Celtic FC Under 19s vs Aberdeen FC Under 19s
Clydesdale Bank U19 League
Celtic went to within a point of league leaders Hearts with a slick performance against Aberdeen, reports Andrew Southwick.
Ahead of a tasty encounter with Manchester City at Celtic Park on Monday, the Hoops were eager to earn their starting slots and turned the Dons over in impressive fashion.
Sometimes you have to hold up your hands and admit the other team on the day were just better, and Celtic were slick, pacy and very impressive at Barrowfield.
Lesser sides would have wilted under the intense pressure they were put under though, but Aberdeen fought their ground well over the 90 minutes.
Goalkeeper Przemyslaw Lukasik in particular was outstading, pulling off a string of important saves to keep the score down, and had it not been for some sloppy defending the Dons may even have taken home a point.
It was Aberdeen though who found themselves in front in the first few minutes. Declan McManus, tipped to break into the first team soon by Craig Brown, did his chances a world of good by taking advantage of slack marking in the area to bullet a near post header into the top corner.
Aberdeen could have been 2-0 up minutes later as Celtic struggled to find their feet; Dean Carse seeing his goalbound effort blocked.
Celtic eventually got into their stride though, and showed their intentions in the twelfth minute with Patrik Twardzik seeing his looping shot bounce off the bar.
The equaliser came on the quarter of an hour mark, and after keeping the Hoops out it will have annoyed Neil Cooper and the watching Willie Miller - with Omar Bogle bundling in a scrappy goal from a corner the Dons defence had failed to clear.
The visitors were thankful for good defending by Scott Rumsby twenty minutes in when he was alert to clear head off the line under heavy pressure.
The Dons then thought they were back in front when McManus again found space in the box to head beyond Robbie Thomson, but the assistant referee's flag denied him more glory.
Five minutes later and Aberdeen were behind. Rumsby had conceded a free-kick wide on the left, which the Bhoys took short and Paul George elected to skip through a possy of red shirts before chipping Lukasik to seal a stunning solo goal.
The chances continued to come from Celtic, Austrlian Jackson Irvine heading just wide, but the third goal finally came from another awful mistake from Aberdeen.
The Dons gifted possession in midfield, and with everyone pushed forward the Hoops had three players on one. Twardzik broke down the left and fed Tony Watt who had the easiest of finishes.
There was a change of referee at half-time, but there was no change to the relentless pace of the game.
Celtic threatened first with a low Twardzik free-kick forcing Lukasik into a good save, before a great turn by Stephen O'Neil deceived the Hoops defence but his shot drifted just wide of the left hand post.
Lukasik was still being kept busy, but was equal to the efforts of both Watt and Callum McGregor. However the fourth for Celtic came in the 58th minute; Lukasik got his hand to Bogle's header but couldn't keep it out.
Manchester City are the visitors to Celtic Park on Monday night, with Celtic's young guns getting a taste of the big time with the game being played in their home stadium. With that game on the horizon no-one could have forgiven them for taking their foot off the pedal, but they continued to search for more goals.
Good passing play opened up the Dons defence to allow McGregor space, but he couldn't finish, and then the weary Dons were thankful for Irvine passing up a good opportunity in the 65th minute.
Aberdeen somehow found a second wind, and refused to give up. O'Neil swung in a free-kick which found Jack Grimmer at the back post, and he was unlucky to be denied by a good block by the goalkeeper.
Two minutes later and the Dons did pull one back. Ryan Fraser made a good run down the left, then picked out Cameron Smith with a great cross, and he headed the Dons second into the net.
They couldn't set up a grandstand finish though and Celtic held out to move to within one point of league leaders Hearts.