Accies media web reporter mark Gillespie with Saturday’s details…
Saturday 24thNovember 2018 at 12.30pm
Hamilton Academical 0 Celtic3
Defeat and results elsewhere leave Accies now two points ahead of next week’s opponents St Mirren, and five clear of Dundee at the bottom. Two crunch games against the bottom two now loom starting in Paisley, after a tough afternoon against the champions.
We never really got going against a dominant Brendan Rodgers side, Ryan Christie’s 13th minute strike getting us off to the worst possible start. We kept the arrears at one goal for over an hour, before a Scott Martin own goal on 68 minutes and a late Leigh Griffiths free kick made sure Celtic stayed top of the table.
For Martin Canning a result always looked a big ask for his side, especially after going one down so early in the game.
“It was always going to be difficult. Our plan preparing for this was to try and frustrate for as long as we could and keep ourselves in the game. But we lost two goals from set pieces which was disappointing. At the first goal we’ve just allowed a flick to take two or three of our players out of the game.”
“We looked to then try and hit on the break, and had set piece opportunities to put the ball in the box, but we haven’t made the most of these. In the end we have been beaten by a top side.”
“We changed to 4-3-3 with 20 minutes to go, but when they scored the third we risked pressing up and losing two or three more. Last season here we opened up and pressed Celtic from the first whistle and found ourselves 4-0 down at half time. The plan this time was to keep ourselves in the game for as long as we can, but the goals have been disappointing.”
Both sides made three switches from a fortnight ago. Accies were without suspended skipper Darian MacKinnon, with Steven Boyd and Mason Bloomfield the other omissions from the side which lost in Perth. Mickel Miller was back from his one match suspension, with Tom Taiwo and Scott McMann returning to the first team line up.
Craig Gordon returned in goal for Celtic, with Filip Benkovic and Olivier Ntcham also starting in place of Kristoffer Ajer and Tom Rogic. The visitors were looking for an eighth straight league win over Accies.
And it looked ominous enough from the start, as Celtic pressed Accies back and dictated the tempo. A first minute penalty claim against Matt Kilgallon was waved away, as he got in the way of an Edouard cross. Christie then robbed Mickel Miller 25 yards out, and his shot drifted just wide of Woods left hand post.
The pressure mounted. Scott Martin hacked an Edouard shot off the line on 10 minutes, before the visitors took the lead three minutes later. It all came as McGregor played a quick one two from a short corner, getting to left byline to set up Ryan Christie to fire home from 10 yards.
It was important not to cave in early, and Accies at least settled a bit more as we chased the game. But Celtic still retained an edge and almost doubled their lead on 28 minutes. Ntcham weighted a ball through for Edouard, with Gary Woods showing good reactions to tip the effort wide.
Celtic were dominating possession as Accies simply tried to get to the break one down. There was another escape as the two Frenchmen linked up again on 34 minutes, Edouard’s striker’s shot deflected into Woods’ side netting.
It was still a contest in theory well into the second half, as Celtic couldn’t find that killer goal. We just hoped for that one opening, but from a couple of set piece opportunities couldn’t work Craig Gordon.
With European football in midweek,Celtic were keen to settle any doubts about the three points. The away end again thought Ntcham had doubled the lead, as Edouard set him up on the edge of the box, only finding the side netting on 49 minutes.
Celtic huffed and puffed a little as the second half wore on, but had the all important second goal on 68 minutes. Lustig swung a ball in from the right for Sinclair to head down, and the ball took a wicked deflection off Scott Martin en route Gary Woods’ net.
There was an element of damage control, but we brought on fresh faces and went 4-3-3 in a bid to salvage something. It was to all too late though, as Sinclair won a free kick on the edge of the box on 82 minutes. Sub Leigh Griffiths drilled the low set piece effort around the Accies wall to round off a comfortable win for the visitors.
Accies: Woods, McGowan, McMann, Gordon, Tshiembe (Keatings, 77), Kilgallon, Imrie (c), Bingham (Brustad, 73), Miller, Taiwo, Martin; Subs Unused: Mucha, Bloomfield, Want, Boyd, Souwah
Celtic: Gordon, Boyata, Lustig, Benkovic, Tierney (Izaguirre, 77), Forrest (Morgan, 84), McGregor, Ntcham, Christie, Sinclair, Edouard (Griffiths, 73); Subs Unused: Bain, Hendry, Hayes, Mulumbu
Accies Cautions:McMann, 56, Martin, 80, Taiwo, 86
Celtic Goals: Christie, 13, Sinclair, 68, Griffiths, 83
Referee: Don Robertson; Assistants: Daniel MacFarlane and Calum Spence; 4th Official: Steven McLean