Our reporter Mark Gillespie with his take on Sunday’s game
Sunday 2nd February 2020, 12.30pm
Hamilton Academical 1 Celtic 4
We had worked so hard for 75 minutes, but a late salvo eventually moved Celtic seven points clear at the top. We now sit at the opposite end of the table on goal difference after the weekend matches. Once again it was a story of what might have been. Marios Ogkmpoe’s header stunningly put Accies ahead. But soon we were down to 10 men, Jamie Hamilton dismissed for a professional foul. The game seemed to hinge on that, Odsonne Edouard’s free kick drawing the champions level before the break. They then had almost an hour to wear us down.
We knew it would be a long second 45, but the 10 men defended for most of it. Celtic threw numbers forward, with the luxury of bringing on Christie and Rogic as subs. Once Chris Jullien flicked the visitors in front on 77 minutes Accies tiredness began to show. Edouard soon added his second of the game to make sure of the points, before James Forrest fired home the final blow in injury time.
First team coach Guillaume Beuzelin says Accies can still draw encouragement from this despite a second successive home defeat.
“I have mixed emotions”, he said post-match, “The boys managed a good performance defensively, but it wasn’t good enough towards the end. The fatigue was there and we switched off.”
“I thought Jamie Hamilton’s sending off was a bit soft. He needs to learn but he’s a big prospect for us at seventeen. Leigh Griffiths might have been off too. That’s what I thought at the time, but I don’t want to comment too much on that.”
“It’s always easy to be motivated when the old firm come here. If we have that in every game, we’ll be fine. We’ve been in this position before and know what to do to stay in this league. It’s another massive game in three days’ time.”
An injury ravaged squad saw a few reinforcements for the big live TV kick off. There five changes from the defeat to Livingston, Luke Southwood, Aaron McGowan and Jamie Hamilton all starting. David Moyo and Marios Ogkmpoe were in to provide attacking options, the big Greek going to have a big impact in the lone striker’s role.
There was only one change to the Celtic line up from midweek. Stephen Welsh made his debut at the back in place of Jozo Simunovic, as the visitors looked to extend an unbeaten record at New Douglas Park.
A niggly start at both ends sparked to life as Griffiths and Sam Woods tangled on halfway on 13 minutes. The Celtic striker certainly appeared to stamp down as he rebalanced his footing, the referee giving him the benefit of the doubt with just a yellow card.
It gave things a real edge, Accies getting a first effort on target on 20 minutes. Ogkmpoe pounced on Kristoffer Ajer’s slip inside the box but Forster saved the close range shot with his feet. But the big Greek made no mistake six minutes later, rising at the near post to bullet home Alston’s corner kick. His second league goal of the season, both against the champions.
Celtic looked to respond straight away. Calum McGregor crowded out inside the box minutes later. And frustratingly the Accies lead was to last just eight minutes, Edouard firing home from a free kick just outside the D. Making matter worse was the dismissal of Hamilton in the build up, deemed to have fouled Griffiths bearing down on goal.
But Accies didn’t buckle as other sides have done. It was largely one-way traffic in the second half though. Ogkmpoe was increasingly isolated, but still continuing to menace the Celtic back line. He got in behind just once on 53 minutes, but there were no takers for his dangerous ball across the box.
Celtic slowly upped the intensity, and the set piece count mounted around the Accies box. Southwood called into action on 56 minutes, tipping a Griffiths free kick onto the bar.
Accies tried to crowd out the box but were very deep. Eventually sub Ryan Christie found some space on the left to unlock us, for Jullien to flick home first time 77 minutes.
It was a hammer blow, and Celtic put the game away two minutes later, as sub Tom Rogic set up Edouard stroke home his second from inside the box.
The French striker passed up his chance of a hat trick late on, blasting a Forrest cross high and wide. But the Celtic wide man got on the scoresheet in the final minute, Edouard setting up him up inside the box to give the score line a more emphatic look.
Accies: Southwood, McGowan (c), McMann, Collar (Templeton, 64), Alston, Woods, Gogic, Moyo(Want, 35), Martin, Hamilton, Ogkmpoe (Davies, 71); Subs Unused: Gourlay, Hunt, dales, L Smith
Bookings : Gogic,14, McGowan, 43, Collar, 63
Red Card: Hamilton 34
Goals: Ogkmpoe, 26
Celtic: Forster, Jullien, Taylor (Hayes, 72), Brown, Griffiths, Ntcham (Christie, 62), Edouard, Ajer (Simunovic), McGregor, Forrest, Welsh (Rogic, 76);Subs Unused:Bain, Klimala, Bauer, Arzani
Bookings: Griffiths, 14, Taylor, 67
Goals:Edouard, 34, 80, Jullien, 77, Forrest, 90
Referee:Nick Walsh; Assistants:Douglas Ross and John McCrossan; 4thOfficial: Colin Steven