VERSATILE Tomoki Iwata made a surprise appearance alongside Carl Starfelt in Celtic’s central defence in the 2-2 draw with St Mirren at Parkhead this weekend.
Ange Postecoglou didn’t divulge if last season’s J-League Player of the Year would make an appearance in that position again, but rated the Japanese utility ace as “okay” in an overall disappointing showing from the champions.
Iwata didn’t even get the opportunity to settle into a role he had played before during his manager’s time at Yokohama F Marinos when the Paisley side were a goal ahead in the fourth minute.
MY BALL…Tomoki Iwata slides in to claim possession.
To be fair to the January recruit, he cannot be blamed for the wayward swipe from Anthony Ralston that sent a clearance from keeper Trevor Carson spiralling over his head as he moved to take care of the situation.
The wild attempt at a clearance simply played in Curtis Main who then turned the right-back inside out before sending in a low shot that should have been dealt with by Joe Hart, but a rare lapse from the veteran netminder allowed the ball to crawl under him to cross the line.
Iwata composed himself after Ralston’s lapse while the burly Saints striker waged war on the middle of the defence with Starfelt experiencing an uncomfortable – and unconvincing – afternoon as the visiting frontman was allowed the freedom of the east end of Glasgow to nod in a second goal to give Stephen Robinson’s side the interval advantage.
AIR WE GO…Yuki Kobayashi and John Lundstram challenge for a high ball.
Thankfully, Kyogo Furuhashi responded with the first equaliser and skipper Callum McGregor hit the goal that prevented a second defeat of the campaign against the Paisley club.
Postecoglou, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “Tomoki Iwata was okay. When you look at it, it is not about individuals, it is about the collective. We have been really good at committing to a game plan, a game structure and a discipline and we’ve gone off that.
“When that happens it doesn’t allow anybody to stand out and it doesn’t mean anyone gets isolated, either, it is a collective thing.
“I just don’t think we hit the levels we need to in order to play our football.
“We just haven’t done that the last couple of games.”
With Cameron Carter-Vickers and Stephen Welsh injured, it remains to be seen who will form the central defence against Hibs at Easter Road on Wednesday.
Yuki Kobayashi, who struggled in the loss at Ibrox the previous weekend, may come back into Postecoglou’s plans before Flag Day at Parkhead against Aberdeen on Saturday.