Punishment, pyrotechnics and pursuing eight-in-a-row…









Celtic took another step towards eight-in-a-row with a win at St Mirren Park last night. The game was anything but a foregone conclusion though and not without incident either.

Despite getting three points in the bag, the post-match talking points were largely negative. Retrospective action on Scott Brown being one, whilst the other was the pyrotechnic thrown onto the park at the end populated by Celtic fans.

That’s not even taking into account the game of two halves performance. After a good first half, Celtic made heavy weather of the second.

The Bhoys opened the scoring in the 15th minute, but they could have scored earlier. Timo Weah had a shot blocked on eight minutes, but an excellent chance fell to Kristoffer Ajer who should have finished when he found himself in the opposition box, only to shoot over the bar.

Celtic maintained the pressure and got rewarded five minutes later though. The ball switched from the left flank along the edge of the box and out to James Forrest on the right.

The winger played in Mikael Lustig who had his close range shot blocked. The Swede then chipped the resultant loose ball toward Timo Weah who nodded in off the bar.

St Mirren protested that it hadn’t crossed the line, but the referee was in a good position and had no hesitation in giving the goal. Goal line technology is not available, but it looked pretty much over the line to me.

Celtic continued to barrage the St Mirren goal and on 29 minutes the home side conceded a penalty. Jim Kellerman’s handball was conclusive, but Olivier Ntcham’s spot kick was not.

Vaclav Hladky made a good stop from a unconvicing kick and his defender closed down the rebound. And so the score remained 0-1 going in at half time.

The second half promised more of the same against the home side. Instead Celtic failed to keep up the momentum and the game became rather turgid.

This isn’t anything new in recent times by Celtic and certainly not all down to Neil Lennon either. In fact, the interim manager has been vocal about changing the team’s style of play as he doesn’t understand it.

Depsite fan criticism of the way the team have performed of late, Lennon seems to infer that he hasn’t changed anything from Brendan Rodgers set up. The players have even illustrated that nothing has really changed.

To me that makes sense, given that Celtic had momentum and Neil is merely helping keep things running along until such times that a permanent manager is in place. Albeit that is probably going to be Lennon himself.

So I don’t think it is entirely fair to apportion blame to Neil if he hasn’t changed the way things are yet. He’s just keeping the wheels turning for now.

As the second half wore on, the one incident that got magnified later on was an alleged stamp by Scott Brown on Jim Kellerman. The Celtic captain was judged to have committed what looked like a weak foul which was given but it didn’t end there.

In an attempt to get the ball, the St Mirren player went over his leg. Upon going to ground, he got under the feet of Brown who, when trying to step over him, stood on Kellerman’s chest.

There’s no doubt that his foot ended up where it did, but to say it was deliberate is debatable. I’ve watched it over and over and I don’t see any evidence of malice.

When you’ve got a player under your feet like that and your still moving forward, it’s very difficult to know what to do with your feet. I’ve been in that position before and you can either fall over the player or try to put your feet out to prevent that form happening.

I’d argue that Broony has been caught in two minds. However, given the emotions of Sunday’s game at Celtic Park people have been gunning for Scott Brown.

Punishment for “antagonising” opponents is on the lips of many. So it is no surprise that the response was that he should receive retrospective action after last night’s incident.

Even if a case is put forward, I think the evidence is far from conclusive that is was deliberate. Nobody is arguing that he stood on him, because he clearly did.

I’ve watched it so many times though and haven’t moved any further toward a deliberate stamp. That’s made my mind up.

In fact the only second half incident that did concern me was the pyrotechnic antics of our travelling support. After substitute Ryan Christie sealed the win in the 85th minute, a fan in the away end hurled a firework of some sort onto the pitch near the byline of the St Mirren goal.

Vaclav Hladky and the celebrating Celtic players appeared to be relatively equidistant from the audible explosion, but the St Mirren keeper was side on to the noise and appeared to suffer. Thankfully, there didn’t appear to be any lasting effect to Hladky, but the irresponsibility and thoughtlessness by the culprit is downright disgraceful.

These mindless muppets in our support should be identified and hung out to dry. We don’t need their sort plaguing our fan base.

How can we fight the fight for fair play when these imbeciles constantly let us down? You’re not welcome in the Celtic family home or away.

I’d challenge anyone who thinks there is a place in football for this behaviour. It’s time to start naming and shaming these wee fuds.

Until one of these pyrotechnics explodes in their own hands or worse still, causes serious harm to someone innocent, I fear nothing will be done. And before anyone in our support starts whining about being mistreated by the authorities, consider calling out these guys in close proximity to you that are certain to ruin it for the entire Celtic community.

We don’t need your kind. You aren’t Celtic fans.

It was a down beat way to end the match and could have turned out a lot worse. I’m sure we can expect some sort of punishment for it.

The result was good for Celtic and another step toward the title. Two more wins will secure the league unless Rangers falter before then.

Their win last night meant a second place finish is looking more secure, especially as Kilmarnock were held to a draw at Easter Road. Aberdeen won at Pittodrie and are now level with the Ayrshire club.

The gap between second and joint third stands at 8 points. That will feel a little more comfortable for the Ibrox club.

As a result of last nights scores, the top six are now confirmed as Celtic, Rangers, Kilmarnock, Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibs as expected. St Johnstone, Motherwell, Livingston, Hamilton, St Mirren and Dundee make up the bottom six.

Whilst we wait on the post-split fixture list, the SFA are busy dishing out punishment. We’ve now heard that Steven Gerrard and Scott Brown, as well as their clubs, have all been charged by the SFA following Sunday’s game.

Gerrard has been offered a one game ban for challenging Bobby Madden’s performance at the end of the match and Scott Brown has been charged with not acting in the games best interests. I fully expect Brown and the club to contest any punishment, though they may just serve him with a warning whilst Gerrard may have to take that one on the chin.

I also think both clubs will accept whatever punishment is served for the after match scenes at Celtic Park. Wherever the blame lies, the scenes were ugly and for the SFA they are seen to be evening the scores.

Meanwhile, Rangers are set to appeal Ryan Kent’s punishment stating that he didn’t make any contact with Scott Brown despite throwing a fist in his face. Well, I guess that’s okay then isn’t it?

Honestly, the level of bull emanating from the mouths at Ibrox is staggering. I guess that’s Scott Brown’s fault too, right?

It’s been an ugly few weeks. The success at Celtic Park is obviously beginning to ruffle too many feathers.

We’re on the cusp of an eighth title. What are nine, ten and so on going to be like?

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

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