Don conned as County steal point
Global Energy Stadium, Dingwall
Sunday 16th April 2017
Ross County - 2 (Gardyne, 50 Boyce, PEN 90)
Celtic - 2 (Tierney, 34 Roberts, 78)
Celtic’s afternoon clash away to Ross County today resulted in a share of the spoils after a late Liam Boyce penalty made it 2-2 but it will be the referee Don Robertson who will be stealing the headlines for his part in awarding the penalty, along with the sending off of Celtic captain Scott Brown in the aftermath of the penalty decision.
The penalty was awarded in the final minute of the game when the referee was conned by Ross County substitute Alex Schalk. Despite absolutely no contact from Erik Sviatchenko, the County striker threw himself to the floor in a theatrical fashion and somehow managed to fool the officials. In his interview with Sky Sports after the game, Brendan Rodgers claimed that it was the worst decision he had witnessed in Scotland during his time as Celtic manager and few could argue with the statement from the Irishman.
If the nature in which the three points were lost wasn’t enough to anger the travelling support, then what occurred in the following moments surely was. In what can only be described as a moment of red mist, Scott Brown was sent off for a foul on Liam Boyce. Clearly agitated by the penalty decision and some previous challenges in the game, the industrious midfielder made a poorly timed challenge that sparked an inevitable reaction – no sooner was he back to his feet than he was surrounded by County players, which no doubt aided the referee in his choice of card.
Players from both teams tussle after Brown's challenge on Boyce
The sending off means that there is a possibility the skipper will miss next weeks Scottish Cup Semi Final showdown with Rangers at Hampden, a blow for Brendan Rodgers in his quest for a domestic treble in his first season in charge at Parkhead. Brown’s involvement in the game will depend on whether the Champions can appeal the decision. Nonetheless, it is likely he will miss large part of the conclusion to Celtic’s season and he will be sorely missed.
The Hoops seemed to be in relative control after taking the lead in the 78th minute thanks to a brilliant solo goal from Patrick Roberts. The English winger has been terrorising Scottish defences on a weekly basis since he arrived in Glasgow in January 2016 on an 18-month loan deal from Manchester City. He was on the pitch less than ten minutes when put Celtic into the lead. After receiving the ball on the right hand side, he characteristically jinked his way past a Ross County defender with a deft nutmeg before coolly slotting the ball past Scott Fox to take the lead in the game for the second time.
Roberts celebrates Celtic's second with teammates
It had taken thirty-four minutes for the deadlock to be broken and it was through the unlikely source of full back Kieran Tierney, who scored with an impeccable twenty-five yard strike into the bottom right hand corner of the net. Fox didn’t move in the County goal, and Tierney celebrated his third goal for his boyhood club with anticipated joy.
Uncharacteristically, Brendan Rodgers men began the second half slowly and were punished on 50 minutes when County equalised through a well worked Michael Gardyne goal. Fellow winger Ryan Dow was the supplier with a well whipped right footed delivery, and Gardyne rose well between Sviatchenko and Tierney before thundering the ball off the underside of the crossbar and into the back of the net. Gordon could have done little to prevent the goal but Brendan Rodgers will be disappointed, firstly with his teams failure to prevent the cross and secondly; the failure to deal with the cross when it reached the penalty area.
McGregor and Sviatchenko are dismayed as a penalty is awarded
Despite the frustrating nature in which the three points were lost, the champions of Scotland remain unbeaten in domestic football this season and will be looking to put Rangers to the sword at Hampden next week in the pursuit of a Scottish cup final date with the winners between Neil Lennon’s Hibs and Derek McInnes’ Aberdeen in the other semi final. If there have been any signs of complacency in the weeks which have followed the title party at Tynecastle, then a reinvigorated Celtic team can be expected at Hampden – particularly with the highly anticipated return of Aussie maestro Tom Rogic who was so integral to the performances which saw the Hoops blitz away any team which stood in their way in the earlier part of the season.