Defending, drama, confidence and Polaris


Credit to Aberdeen and Celtic for offering up a classic cup tie at Hampden on Saturday.  You and I watch a lot of football, but we seldom get to enjoy two teams going at it from the first to last minute.

Aberdeen manager-elect, Jimmy Thelin, must have watched, wondering just how a team that can put in two hours football like that are sitting ninth in the Scottish Premiership.  We’ll leave him to ponder that one.

The game came alive in the second minute, when Cameron Carter-Vickers was caught square-on to the play, when he should have shifted his body shape to follow Bojan Miovski.  Joe Hart got a leg to the Macedonian’s shot but it wasn’t enough; Aberdeen had an early lead.

Central defender, Angus MacDonald, pondered on the ball, which was enough to encourage Kyogo to pounce and rob him of possession.  Bearing in on goal, Kyogo’s first forward touch was poor, which allowed Gartenmann to get a leg in front of the striker and block his shot.  However, Nicolas Kuhn was on hand to stroke the ball into an empty net.

James Forrest replaced Yang, who had struggled playing out of position on the left, on the hour mark.  Within three minutes James had marked his territory with a drive inside and shot, before repeating the feat and scoring on the second attempt.  Keeper Roos was unsighted and had little chance to make the stop.

On most occasions, that would be that, but Aberdeen had battled throughout and were not about to give up without a fight.  A goalmouth scramble saw a Junior Hoilett beat Hart but not Carter-Vickers, who blocked on the line.

The game peaked as it entered the 90th minute.  Hoilett, a 33-year-old Canadian international, created the best move of the afternoon.  He pitched a cross between a deep Celtic defensive line and the goalkeeper, which dropped into the six-yard-box in front of goal for Sokler to attack.  Brendan Rodgers will ask questions about the other two goals Celtic lost, but this one was a peach.

Aberdeen seemed to flag during the first period of extra time.  Connor Barron picked up an injury five minutes before the break in extra time but Aberdeen interim manager, Peter Leven, decided to hold off making a change.  As the first period entered added time, Alistair Johnston hit the bye-line and cut back for Matt O’Riley, who scored Celtic’s third and gave them a lead which most fans assumed would be decisive.

As play entered the second period of extra time, Aberdeen were without Barron and Miovski, their best two players, but they would not be denied.  In the last minute of extra time, Brendan Rodgers hooked James Forrest to put on an additional central defender, Maik Nawrocki.  Before the Pole settled, Aberdeen found space on the wing James Forrest had been working.

Celtic were playing five at the back, with Nawrocki to the right of the central defensive three, patrolling the box.  It didn’t work.  We had no pressure on the ball to stop the cross, and Nawrocki was caught in no man’s land, available only to block a low cross, when the ball went high.  Aberdeen’s stand-in captain for the day, MacDonald, made amends for his mistake at the first Celtic goal to send the game to penalties.

Who knew Celtic had six good penalty takers?  Idah, Palma, O’Riley, Bernardo, Johnston and Iwata all scored with ice-cool precision.  Three kicks were missed, the first, after Aberdeen keeper went over on his ankle, causing a lengthy delay before his team-mate, Ryan Duncan, was able to take his attempt.

Coincidentally, we talked on Thursday about the effects of a penalty taker forced to delay taking his kick.  It cost Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva against Real Madrid and proceeded Ryan Duncan’s kick against the post.

Joe Hart watched his former side against Real and saw their keeper, Ederson, score in the shoot-out.  I expect his motivation to take Celtic’s fifth penalty came from watching Ederson on Wednesday, not from weeks of meticulous practice demonstrating he was one of our better penalty takers.  Confidence is important in these situations, but not as important as practice.

The smile on Joe’s face after his miss was a coping mechanism.  He needed to demonstrate he was still in control to himself as much as anyone else.  He might not be a good penalty taker, but he’s an experienced professional.

14 penalties taken, 12 on target, the first 11 of which found the net.  Joe got his arms to Killian Phillips attempt to put Celtic into the final.

Occasionally, you will see losing fans turn and leave the moment the losing kick is made. On Saturday, both sets of fans remained to congratulate their sides on a performance which drained the public as much as the players.  This is Scottish football.

40 years ago there was a forward for Oldco who was known as ‘Polaris’, for his ability to dive like a nuclear submarine.   I don’t know if there was an unspoken understanding between John MacDonald and match officials, but to his credit, MacDonald at least did his work in an era before VAR.  How utterly stupid would you have to be to be faced with an open goal and crash to the ground, hoping for a penalty instead when VAR can review your act?  You wonder what Silva has been told about how life in Scotland works.

Fabio was offered around by Wolves in January.  It wasn’t just his £50k a week wages that turned off all but the most gulible, it wasn’t even his theatrics.  Fabio ended up where he did because of his ability.

