20120818-161142.jpg

Neil Lennon’s injury-hit Celtic escaped from Dingwall with a point after a last-gasp Kris Commons tap-in salvaged a 1-1 draw for the SPL champions against new boys Ross County.
Celtic’s preparation for this game was blighted by injuries to many players including Captain Scott Brown and striker Gary Hooper which led to Lennon fielding an arguably weaker side than that that played against HJK Helsinki just over a week ago.

Both teams enjoyed a good spell of possession in the opening 10 minutes but it was County who would rue a glorious chance missed on the 10th minute when Stuart Kettlewell found himself unmarked between the two Celtic centre-backs and he somehow managed to direct his header wide of the goal from six yards after a magnificent cross from Marc Fitzpatrick. That was County’s only clear chance for a long spell of the game.
After the goal, Celtic took charge of the game and found themselves with numerous opportunities but could not convert them. Wanyama directed a header off the bar after a drilled Commons’ corner. Commons seemed as the most likely player to get Celtic back on level terms as he tested County keeper Michael Fraser with a rasping low-drive from thirty yards and he was utilising the space behind Samaras very well.
Four minutes after the second-half kicked off, Mulgrew fouled County forward Mark Corcoran on the edge of the box. Richard Brittain stepped up and unleashed a powerful shot right into Fraser Forster’s top right corner. Most keepers would have struggled to keep it out of the net. Minutes later, Brittain was again in the thick of it as he clearly tripped Samaras in the County box but referee Craig Thomson said it was not a penalty much to the disbelief and anger of the Celtic dugout and support.
Celtic again smacked the woodwork after a 30 yard free-kick from temporary skipper Mulgrew curled past County keeper Fraser but crashed off the top of the bar. Later on in the match, it was County’s turn to hit the woodwork after Brittain’s 30 yard swerving shot had Celtic keeper Forster beat but the woodwork denied County a second goal which would have surely have won them the match.
Lennon opted for an all out assault on the County goal for that deserved equaliser. He took off both Lustig and Wilson and replaced them with youthful wingers in Tony Watt and Paul Slane in the hope that they would cause County problems. The last 10 minutes proved a backs-against-the-wall job for County as wave after wave of Celtic attacks proved unsuccessful with Samaras having being denied from a terrific reflex save from Fraser and Kayal blazed over from just inside the box.
In the dying seconds of injury-time, Watt cut in and unleashed a low drive which Fraser failed to collect and he spilled the ball right into the path of Celtic’s best player of the game Kris Commons who tapped in for the much deserved equaliser which sent the players, the dugout and the support which had been in full voice all game into raptures much to the dismay of County who knew they had blown a glorious chance to beat the champions.
The average performance of Celtic today was another pointer that we need to strengthen up our squad big time in order to comfortably retain the SPL trophy and to do well in Europe and all eyes are on Peter Lawwell and Co. to give Lennon the right money he needs to improve his somewhat below-par team at this moment in time. Whether they do is a different matter.
Lennon and his Celtic squad now look to Tuesday where they will play Swedish outfit Helsingborg in Sweden in the first leg of their Champions League Qualifying Play-off and can hopefully pick up a win or a draw to take back to Celtic park the following week.
By Scott Millar
@RetroMillar

Advertisements