LAST SATURDAY 18 year old Declan McConville started his weekly diary Teenage Kicks, covering our Invincible Treble winning season. He started at the beginning covering Brendan’s arrival in May 2016 and his first month playing matches in July of that year. You can read part 1 of Declan’s Invincible Diary HERE> Now he turns his attention to August 2016 and it was quite a month…
Wednesday 3 August 2016
After a superb away performance in Kazakhstan Celtic welcomed Astana to Glasgow. It was with no great surprise that defender Efe Ambrose had been dropped altogether from the squad after a catastrophic mistake against Barcelona in the Champions Cup the previous weekend. Before the half-time whistle was blown, Celtic were awarded a penalty which was converted by Leigh Griffiths.
On the hour mark, central-defender Kolo Touré replaced Stuart Armstrong to make his debut in green and white hoops. Immediately after Touré came on, Astana stunned Celtic Park as Ibraimi pounced upon an error by Craig Gordon to pull the tie level. It looked as if the game was heading to extra-time but at the death, the Hoops were awarded a penalty after Moussa Dembele was fouled.
The Frenchman stepped up and was deadly cool under pressure. Celtic were again in the play-offs and this time would face Israeli side Hapoel Beer Sheva.
Sunday 7 August 2016
The Scottish Champions oddly began the defence of their title away from home at Tynecastle. That morning the news had broken that Scott Sinclair had signed for Celtic. It didn’t take Celtic long to get going and before the ten-minute mark the Hoops were one up, after a terrific goal from winger James Forrest. Former Celtic player, Tony Watt came tantalisingly close to pulling the score level, with his header going wide of the goal.
Hearts did eventually get an equaliser shortly before half-time. Referee John Beaton pointed to the spot after Jamie Walker went down in the box. The penalty was converted by Walker, but this would end up having a long-term effect on him. Following the game, the SFA handed Jamie Walker a two-match ban for simulation.
Celtic had chances but were denied by goalkeeper Jack Hamilton as well as a goal line headed clearance from Igor Rossi. The stage was then set for Scott Sinclair to make his Celtic debut. The Hoops broke after a Jambos corner with Leigh Griffiths charging at pace down the left-hand side. Griff whipped the ball across the face of goal which was tucked in by debutant Scott Sinclair.
A new Celtic Hero had been made!
Wednesday 10 August 2016
Due to the new format of the League Cup Celtic along with a few other premiership sides joined the tournament at the second-round. Brendan Rodgers fielded an excessively strong side to take on Motherwell in his first competitive domestic game at Celtic Park.
The Hoops completely blew the Steelmen away with twenty-sixty shots at goal with sixteen on target. Moussa Dembele seemed to be getting a feel for scoring at Celtic Park and bagged a brace. Rogic had opened the scoring in the game and bagged a tidy brace shortly after Dembele.
To add to the performance, Scott Sinclair had also managed to score on his home debut at Paradise. This performance was fantastic from start to finish, with the Celts finishing the game with a total of six academy players on the park.
Wednesday 17 August 2016
There was no SPFL fixture for the hoops the weekend previous as they participated in their final game of the Champions against Inter Milan in Limerick. This game was undoubtedly season defining. Celtic totally blew Hapoel Beer Sheva away in the first-half and found themselves three up at the interval. Tom Rogic opened the scoring after he capitalised on a goalkeeping error by Goresh.
The Beer Sheva keeper had come flying out his box and wiped Scott Sinclair out. The ball fell to the big Aussie and he calmly slotted it into the net. It was then time for Leigh Griffiths to make his mark on the game. A stunning header was followed up by a magnificent free-kick. However, it looked as if the second-half was going to take a different direction.
Beer Sheva scored two goals rapidly ten minutes into the second-half to pull themselves right back into the game. At the game I turned to my old man and said something along the lines of “I hope this isn’t another Maribor or Malmo.”
Thankfully the Celts heads did not go down and they kept on plugging away. Dembele added to his scoring at Celtic Park and grabbed the bhoys a fourth goal from a corner. In this game Scott Brown had overtaken the record appearances for a Celtic player in European football, being set at sixty-eight by Celtic’s greatest ever Captain Billy McNeill.
The skipper rattled the ball into net at the death to complete the night. Celtic would still have a hard time to come in Israel the following week.
Saturday 20 August 2016
I headed up to my first away game of the season at McDiarmid Park to see the Hoops put in another brilliant performance. Again, it was another first-half to be remembered with goals coming from Griffiths, Forrest and Sinclair all before the interval.
Celtic cruised through the second-half until another controversial penalty was awarded against them. Danny Swanson stuck the ball past Gordon to give the Saints a bit of hope. In fairness to St Johnstone they kept on battling and just before the ninety-minute mark Stevie MacLean bundle the ball over the line to put the Saints right back in it.
This goal was very quickly cancelled out as Ryan Christie made it a more comfortable 4-2.
Tuesday 23 August 2016
Even though Celtic were travelling to Israel with a 5-2 lead from the first leg I still wasn’t completely confident about the tie being won. The small sense of confidence I had was very quickly disrupted when the referee awarded Beer Sheva a penalty.
Craig Gordon made an excellent save from the spot kick to keep Celtic in the tie. What was to follow this was seventy minutes of torture after substitute Sahar pulled Beer Sheva back into the tie with a header which was failed to be cleared of the goal line by Kieran Tierney.
Immediately after the second-half started Beer Sheva had a second goal. A calamitous error by both Saidy Janko and Craig Gordon but the Celts into a very awkward position. That second-half was one of the most difficult which I have had to sit through.
The Celts stood strong for the rest of the half and managed to see the game out. Though, it was disappointing to be beaten the Hoops had secured Champions League football for the first time in two years. Celtic were once again in amongst the elite of European football.
Saturday 27 August 2016
To cap off a thrilling week for the Hoops which saw them get past Beer Sheva and be drawn against Barcelona, Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach they faced the team that had been their closest challengers for the past few years, Aberdeen.
Following Craig Gordon’s inconsistent performances, Dorus De Vries made his debut in goals for Celtic after signing from Nottingham Forest. Leigh Griffiths added to his fine goal scoring form after he nutmegged Kenny McLean and then rifled the ball past Joe Lewis.
Aberdeen however pulled a gaol back and were level at Paradise when Adam Rooney pounced upon a defensive mistake by Kolo Touré to bring the Dons level. The newly invigorated James Forrest did however have the Celts leading going into the interval after another tidy finish from the inside of his boot.
Scott Sinclair wrapped the game up after tucking away a penalty which he had won resulting in Mark Reynolds being given his marching orders. The game was then rounded off perfectly with a stunning free-kick from Tom Rogic. Celtic were now back on top of the league with a game in hand. The gap had already began to distance itself.
Read Jim Craig’s Diary this morning…On this day, Celtic beat Rangers 3-2 then went on something of a celebration…read HERE
Listen to Frank McAvennie on The Celtic Star Podcast…
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