As you can probably guess from the delay in writing this match report, defeat has dealt me a heavy dose of writers block. So, as I have painfully revisited last weekends second league defeat of the season, and gracefully regurgitated the evidence for your reading pleasure, I ask, no I demand, you read every last word, and suffer the same heart ache.
As the anthem says, "You'll Never Walk Alone", which, for the purpose of this report, I interpret as you'll never suffer alone. Basically, I suffer, you suffer! Too dramatic??
Blue in the face. That is the condition, that everyone has been diagnosed with when referring to Celtics, habitual Achilles heal so far this season -Injuries and absentees. Abbreviated to IAA's which doesn't quite have the same ring to it as WAG's.
Generic models aside, IAA's, obviously have caused problems since the opening day of the season. However, now we are playing the top sides of the TSSL, and the lack of depth is now even more apparent. But, lamenting the problem does not bring in fresh reserves. But, due to my sources which have close connections to the upper echelons of the Celtic hierarchy, I am assured that plans are a foot to bring in some reinforcements before the transfer window closes. Do we even have a transfer window?? I don't know, but dramatization sounds good!
Before kick off, Celtic were dealt the frustrating news that M.o.M. from last week, Sascha Stuckmann, would have to pull out last minute, after extensive rehabilitation on his vulnerable sense of balance failed. Which meant Celtic were without arguably the best defensive pairing in the league, with Mercier also unable to make the tie.
However, even though on paper, it was the defense that looked most thin on the ground it would be the opposite end of the field, where goals were drying up quicker than wet cement on the unfinished South Africa World Cup Venues.
Multinational Crew, given that they are new to the league, are a relative unknown in terms of their title credentials. But what we did already have knowledge of was their willingness to get the ball on the deck, and play some attractive football. Their stubbornness to play on the ground, from the back was almost their undoing at least 3 times in the same amount of opening minutes.
Curley, back from a two week sabbatical, was chomping at the bit, in anticipation to get on the field and start knocking bones around. And, the uncontrollable enthusiasm was rewarded only moments into the half. A clever ball over the top of the indecisive Multinational defense, saw Curley racing clean through on goal, with only the old school sponsored, AST computers Villa jersey to beat. Unfortunately, The processing time of the quick thinking Multinational Goalkeeper was lightening, and he rushed off his line, cut down the considerable angle, and smothered Curley's shot.
The golden opportunity for Celtic to strike first blood was ignored by Multinational, as their defense continued to be indecisive, but again Celtic lacked the cut throat finishing to take advantage.
With the scores all square at the end of the half, Celtic could take some comfort from the numerous chances they created it the opening minutes, and that the defense looked water tight at the back. They did, however, know that the chances they were gifted might be addressed in the Multinational half time talk, and that notably the centre back most guilty of being indecisive, did not reappear for the second half.
With the beginning of the second half, Celtic brought on Teague, who was making his first appearance since his injury against Morton in the Cup last month. It was not to be the glorious return to play and form Teague had hoped, however, as too much time observing the missed opportunities from the sidelines had rubbed off on the token Englishmen. Just as the first half had started, the second began in the same vain.
Winger Bredin, had been released down the left flank, and crossed in a peach of cross to the unmarked Teague, who could only direct his header over the bar from about 12 yards out. The forgiving Bredin, would later defend the miss, citing that it was slightly behind Teague's reach, but in truth Teague knows he should have done better, and the old football cliche "head it down" rings loudly in the ears.
There are only so many times you can get away with not burying the chances thrown your way, and eventually those misses came back to haunt Celtic. After initially coming from an offside position, the Multinational left winger was played in with a ball over the top of the Celtic defense. The left winger, now very much alive and "active" exploited the space in behind the defense, and chipped a ball to the open man in the 6 yard box. With the Celtic defense drawn to the left winger, the Multinational striker could not miss, and cruelly obliged, poking the ball past the helpless Fourie.
There had been warning signs for Celtic, but this was a cruel blow, as Multinational, for all their attractive play (possibly the sexiest football I have witnessed in the TSSL) hadn't really created that many opportunities.
1-0 was unfortunately how it ended. And while 1-1 would have been a fair result, football has no biased when it comes to being fair. Its a bitter result to swallow, and now Celtic have a huge task if they are to drag themselves back in to the title challenge. Celtic need to rediscover their cutting edge in front of goal pronto, as they have now gone an astonishing four games, only registering once from the penalty spot, taken by Keeper Fourie. A sobering statistic, and one I hope that serves to reignite the fire in the Celtic belly.