Reporters Martin McConnell and Mark Gillespie caught up with the Manager and Darian MacKinnon after the game
What did you make of the game tonight?
“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.
We never like to play that way but I think sometimes you’ve just got to look at Celtic and see the qualities that they’ve got and try to stop that as opposed to having a wee go like we did at the start. Then see if you can go and get something from the game, but you realise pretty quickly that they were right at it and making it a difficult evening, particularly the first half. The second half I was really pleased.
I asked the boys at half time not to give up, keep fighting, which they always do anyway, and try not to lose the second half. So, I was really pleased and when we got the late goal, we were able to come back in after drawing the second half 1-1. That was a pleasing thing given where we were at half time.”
The side retained some belief despite a tough first half.
“That’s something that the boys have always got. They’ve got real honesty and continually work hard and its easy at 3-0 at half time and with Celtic playing as well as they were, to throw the towel in. That would never be the case here and I would never allow that, and the boys wouldn’t do that. I thought second half, albeit that we played differently, we didn’t play as high and didn’t press as high, we sat right off the game.
We let them dictate the game and dictate the ball, and were able to in particular stop Sinclair and Roberts who I thought were excellent in the first half. They were drifting into the pockets to go and play, and were causing us to have all sorts of problems. Like I say, we tried to fix that during the first half and get the message on, it wasn’t clear enough and we fixed it at half time and were able to stop that. I must give credit to Celtic, I thought for the first 45 minutes they were excellent.”
It doesn’t get much tougher than that, with Roberts in full flow and Sinclair on the other side and Armstrong coming through as well.
“I thought that their movement and the way that they played, their system and shape, they obviously changed their shape tonight and went 3-4-3. Which has caused us problems as well, the two wide players played so narrow. With Sinclair and Roberts coming in the park, your then stuck with your centre back picking them up, or does your midfielder drop back and pick them up? Continually in the first half they got inbetween. Second half we sorted it, Greg dropped in beside Daz and maybe stopped those pockets. It’s not just the guys movement, it’s the guy on the ball being able to see the movement and that’s another level again.
Like I say, I thought they were very good in the first half. I must say though that I thought we had our chances, we kind of had a couple of half opportunities and we could maybe have done a little bit better and showed a bit more composure. But first half, Celtic were a different level and second half, not pretty from our point of view but pleasing in the way we closed the game and closed the spaces and we got a goal that was pleasing.”
What were your thoughts on the game?
“Aye, we got a doing to be fair. They’re sharp all over the park and put out a strong side that was a running match for most of us.”
It’s not the sort of game that you’re going to be judged on as a team?
“No, it’s not, although you still would like to put up more of a fight. I thought the goals that we lost were pretty poor, but they’re a top side aren’t they and their movement is excellent. Every one of them is bang at it, and when it’s a night like that then it’s a really long night.”
You did manage to catch up a little bit in the second half?
“Yes, the gaffer said to sit in a wee bit more because we were trying to press in the first half, but they were just picking us off and we gave it away. We tried to stay a bit tighter, we drew 1-1 in the second half and that’s about as much as we could have hoped for.”
It’s a decent enough start to the season isn’t it?
“Yes, it’s important that we got a good start. We knew that this was going to be a difficult night to get any points from it. So, we’ll now put it behind us and we know that we’re not going to be playing that sort of quality every week.”
Although you’ve started well, you still have your critics that will write you off at the start of the season.
“They always do, but I would do the same if I was in their shoes. It’s just something that happens to be honest, we don’t really use it as we just want to stay in this league for the players and the club.”