Accies media reporter Mark Gillespie with his report from Wednesday’s game in Glasgow…
Wednesday 4th December 2019, at 7.45pm
Celtic 2 Hamilton Academical 1
For the second time in two weeks a spirited Accies pushed one of Scotland’s top two all the way, only to lose out at the death. Sub Marios Ogkmpoe’s last minute strike looked to have rescued what would have been a deserved point in the East End of Glasgow. But the champions had other ideas as captain Scott Brown angled home the winner in injury time.
We drop down to tenth spot. Celtic move two points clear at the top. They knew they had been in a game against an organised Accies side which had played on the front foot for 93 minutes.
Brian Rice agrees his side should have had something to show for their performance.
“It might seem strange saying that against the champions at Celtic Park, but I think we deserved something from what we put into it”, he said post-match.
“There are positives, but I’d rather have points. You saw a team tonight that was well organised and didn’t sit back. If I take Brain Easton out of the team tonight our oldest player is 25. I’m delighted with what I got tonight.”
“The most important thing now is to get ready for Saturday. We need to try and take that performance into the St Mirren game. It’s very difficult coming off the back of an old firm game, normally you’re licking your wounds. We’re not doing that tonight, but I don’t want us to feel sorry for ourselves.”
With perhaps one eye on the weekend the manager rested a few players, making three changes from the draw at Livingston. Scott Martin returned from suspension, with Will Collar also earning a start. David Moyo made his first league start up front, with Oakley, Ogkmpoe and Hunt all dropping to the bench.
Celtic also rested a few, with one eye on the weekend’s League Cup Final, resting key players. They made two changes from the weekend win in Dingwall, Olivier Ntcham and Moritz Bauer replacing Frimpong and Rogic.
The home fans expected points and a boosted goal difference, and Ryan Christie got them off to a flyer on 12 minutes. It was Celtic’s first attack, Callum McGregor threading through for Lewis Morgan inside the box. Southwood parried out to the in form striker, Christie rifling home the rebound after Lewis Morgan’s initial effort.
But the roof wasn’t about to fall in, Accies settling and growing in composure, while Celtic played patient possession football. We got numbers forward at every opportunity, Mickel Miller and Lewis Smith getting onto the ball with half chances around the box on the half hour.
Celtic weren’t perhaps at full throttle, and Accies sensed something if they could just stay in the game. A solid defence wasn’t troubled for most of the first half, the only real threat coming down the left flank. Southwood’s only job of the first half was to pick Christie’s goal out of his own net.
There were even a few home frustrations being voiced as Lewis Smith broke clear of the Celtic defence two minutes after the restart, skewing an effort wide. We came agonizingly close on 55 minutes, as Sam Stubbs rose to meet a Miller free kick. The header was just tipped by Forster onto his near post.
Celtic tried to lift things with the introduction of Leigh Griffiths and Mikey Johnston from the bench. Well timed challenges from Easton and McGowan denied both subs inside the box as Accies hung in for the final 20 minutes.
We responded with attacking substitutions of our own, Oakley and Ogkmpoe brought on to try and fashion that one chance, with Celtic unable to put us away. And the moment arrived at the death as Accies won a late long throw for Gogic to deliver from the left. The Celtic defence failed to pick up Ogkmpoe who hooked the loose ball low past Forster.
But Celtic showed the mark of champions with one last throw of the dice. Accies thought that Sam Stubbs was impeded in the attack, but Celtic captain Brown took it upon himself to drive into the Accies box to angle a dramatic winner into Southwood’s far corner.
Celtic: Forster, Bauer, Bitton, Ajer, Taylor, Brown, Ntcham (Johnston, 59), McGregor, Christie, Forrest (Frimpong, 87), Morgan (Griffiths, 68 ); Subs Unused: Gordon, Jullien, Rogic, Sinclair
Goals: Christie, 12, Brown, 90+2
Accies: Southwood, McGowan, McMann, Collar (Oakley, 82), Miller, Gogic, Moyo (Ogkmpoe, 76), Easton (c), Martin, Stubbs, L Smith (Beck, 84); Subs Unused: Fon Williams, Hunt, Cunningham, Hamilton
Goals: Ogkmpoe, 90
Referee: Alan Muir Assistants: Calum Spence and Graham McNeillie 4thOfficial: Grant Irvine