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Celtic claim first U20's victory of the season

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Celtic FC
Dundee FC
U20's SPFL Development League
Cappielow Park, Greenock
11 September 2014
After a stuttering start to the league campaign, Celtic claimed their first three points of the new season in a 2-1 win over a determined Dundee side.
Celtic opened the scoring through Kieran Tierney, just five minutes before the first half was drawn to a close. Paul McMullan then doubled the lead for the Celts from the penalty spot, but Craig Wighton pulled one back for Dundee, making it a very nervy final few minutes for the hosts.
Both sides struggled to get to grips with the game early on, with neither side able to build a cohesive style of play or work on an effective passing game.
The first chance fell for Celtic, made possible by some excellent dribbling on the wing from Kieran Tierney. Tierney played a low ball into the box which met the right foot of Paul McMullan but forceful closing down from the Dundee defence meant that he couldn’t direct his shot on target.
Despite Celtic making the most ground in possession, Dundee stood strong and proved difficult to break down, while forging some chances of their own. Cameron Kerr picked the ball up on the left flank and proceeded towards the Celtic defence before letting loose a powerful strike from 25 yards out, but goalkeeper, Leo Fasan, dealt with the danger comfortably and parried the ball into his arms.
Celtic were still in the hunt for the opening goal and almost midway through the first half, they were awarded a corner on the right hand side. Joseph Thompson took the corner and found McMullan waiting at the edge of the box. McMullan then floated a cross into the danger zone and found the head of Calvin Miller who aimed his header down low towards the bottom left hand corner of the net but Dundee goalkeeper, Scott Bain, reacted well and got down fast to make an important save for the visitors.
Dundee’s best chance of the half fell in the thirty third minute when Craig Wighton displayed some excellent trickery with the ball at his feet as he shimmied his way past some Celtic defenders. Wighton struck a shot low towards the left hand corner of the net, leaving Fasan rooted to the spot, but the ball went narrowly inches wide of the post.
When it seemed like neither side would find the breakthrough in the first half, Celtic forward McMullan made a crucial interception and carried himself into the Dundee box. Not willing to go it alone, he fired a perfectly weighted cross into Dundee’s six yard box, allowing Tierney to poke a shot past Bain, opening the scoring for Celtic a mere five minutes before the end of the half.
The referee shortly thereafter drew the half to a close, allowing Celtic to take a 1-0 advantage into the next forty five minutes.
Half Time: Celtic 1-0 Dundee
Dundee started the half the brightest and were seen to be pressing high up the park in pursuit of an equaliser.
The first chance fell for the visitors when Wighton dribbled his way past Aidan Mcilduff, allowing Wighton the chance to fire a cross into a packed Celtic box. Wighton’s cross deflected into the path of Martin Boyle who struck an acrobatic volley at goal but his shot drifted some yards wide of the right hand post.
Dundee continued to build in momentum, making an equaliser look almost inevitable. David Clarkson picked up the ball at the edge of the 18 yard box but was put under immediate pressure from a bank of Celtic defenders. Clarkson cleverly played an overhead through ball to Boyle who was waiting in space at the right hand corner of the box. Boyle lined up a shot, beating Fasan but hit the inside of the right hand post. The woodwork then directed the ball back out into play, allowing Celtic to clear the danger.
Celtic had thus far struggled to make their mark in the second half. But just after an hour, McMullan picked up the ball in his own half and took advantage of Dundee’s high defensive line. His explosive pace allowed him to take a solo run at goal, while being tailed by Dundee defender, Iain Davidson. As McMullan made his way into the box, Davidson forced the Celtic forward to the ground giving the referee little option but to award a penalty.
It was McMullan who stepped up to take the spot kick. He took a short but slow run up and sent Bain the wrong way, firing the ball into the bottom left hand pocket of the net, surely wrapping up the points for his side.
Dundee still did not look shaken by going further behind, and remained in control of the match in the minutes that preceded the penalty.
Boyle played Wighton through, gifting a real chance for Dundee to get themselves back into the game but Wighton’s effort dwindled just past the left hand post, letting Celtic breathe a huge sigh of relief.
Dundee maintained their pressure and Dylan Carreiro picked the ball out on the left flank, coming inside to get the ball onto his favoured right foot. Carreiro directed a cross into Celtic’s box and found the head of Wighton, who flicked the ball past Fasan and brought Dundee right back into the game with fifteen minutes still to play.
Celtic felt it necessary to adopt a more considered approach, giving more careful thought to defensive work as they hoped to preserve their slender lead as the final minutes approached.
Dundee struggled to break down a resilient Celtic defence, making the prospect of defeat almost imminent. Substitute John Skelly tried desperately from distance for the visitors but his effort was never seen to be troubling Fasan.
Despite a hardy final few minutes, the game ended and it was to be Celtic who would claim the win. Dundee exhibited a steely performance, never intent on going down easily. On another day, they might have snatched something, but to Celtic’s credit they held out and made the most of the chances that fell their way.
Full Time: Celtic 2-1 Dundee

David McSheffrey | YFS Central Region Journalist

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