New Douglas Park, Hamilton
4th October 2015.
Accies 1 Celtic 2
Celtic visited NDP on Sunday lunchtime looking to bounce back after a midweek draw with Turkish side Fenerbahce in the Europa League, and Accies had shown good form with back to back wins against Motherwell and Kilmarnock. The match was pretty even and hard fought by both sides but it was Accies who took an early lead through a great Gramoz Kurtaj strike, Celtic then pulled level and took the lead with goals from Boyata and Griffiths, all the goal action coming in the opening half hour.
The match started at a frantic pace with both sides on the attack, with Dougie Imrie and Leigh Griffiths having decent early attempts on goal, however, both goalkeepers were able to make comfortable saves. It was the Accies support who had something to cheer when, in the 3rd minute, midfielder Gramoz Kurtaj broke the deadlock when he went past Celtic’s Dedryck Boyata and shot past Craig Gordon from ten yards, 1-0.
Celtic heads weren’t down for long and immediately sought to put the Accies defence under pressure, Emilio Izaguirre had an 18 yard shot saved by McGovern, Thomas Rogic’s shot from the edge of the penalty area flew over the cross bar and Nir Bitton shot wide of the Accies post.
Accies then turned the tables on the visitors when Ziggy Gordon won the ball just outside the Celtic penalty area, passed to Dougie Imrie who then struck a great cross field ball into the penalty area for Kurtaj to run onto, he rose and stuck a foot out but his touch put the ball out for a goal kick, the Accies fans appreciated the goal hero’s attempts anyway.
Accies had a good spell inside the Celtic half that ended with a 20 yard Ali Crawford strike, it took a deflection and headed out for a corner kick, Crawford then sent his corner kick to the back post, Ziggy Gordon got a touch on the ball but could only send by the post for a goal kick.
The match was being played at a frantic pace by both sides and Accies were taking the game to Celtic, when the league champions broke and were awarded a free kick just outside the near corner of the penalty area, Griffiths then flighted his kick to the back post and it fell just right for Boyata to knock into the net from point blank range, 1-1.
Accies were then awarded a free kick 30 yards from the Celtic goal, the Celtic wall was set up for a shot or ball towards the far post, no one, least of all Craig Gordon was expecting Ali Crawford to cheekily place his shot to the near post, Gordon had to scramble across the goal line once he realised what was happening, but his luck was in when the ball went narrowly wide of the post.
Celtic took the lead on 31 minutes, when Saidy Janko sent the ball into the penalty area and Leigh Griffiths got up to head in from twelve yards, 1-2. James Forrest then made a good run into the Accies penalty area, and from a really tight angle, saw his shot from six yards blocked by keeper Michael McGovern.
Accies were able to put the Celtic defence under some pressure as the first half drew to a close, and won a couple of free kicks that produced one decent chance and a half chance, that might have produced something had the first touch been a little bit better. The first was sent into the penalty area for Kurtaj and Morris to run in for, but could only manage to head over from close range, Imrie then sent a dangerous ball inthe penalty area, and everyone including Craig Gordon contrived to miss.
The second half started with fiery encounters from both sides, but it was Accies that then went on to make a great series of passes, starting with Garcia Tena, then Gordon and Imrie picked up the reins before Ali Crawford sent a 20 yard effort over the cross bar.
Leigh Griffiths sent in a free kick towards the Accies back post, Nir Bitton rose to head towards goal but McGovern managed to make a great save. Accies then ran up field, Ziggy Gordon sent a nice cross field pass to Grant Gillespie who sent his 22 yard shot fizzing past the left hand post.
Just short of the hour mark, Nir Bitton made a strong run down near side touch line before cutting inside and passing out wide for Kris Commons, who shot wide.
We then made a decent chance when Imrie played a nice ball out wide to Kurakins on the wing, he crossed into the penalty area for Morris, but the big striker was inches short of connecting with his head in front of goal. Then minutes later, another great chance fell to Crawford when he shot across the penalty area to the Celtic back post, Gordon dived to make a spectacular save, the ball landed at the feet of Carlton Morris but his reaction strike went wide.
Scott Brown brought down Grant Gillespie just short of the Celtic penalty area, but Jesus Garcia Tena’s free kick took a deflection off of the Celtic wall and went wide of the post. Crawford sent the resulting corner into towards Imrie on the edge of the penalty area but his shot flew high over the cross bar.
We had a penalty appeal waved away in the 80th minute by referee Steven McLean after a Blackett foul. The final chance of the match fell to Celtic substitute Gary Mackay-Steven when Celtic broke up field, his 15 yard shot went wide of the far post.
Accies boss Martin Canning was disappointed with the result but proud of his sides battling performance against the league champions “I’m disappointed obviously that we didn’t take something from the game, unfortunately in parts we were excellent. First half obviously we scored a great goal, it maybe came a bit early, we maybe tried to protect what we had before we should have been, I thought we showed them a bit too much respect first half and sat off them, but I thought second half we were different class.”
“I think the biggest thing for everybody is frustration and pride, I’m proud of the players, the fact that we worked so hard, I think that at 2-1 down at half time, having been one nothing up, worn them down.” He added “You could see why we could feel hard done by and not put the performance second half that they did first, I thought the second half performance was excellent, and that gives me pride and like I say I’m frustrated for the boys, because if they had taken something from the game, I don’t think anybody would have argued.”
Accies goal scorer and man of the match Gramoz Kurtaj said afterwards “I am disappointed because we started well, we scored the first goal and in my opinion we have to try to keep the goal until the second half, and then Celtic do get nervous. When they scored the two goals and they changed the positions that we had run, and it was quite difficult, but yes obviously I’m disappointed, we wanted to take some points and it was a great chance, and that’s life.”
“I think we were aggressive, they make mistakes because we pressed them and we wanted to be brave in the match, we wanted to show our class because we won the last two matches, so we weren’t scared. We wanted to try our best and I think we started well and after the goal we had to carry on, but yes, it’s a bit frustrating obviously and they have quality and we could see that, we could see the quality today.”
Accies: McGovern, Gordon, Kurakins, Gillespie, Imrie (D’Acol 81), Crawford (Docherty 74), Kurtaj, Morris (Nade 68), MacKinnon, Garcia Tena, Tagliapietra. Subs Unused: Martin, Sendles-White, Longridge, Lyon.
Goals: Kurtaj 3.
Cautions: Gillespie, Garcia Tena,
Celtic: Gordon, Blackett, Izaguirre, Bitton, Brown, Griffiths, Commons, Rogic (Lustig 75), Janko (Mackay-Steven 75), Boyata, Forrest (Armstrong 63). Subs Unused: Bailly, Ciftci, McGregor, Tierney.
Goals: Boyata 25, Griffiths 31,
Cautions: Janko, Armstrong,
Referee: Steven McLean Assistants: Graeme Stewart & Andy McWilliam 4th Official: Brian Colvin.
Man of the Match: https://hamiltonacciesfc.co.uk/man-of-the-match-vs-celtic/