The echoes from Ange Postecoglou’s first week at pre-season training reverberated around an ecstatic Celtic Park as the referee blew the full time whistle in what could prove to be a pivotal day in the SPFL title chase.
We never stop! We never stop! We’ll stop at half-time and we’ll stop at the end of the game when we celebrate. Never a truer word was spoken.
A frustrating afternoon of missed chances and inspired goalkeeping looked to have taken the edge off some pre-match euphoria in and around the stadium. Anyone strolling through the street making their to Celtic Park for the 3pm kick-off would have heard the car horns and cheers as news broke that the current league leaders had dropped points in Dingwall.
The energy generated from the stands could not be replicated on the field of play as Celtic started slowly. While our possession and passing stats may have looked impressive, any cutting edge in the final third was sadly missing.
Giorgos Giakoumakis perhaps waited too long to pull the trigger from a long ball played over the top of the Dundee United defence, the ball just didn’t come down quick enough and was dealt with from a last ditch tackle from the United defence.
A subdued 1st half saw O’Reilly squander a guilt edged chance from inside the 18 yard box and Siegrest make a number of saves to keep scores level going into half-time.
The boss clearly wanted a bit more urgency in the 2nd half, making changes by replacing Forrest with Jota and Scales with Juranovic.
The change gave the crowd a lift as well as the players. In the opening moments of the 2nd half Jota set up O’ Riley, only to see his header tipped round the post by an inspired Siegrest in the United goal.
The terrors keeper was having one of those matches where he was on the end of everything, this time stopping Giakoumakis from point blank range.
With Celtic creeping up the pitch more often a few gaps started to appear in midfield. Bitton was booked for a late challenge, which he would rue 10 minutes from full time when he received his marching orders after a 2nd yellow card.
Difficult to complain about either decision, both merited yellow cards, but the consistency of the referee decisions was frustrating.
With Celtic down to 10 men the challenge of breaking down the United defence could only get more difficult. With the clock ticking towards the 91st minute substitute Jota was released down the right wing and delivered a perfect cross into the United box where Liel Abada controlled the ball before firing a shot high into the net sparking scenes of wild celebrations throughout the stadium.
There is still plenty of football left to be played before the season ends and no doubt more twists and turns in the championship. However, momentum plays a significant part in any sporting success and that appears to be gathering pace in the east end of Glasgow.
It’s been a while since we experienced the exhilaration of a last minute winner at Celtic Park, there is no better feeling and after being away from our team and fellow supporters for so long over the last 2 years, today was a special reminder of the camaraderie the beautiful game can help deliver.
Martin Donaldson is a Glasgow East End Bhoy, He made my first trip to Celtic Park in 1983 for a 0-0 draw with Brechin City & thankfully that never put him off going back. He now sits perched high in section 409 of the North Stand with his 2 kids making memories along the Celtic Way.
He loves picking out those matches from yester-year to find out much more about the legendary names & faces that have graced the Celtic Jersey over the years. He is a keen fundraiser for The Celtic Foundation & The British Heart Foundation as they both strive to make a difference and to change peoples lives all over the world.