Monday, 24 August 2009

KU Golden Oldies 1-5 Fionn MacCool's Celtic

I am fast running out of superlatives to throw at Celtic's recent form, and words such as perfection have a tendency to be a catalyst for complacency to set in. But, if perfection is an unattainable benchmark defined by the likes of Aristotle, then Celtic's demolition of a team, that going in to the clash were title favourites, was an admirable candidate.

Sometimes, before a ball is even kicked, you can tell when a team is going to be lackluster, and you need only look back at the 3 nil loss the last time these two clashed, or the 1-1 draw with Zoomer back in July for prime examples, but this time, when the pressure was on, every Celtic player turned up with a point to prove, readied for the task in hand.

Straight from the off, Celtic were showing their intent, pushing KU into their own half with youthful exuberance, and they wouldn't have to wait long for the first chance to come their way. With Barrero partnering Teague up front, and Curley dropping into midfield in a new look Celtic, the tactical adjustment soon paid dividends in the shape of a corner. Barrero whipped the corner into the near post but the on rushing Teague, and Monaghan at the back post could not stab the ball home as it flew across the face of goal.

Celtic continued to boss proceedings, and were soon rewarded for all their dogged determination and lengthy possession, when a loose ball was picked up Rodrigo, who, with minimal touches spotted the diagonal run of Teague, and slipped in a defense splitting through ball. Teague's first touch took him away from the trailing defender, and with his second, tucked the ball past the on rushing keeper, in to the bottom left corner from the edge of the box.

The goal only seemed to boost the already sky high confidence of Celtic, and dent KU moral. Facing an up hill struggle, KU were struggling to get to grips with the irrepressible central midfield duo of Prior and Curley. The latter of whom soon made his mark on the game. After picking up the ball in midfield, Curley made a typical penetrating run towards the heart of the KU defense. KU failed to close down the run, and practically beckoned Curley as he neared the edge of the box. Curley needed no invitation to shoot, and from 20 yards, unleashed a pile driver which only had one destination, 2 nil Celtic.

Unfortunately, Celtic, and therefore this match report had to take a momentary break from scoring goals, as it was now time for wanna be star........the referee. Having already been dishing out yellow cards like a scalper off loading Benfica tickets, the ref's cry for attention was remedied by issuing Gonzales his second yellow even though he was not on the pitch, having just been replaced by Imnaishvili. I am still trying to work out exactly what infraction occurred to warrant a second yellow and a first for Imnaishvili, following what looked like a routine substitution. What ever the reason, in the confusion that followed and with the ref preoccupied by "Graham Poll yellow card mathematics", play continued with Celtic at full strength. All this from a man, who scarcely avoided slaughter at the hands of Sierra only a few weeks back, courtesy of the brave Fourie -gratitude personified.

Despite the referee's starring role, Celtic did manage to keep the football flowing, and virtually settled the tie right before the stoke of half time. Barrero was causing yet more problems for KU down the left wing, and after beating his man, squared a ball to McCann, who poised with intent just outside the 6 yard box, dummied the centre back and then calmly placed the ball past the despondent keeper.

After much delay, Celtic kicked off the second half reduced to 10 men, after the referee finally made account for all the frivolous yellow cards. The extra man gave KU some much needed impetus, and for the first time in the match, managed to enjoy healthy periods of possession, as Celtic were resigned to counter attack. Unfortunately for KU, resolute defending by the centre back partnership of Mercier and Carney, reduced attacks to long range efforts which usually ended up somewhere in the dense greenery behind the Celtic Goal.

Celtic, with a three goal cushion, were content to play counter attacking football, with the trap ready to spring in to action should an outlet arise. And, midway through the second half the trap was released with devastating effect. After being crowded by KU on the touchline, just inside the Celtic half, Bredin managed dig out a lush ball which released McCann down the left wing. McCann playing the loan strikers role, continued his run towards goal. With little in the way off reinforcements, McCann now deep in the KU box, went it alone and finished clinically beating the keeper at the near post.

The goal dispelled any hope of a KU come back, even after a penalty was awarded thanks to the linesman's intervention. The same linesman who had been involved in the substitution booking debacle in the first half. The penalty, which was converted served to be small consolation, and more of a blot on what was otherwise destine to be a fifth consecutive clean sheet.

Before the referee took mercy on KU, their was still time for Teague to get his second goal of the game. After another Celtic break away, Teague chased a through ball, with the keeper rapidly closing in and just managed to win the foot race, edging the ball past a fully committed keeper, and finishing from a tight angle into the vacant net.

Celtic still have to ensure they win their remaining games, and hope that KU drop points, but what ever the outcome of the TSSL media league come September, this victory has to go up there as one of Celtic's best performances to date. Next stop Morton, where Celtic will once again have to put on a display of the highest standard if they are to continue this winning streak.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Fionn MacCools Celtic 2-0 Hooligan

Despite the scorching, desert like conditions, Celtic remained cool in the last chance salon, deservedly picking up all 3 points against Hooligans Filmworks, after a bizarre 40 yarder and an unfamiliar hero securing victory at the death.

