Terry Butcher sent out his troops in a 3-5-2 formation with Dirk Lehmann joining Kinniburgh and Corrigan at the back. Injuries gave Brian Dempsie his first start of the season at right wing back alongside Leitch, Adams, Fagan and Hammell in the midfield. McFadden and Ferguson were given the tough task of creating something up front.
If our plan was to keep things tight at the beginning, we lasted two minutes. David Fernandez waltzed past his marker and surged into the box before being tripped by Derek Adams. As expected, Henrik Larsson thumped the ball past DuBourdeau but surprisingly he put it the wrong side of the
Celtic had a further three chances in the opening twenty minutes with Lambert and Hartson heading high and wide with free headers. DuBourdeau also made the first of several impressive saves, getting his foot to a shot from inside the box.
The next period of the match was our best of the game. For fifteen to twenty minutes we prevented Celtic from getting near to our goal and carved out a number of glorious chances ourselves. Ferguson fired a half volley from a tight angle that was palmed wide by Douglas and from the resulting corner, Corrigan had a header saved from point blank range. Celtic failed to clear their lines though and when Dempsie fired a great ball across the face of goal it took another great save to deny Ferguson.
The second half was only moments old when Celtic missed a clear chance to take the lead. McFadden lost the ball in the opposition half but Celtic broke with speed and Larsson’s header looked goal bound until Scott Leitch appeared on the line to clear. The ball broke to Thomson who had the goal at his mercy but dithered and we eventually scrambled our way to safety.
However, our resistance was broken shortly afterwards when Leitch could only flick on a cross at the near post and Larsson met the ball with a textbook volley to beat DuBourdeau. Tempers flared shortly afterwards with Fagan, Lambert and Dempsie all going in the referee’s book.
Between injury and suspension, James McFadden has shown little of his multi-million pound promise in recent weeks but he showed flashes of genius that suggest he is approaching his best form again. When he jinked past two players, an equaliser looked possible but his shot from eighteen yards went just the wrong side of the post.
We did claw our way back into things when Lehmann scored a looping header but our only chance after that fell to Shaun Fagan. He could not quite get his head to Adams’ cross and punched the ball into the net – this resulted in his second booking and yet another red card was added to our collection. Celtic kept going at us but another pair of great saves from DuBourdeau ensured that the score stayed the same.
All in all, the day was not a disaster but yet again we paid the price for missing chances when we had control of the game. The heads should not be down though and a repeat performance should be enough to take at least one point from Hearts at Fir Park on Wednesday.