SuperSeal Stadium, Hamilton
Friday 8th September 2017 at 7.45pm.
Hamilton Academical 1 Celtic 4
It was so far, the toughest test that we had faced, five games into the new SPFL season. Celtic moved above Aberdeen and into top spot, with us remaining fourth, ahead of the remainder of the games over the weekend, after Celtic slotted home four with goals from Scott Sinclair (2), Stuart Armstrong and debutant Odsonne Edouard.
Accies boss Martin Canning said afterwards, “Yes, it was disappointing. I think to be fair that in the first half Celtic were excellent and that’s as good as I’ve seen them. Their movement and their one touch, two touch, was just so difficult to deal with. I think for us in the second half, we changed it a little bit at half time after we get the boys in. I was trying to change it through the first half but maybe it wasn’t quite clear enough, but in the second half we were able to get them in and maybe it wasn’t pretty in the second half from our point of view. “
It was a tough first half for Accies, as the Scottish Champions put on a tantalising display of one touch football that to be frank left Hamilton reeling for the most part and awaiting the next Celtic attack on goal, which came fairly often as three goals between Scott Sinclair and Stuart Armstrong will testify to.
The second half seemed to be going relatively well for Hamilton with few half chances, never mind chances on their goal, when PSG loanee Odsonne Edouard struck on his debut to make it four. Accies weren’t finished despite the 4-0 scoreline, when Cypriot Alex Gogic headed home his first Accies goal, three minutes from time.
Accies manager Martin Canning made just one change to the side that drew 2-2 with Killie a fortnight ago, with Rakish Bingham back from injury and replacing Louis Longridge. Visitors Celtic made five changes, with McGregor, Simunovic, Armstrong, Roberts and Edouard in for Ralston, Bitton, Ntcham, Rogic and Griffiths.
Accies gave as good as they got in the opening stages of the game, their balls forward tending to carry a touch too much weight. Celtic passed the ball about well, Armstrong skying the ball from distance, Sinclair caught offside when one on one, Edouard forcing a save from Woods from 10 yards, followed moments later by another Woods save when Sinclair struck from wide.
Just as the game sped up to leave Accies struggling against the Celtic juggernaut, the pace slowed in relative terms and allowed Hamilton to look a touch more comfortable. It was illusory though, as McGregor had a strike blocked yards in front of goal then Stuart Armstrong put the Celts in front just after the quarter hour when he guided the ball beyond the reach of Woods.
After a relatively benign spell at the back for the defence, Celtic went two in front just before the half hour when Edouard made a surging run to the edge of the Hamilton penalty area, a challenge forced the ball to run inside to Scott Sinclair, who wasted no time in sticking into the back of the net from 15 yards out.
With 33 minutes gone, Accies had their first real attempt on target when Ali Crawford struck from 25 yards, but Craig Gordon had no problems bringing it under control mid-flight. A few minutes later, Edouard stuck the ball into the side netting from a free kick from close to the corner of the penalty area, then Roberts had a shot blocked wide for a corner kick.
With just three minutes left until the half time whistle, a loose ball fell to the most dangerous man on the pitch, Scott Sinclair. He ran in on goal and shot, the ball struck Greg Docherty and came of the post before running wide, where Sinclair was already in position to stick away his second of the night.
The second half started at a more pedestrian pace, but the quality and speed of the visitors passing kept Accies on their toes. With ten minutes of the half gone, Hamilton saw a little more of the ball and had time to do something with it, unfortunately, moves tended to break down after hitting a glass wall just outside the Celtic penalty area.
With 16 minutes gone, Celtic created their first chance of the half when a ball over the top into the Accies penalty area was gathered by Sinclair a lobbed over the fast approaching Woods, and onto the top of the netting. Minutes later it was four and Edouard’s first in the SPFL when the Frenchman’s one two with Roberts carried him into the penalty area from where he struck.
With the match coming to an end, and everyone thinking of their journey home, Hamilton won a couple of corners. The first came to nothing, the second was taken by Ali Crawford and headed into the back of the net by an unmarked Alex Gogic from the outside edge of the six-yard box!
Accies: Woods, Skondras, McMann, Tomas, Imrie (c) (Gogic 75), Docherty, Bingham (Longridge 53), A Crawford, MacKinnon, S Boyd (Templeton 78 ), Sarris. Subs Unused: Jamieson, Biabi, Donati, Lyon.
Goals: Gogic 86.
Celtic: Gordon, Lustig, Simunovic (Bitton 74), Brown, Tierney, Roberts (Hayes 66), Armstrong (Ntcham 66), McGregor, Forrest, Sinclair, Edouard. Subs Unused: De Vries, Ajer, Ralston, Rogic.
Goals: Armstrong 17, Sinclair 29, 42, Edouard 65.
Referee: Don Robertson. Assistants: Graham Chambers & Andy McWilliam. 4th Official: Stephen Finnie.