CELTIC will be hoping history does not repeat itself when they face Kilmarnock in the Viaplay League Cup semi-final at Hampden on Saturday evening.
The holders go into the encounter as overwhelming favourites following two successive victories over Derek McInnes’ side in the Premiership this season – 5-0 at Rugby Park in August and 2-0 at Parkhead at the weekend.
It was a similar scenario on March 18 2012 when Neil Lennon’s men were scheduled to take on the Ayrshire club, then managed by Kenny Shiels, in the Final of the competition, then branded the Scottish Communities League Cup.
THAT SINKING FEELING…Fraser Forster, Kelvin Wilson and Charlie Mulgrew can only look on as Dieter van Tornhout scores Kilmarnock’s shock League Cup winner in March 2012.
Remarkably, the Hoops lost 1-0 against all the odds when Killie netted with their only real threat on Fraser Forster’s goal six minutes from time when substitute Dieter van Tornhout headed in a left-wing cross from Lee Johnson, the current Hibs gaffer.
There was a controversial conclusion to the encounter two minutes into injury time when Anthony Stokes was sent sprawling in the penalty box following a wayward challenge from lunging defender Michael Nelson.
The Republic of Ireland international frontman was just about to pull the trigger when he was sent spinning to the turf.
The referee was not impressed, waved away spot-kick claims and booked the striker for diving.
The match official that fateful afternoon was Willie Collum who, coincidentally, is the man in charge at the national stadium for the weekend meeting between the teams as they battle for a place in the showpiece showdown on February 26.
ON THE ATTACK…Victor Wanyama, watched by skipper Scott Brown, puts on the pressure to no avail on a Hampden day to forget.
A report at the time termed it “a contentious denial” of Celtic’s penalty claim and added “Stokes was aghast when Collum booked him for simulation, having gone down under Nelson’s challenge from behind when he looked certain to score.”
We have to hope there are no such disputed flashpoints this time around and we are talking about the actual football at full-time.
James Forrest is the only Hoops survivor from the 16 stripped players 11 years ago. The Scotland international, 31, will almost certainly be in Ange Postecoglou’s squad for the weekend.
The team that day was: Forster; Wilson, Mulgrew, Rogne (sub: Ki Sung-Yeung 56), Matthews; Brown, Ledley (sub: Commons 86), Wanyama; Forrest, Stokes, Hooper (sub: Samaras 80). Unused subs: Zaluska, Cha Du-Ri.
FOOTNOTE: Celtic played Kilmarnock again at Rugby Park on April 7 and walloped them 6-0 to clinch the title, the club’s 43rd title and the first in the second sequence of nine in a row.
We do like a happy ending!