Kevin Graham with A Celtic State of Mind – Champions League Post-Match Reaction

It didn’t take long for the game to develop a pre-season feel. Olivier Ntcham and Mikey Johnston combined on the left-wing and the latter put a dangerous ball over the face of goal for Leigh Griffiths to tap in. Ok, it might have been an own goal but considering the circumstances, Griffiths should be awarded everything.
Our opposition decided to target Johnston and Griffiths. Snide tackles from behind and boots being dragged down calves as the toothless Estonias wanted to ensure that another heavy defeat wouldn’t be on the menu for the home support.
It was our first look at Christopher Jullien in a competitive setting. He will have harder shifts but his range of passing was impressive and he wasn’t troubled in the air. The chance that he missed in the second half was probably easier to score but he looks a unit and one that could be untroubled by the over physical nature of the Scottish game. If he and Uche Ikpeazu collide it could spell the end of the world.
Another summer signing Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo has had a stuttering start. This was his first completed competitive 90 minutes and his most impressive performance. He has energy and athleticism and he turned in a solid outing rather than a mouth-watering one.
The biggest winner of the night was Lewis Morgan. A sterling game in two positions and was Celtic’s major threat throughout. That he played the full game indicates that he won’t start on Saturday, which would seem unfair on him but that midfield is a tough gig to crack. Mikey Johnston did enough in 60 minutes and this pre-season to show that he can be a starter on Saturday and beyond. He is a typical Celtic fleet-footed winger, one that our supporters love to watch and get behind.

The mouth-watering moment of the game came in the final minute. Marian Shved picked up a loose ball on the edge of the box and curled in a shot that was straight from his YouTube reel. He should have scored with his first involvement in the game but the goal will give him confidence. He, like Morgan, has a job to do to break into the starting eleven, and both players might need to get used to impressive cameo roles from the bench before a run in the team is forthcoming.
Scott Brown was just Scott Brown. He refused to be left at home and is showing all the leadership qualities we will require this season. Has Nir Bitton done enough to show that he can contribute? While he isn’t a centre-half, Brown is 34 and there will be games we require a defensive midfielder alongside and in replace of the ageing Brown. He gives a less energetic dimension than Brown but retains the ball better and in certain games could give added protection. Next week in Romania for instance.
Neil Lennon has fired up a debate with his comments about Craig Gordon. Gordon was comfortable and saved the things that he should have saved and caught the balls he should have caught. It’s a debate that we didn’t think we would be having but our manager has opened the window and the thought of Gordon regaining the first team jersey is now out there.  
It was a tough game for those trying to impress and while we dominated we didn’t create too many chances. Ntcham, Ralston and Griffiths had quiet games. Sinclair produced a great save from the goalie and Simunovic was safe enough. The standard of opposition was low and the game pace dropped but the coaching staff have enough to mull over in the next few days.
We now look forward to flag day number eight on Saturday.

Kevin Graham

ACSOM’s Man of the Match:

1. Mikey Johnston
2. Lewis Morgan
3. Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo

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