Moving ahead.

I think most people would agree that Celtic turned in a good performance last night. The goal tally could have been greater, but the team put in a decent shift for this stage of pre-season.

Usually the main talking points are about player performance. However, the dirty tackling and poor refereeing are on my mind today.

The number of blatant fouls commited by Elfsborg was ridiculous. In Europe, referees are supposed to be tough on this sort of thing but last night they were weak.

I wouldn’t say that Celtic went out looking for these fouls. As the match wore on and Elfsborg continued to get away with their repeated fouling, Celtic did move in that direction.

That was mainly down to the lack of goals. On the other hand, Celtic players were being continually cut down on the attack.

An impressive Kris Commons had the beating of everyone last night and was surprisingly yellow carded whilst on the attack. So I felt it was a harsh booking when he was through on goal especially when the referee was somewhat lenient with the opposition.

Despite my previous blog on this subject, I cannot continue without mentioning Mo Bangura. Regardless of his presence in an opposing role to Celtic last night, his conduct was disappointing.

Any chance he had to return to Celtic, however unlikely, came to an end last night. Foul or no foul his face holding antics alone were enough to disgust the support, myself included but he’ll never wear the jersey again.

All that aside the team played well for most of the game. There were a few misunderstandings at the back but the midfield played well.

Kayal tired as the match wore on but Ledley’s arrival in the second half gave the team a lift. His presence in the midfield gave the team a dimension that allowed them to press forward.

Creativity was not lacking but where we were lacking was a cutting edge in attack. Just that one player to create room for himself and give defenders problems.

New additions Balde, Van Dijk, Mouyokolo and Boerrigter will hopefully add quality as well as depth to the squad. It could be that crucial fifth signing though that provides us with a target man.

Names have been mooted as Hooper’s replacement. A good striker will come soon I am sure, but until such a deal is made, Celtic will work with the players they do have.

With flag day at Celtic Park this Saturday, my first match at Paradise in couple of years, it is back to domestic business but only for one fixture. Our following game will be away to Elfsborg.

Celtic must take that slender lead of 1-0 and keep it tight. Not only have the team shown they can score away from home in Europe, but that they can win away from home in Europe.

Away goals and wins eluded the club for long periods. Lennon’s mentors O’Neill and Strachan got the ball rolling in Europe for Celtic once more but the current manager has built upon that.

Despite last seasons convincing home and away form in Europe, Lennon should not and will not take anything for granted. A bigger stage awaits the club and its what we all live for but it doesn’t come easily.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

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