Accies media web reporter Martin McConnell with his take on Sunday’s game
at Celtic Park, Glasgow
Sunday 26th August 2018 at 3pm.
Celtic 1 Hamilton Academical 0
Celtic moved themselves in to second place and to within three points of league leaders Hearts, whilst we slipped a place in to ninth. The narrow 1-0 victory came after Dedryck Boyata marked his first appearance for the Celtic since returning from the world cup, by helping the ball over the line during the second half.
We started brightly and had a chance to take the lead inside the opening minute, but when Celtic got in to their stride after around 15 minutes, they looked more confident. And to give them their due, Accies put in a shift to defend their penalty area well enough to limit Celtic to shots wide of goal for the main part.
Hamilton boss Martin Canning said afterwards, “For us, there are positives in it. Obviously when you come here you know there’s going to be long periods of the game when you’ll not have the ball. It’s important then to be disciplined and organised, and that’s a strength of the players.
We give a plan and an idea of how we think we should defend and how we think we can limit Celtic, and they’ve got to then go and work hard to do that. It’s a shift for them, particularly for the attacking players who won’t have much of the ball and naturally want to go out and attack the Celtic goal.
They do a lot of unselfish work for the team. Boydy and Mickel did a lot of hard work. And like I say, there were positives. We limited Celtic to not a lot and had a couple of wee half chances ourselves. Ultimately we’ve taken nothing from it, even knowing how hard it is to come here and limit them. But pleased with the positives even though we’ve come away with nothing.”
Accies made three changes for the visit to Celtic Park, with Delphin Tshiembe in for Alex Penny, Dougie Imrie back in the side for Sam Kelly and Steven Boyd for Rakish Bingham. The hosts made four changes, with Lustig, Boyata, Rogic and Griffiths replacing Gamboa, Simunovic, Ntcham and Johnston.
With less than a minute played, Mickel Miller jigged his way his way past the Celtic back line to unleash across the goal mouth from wide but Craig Gordon managed to get low enough to touch past the back post for an Accies corner. At the opposite end, Ziggy Gordon made a crucial ‘last gasp’ challenge to deny Leigh Griffiths a chance from ten yards.
Celtic waited until the quarter hour before James Forrest was able to test Gary Woods in the Hamilton goal. However, he was well up to the task and leapt across goal to spectacularly save for a corner kick. The Champions had now settled in and took control, Accies didn’t see much of the ball after that but seemed comfortable to frustrate Celtic and defend from deep.
Forrest had another decent effort on the half hour when he shot from wide, but again, Woods reflexively put up a hand to turn past the post. With half time looming, Forrest picked out Dembele at the back post, fortunately the big Frenchman headed wide of the target, then watched as Woods touched over another effort as the referee blew for half time.
Five minutes in to the second half and Celtic produced the move of the match, Rogic finding Tierney out wide with a defence splitting pass. The cross was met on the edge of the six yard box by Callum McGregor but his first touch sent the ball over the wrong side of the cross bar. Dembele then sliced a chance wide from in front of goal.
Dembele always dangerous close to goal, wasn’t having much luck and headed over from a Lustig cross then began a move that ended with Griffiths hitting over the bar from a Tierney cross. It was only a matter of time before they’d take the lead, and they did, close to the hour when Dedryck Boyata bundled the ball over the line from a Leigh Griffiths corner kick.
Boyata almost scored a second ten minutes later when Hamilton failed to clear their lines, but the Belgian international sent his strike high of the cross bar. Accies only effort of the second half came when Aaron McGowan hooked a shot well wide of the target from around 25 yards out.
Celtic: Gordon, Brown, Griffiths (Christie 81), Dembele, Rogic (Ntcham 67), Boyata, Lustig, Ajer, McGregor, Forrest (Johnston 67), Tierney. Subs Unused: Bain, Sinclair, Gamboa, Hayes.
Goal: Boyata 62.
Accies: Woods, McGowan, McMann, Gordon, Tshiembe, Imrie, Miller (Kelly 66), Taiwo, MacKinnon (c), Want, Boyd (Cunningham 59). Subs Unused: Hughes, Penny, L Smith, Sowah, Fulton.
Cautions: MacKinnon, McGowan.
Referee: Don Robertson. Assistants: Stuart Stevenson & Graham McNellie. 4th Official: Gavin Duncan.
Attendance: 56,044 (161 Accies).