It was not pretty, but for the second time in 2024 Celtic subjugated St Mirren in Paisley and eased into the Scottish Cup quarter finals, where they will face Livingston at home. We now have the potential of three games in Glasgow to win the cup, a prospect which should focus minds. Hampden has been as profitable a venue as Celtic Park for nearly eight years now, we’ve won 24 out of 25 visits. No team has ever had a better Hampden record, including Queen’s Park (renamed Cathkin Park doesn’t count). The business end of the season is insight.
Brendan Rodgers decision to play Adam Idah up front with Kyogo in a withdrawn role played out perfectly. Luis Palma’s 15th minute cross behind Idah was perfect for Kyogo to run onto. The ball had plenty of pace on it, allowing Kyogo to divert its course from 18 yards into the net. Had he been playing as striker, he would not have been in position for this cross.
With the continuing absence of Reo Hatate, pulling Kyogo back one position gives us an added option. It was also refreshing to see Idah get involved in the physical side of the game early on yesterday. This is a quantity we have been without for a while.
Six weeks ago Joe Hart’s suitability for the second half of the season was being debated. Joe can go weeks without making saves that have any consequence on the end result. Since then, he has made outcome determining saves against St Mirren, Hibs, Aberdeen and Ross County. The keeper will hope for a quieter period in the weeks to come.
Stephen Welsh and Liam Scales are not the dream team in central defence, but both have particular strengths in the air. With Idah also in the side we look far more comfortable defending set-pieces. On a park like that in Paisley, defending the air is particularly important.