Pre-season or not, after a shaky start that was mightily impressive from Postecoglou’s Celtic

This was a game of three thirds. For the first third of the match, we couldn’t reach the final third of the pitch never mind bother the goalkeeper. Within the first three minutes we were a goal down but by the end we’d scored three of our own and could have had more. Mind you if there is a club who like dealing in threes, we certainly know it’s Celtic.

The Ange Postecoglou revolution began today and after a nervy start Celtic emerged with a 3-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday as goals from Albian Ajeti, Owen Moffat and Odsonne Edouard saw two young and mainly inexperienced sides emerge with not only a victory but also a confidence there is a vision already materialising from Celtic’s new manager.

Photo: Nigel French

From the beginning Celtic were under the cosh, conceding early as Bannan fed Palmer who in turn delivered a pass that carved open the Celtic defence and Josh Windass scored past Barkas and made it look like this could be an afternoon where men played the Bhoys.

Instead with great encouragement from the side-lines Celtic stuck to their fresh direction and even under great pressure from an experienced opposition continued to play the ball from the back.

Continually in the opening thirty minutes Celtic were pressed high by three attacking opponents yet despite this never resorted to clearing their lines or booting the ball aimlessly simply to lessen their load.

Instead, they tried to play yet even as they did, they looked laborious initially as defenders and the goalkeeper struggled to find the midfield and when they did the likes of Soro and new signing Liam Shaw couldn’t find advanced runners. Indeed, it took until 13 minutes before Ewan Henderson stretched his legs and the opposite end of Dragon Park, the end where Celtic were attacking, for the first time was seen sight of since the pre-match panoramic shots. Despite all that Celtic’s young guns held firm and followed instruction.

By the time the 30th minute break was over Celtic came out fighting. There was energy from the front and the press was on. Wednesday looked lost at the continual motion of Celtic’s young charges, and Albian Ajeti levelled things with a tidy finish as Celtic won possession pressing the opposition in their final third.

Photo: NigelxFrench

The second goal scored by Owen Moffat, who was crying out for an end product to reward some impressive play, and was scored by the same pressing effort as the first as Celtic led at last, before a final third change-over saw Luca Connell supply a wonderful through ball for Odsonne Edouard to finish off a game where the result mattered little but was a just reward for sticking to their manager’s game plan and eventually burying an experienced opponent who looked initially as if their nous would see off our naivety.

There was much to take from today’s game. Young Moffat will no doubt return to the Colts for the season ahead and if he can find a final product from intricate ball play there must be a genuine talent emerging. Meanwhile both Murray and Montgomery looked impressive and new signing Liam Shaw brought a welcome physicality and presence to the middle of the park.

In goal Barkas in particular dealing with Barry Bannan’s set pieces deliveries early doors looked as if he had something to offer, whilst a trim looking Albian Ajeti took his goal well and looked like there is a striker of note to play with next season.

Photo: Nigel French

In Midfield Kerr McInroy looked a capable midfielder tidy on the ball and comfortable on the half turn and Welsh did his future career prospects no harm at all with an assured performance in defence. But perhaps the standout performer was Leo Hjelde in defence for the final third. This lad may lack for build at present but reads the game well, covers for his full back’s indiscretions like he’d been told in advance it was coming and passes the ball along the backline and into midfield with a maturity the belies his age.

If there was one take-away over all other today from the personnel involved, it was Leo Hjelde is the left sided central defender who could bring a measure of balance to Celtic’s backline. He may well need an experienced partner, even someone to come in as a first pick while he learns the ropes but another loan deal would do Leo Hjelde no good at all, he is ready for first team football and it has to be with Celtic.

However today overarching message is that in a few short days Celtic’s young stars have bought into Ange Postecoglou’s message. Even after a tough start, a moment where some could have retreated into their shells they didn’t. Instead, Celtic’s young players stayed on message and with some little adjustments after the opening half hour saw the just rewards for sticking to their manager’s game plan, a high press, perpetual motion and despite setbacks believing in the vision.

Photo: Nigel French

Celtic now head into a weekend fixture with Charlton Athletic. The big question will be if Celtic’s internationals and late returners can match the discipline and belief in Ange Postecoglou’s message the young lads exhibited today. If they can there is something happening at Celtic, something positive and entertaining and if everyone buys in it could be the start of something.

They say all good things come in threes, for Celtic that was the case today and we certainly have some history with that number in recent times.

Niall J

Here are today’s goals…

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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