Celtic squeezed past Inverness to earn a semi-final spot against Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup.
Adam Rooney converted a penalty just before half time but Joe Ledley capitalised on some hesitant defending in first half stoppage time to level the scores.
In the second half Shane Sutherland was unfortunate with a sweetly struck drive which Forster turned away but Inverness were caught out from a dead ball situation as one of the smallest players on the park nodded the ball home unchallenged, without having to get off the grass, soft goal to lose and that left Inverness with a mountain to climb, one which they fell just short of reaching the summit, good effort though.
A serious of baffling decisions from Mike Tumilty incensed the home fans more than the away support and Terry Butcher vented his displeasure at the officials inability to officiate in the true spirit of the game, with the home support chanting for the foreign officials to be returned to Scottish Football, here here.
Inverness started this cup tie with Ryan Esson restored to the starting eleven for his first Scottish Cup game this season, but there were no places for flying wingers Jonny Hayes or Aaron Doran. A back four of Duff, Tokely, Hogg and Munro were to be put on overtime and Duncan and Cox supported them from defensive midfield. Sutherland retained his place after his spectacular goal against Motherwell with Ross and Foran joining him across the middle offensive positions and Rooney being the loner up front. Hayes and Doran were introduced after the horse had bolted and made little impact as Celtic closed out the tie.
Celtic had Forster in goal, and Mulgrew and Izaguirre at full back, with Loovens covering for the injured Majstorovic. The rest of the team seemed to be playing as strikers as they flooded forward at every opportunity, with Izaguirre darting down the flank like an Olympic sprinter. Stuart Duff will be having recurring nightmares about this fellow as he tore him a new one time and time again through no fault of his own, other than being asked to play at right back. Tough task Stuart, you're on your own there mate.
Hapless ref Mike Tumilty, (I think that's the right word), seemed keen to endear himself to one of the ruling bodies of Scottish Football by awarding the visitors a series of free kicks, but strangely enough, the home side were not afforded the same luxury. Hold on a minute, I hear you say, we did get a penalty; but he found that difficult to judge until the far side linesman helped him out. Still, no sour grapes from me, Celtic did their talking on the pitch tonight and looked a quality side and edged out their Highland counterparts, just. Our sheer endeavour was not quite enough to pull us into the semi-finals although it could have been different had Forster not made a tremendous save from Shane, seeking his second goal in as many games.
Alas, despite the best efforts of the God's to ensure a safe passage into the semi's, there was to be no repeat of the supercaley signature headline or the Wyness inspired victory of three years later. Maybe Jupiter was not quite lined up with Mars after all. Not even Richie Foran could prevent Celtic waking up to a St Paddy's day rush after giving his all in defence and attack. For him and the rest of the shamrock contingent at Inverness, it's a St Patrick's day hangover. Did someone kill a robin redbreast? And four leafed clovers are not for me, not even a kiss of the blarney stone, anyway, superstitions, who'd have them. Now then, where's my leprechaun gone.
Davie will tell us what happened in more detail after he gets the lights on his bike sorted
Looks like he managed to get home in the dark after all and here is his report
Deadly Ledley Kills Off Thistle
Sunday’s horizontal rain and howling gale was replaced last night by an altogether more benign TCS that welcomed Celtic in the Cup Quarter Final. We also welcomed the green and white hordes that follow them, singing tales of rebellion, an infallible man and dead heroes. All very west coast. The respective line ups looked up for the fight from the off, but there was a residual fear of the pace of Izaguirre and Commons that might overwhelm what is still a makeshift back line. Cox versus Kayal in midfield looked tasty and so it proved.
The game started at a fair rate of knots (unsurprising for a cup tie) and without either manager anywhere near a dug out. There were so many paparazzi snapping Lennon in the stand, I thought Jordan had turned up. Maybe it was Terry they were after. Once attention was focussed on the game, however, a contest was brewing. Celtic, as anticipated, played the neater football but early chances were squandered (by Loovens) and defended well (from Commons, Samaras and Izaguirre) before a heartstoppingly brilliant chance for Foran was manufactured in 25 minutes by Shane Sutherland. Don’t know how you missed that one Richie. That Celtic were limited in clear chances thus far was in no small measure due to the midfield, Russell Duncan in particular who harried, chased and snapped into tackles. The louche Samaras - Captain - headed a good chance into Esson’s arms after Ledley crossed. In between all of this, Foran had hoofed a clearance off the line, and the Glasgow side were menacing. All, however, changed in 44 minutes, just as tea and a chat with big Terry loomed. The aforementioned Foran connected with a Duncan lobbed pass shortly before Loovens connected with him, and Mr Tumilty pointed to the spot after being told not to be a softie by the far side Linesman. I hope they got their stories right, Jordan must have been going ballistic. ROONEY smacked the ball past Forster for a hardly creditable 1-0, and a handy half time lead. Nice. Celtic then did what Celtic do and pressed savagely, but there was a couple of minutes to resist and surely ICT would manage that? Answer negative, as LEDLEY collected in the box from the seriously rapid Izaguirre, birled and whacked an effort past Ryan Esson. Cue crushing disappointment from ¾’s of the ground, an infernal racket from the rest and a real sense of the continuing fragility of this back four.
Half Time:- ICT 1 Celtic 1
Half time was spent dissecting all of two minutes of the first period over a Bovril. Should Loovens have been sent off? Could Granty have caught yon speeding Honduran? In any event, Inverness seemed fired by the equaliser, and Ross and Sutherland came more into the game. No doubt Ross will again be criticised for his lack of physical presence, but his change of pace and direct running are worth more than the occasional outmuscling. If only he could finish, he'd be worth a fortune. Sutherland, on the other hand is a pocket battleship who is coming on to some real form, illustrated by his latching on to a Hogg free kick in 51 minutes that he lashed at Forster’s left corner. Justice was only partially done by the brilliance of the diving save, but the strike deserved a goal. Pressure was building, as evidenced by Forster and the mulish Mulgrew getting in a tangle with Foran loitering with intent. Pressure wasn't getting converted into chances, and how much we would regret that was shown by Izaguerre selling Mr Tumilty a quite beautiful dive, which resulted in a free kick out left for Celtic. The world’s tallest South Korean took the freeby that was met in splendid isolation by LEDLEY, who powered a header past an incandescent Esson. A collective nap resulted in marking being conspicuous by its complete and utter absence. Nicky Ross then scorned a great chance to equalise that pinged wide and in 72 minutes Hayes replaced the manful Sutherland. There is always hope where Jonny is concerned, but in truth his lack of games showed last night but he was honoured by the mob handed marking. Doran was less rusty, and there is promise in this line up. In truth, after Celtic's second the game was over bar the shouting and Esson’s customary world class save (from Ledley – again) and clawing back the deficit looked beyond us.
Full time:- Inverness 1 Celtic 2
Who gave Grant Munro MotM? Russell Duncan got this one by a distance from Foran, closely followed by Sutherland and others. I felt genuinely sorry for the absent Tuffey, and wonder how long he can put up with constantly being second in line; it's that prince Andrew feeling. If you read the west coast press (not advisable) today, Celtic were sloppy and poor and that is why the scoreline was what it was. Rubbish, the game was closer than they will ever let on and TB was right – we deserved more out of the game. The ref was a bit of a mystery last night, allowing challenges that were “robust” in some instances and penalising the slightest contact in others. His rule book is a strange one. Roll on Saturday in Arabia.
Cheers davie, how's the bike?
Match report written by tm4tj/Davie