St Mirren 3 Celtic 2

27 January 2013 04:34
That was not in the script but this has been a strange season all round

Hampden was a dreich place to be today for the second of the two of the Scottish Communities League Cup semi-finals of the weekend. St Mirren and Celtic were meeting for the right to play Hearts, back at Hampden, in the final after the Tynecastle side won out after extra time and penalties at Easter Road yesterday over Inverness. The Celtic fans arrived fully expecting their favourites to deliver on their favourites tag while the Buddies fans hoped it would be Danny of the two managers called Lennon who would be smiling in the post game interviews.  The weather had warmed up from recent frozen days and dangerous roads but the rain  which had replaced the recent snow and cold breeze from the west did still bring a chill to the atmosphere. Not a full house by any means with the Buddies outnumbered as expected. 

Congalves congratulated on his goal (c) Ross Eaglesham |

However, they made plenty noise when the first goal of the game went in - fired in by Esmael Congalves. He was released on the left before passing the ball inside to Paul McGowan and onto Gary Teale, Congalves had not stopped running for position and he was on hand to pass the ball past Lukasz Zaluska in the eight minute The Saints were not going to let that good start go to waste and kept the pressure on Celtic as soon as they moved over the halfway line to defend high up the park. Passes to the front men stuck and the Celtic defence were having to keep their eyes peeled for Gary Teale's moves down the right. There was no truth in the rumour among Celtic fans that the ball boy and girls had been asked to waste as much time as possible by Danny Lennon as soon as the Buddies had taken the lead. Celtic, in their black and dark grey hooped strips, seemed to be taking a bit of time to settle which was unusual for them with the speed of movement of their opposite numbers keeping them on their toes. Zaluska was the busier keeper in the opening 20 minutes with opposite number Craig Samson being well protected by his defence. Craig Brown did drive in from the right to a one-on-one position with Samson but his shot hit the heel of a back-tracking defender and the ball looped over for a corner. Despite being one up, St Mirren assistant manager Tommy Craig was screaming guidance to his defence. It was worth listening to as not long after Gary Hooper ran onto a looped ball from the half-way line between two defenders but his quick volley from the edge of the penalty box skimmed the bar. next to try his luck from long range was Victor Wanyama but the ball was watched as the missed the danger area by a couple of metres.  The Buddies defence was on top form with telling tackles being made when required. Celtic ballplayers were having difficulty in getting their feet to work properly with ball just not doing what they wanted it to do when in close control. Half an hour gone and St Mirren were still, on balance, in the ascendancy. This was not just my opinion but also that of the Celtic fans close at hand who were getting restless at the lack of cohesiveness being shown by their favourites. A number of times the first touch of Georgios Samaras and Hooper let them down and allowed Saints to steal the ball. The Buddies always seem to have bodies available when Celtic looked dangerous with close marking working for them. With halftime just seconds away, Celtic equalised when Hooper stole in to get n the end of a short ball from Wanyama for put the ball high into the net. Not the best performance by Celtic but they never give up.  Well, the second half started off with it being anybodies game. However, by the 68th minute the game was all for St Mirren. Two goals, one a penalty and the other a great volley by Thompson saw Danny Lennon dancing on the sidelines. Of course, Celtic don't just sit back in situations like this but their troubles of getting momentum started that plagued them in the first half appeared to have hung around. They enjoyed possession but not of the type that really troubled St Mirren. Middle of the park stuff but the Buddies were able to cope with that with ease. Not that they could relax as Celtic have the players that can really hurt teams when things go their way. The difference in stature and demeanour of the two Lennons was interesting to note. Neil was walking back to his seat with head down, dejected with the ineffectiveness of his side. While Danny on the other hand was full of life, animatedly directing his strike force to greater efforts. There appeared to be more and more panic in the Celtic side as they bombarded the St Mirren goal. Things were just not going their way with the ball skimming the wrong side of the bar on a number of occasions. Two minutes to go of regulation time would normally mean a game is won. Not so when a cup final is at stake. Sterling efforts to keep the ball in play from both sides for different reason; St Mirren to take it to the corner flags and Celtic to save the game. As ever, subs were brought on to eat up part of the three minutes of extra time. Celtic did get a goal back with the last kick of the game thanks to Charlie ulgrew but it was not enough and St Mirren will meet Hearts on 17 March. St Mirren: Samson, Carey, Van Zanten, McAusland, McGinn, Goodwin, Newton, Congalves, Thompson, McGowan, TealeSubs: Adam, Guy, Barron, Mair, Imrie Celtic: Zaluska, Matthews, Izaguirre, Wilson, Brown, Samaras, Nouioui, Ledley, Mulgrew, Wanyama, HooperSubs: Fasan, Stokes, Commons, Lustig, Kayal Referee: Willie Collum

Source: ScottishFitba