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  1. What is the Starz on

    Liam Scales is the new scapegoat now..All the whining malcontents and begrudgers going for the lads jugular. He has been a regular centre back all season,starring in some Champions league games.Now Celtic are 3 points clear with 5 games left and have a cup final to look forward to….But Scales can GTF


    sack the board,Desmond out,Rodgers out and don’t even mention Peter Youknowwho

  2. I posted after that game, that we should celebrate progressing to the final and could have a debriefing later. Its now later.


    Defensively, we are fairly poor. Take CCV out and our back line is average at best.


    9th placed team scored 3 goals against us.


    We don’t score as many headed goals as we might (several were headed high and over) whilst we concede more than I’d like. Many high balls cause panic and danger.


    I’m massively pleased to be so close to a previously unlikely double this season and would like to hope the boss is able to strengthen the correct areas this summer.

  3. Prestonpans bhoys on

    I’ve had a look at Silva’s swanlake , he’s going down before the ball has reached him. Did he know his feet were not in a position to kick the ball and dived?

  4. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    “James Forrest replaced Yang, who had struggled playing out of position on the left”




    Forrest didn’t do too badly ‘out of position ‘




    Wasn’t it Rangers McDonald played for?

  5. Aberdeen like most sides targeted our left side – which in the absence of Maeda is even more vulnerable. They had the skill to execute two very good crosses between the left side of our defence and a keeper who won’t come off his line. From their point of view, Aberdeen will see two good goals.



    Other teams will certainly try to follow suit but whether they’ve a Canada international to put the crosses in remains to be seen.

  6. ERATIC on 22ND APRIL 2024 11:31 AM


    “Just watched highlights again….The so called penalty incident against CCV in 111th minute….why did Robertson allow play to continue after Johnston was fouled, seems bizarre?”



    I was in line with this at the game. The first thing is I think the initial ball down our LHS was offside (before it went back out then in again – but it was in the same period of possession so within the remit of VAR). I think GT was making this point at the time of the stoppage quite forcibly iirc.



    For me I can only come up with 2 explanations for not giving the foul initially:


    1) he didn’t think it was a foul


    2) he wanted to let play flow as much as possible



    If 1 – then the only reason for then giving it is he pooped a brick when he saw CCV foul and so changed his mind. If not 1, and he thought it was a foul then why was there no indication to “play on” ?



    If 2 then did he:


    – hope we’d get possession and play on giving us a chance to counter attack (aye right)




    – hope we’d get possession back thus giving Aberdeen a chance to press us high and win back the ball in a dangerous position and with us a man down – in this scenario a VAR review would ignore the initial offside and the AJ foul I believe as the phase looked at would reset to when possession last turned over…



    Had the pen been given I think it would have been disallowed for the foul on AJ or the offside before this.




  7. Maeda was missed on Saturday, maybe not the most finesse, but I think when he plays, the tempo of the team is much higher

  8. GLENOWEN on 22ND APRIL 2024 12:15 PM



    Agree that we need to strengthen but I also feel that the issues you described could/should be improved on the training ground

  9. PAUL67 said…



    ” Central defender, Angus MacDonald, pondered on the ball, which was enough to encourage Kyogo to pounce and rob him of possession. Bearing in on goal, Kyogo’s first forward touch was poor, which allowed Gartenmann to get a leg in front of the striker and block his shot. However, Nicolas Kuhn was on hand to stroke the ball into an empty net.”






    As I Posted yesterday AFTER watching the Celtic Goals v Aberdeen, in the ” UNIQUE ANGLE” Link, it looked to me that KYOGO was rather unlucky at Celtics 1st Goal, as the Ball appeared to be become ” Stuck” for a milli second between his feet or the Ball appeared to slow down slightly, more than KYOGO anticipated, as maybe he thought the Ball would run truly into his path ?



    In ” real time” it was difficult to see that KYOGO was maybe somewhat unlucky, as the Ball perhaps did not run truly for whatever reason ( Long Grass and/or Dry Pitch ? ).



    All my honest opinion of course.



  10. So blame Liam Scales or say Aberdeen’s second goal came from a peach of a cross. No, the crosses for their second and third goals should have been stopped by our right-back, who is good going forward but cannot defend. He also cost us a few goals in the CL. He made no attempt to stop the crosses. If Aberdeen had defended like that we’d have scored enough to win the game comfortably. It’s funny that he’s our only defender who is never criticised.

  11. We’re in a position we could only dream off ten days ago. Dundee is important because it’s the next game but if we can get to the last 4 games 3 points clear then we’re big favourites.



    Scales won’t be dropped. I suspect we’ll continue to get minutes into CalMac but certainly, I’d expect Yang to sit out Dens Park.

  12. Paul 67,



    We did not play to our full potential.


    Aberdeen played much better than their usual league display



    Result : One cracking match.



    We can and will play better for the remainder of the season.


    I am very optimistic, but not complacent for all our remaining games.



    Once the double has been achieved we have some major decisions to make.






    PS : Spend a fraction of our money in the bank and upgrade our Wi Fi.

