Games with Morton usually consist of brutal tackling and rising to the bait of bitching that protests innocence at every whistle blow. Its difficult to distinguish what hurts more, the studs on the back of your calf from a tackle that was about 2 days late or the constant barrage of nonsense that rings loud in your ear drum.
Either way, it was within the first minute that Celtic would spurn their first opportunity of the game, and would provide Morton with their first ammunition to discharge on the lines men. Bredin got in behind the Morton defense, scampering down the Celtic left wing and curled in a low cross to Teague. With the Morton defense breathing down his neck, Teague had no time to control the ball, choosing to hit it first time but could only direct his shot wide of the opposite post, with the goal keeper rooted. Offside was Morton's excuse for being caught cold, but the cry fell rightly on deaf ears.
With Celtic signalling their intent with the opening chance, they continued to dictate the pace of the game, but would have to wait until mid way through the first half before they registered their first shot on target. Curley, again thriving in his central midfield partnership with Prior, was looking to make a carbon copy of his strike against KU Golden Oldies the week previous. After another surging run from midfield, Curley let fly from the edge of the box, with the ball looking goal ward bound. However, the Morton Keeper was equal to it, and at full stretch acrobatically tipped the ball round the post. Definitely one for the bank of Camera's populating this bone crunching tie.
Before the half drew to a close, Celtic missed another golden opportunity to take in a lead at the break. After breaching the Morton back line with a quick counter attack down the right wing, Roberts squared the ball to Teague, who instead of pulling the trigger with his left, tried to return the 1-2 to Roberts with the outside of the right, but the pass went wayward and the chance went begging, much to the dismay of his team mates.
With the score levels at the break, it was time for another sterling speech from manager Tibby. After observing the amount of back chat, Celtic were drawing themselves into with Morton, Tibby demanded Celtic concentrate on letting the football do the talking. Despite some of the outrageous bait being floated by Morton, Celtic managed to stick to the orders, and kicked off the second half in search of the must needed three points, a draw simply would not suffice.
Unfortunately for Teague, who would have struggled to finish a Sunday Roast, the half time break did little to appease the strikers quality of finishing, who was having a day to forget in front of goal. About 15 minutes into the second half, Curley had gone on a mazy run deep into the Morton box, then unselfishly squared the ball to Teague who's first time effort from just outside the 6 yard box was smothered by the flailing keeper. Although, the frustration of being unable to break the deadlock after so much possession was palpable amongst the Celtic team, eventually their endeavor was answered.
About half way through the second half, Celtic were awarded a corner which Prior stepped up to take. Celtic's big central pairing of Mercier and Stuckmann, which must have a combined height in the region of Goliath like proportions, meandered their way into the box, which is enough to send any TSSL defense in to a frenzied panic. And, the panic was rightfully warranted. Prior expertly curled in the corner straight in to the danger area, which was met by a towering header from Stuckmann, which almost pulled the net from its pegged footings. Celtic breathed a collective sigh of relief, and finally they had something to show for all the hard work.
The goal only served to invigorate Celtic, and they were now looking to put the tie beyond Morton as they pressed for a second, which could have been granted from another set piece. A free kick near the right hand corner of the 18 yard box had been awarded after yet more miss timed tackling from Morton. Prior sensed that this was well within range, but his free kick which had the keeper beat, rebounded off the foot off the post. Lucero, who must have been observing Teague too much, was on hand to collect the rebound with the goal at his mercy, but in a rush of blood blazed his effort clean over the bar.
You could forgive Celtic for fearing that a 1-nil lead would not be enough, and given the numerous amount of chances to wrap the tie up, they would only have themselves to blame. However, given Morton's lack of attacking threat, the fears were more likely born out of previous slender advantages whipped out by fluke goals. This was not going to be the case though in this fixture, as the vast majority of Morton's attack came from long ball's via the keepers rangey right boot. This tactical naivety played right in to the hands of the Celtic defense, and the predictable regularity of the long balls were easy pickings for the 6ft 5 plus centre back frame of Stuckmann, and Mercier sweeping up. Fourie's pristine clean Goalkeeper Jersey was testament to the solid defense he had in front of him.
1-nil was how it finished, but before the close there was at least one more miss for Teague, however I think this is more than enough of a self deprecating critique for one day! Besides, I hear unsubstantiated rumour that instead of being accountable, Teague blames the last one squarely at the heckling side lines screaming for him to pull the trigger, instead of taking the wiser option which was to square to Curley who was in acres. Curley, you know where to send your complaints!
So, with Celtic yet again claiming a clean sheet and another victory, which now seems them unbeaten since early July, the race for the TSSL Media League title is still very much up for grabs. Celtic will have to rely on KU dropping points, but will be chomping at the bite in anticipation of any slight sniff of a KU slip up.
|KU Golden Oldies||16||11||3||2||49||25||24||36|
|Fionn MacCool's Celtic||16||10||4||2||45||12||33||34|
|Globe and Mail FC||16||5||2||9||35||32||3||17|
|Trinity Park FC||16||0||0||16||5||123||-118||0|