James Keatings took his goal tally to seven in three games with the opener in Celtic’s 3-0 win over St Johnstone at Lennoxtown today.
The striker scored in the 28th minute with another accomplished finished then set up Patrik Twardzik for the second goal nine minutes later.
Last Saturday Keatings scored five against Hamilton u-19s then followed that up with a goal in the reserve side’s 2-0 win over Carlisle on Monday.
Keatings was substituted just past the hour mark after picking up a slight knock but his performance delighted coach Stevie Frail.
He said: “Strikers thrive on goals. James took a lot of confidence into Monday’s reserve game with Carlisle.
“We’re pleased with his performance and delighted with the three points.
St Johnstone struck the woodwork twice in the opening fifteen minutes and it was obvious that there was to be no repeat of last week’s 8-0 drubbing of Hamilton.
The Celtic Way at youth team level is to put an emphasis on short sharp passing with players given responsibility to adapt and be flexible.
Variation is important and it was from two more direct moves that Celtic put themselves ahead at the interval.
In the 29th minute Callum Bagshaw’s raking pass sent Keatings racing down the right, after checking onto his left foot he drove the ball low into the net.
Nine minutes later Keatings was the creator for Twardzik with a move that delighted Frail.
He added: “The second goal was a long diagonal pass, a lay-off and a finish. Simple but effective. It wasn’t a punt, it was a great pass from Stephen O’Donell, Michael Ordish picked the ball up which attracted their defender then laid the ball back.
“Stephen got his head up, put in a great pass and one touch from Keatings set up Patrik for a great finish.
“We emphasise passing and possession every day in training but we want to do that at pace. That’s what we strive for.
“At times today we never moved the ball quickly enough. You can’t play fast flowing football every minute of every game.
“You have to balance the way that you play. Players have to know when to raise the tempo and when to take the sting out of the game. At times we maybe ran too much with the ball.”
After the break Keatings looked capable of scoring every time that he got the ball with the St Johnstone defence hesitant to commit themselves to the challenge.
Just past the hour mark Keatings was replaced by Bahrudin Atajic, or Broony as he’s referred to by his team-mates.
The match was still in the balance with St Johnstone striking woodwork in the 70th minute with Robbie Thomson getting a touch onto a 25 yard drive.
With eleven minutes left to play and the visitors tiring McGregor showed great skill to evade two challenges on the left with his cut-back from the by-line being sent into his own net by a retreating Saints defender.
Frail added: “Callum McGregor has been impressive for us since pre-season and he’s continued to set high standards.
“He’s a clever player, he gets into good areas, he showed a bit of pace and strength to get away from the defenders to pick out a pass that led to an own goal.
“We like players that can float about in different areas, Callum can do that. He can play wide on the left, wide in the right or behind a striker.”
An interested spectator at the match was Rangers star-spotter Jimmy Sinclair, the coming days will reveal if any Saints wonder-kids are on their way to Ibrox.
The international break next Saturday sees a Celtic XI take on Albion Rovers at Cliftonhill with the next league match scheduled for September 11 away to Hearts which looks like being a great match since the Jambos have also started their season with two wins and a goal difference of plus 11.
Celtic: Thomson; O’Donnell, Toshney, Hughes, Brennan; Bagshaw, Jordan; Ordish, P. Twardzik, McGregor; Keatings
SUBS: Atajic ( Keatings 63) Ordish (Gormley 78) Jones (O’Donnell 82), Wightman, Islam, Chalmers, George
SCORERS: Keatings 28, Twardzik 37, McGregor 79