Celtic Stars on 45 – Perhaps our Paranoia needs Medication

Celtic overcame grey skies, THAT grey kit and some grey area interventions from VAR to overcome a St Mirren side who have caused Celtic plenty of problems already this season.

The Saints were ultimately to undone by the introduction of Captain Chaos Liel Abada, on as a second half substitute after Celtic had fallen a goal behind, St Mirren had had a man sent off and Celtic had been denied a clear first half penalty in Paisley this lunchtime.

Celtic’s first half concession was harsh to say the least. Greg Taylor’s hands were by his side, and in a natural position. He was on the turn when the ball struck him and referee David Dickinson seemed to agree, when initially refusing to react to claims for a penalty.

And given his crystal-clear view of the incident, you possibly felt there was little chance of a VAR review overturning the on-field decision, but this is Scottish football and Andrew Dallas was in the Clydebank portacabin, so we probably should have expected what came next.

When reviewed by VAR, David Dickinson was then invited to have a second look, and we know what that means, as few referees have the courage of their convictions when invited to review their on-field decision. Despite Dickinson’s view of the original incident couldn’t have been any clearer, on a second view of video footage the penalty was awarded.

It was a decision that would take some explaining, but seeing as the SFA refuses to communicate their reasoning on any incident in Scottish football, there will be no real scrutiny bar the usual discourse in the media.

There is no denying the ball certainly comes off Taylor’s hand but there was little the Celtic full back could do about it – and little indeed he could have known about it. The referee had a clear look at the incident when it occurred in ‘rea time’ and decided against the spot kick.

Celtic’s own penalty call, late in the first half, led to a red card for Saints’ Charles Dunne for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity. There was no other choice but to award the red card when the defender hauled Kyogo to the ground with no defender offering cover as way of mitigation, however once again Andrew Dallas intervened.

The VAR decided the foul was outside the box and although the red card was opheld at review the penalty was not. But here’s the strange thing. Dallas then informed the referee, and David Dickinson changed his on-field decision as a result. So, Dickinson took another look, right? He went to the pitch side for a butcher’s at the screen? Nope. Dickinson instead took his instruction directly from the VAR.

So much for the referee’s decision being final, or that the referee is the ultimate arbitrator. Without going back to view the incident, that means at that moment Andrew Dallas was refereeing the game and not David Dickinson. Something we were told definitively would not happen when VAR was introduced to Scottish football.

Considering the initial foul took place outside the area, but carried on into the St Mirren box, the instructions for referees has been clear for some time. If the foul starts outside but continues inside the area the referee has to give the penalty. Not when VAR is Andrew Dallas however, and the SFA will need to explain this one, because not only did the foul continue into the area, the referee changed his on-field decision without reviewing the footage for himself.

Celtic came out flying in the second half, with Abada introduced for Daizen Maeda and fueled arguably by a sense of injustice, or perhaps a rocket up the team’s backside from Ange Postecoglou. The Israeli substitute was to have a massive impact in the second 45 minutes with his direct running causing chaos for the St Mirren defence.

Celtic scored two quick goals in succession. First from Jota -following superb build up play involving Aaron Mooy and Abada – with a grounded finish through Carson’s legs and in at the far corner of the net, after the Portuguese winger’s first attempt was stopped by Saint’s Alex Gogic. And then through Alistair Johnston, who met a simply wonderfully delivered Aaron Mooy free-kick at the back post in the most determined of fashion to score his first ever goal for Celtic.

And Celtic turned the screw as they opted to pile on the agony and turn on the style against the ten men Saints.

Abada’s impact was rewarded with a well-deserved goal to put Celtic 3-1 ahead. Mooy was once again involved in the build up as both players linked well together before Abada produced a superb driven finish to give Celtic a two-goal cushion and a tangible reward for Abada’s input since his half-time introduction.

And Captain Chaos wasn’t done just yet, as the Israeli carried the ball into the St Mirren area and cut the ball across to give Matt O’Riley – on as a sub for Reo Hatate – an easy finish to score his first league goal of the season. This after 51 attempts on goal this season, we were informed by the SkySports stats boffins.

Celtic’s fifth came after another VAR intervention, and this time even Andrew Dallas couldn’t find a reason for not intervening, as referee Dickinson visited the pitch side monitor and realised he’d missed a clear pulling of substitute Oh’s shirt and the referee awarded the penalty.

Oh took the kick himself, and after a stuttering run, up side footed the ball low under Carson. It wasn’t the most convincing penalty but the ball ended up in the net and Celtic were 5-1 up.

This was a big win for Celtic. After losing in Paisley earlier in the season and having been a goal behind at the break it could have been a tough second half. Instead, Celtic were at their free-flowing best, as they took advantage of the space an extra man afforded them and the impactful substitution of Liel Abada at the break.

It felt as if Celtic had to overcome the odds today, and that was probably because not only did they have to defeat the opposition, they once again had to overcome some bizarre officiating from David Dickinson and Andrew Dallas, with confusion reigning as to who was actually refereeing the game.

Celtic then restored their nine-point advantage at the top of the Scottish Premiership, with an emphatic second half performance that saw them begin the second period a goal down and end it four goals ahead – and they did it in style.

However, today should be all the warning we need that Celtic’s nine-point advantage can be eaten into by more than just the performance of the opposition, as a team across the city clearly needs all the help it can get, and some in positions of influence are more than willing to offer a helping hand.

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.


  1. Honest tae god these scum officials are really trying there hardest to help that new club sevco and spoty beale get close to celtic some of the big decisions today went against celtic now dickheedson waves play on when he clearly see the ball hitting Taylor arm 5 mins after in steps mr mason dallas and tells the ref go look at var screen diznae give but kyogo gets foul outside the box but continues inside right on the line wish is a pen ref gives it right away and then mason dallas steps in tells ref go to var screen and he diznae give it so who the fuck was the ref today i say dallas and guess what his dad got the sack for writing ftp on twitter our something like that coined at paradise so i say his son is just like his dad a dirty orange fuckpig bigot and a cheat so i hope our board complain about dallas to the sfa spl get that bastard never to ref our games again dirty rat dallas and ur scum dad.

  2. Taylor’s arm wasn’t by his side. It was raised to almost shoulder level. It could be considered a natural movement. We’d be claiming it at the other end. I’ve seen plenty where it’s not given, but never when we’ve committed the offence. It’s also not given when Goldson does it.
    I can accept it being given, but there’s absolutely no way the red card shouldn’t be given as a penalty. Outrageous, but not unsurprising decision.

    • After the handball, the game went on for three or four minutes. They timwasted all day, then the red card and penalty took another couple of minutes. Somehow they only add on four minutes to the first half.