After collecting one point from their previous five games, Livingston fans can scarcely believe the result and performance their side recorded against Celtic yesterday. A goal from a breakaway on 25 minutes was enough to shatter Celtic’s early fluency. For all the flattery achieved by pounding opponents at Celtic Park, there is a fragility about Ange Postecoglou’s side.
Andrew Shinnie nipped in front of Stephen Welsh before thrashing a shot high into the net. The central defender should have done better but it was an excellent finish from Shinnie. The move started when Celtic were exposed on the right as Livingston won possession in the middle of the field.
The way we setup, we are going to concede chances and goals on the counter; going behind should not have had the consequences that followed. Instead of provoking a clinical reaction, Celtic’s early assured touch deserted them.
James McCarthy started his first game since May and is clearly well off pace. Mikey Johnston came on for his first appearance of any sort since May, he also needs time before we can expect anything like his best.
While central mid took much of the focus, our wing play was no better. Jota was significantly less effective against Livingston than against Betis on Thursday, and Liel Abada’s devastating runs into the box just didn’t happen. The only real pass mark was for Joe Hart, who made an instinctive save that prevented the home side doubling their lead.
We won on nine consecutive visits to Livingston between 2001 and 2007 before an 11-year gap until the next visit. Since returning to the West Lothian venue in 2018, we have played five, drawn three and lost twice. I am not fond of blaming the pitch; we have ample access to artificial pitches to practice on. Be ready next time.
So what now for our league challenge? News from Ibrox that Motherwell took a point to limit the damage of the afternoon was a merciful relief. A four-point gap is bad enough but six points would feel daunting. We are still in the race largely due to the fact that our only genuine opponents are well below the form they enjoyed in the two previous seasons. Whoever sorts out their form first will win the title.
Lots to consider, Ange.