Albian Ajeti and the old adage of only being as good as your last game

If the old adage of only being as good as your last game extends to pre-season football, Celtic youngster Johnny Kenny may well have put himself in front of Albian Ajeti in the Celtic striking stakes ahead of the new season.

Kenny’s first half performance against Austrian minnows SC Wiener Viktoria, was a case of a player staking his claim for a first team squad place at the very least, meanwhile one of the players he has admitted to learning from during pre-season, Albian Ajeti, looked far rustier as he was introduced to replace Celtic’s January signing from Sligo Rovers for the second half.

It must be said Kenny not only looked a hungry player by grabbing two goals and being unfortunate not to score a first half hat-trick, denied only by the brute force of another player who made a good impression in Austria last night, Christopher Jullien, he also looked sharp.

Both Kenny’s goals were the type you want your striker to hoover up in any given game, reading Mikey Johnston’s intent to position himself at the back post for a poachers finish for the first, before executing a tidy half volley finish from three yards inside the 18-yard box for his second. Two very different types of finish but both expected to be in the armoury of anyone who holds hopes of making the grade as a striker at Celtic.

And then there was the one that got away, a headed effort that came off the post was unlucky, but there was an immediate awareness to move instinctively for the rebound, only to be outmuscled by the eager Jullien, as keen as Kenny to make a pre-season impression on manager Ange Postecoglou.

Goals aside, Kenny pressed well from the front and responded to the cajoling of his manager on the touchline to close down the opposition as they tried, in vain for the most part, to break on Celtic when possession was lost. His first touch looked sharp and impressive also, and his short passing was in the main on song, and Kenny must have made an impression on his manager.

Photo: Steve Welsh

The same cannot be said for Albian Ajeti however. Keen as he was to be involved in the build-up play, and with the proviso his second half performance was with a group of younger players less established as first team performers, Ajeti fluffed his lines on more than one occasion, looked to need an extra touch too often, and whilst many players on show looked ahead of schedule in terms of match sharpness, Ajeti looked far more off the pace.

There is little to learn from what amounted to a bounce game against a regional Austrian opponent, and we’ll probably learn much more when we face Rapid Vienna – boo-hiss – on Saturday, but there were a few Celtic players, such as the excellent Yosuke Ideguchi, the willing trier Mikey Johnston and the promising looking Bosun Lawal who will have made a positive impression on Ange Postecoglou, however Johnny Kenny was certainly a player who took his chance yesterday evening.

And as much as Kenny has admitted to every day being a school day, when learning from the likes of his co-striker Albian Ajeti, there is also much our Swiss international could learn from the new kid on the block.

Niall J

About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.

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