CELTIC were denied a penalty and what should have been a straight red card in the first half at McDiarmid Park this afternoon by referee Willie Collum. Oliver Burke was in the process of scoring when he was taken out but Collum, who awarded Aberdeen two soft penalties in his last game involving Celtic, wasn’t interested.
Tommy Wright set up his side to frustrate Celtic and for the first half he certainly succeeded in doing just that, with Clark looking as reliable as ever in the home side’s goals. Indeed it was Bain who was called into action in the early stages, when with Celtic down to ten men with Ajer off getting treatment for a head-knock, former Celtic star Tony Watt put Kennedy through but Bain made the save.
Celtic huffed and puffed for the entire first half without creating anything of particular note and once again the corner kicks were all wasted – surely something that needs to be looked at?
Half-time saw Mikael Lustig go off with Celtic’s first injury of the day, frustratingly it would not be the last. Jerry Toljan came on to fill in at right back and looked decent in his first outing in the Hoops.
Time was beginning to look the enemy for Celtic. The intensity was increased quite considerably and Burke looked like he might break the deadlock on 65 minutes but Zander Clark saved again. That was his last involvement as Brendan Rodgers introduced top scorer Odsonne Edoaurd from the bench to replace the striker on loan from West Brom.
Eddie almost scored when a low shot aimed at the bottom corner was touched around the post by that man Clark as the Celtic frustration increased. Then just a few minutes later Sinclair’s effort from point blank range was blocked by Clark and with Edouard going for the tap in he was kicked in the foot by the Shaughnessy. Again Collum was not interested in the penalty appeals and worse was to follow as Edouard looked to have picked up a bad injury.
If that was bad news for Celtic it turned out to be even worse for St Johnstone because to meant that Celtic would introduce their their third substitution of the day in Timothy Weah, as Odsonne was helped onto a stretcher.
The 18 year old’s impact was immediate. He got himself into a great position, controlled the ball brilliantly and crossed in front of the Saints keeper who was desperately calling for his ball watching full-back to clear. In came James Forrest though and with his studs he directed the ball into the corner and the Celtic support erupted in wild celebrations.
Collum used the SFA’s Celtic Rule by issuing a yellow card to Celtic’s number 49 for scoring then celebrating with the supporters and it all appeared to be too much for Jamesy as he limped off shortly after this holding his hamstring.
It was becoming a costly day for Celtic in terms of injuries and it looks like there will be no Lustig, Edouard or Forrest against Hibs in midweek and that list was to get even longer before the day was over.
St Johnstone tried to throw everything at Celtic in the closing stages but were sucker punched with a wonderful counter-attacking goal. Sinclair won the ball at the edge of the Celtic area and found Weah who put through a fine ball to McGregor at the edge of the St Johnstone area. His cross was perfection itself and the American followed it in for the tap in and McDiarmid Park erupted in Celtic joy.
Kristoffer Ajer lost concentration near the end to pull back the St Johnstone forward and Collum at least got one decision correct buy issuing a straight red card. So that’s Ajer going to miss out on Wednesday too.
So that’s Lustig doubtful, Edouard out, Forrest out and Ajer suspended.
Timothy Weah got the Man of the Match award and we’re not going to argue with that.
NEXT ON THE CELTIC STAR….David Potter’s thoughts on the match coming up shortly, stay tuned! Have your say on the new fans forum CELTIC NOISE, where ALL Celtic fans are welcome!