  13. Huns v Mini Huns….did SILVA get Yellow Carded for his DIVE yesterday….IF not, why not ?


    Why weren’t Aberdeen players Yellow Carded for running into their fans TWICE ?



    I really don’t mind if any Players run toward and celebrate a wee bit with their Fans NO MATTER which club they belong to after scoring a Goal….However, over the years I have seen several REFS who couldnt get their Yellow ( or RED ) Cards out fast enough when its a CELTIC Player involved !




  14. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Our third goal was absolute quality btw. O’Riley so intelligent in the way he peels off into space. Really good move.

  15. Back to Basics - Glass Half Full on

    Great game.



    Aberdeen gave their all.



    Slightly better team on the day won.



    No offence Pablo but have you ever played CB?



    Your interpretation of the goals conceded raised my eyebrows.

  16. GREENPINATA on 22ND APRIL 2024 12:52 PM




    I agree with your analysis completely.



    Aberdeen’s commitment and application was immense and they had four first-class players in Barron, Miovski, Clarkson & Hoilett.



    Sometimes you can only play as well as the opposition let’s you – that was the case for us on Saturday.



    I was disappointed that we were ‘caught’ twice – in the last minute of normal time and the same again in extra-time, however credit must go to Aberdeen for giving it their all.



    The job was done and we are in the final. We sit top of the league by three points, a position that was not expected just over a week ago.



    OK, we’re not the finished article, but we’re in pole position for another successful domestic campaign.



    Roll on the next six games HH

  17. What was the name of the so called centre forward that the Huns signed a few years ago who was called ” The FOX in the Box” by the English and Hun fans…..I think he had played for Arsenal for a while and then they off loaded him elsewhere before the Huns signed him ?



    I THINK his first Name was ” FRANNY” ?



    He was every bit as bad as DESSERS and he didnt last long with the Huns either.



  18. SEAN THORNTON on 22ND APRIL 2024 1:24 PM


    The guy that scored their 2nd was booked..





    Don’t know about the guy that got the 3rd




    Cheers, but according to the RULES, the Ref could have Booked 7 or 8 of them ?


    I know thats very unlikely, and I really dont have a problem with players who celebrate a wee bit with their fans after scoring a Goal.



  19. PeterLatchfordsBelly on

    Forrest replaced Yang, who despite my pompous blog from a few weeks ago when he had his only 2 good games of the season, is absolute dug meat.



    Nothing could done to defend the 2nd goal other than Palma not gifting possession from an excellent position and the Leda side of the Celtic defence being shambolic, as it had been all season.



    It was a great advert for Scottish football so long as you’re willing to ignore Celtic’s terrifying tendency to concede lots of crucial (late) goals and crumble under least pressure, which suggests the league and cup could still be surrendered by this side/squad that is markedly inferior to last season.



    Rodgers continues make baffling and self-defeating tactical decisions too.



    Aberdeen were excellent and could have scored 6 or 7 on the day against Celtic’s abysmal defence. Hoilett missed a 1-1 sitter, Hart miraculously combined with CCV to stop one on the line and their player missed from 3rds when it was easier score.



    Liam Scales is a great lad and plays his heart out but is a modern day Mark McNally who could t keep weans oot a close.



    Fixed it for you.

  20. BIG JIMMY on 22ND APRIL 2024 1:26 PM


    What was the name of the so called centre forward that the Huns signed a few years ago who was called ” The FOX in the Box” by the English and Hun fans…..I think he had played for Arsenal for a while and then they off loaded him elsewhere before the Huns signed him ?



    I THINK his first Name was ” FRANNY” ?



    He was every bit as bad as DESSERS and he didnt last long with the Huns either.




    Was it Francis Jeffers? Former Everton player. Not sure if he also played for Arsenal. He was mince! 😂

  21. Prestonpans bhoys on

    Jeffery went on loan in 2005 to the huns and made eight appearances. His title of “Fox in the box” was so prolific his total goals for the huns was zero, nada!

  22. The 3rd dons goalscorer was also booked for over celebrating. Don’t know the exact law but usually it’s just the goalscorer who gets booked, unless he plays for….

  23. Scales and Taylor both were found out when it comes to defending same Aberdeen player puts to crosses to the far left post 2 goals scored ,

  24. Francis Jeffers. Excellent prospect at Everton and held the record for England U21 most prolific scorer for a long time.



    Moved to Arsenal and his career fell off a cliff. Strange how that happens sometimes. Didn’t Rangers pay big money for him too? As well as World Cup winning Stephane Guivarc’h? They’ve had some real duds but Dessers is up there.

  25. MELVIN UDALL on 22ND APRIL 2024 1:34 PM




    Cheers,,,,” Franny Jeffers”…thats the CHUMP.


    It was bothering me since yesterday trying to think of his name. I think I may have thought of him while watching the NEW ” Fox in the Box”…another CHUMP called…DESSERS.



    Franny Jeffers made DESSERS look like a Brazilian.




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