Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Celtic scrape through against Arbroath

Celtic's Adam Matthews (centre) scored the only goal of the game

Arbroath 0 Celtic 1: Celtic boss Neil Lennon was relieved to have safely negotiated a potential banana skin at Arbroath.

Lenny is so relieved to scrape through after swapping Barcelona for ArbroathHoop dream: Adam Matthews (centre) netted only goal of game CELTIC boss Neil Lennon was relieved to have safely negotiated a potential banana skin at Arbroath.

The Hoops, recent conquerors of Barcelona, scraped a 1-0 win on a muddy Gayfield Park pitch thanks to Adam Matthews’ strike.

Lennon, who will find out his side’s Champions League knockout stage opponents next Thursday, said: “It was a horrible night, the pitch got worse and I was worried about the safety of the players.

“But football is all about getting through to the next round.”

On Matthews' crucial goal, a happy Lennon added: “It was a thing of beauty.”

Matthews paid tribute to Second Division part-timers Arbroath for their brave showing in last night's tie, but felt his side deserved their win.

The Welshman's brilliant length-of-the-field run and shot earned Celtic a hard-fought win — and he certainly knew the Celts had been tested.

He said: “We knew it would be tough, they played well, but on the balance I think we deserved it.

“We are in four competitions and I think we are strong enough to try and do well.”

Arbroath's Steven Doris was named as man of the match and he said: “To be beaten by a goal like that, all you can say is, that's the sort of quality they have.”

Defeated player/manager Paul Sheerin was disappointed to see Doris have a goal ruled out for a foul.

He said: “I didn't see much. It didn't look like a foul from where I was.

“But I'm delighted with our form and we need to take it into the league.”

Matthews' first goal for Celtic proved just enough to send Lennon's team into the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup but their replay win also owed much to that controversial disallowed goal by Doris.

Matthews fired a wonderful strike from 20 yards in the 19th minute but Celtic subsequently failed to take control at Gayfield.

And they were grateful for a 66th-minute decision by referee Craig Charleston, who presumably ruled out Doris' close-range finish for an earlier infringement on Celtic keeper Fraser Forster, but a foul did not appear obvious.

Forster himself averted extra-time when he saved a one-on-one with Connor Birse as Celtic edged through to set up a trip to Raith Rovers.

Celtic made three changes following their 3-1 win at Kilmarnock on Saturday but retained the 3-5-2 formation and a strong team.

Mikael Lustig and Beram Kayal came in for Joe Ledley and Victor Wanyama, the Swede's introduction allowing Efe Ambrose to push into a holding midfield role. Georgios Samaras replaced Gary Hooper to start up front alongside Lassad Nouioui.

Arbroath manager Sheerin, part of the Inverness team that shocked Celtic in 2000, started for the hosts, who earned the replay after a late deflected free-kick from Doris secured a 1-1 draw at Parkhead.

Samaras got the first effort on target with a header from Lassad's cross but it was straight at home keeper Scott Morrison.

The Greek soon returned the favour after a backheel from Scott Brown, sending over a low cross that Lassad swept home but the offside flag was up.

The part-timers were the architects of their own downfall though when Matthews won the ball off left-back Colin Hamilton.

The Wales international burst away but still had plenty to do, and lashed a powerful strike that flew over Morrison's outstretched hands and into the far top corner.

Celtic appeared to take their foot off the gas and Arbroath were able to push play away from their penalty box but they failed to trouble Forster from several set-pieces.

Lennon was growing increasingly frustrated with his side's slack passing but, unlike in the match at Parkhead, this time they weren’t made to pay.

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