JAUNTY James Forrest is just four goals short of becoming a Celtic Ton-Up Bhoy.

The 30-year-old winger is on course to join legends such as Jimmy McGrory, Henrik Larsson, Bobby Lennox, Kenny Dalglish, Stevie Chalmers, Jimmy Quinn, John Hughes and the other Hoops hot shots in an exclusive club.

Forrest claimed the 96th strike of his career with a superb left-footed angled drive away from Livingston keeper Max Stryjek in Ange Postecoglou’s side’s 3-1 win in West Lothian yesterday to maintain their three-point advantage at the top of the Premiership with eight games to play.

Remarkably, it was the Scotland international’s first league goal of the campaign and his fourth in all competitions, the previous strike coming in the Premier Sports League Cup semi-final against St Johnstone on November 20 which set up the first domestic silverware success of the season the following month when Kyogo Furuhashi took the scoring spotlight with a second-half double to shoot down Hibs 2-1 at Hampden.

NUMBER 96 AND COUNTING…James Forrest (extreme left) fires the ball wide of keeper Max Stryjek for Celtic’s final goal in the 3-1 win at Livingston.
The other two counters came in Europe back in August against FK Jablonec, 4-2 in the Czech Republic, and 2-0 against AZ Alkmaar at Parkhead.

Only 29 players have hit the ton for the club. Forrest’s effort against Livi also placed him among another elite group as one of only 10 players in the near 50-years of the Premier era to net in 13 consecutive top-flight campaigns.

With the Scottish Cup Final due for May 21 at the national stadium, Forrest could have 11 weeks to hit the big 100 – or even surpass the magic figure.

The experienced forward admitted: “It’s always been a target. When I scored my last goal – it seems a while ago now – I said that when you are playing with such good players in the squad you are always going to get chances and it will just come down to me whether I take them or not.

CROWD-PLEASER…James Forrest accepts the acclaim of the Celtic fans after his superb strike.
“I managed to get one on this occasion, so, hopefully, I can keep adding to it. Normally, it’s afterwards you talk about stuff you have done. I know it’s not easy. I’m not going to say ‘when I score four goals’.

“I am just going to keep working hard and try to add to that and help the team in the coming games.”

Asked about scoring in 13 successive seasons, Forrest, speaking to The Scotsman, added: “I have felt as though I have had lots of chances and just not been able to take them. Sometimes the harder chances go in. The manager always says if the forward players keep getting in the right areas then they will get the goals and I was glad I managed to do that.

“I have been feeling good. The manager is not bothered who scores the goals. A lot of this season we have spread the goals amongst the squad. That helps, you are not just looking at one or two players to keep scoring the goals, even though a couple have scored more than others.

HAMPDEN HERO…James Forrest races away after netting the winner in the Premier Sports League Cup semi-final against holders St Johnstone.
“If I just keep working hard and getting the chances, they will come sooner or later. I think it’s the best we have played at Livingston. We scored three and had other chances, as well, so I think that is really good for the staff and the players to put in a performance like that.”

Forrest now has his eyes on Tannadice a week tonight when Postecoglou takes his men to Tayside for their Scottish Cup quarter-final against Dundee United.

The clock is ticking, James!

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