Celtic 6 Dunfermline 0Saturday, 12th Mar 2005
BOS SPL Premier League
Hartson (9, 69), McGeady (62), Petrov (72, 75), Beattie (89)
A six goal hiding at Celtic Park did little for the Pars confidence. There were excuses with so many players out ill and injured but Celtic simply bided time before ripping the Pars apart with two goals from both Hartson and Petrov, one from McGeady and a late sixth from Beattie.
Nine players were out forcing several changes in the Fifers starting line up and limiting the bench to Jamie Langfield and just four under 19s. The nine missing were all possible first team starts - Scott Thomson, Gjorgi Hristov, Greg Shields, Noel Hunt, Gary Mason, Derek Young, Billy Mehmet, Lee Makel and Aaron Labonte. Andrius Skerla`s move to Ruban Kazan fell through during the week so fortunately he was fit to return to the central defence for the first time since the defeat at Kilmarnock. Craig Wilson`s only previous first team experience was at the end of last season in an end of term match v Dundee United when players were being saved for the Cup Final, so this was his first real taste of competitive action.
Stilian Petrov and Greg Ross
Andy Tod led the team out in their red and black away strip and right from the kick off Celtic took the play to Dunfermline. In the second minute a Laursen ball ninth the box was only half cleared and McGeady got an early shot in that was easily blocked out. There was an early penalty claim when Stanislav Varga went down to Iain Campbell`s challenge, instead it was McNamara who sent over a cross that failed to bother the five man Pars defence.
Dunfermline`s first visit to the Celtic box was a Nicholson cross that Bobo Balde headed away in the 5th minute and the defence dealt similarly with a Craig Wilson ball a minute later. This was only a brief respite for the Hoops were soon back in front of Stillie`s goal. The keeper was out to prevent anything coming from a corner from the left but the defence failed to deal with a ninth minute Alan Thompson free kick that was placed nicely from the right for HARTSON to slot in at the far post. The decision to award the free kick was fairly soft as it was a shoulder to shoulder challenge and then when the ball was delivered a cruel touch took the ball straight to the feet of the big Welshman whose his shot seemed to take Stillie by surprise.
Craig Wilson made just his second start ever for the Pars
Aidan McGeady had a good run down the left evading the challenges of teenager Greg Ross and Scott Wilson before cutting back a fine pass for Bellamy who fortunately for the visitors sent the good chance over the bar. On the 17th minute Barry Nicholson was buzzing, linking up nicely with Scott Wilson before having his shot from the edge of the box blocked and then shooting the rebound at the bright yellow shirt of Rab Douglas.
Celtic could easily have gone two up in the 26th minute when the right side of defence couldn`t prevent another chance being set up for John Hartson. This time Derek Stillie pulled off a great save and his defenders closed out Bellamy`s follow up. It was all Celtic with their penetration most uncomfortably, reaching right inside the Pars six yard box. Hartson backheeled a Petrov ball into the box but Scott Wilson read it well and prevented another pop at goal.
Celtic despite all their possession failed to make any further change to the scoreline and at only one goal down Dunfermline were happy to restrain the title challengers. The big home support were kept fairly quiet as the game slipped towards half time. Skerla did well to stop Bellamy deep inside the Pars box, Andy Tod headed away another Alan Thompson free kick from the right in a similar situation from that the opening goal came and then Toddy was the hero again conceding a corner from a defence splitting ball from Craig Bellamy.
John Dunn (left) and Stephen McGlinchey (centre) from the Under 19 squad warm up at Celtic Park
The quality of the half time steak pies seemed to delay the return of huge sections of the crowd with the empty seats taking three minutes to refill. Based on what they had seen in the first 45 their decision was right since little happened until 56th minute when the enterprising McGeady sent Bellamy into the left side of the Pars box and fired the return in on target only to win a corner that Ross booted away. Three minutes later another McGeady ball in from the right created a chance that Hartson headed over the bar.
John Hartson tries to drive between Barry Nicholson and Andy Tod
Celtic seemed content to pass the ball around but it did not take long for them to become more incisive. Two further Celtic corners didn`t unduly bother the Pars but inevitably it was Aidan McGEADY who worked a passage in from the left in the 62nd minute, beating off Greg Ross and the in rushing challenge from Scott Wilson to drill the ball into the bottom left corner of the goals from 18 yards.
Six minutes later it was all over as HARTSON turned in a shortly taken corner on the left to make it 3-0. Bellamy whipped in the cross and the SPL`s top goalscorer had the easiest of chances from five yards. The fourth and fifth Celtic goals quickly followed as the home side recorded four goals in the space of 13 unfortunate second half minutes.
The Pars valiantly tried to resurrect their match; Donnelly and Christiansen combining nicely in the 71st minute but the shot appeared to be deflected wide of the right goalpost yet no corner was given. Next minute play was back at the Dunfermline end and Craig Bellamy got to the left byeline from where he launched a fine ball along the six yard line for Stillian PETROV to head home the fourth.
Petrov took only three more more minutes to grab his second. Running in from the left side the Bulgarian tried a chip from 20 yards that McNamara struck at Scott Wilson on the goal line. PETROV was well placed to turn in for number five with quarter of an hour still to play. Bellamy and Hartson had a neat interchange that brought a good save out of Derek Stillie and in 87th minute a Thompson corner almost brought Hartson his hattrick but again Stillie saved well from Hartson`s header.
Andrius Skerla keeping Craig Bellamy at bay
Five ahead the Hoops threatened to run riot as they sought to boost their goal difference in the title race. Another goal always looked possible as the Celtic substitutes tried hard to impress. Yet again the goal came from the left with Ross Wallace sending over a cross that Craig BEATTIE leapt up and headed in from six yards in 89th minute.
The final whistle was a welcome sound. Davie Hay`s young side had been taught a lesson. Four of his under 19 side gained considerable experience from their encounter with the classy Celts in front of a massive home crowd. The missing players would probably not have stopped the Parkhead win and possibly a good thing that the temporary scarcity was for this game and not one where the Pars might have had a chance of taking points.
Dunfermline were always up against it but the management must focus now on forthcoming fixtures. Livingston took themselves off the bottom with a 1-1 draw against Motherwell sending Dundee United to the foot four points behind the Pars.
SUBS NOT USED: Stephane Henchoz, Joos Valgaeren, David Fernandez, Paul Lambert, David Marshall (GK)
SCORERS: Hartson (9, 69), McGeady (62), Petrov (72, 75), Beattie (89)
DUNFERMLINE: Derek Stillie; Greg Ross, Andrius Skerla, Andy Tod, Scot Wilson, Iain Campbell; Craig Wilson (Craig McKeown 85), Barry Nicholson, Darren Young; Simon Donnelly (Stephen McGinchey 88); Jesper Christiansen
SUBS NOT USED: Pat Scullion, John Dunn, Jamie Langfield (GK)
REFEREE: Callum Murray
WEATHER: Bright and Breezy 8°C
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