JUST in case you missed it, Motherwell won 2-1 at Ibrox yesterday.

A goal from Dan Casey 15 minutes from the end gave the visitors their first victory in Govan since God was a boy. Or 27 years, if you wish to be pedantic.

It is now entirely up to Celtic to dodge a banana skin at Tynecastle this afternoon and work their way through 90-plus minutes to reclaim their accustomed spot at the Premiership pinnacle.

I’m way too long in the tooth to believe that it is written in the stars that Brendan Rodgers’ men will occupy pole position once the dust settles in the capital around two o’clock. Anything the visitors achieve in Edinburgh will have to be earned.

No-one should expect hand-outs from a team who inflicted a rare domestic defeat on Brendan Rodgers before the turn on the year when they were allowed to coast to a 2-0 victory at Parkhead. A repeat of the disturbingly lacklustre performance will bring inevitable consequences.

BIG NOISE…Dan Casey celebrates his winner at Ibrox while all around him is silent.

Possibly Philippe Clement’s players, after a commendable 11 consecutive successes since they lost 2-1 in the derby in the east end of the city before the turn of the year, were lured into a false sense of security against Stuart Kettelewell’s team who made life distinctly uncomfortable for Celtic in the first-half at Fir Park last weekend.

Maybe they had allowed their attention span to be interrupted with an intriguing Europa League encounter due against Benfica in Lisbon on Thursday night which will be followed with a Scottish Cup quarter-final against Hibs at Easter Road a week today.

These things can happen in football.

While everyone is discussing Clement’s first reverse at Ibrox since taking over from the hapless Michael Beale in October, the efforts of Motherwell’s player to actually win the contest appear to be overlooked.

I didn’t see all of the game, but from I did witness I have to say Well looked organised, composed and had a game-plan that, as the scoreline testifies, worked perfectly.

Theo Bair slotted a neat effort past Jack Butland early on to momentarily silence the drums that had created a din from kick-off. There was another slight hiccup of the beat after the turnaround when Blair Spittal clattered one off the face of the crossbar. The almost mandatory penalty-kick was duly awarded on the hour mark, courtesy of an interruption from VAR.

Forget what Neil McCann tells you, it was never a spot-kick.

James Tavernier proved once again that practice does indeed make perfect as he walloped yet another award into the roof of the net.

At this stage, the hosts went for it as they piled forward in hazardous waves to snatch a winner. To be fair, Liam Kelly produced two fine saves while Paul McGinn headed one away from practically under the bar.

Well were content to soak up the pressure and wait for the inevitable breakaway. The home side failed to clear a corner-kick, Spittal delivered a searching diagonal ball to the back post and, with the situation looking desperate for the defence, there was Dan the Man to nod down and over the line.

DAN’S THE HEAD MAN…Motherwell defender Dan Casey nods the winner past Jack Butland with James Tavernier getting a close-up view.

Once again, the drums fell silent, but it wasn’t long before the cacophony was rebooted and the remaining 15 minutes plus eight minutes of stoppage-time were played out to banging and thumping from someone who is clearly not a committed follower of the Noise Abatement Society.

Mercifully, the racket was drowned out at the final whistle by a flurry of boos from disappointed followers who had bought into the belief the title had their team’s name on it. I did preach caution here a few weeks ago not to confuse good results with good displays. One doesn’t necessarily follow the other.

The ball is now at the feet of Celtic and it is imperative we don’t miss the target on a day where patience may well be a virtue.

All this talk of drumming reminds me of one of my favourite jokes. Please indulge, your humble scribe, as I attempt to bring a Sunday smile before kick-off.

Back in the days of the old Western frontier and the early settlers, a wagon train is making its way across the plains.

A scout rides back to inform the wagon master there is an Apache tribe heading in their direction. The boss immediately orders the wagons to form a circle in anticipation of an Indian attack.

Everything is put in order, but, as the hours tick by, there is no sign of the Indian war party. As night begins to fall, the pioneers are wary as they clutch their rifles and take up their positions.

Suddenly, the eerie silence is broken by the steady beat of a solitary drum. The wagon master tells everyone to keep calm.

In the darkness, the beat continues without interruption.


This goes on for an hour. And then another hour.


After four hours of the steady and relentless beat, one pioneer cracks and screams: “Those bloody, infernal drums. I can’t take it any more.”

From the shadows a voice is heard.

“Sorry, white man,” he says. “Regular drummer on day off.”

Keep smiling, folks!

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