0 victory against St Mirren on Wednesday evening. Michael Johnson and the newly signed striker Timothy Weah, started in place of Oliver Burke and James Forrest.
Hamilton made three changes from their midweek clash with Aberdeen, with Steve Davies, Mickel Miller and Alex Gogic dropping out and they were replaced by Tom Taiwo, Scott Martin and Lenny Sowah
The game got underway at Parkhead with the home side dominating possession. I was hoping we wouldn’t give anything away cheaply early doors or It could have been a long day in Glasgow. The first chance of the game came for the away side when a cross from Aaron McGowan bypassed everyone and fell to Tony Andreu, but the Accies man pulled his effort wide. Celtic began to grow into the game after a poor opening five minutes, creating two opportunities in the space of the minute. Firstly, after six minutes when a well practised set-piece routine fell to Callum McGregor on the edge of the box, however his half-volleyed effort was tipped over by Ryan Fulton. The second chance was for Scott Sinclair, who is on fine form of late. The Englishman cut into the box before dribbling by the Hamilton defence and having a strike at goal which was tipped over the bar by Fulton once again.
The Celts kept pressing in pursuit of getting the opening goal but efforts from Sinclair, Christie and Michael Johnson were all comfortably saved by the Accies keeper. Scott Martin nearly gifted the home side a lead after and Timothy Weah his third Celtic goal after a short back-pass left the striker through one-on-one but once again Fulton came to the rescue.
After our horrible run I was really fearing the worst on Saturday afternoon but I was happily proved wrong as we had been excellent for the first 40 minutes, until Fulton made another dreadful error which undone all the hard work. A long-ranged effort from McGregor looked easy enough for the Hamilton keeper to catch, but it slipped through his legs and into the back of the net. I hope this isn’t becoming a habit as last weekend, two crucial mistakes by Fulton knocked us out the Scottish cup.
The final action of the first half was when the ball was worked out to McGowan. His shot was deflected to Andreu, who fired just wide of the post.
Half Time- Celtic 1-0 Hamilton
I was very interested to see how Hamilton responded in the second half as normally once we go a goal down we struggle.
Hamilton started the second half the exact same as the first and were brilliant and well organised. The home side were struggling to break them down and I was starting to feel a bit of frustration ring around Paradise. On the 60th minute McGregor shrugged off a few challenges before sliding Sinclair clean through on goal, but Ziggy Gordon got back in the nick of time to make a fantastic sliding challenge to deny what would have been a certain goal.
Fulton would have been a relived man, to have been let of with another mistake after 70 minutes, when he came rushing out his box before misjudging his header, which left Burke through on goal, however the Hamilton defenders managed to block the effort. It was a rush of blood moment for the Hamilton keeper, who is clearly rock bottom on confidence right now. I normally say you get that “one chance” at Celtic or Rangers to nick a goal and Hamilton had that chance after 73 minutes. Substitute, James Keatings played Steven Boyd through before he took the ball around Scott Bain, but a last ditch challenge went just wide of the post. It was agonisingly close to an equaliser
While Accies were having a brilliant spell of pressure, Celtic went up the park and doubled their lead. Another mistake from Fulton. To be brutally honest I lost the plot. McGregor curled a pass in from the right. It beat everyone, which should of allowed the Hamilton keeper to catch it easily catch it but he fumbled it and Christie tapped home to score the easiest goal he will get all season. Unfortunately the game was now over and the hard-working Hamilton side will be suffering their fifth defeat on the trot.
Just after the second goal, teenager Regan Mimnaugh made his debut, after the 17-year-old has been playing brilliantly this season for the under 18s and the Accies reserve team. I watched Regan in both home and away legs in our UEFA Youth League clashes against FC Basel and FC Midtjylland and he was top notch. Here’s hoping he is our next star.
If there were ever any doubts about the game at 2-0, there certainly wasn’t when it was 3-0 on the 88th minute. It was a beautifully floated cross towards the back-post from Mickael Lustig which was nodded home by Sinclair. James Forrest almost make it four in the last kick of the game when a darting run from the Celtic man led to a strike flying into the side-netting.
It was a sore one to take yesterday. Although I didn’t expect anything, we could have got a point if the errors were cut out. It was the manor that we lost that’s annoyed me. The individual errors simply have to stop, with one of the biggest games of the season next weekend at home to Dundee.
Full Time- Celtic 3-0 Hamilton
Bain, Lustig, Ajer, Benkovic, Izaguirre, Brown, McGregor, Christie(78), Johnson(63), Sinclair, Weah(63)
Subs- Gordon, Simunovic, Hayes, Bitton(78) Forrest(63), Burke(63), Henderson
Fulton, Kilgallon, Gordon, McMann, Sowah, McGowan, Martin, Imrie, Taiwo(11), Andreu(70), Boyd(78)
Subs- Marsden, Penny, Want, Gogic(11), Keatings(70), Mimnaugh(78), Davies
Referee- Alan Muir
Assistants- Sean Carr & Anthony Cooper
Fourth Official- Bobby Madden
Attendance- 58,264 (33 Away)
Goals- McGregor(41), Christie(77), Sinclair(87)
Yellow Cards- Sowah(11), Martin(45), Imrie(82)
Red Cards- 0