We are now in the business part of the season, and following last weeks disappointing draw, the margin for error could not be tighter as Celtic sit at the league's summit with only 2 points separating them from 4th place.

Hooligan, on the back of a defeat were also looking to put last weeks result behind them, but Celtic were not in charitable mood and found themselves on the back foot from the start. Celtic were leading from their impregnable back line which was arrogantly toying with Hooligan, like kittens playing with a ball of string. The Celtic defense has now gone an incredible 405 minutes without leaking a goal, which, if I had archival data, would surely prove to be a record. Perhaps resident statistician, Fitzpatrick will be able to verify??

It was at the opposite end of the field where Celtic need to improve upon though, goals were needed, and manager Tibby decided to reshuffle his pack bringing in McCallum to partner Curley in a bid to get Celtic re-firing on all 4 cylinders.

Following the early pressure, Celtic didn't have to wait too long for their first effort on goal. After a mazy run, cutting in from the right, Curley squared to Gonzales just inside the box, who flashed a shot goalwards, which Hooligan's unfamiliar keeper just about managed to tip round the post in not so convincing fashion.

Celtic continued to press, confidently knocking the ball about with small interchanging passes, playing the attractive football instilled in them from Mowbray inspired Tibby. For all the sexy football on display, Celtic would finally get their reward from a set piece following a freekick conceded about 40 yards out down the Celtic left. Box to box midfielder, Prior stepped up to the plate, in what was assumed would be a routine chip in to the box. Prior, having already spotted possible frailties in the Hooligan keeper had different ideas however, and from all of 40 yards, saw the keeper off his line, and audaciously lobbed the ball over the scrambling keeper.

The second half continued much in the same vain as the first, with Celtic bossing proceedings with slick passes starting from the back. Hooligan were pinned in to their own half, and could only relying on the occasional counter attack as small relief.

For all their pressure though, Celtic were unable to finish the game off and get the much needed second goal to ease nerves. The slender 1 goal lead remained intact, and eventually all the points were secured in the closing exchanges of the game courtesy of a sublime finish by Roberts. A finish any forward would have been happy with.

Having been released down the left channel, in behind the Hooligan defense, Roberts still had plenty of work to do, 40 yards from the glory that beckoned. Roberts' pace took his surging run into the unfamiliar territory of the oppositions box, and having decided not to square the ball to the on rushing reinforcements, bored down on goal and drilled a left foot shot into the bottom right corner.

Que the celebrations.....!

"Number 1" was the cry from Roberts as he ran off in jubilation like a dog let off a leash for the first time, and is still probably running loose across Cherry Beach as you read this. Hopefully, "number 1" will soon become 2, 3 and more, now Roberts has opened his account.

With Multinational, KU Golden Oldies and another team that shouldn't be in the league, all snapping at their heals, Celtic will likely have to win their 4 remaining games in order to stay on top of the heap, come September when champions are crowned. This will be Celtic's toughest test yet, with two of their remaining four games against title rivals Mutlinational and KU, leaving the TSSL media league delicately poised. Don't take your eyes off this for a second.

Fionn MacCool's Celtic1484239112828
Multinational Crew1484242142828
KU Golden Oldies1283138152327
Sierra Stars1382334151926
Zoomer FC135442323019
Globe and Mail FC144283229314
Hooligan Filmworks143472223-113
AS Rosso1440102541-1612
Trinity Park FC1400145114-1090

Friday, 14 August 2009

You know what is just around the corner.....

So, the scene is set, the team couldn't be in better shape after preseason training and friendlies in faraway locations. The tactics have been scrutinized and perfected down to the finest detail. The groundsmen has examined, and trimmed every last blade of grass. The weather -beaming. The boots -pristine. There is no more time left, we are on the verge, the unbearable anticipation is almost over.....

You would be given for thinking that the above was my fantasy of the beginning of the Premier League Season, but its actually the beginning of the 11 a side football season, if slightly exaggerated, that I want to bring to the forefront.

On a day when Richard Scudamore was promoting the Premier League as the global brand it has now become, expected to break the £1 billion mark in annual revenues for the first time this season, it seemed prudent to talk about grass roots football for a moment.

The FA have launched a new "What ever your level" campaign to get people back in to 11 a side football. I wouldn't normally start harping on about a "cause" but when I learned of the dwindling numbers of people playing 11 a side on the weekends, even I was surprised.

Over the last few season the number of teams signing up for 11 a side football has dropped by 1200. In the last season alone, 400 teams folded. The problem has a snowball effect, when too many teams fold within a league, it can cause a negative impact on the remaining teams, which in turn could see the entire league fold.

Its not all doom and gloom though for the game we love. The FA's National Game Strategy will see an investment of £200m into grassroots football over the next 3 years. In the mean time hopefully the video by the FA below will be inspiration enough to keep you from hanging up your boots. What ever your level, find a team and get stuck in.... I know I will!

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