Celtic kicked off their pre season campaign in style yesterday with a convincing 2-0 win over London based side Fulham. In Fulham’s second game back at the cottage many fans expected a lively and competitive game in which both sides would have opportunities and goals.
Before this occasion I never really knew how many Celtic fans existed in South Wales however on arrival to Cardiff Central we saw at least 10 Celtic fans at the station and another 20 or so already on the train. Undoubtedly the train became like the inside of a stadium with chants being blurted out the whole journey. Once we had arrived at our destination (Putney Bridge Tube station) we immediately noticed the sea of green and white which we stood in front of, all pubs and clubs around were dressed in the hoops, I failed to see a single Fulham fan in this area of the city and wondered just how many would be at the game.
In an early arrival to the cottage I noticed just how much work had been done to the ground and I must say I was impressed, from reading reviews of previous fans who visited the ground I was expecting it to be a sh*t hole but fair play the stadium wasn’t all that bad and in my view was better than Loftus Road where Fulham had previously played their games. The stadium was all one tiered except the main stand which had an upper and lower section, I think this must’ve been the only stand which they didn’t re-develop as the layout of the stand was shocking (I sometimes found myself stuck in places and unable to get out without diving over a metal fence) and the upper section of the stand was wooden seats, whilst Larsson 04-05 was sitting pretty on his fancy plastic seat I was stuck on my rock hard wooden one which was close to falling apart.
Nevertheless I was excited for the game and wouldn’t let this little hitch spoil my day, as I would be standing most of the match anyway. The first half line ups suggested that this would be quite a chop and change game but I didn’t really mind, as I was eager to witness our young guns in action.
The game kicked off in typical Hoops fashion, franticly paced with us taking the majority of the possession however Celtic failed to make any good chances early on, unfortunately young Mcmanus was forced to come off after only 5 minutes of play after a collision resulted in him being replaced by Jackie Mcnamara. Bobby Petta looked sharp in the first half against the club which he had played for last season, and showed his magic with a neat step over which took him past Fulham defender Zat Knight, crossed the ball to Momo Sylla who laid off Hartson only for the big Welshman to slot the ball into the far corner past the despairing keeper after 9 minutes. The Celtic fans before and during the game were simply superb, we’ve got a reputation for being the best but you wouldn’t have thought it was a friendly by the way the fans were yesterday with song after song echoing through the Cottage.
Celtic continued as they started and dominated much of the possession with not much coming of it, Sylla and Pearson came close at around 19 minutes where Fulham goalkeeper Ross Flitney was forced into action. Celtics new look defence looked reasonably sturdy during the opening half although the one chance which Fulham got came from a mix up between our back 4 which resulted in Zat Knight heading narrowly over the Celtic goal.
At the half time whistle Celtic took a deserved 1-0 lead into the changing rooms, one thing which disappointed me about the first half was the Fulham fans contribution to the match. I barely heard anything from the so-called faithful whilst the Celtic ends were buzzing. At half time as expected changes were made to the Celtic line up, Hedman replaced an impressive David Marshall in goal whilst Beattie, Petrov, McGeady and Sutton replaced Sylla, Pearson, Petta and Fernandez respectively.
Despite Fulham having 2 early chances in the 2nd half the Celtic defence remained strong and were still dominating the game, with around 10 minutes into the second half a moment of what can only be described as magic from Stilian Petrov saw his audacious bicycle kick go just inches wise of the Fulham goal, the cottagers were clearly rattled and this was confirmed when a rash challenge by Mark Crossley on Stilian Petrov resulted in a penalty being given. Neil Lennon who hasn’t scored in the last 2 years stepped up confidently and slotted the penalty into the left corner sending Crossley the wrong way, the Celtic following were delighted that finally Neil Lennon had scored again.
The match played itself out with more youngsters coming on during the last 20 minutes but everybody knew that Celtic weren’t going to concede and the match ended 2-0 to the Hoops.
After the match Celtic manager Martin O’Neill was pleased with his side’s performance and singled out the lively Petta and Hartson for special praise. "Our pre- season is only ten days old but so far it’s gone very well. I love this time of year - it doesn’t last long but there’s no pressure.
"Bobby had a point to prove after being out on loan last season and he did well. John is pretty lean at the moment - he’s obviously stayed off the crisps."
I personally as a spectator saw the game as a good run out and I’m finally starting to believe that life after Henrik won’t be so bad after all, with so many young players coming through the ranks things can only get better at Celtic Park. However yesterday I didn’t see Bobo Balde at the match, he didn’t get onto the team coach either which means he wasn’t there. Any ideas about where he could have been?
I thought Ulrik Laursen had a brilliant game at the heart of our defence and himself and Varga looked like a pair to be reckoned with, however my man of the match can only go to one man and that’s the man from Northern Ireland who despite receiving death threats etc still comes out and gives 110% for the hoops week in week out, that’s right my man of the match goes to the one and only Neil lennon.
Fulham (first half): Flitney; Rosenior, Bonnissel, Knight, Pearc, Rehman, McKinlay, Pratley, John, Hammond, Boa Morte. (second half): Crossley; Volz, Green, Leacock, Legwinski , Goma, Pembridge, Doherty, Sava (Noble 76), Ehui, Timlin.
Celtic: Marshall (Hedman 46); Agathe (Cuthbert 72), Varga, Laursen (O'Dea 72), McManus (McNamara 9), Sylla (Beattie 46), Lennon (McBride 72), Pearson (Petrov 46), Petta (McGeady 46), Hartson (Wallace 61), Fernandez (Sutton 46).
Bobo The Great’s MOTM: Neil Lennon
Written By Bobo TG
I'll post the pics up later people :icon_mrgr