Dreadful Idah penalty sent Celtic spiralling towards unnecessary defeat

Hearts 2-0 Celtic…

Well Celtic passed up the chance to retake top spot in the Scottish Premiership today yet no blame should be placed upon the heads of either the players or the manager, who between them tried everything possible on the day but the game was decided early on when John Beaton on VAR duties asked referee Don Robertson to recheck his decision to give Celtic winger Yang a yellow card for a high boot. Once the decision was made to send the player off it really was going to be a long slog and extremely difficult to take anything away from Tynecastle.

Even with the man deficit we put up a good fight during the rest of the first half but just to make sure we left Tynecastle empty handed, the two main officials on the day colluded together yet again during the first half to hand Hearts a penalty with an absolutely ridiculous decision regarding a handball by Tomoki Iwata.

Being a man and a goal down it was going to take a herculean effort to come out with even a point in the bag and it wasn’t to be, with a goal in the second half by Lawrence Shankland pretty much sealing the points for the home side who ended the game with a 2-0 win.

Let’s not beat about the bush here, today’s defeat lies solely at the feet of Messrs Robertson and Beaton. Yes the whole day could have panned out so differently if Adam Idah had dispatched his early opportunity from the penalty spot, his strike wasn’t great and goalkeeper Zander Clark got lucky with the ball ricocheting off his foot and out of danger. I have no doubt however if it had remained 11 v 11 we would have went on to claim all three points.

I thought the players gave their all today to get something from this game and that’s all you can asked for in such a disadvantageous situation. Brendan Rodgers also tried his best to change the game with his decision to bring Kyogo on at half time, which was the correct one, and I must say I got a feeling of hope that it could work as well as his decision to bring Odsonne Édouard on whilst down to ten men at Ibrox six years ago which lead to us claiming all 3 points, but alas it wasn’t to be.

Heart of Midlothian v Celtic – cinch Premiership – Tynecastle Park Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers following the cinch Premiership match at Tynecastle on Sunday March 3, 2024. AndrewMilligan

Back to the main point however and the officials were dreadful today. Yang shouldn’t have been sent off and I will 100% stand by that. The likes of Neil Lennon in the Sky studio agreed, with Kris Boyd unsurprisingly saying it was the correct decision. I was surprised post game that Hearts striker Lawrence Shankland even stated he thought the decision was harsh.

As Lennon said in the studio, Yang went in with absolutely no malice, tried to flick the ball over the Hearts players head and unfortunately slightly caught him with his studs. It happens in football and deserves a yellow, a warning to be careful in the future, but in no way does it merit a straight red. The fact VAR controller Beaton called Robertson over, indicating a clear error had been made, was ridiculous. It wasn’t a clear error, the referee saw it clearly at the time and made his decision. Robertson should have stuck to his guns when he went over to the monitor but took the easy option of letting Beaton make the decision.

The penalty decision was even more unbelievable. With the ball in the air Iwata jumped up to head the ball, he gets bundled into from behind by Alastair Johnston and his arm goes out to try and regain balance, he’s looking absolutely no were near the ball as it comes down and touches his elbow.

It was never a penalty in a million years yet Beaton yet again called Robertson over to the monitor and inexplicably he changes his mind once again. It was an atrocious decision, absolutely atrocious. No excuse can be made for Beaton and Robertson in this situation. They have made a tremendous error and I’ll leave it up to you all to decide why they have made it. Everyone in the studio, including the annoying clown Boyd agreed it was the wrong decision. Hearts manager Steven Naismith even agreed, that’s how bad it was.

We all felt like last weekend was a turning point in this title race. Today’s officiating is an even bigger one. It’s one however I hope we use going forward to our advantage. Brendan Rodgers spoke to Sky post match and was furious. He didn’t pull his punches. He called out the officials, even naming John Beaton on VAR personally. I have a feeling todays events will go on to inspire this group. They will be rightly feeling cheated. The manager certainly does. I have no doubt he gave a stirring team talk in the Tynecastle changing rooms afterwards. We need to use this anger to our benefit going forward.

The positive we can take from this is that we end the weekend no worse off than we were. Yes we have passed up a great chance to go back top and put all the pressure on theRangers who showed yesterday that they lack bottle when it really matters, but the players and the manager certainly know now what they are dealing with. We can not leave anything to chance when we are dealing with the officials in the Scottish game.

Whether they are just inept or entirely corrupt is a matter that will be debated tirelessly. Whatever your opinion we all knew that their decisions will hurt us and could have a major hand in how this title race transpires. Celtic can not let them derail our title challenge. We must come out and blow teams away as we did to Dundee on Wednesday, because we will certainly not be helped by the referees in the country, who I have no doubt will make similarly bad decisions in our games going forward.

This weekend our players will have learned that their main title rivals are there for the taking and that the Scottish officials are not to be trusted. They need to use that knowledge during the rest of the season to lead them to the title. With today’s events in our mind, getting out hands on that trophy come the 18th May will feel all the sweeter.

Conall McGinty

About Author

Hailing from Cushendall in the North of Ireland my formative years were spent watching Celtic during our barren spell through the 90's which meant I have appreciated our recent trophy-laden spell even more. Favourite matches home and away I've attended has to be beating Man Utd 1-0 at Celtic Park and being with my 2 brothers watching us beat Lazio 2-1 in Rome. Best away day experience? Has to be Munich with friends from Coatbridge...what a few days!


  1. How many handball have NOT been called out by neither the ref or VAR when Goldson consistently handles the ball DELIBERATELY?
    Anyone who believes Jock’s mantra regarding the officials not mattering is deluded. That game was decided doon the ludge after Sevco’s result yesterday!

  2. Rob O’Keeffe on

    Agree with Jas.After the Foosty Buns lost yesterday,you just knew Celtic were getting hee haw today from the ‘officials’.Same old same old.
    P.S. If Idah wants to learn how to take a pen,he should watch the Thistle lassie’s pen against the Ghirls today.

  3. I thought our penalty was harsh enough, but still not enough in it to overturn the decision, which must have really annoyed cheating Hun Beaton, and certainly made up for it after that?
    Regardless the execution of the spot kick from idah was pathetic?
    Why is it that when we seem to have someone who can take a spot kick, then they totally change their preferred place of putting the ball?
    I know penalty takers like to vary there options as not to be so predictable, but the question still remains as to whether any actual practice is been done?
    Set plays still remain a problem area for us within the team and has been for years now?
    Are we really asking to be looking for a proper set piece coach at this stage?
    Another area that has been so costly to ourselves this season, and yet nothing has been done and no sight of getting the problems resolved either?

  4. Martin Blackshaw on

    This is what happens when development boys are recruited to the first team instead of seasoned footballing pros. It was a lazy penalty from Idah, who should never be first choice striker at any major club at this juncture of his career. He’s good back-up from the bench, but never a starter. What a mess this Celtic Board and management crew have made of this once-brilliant team. They were untouchable just 8 months ago, and now they’re at division 1 level. It’s quite an incredible collpase under Brendan Rodgers.