The partnership of Omar Bogle and Tony Watt gave John Kennedy plenty to think about yesterday as Celtic beat St Johnstone 2-1 at Stirling University.
It was only the second time that the pairing had been tried with Bogle scoring both first half goals to give Celtic the points.
The midfield five is generally the strongest part of the u-19 side but with Dylan McGeough and Callum McGregor away on first team duty and Paul George rested Kennedy went with a more traditional 4-4-2 set up with John Herron on the right, Patrik Twardzik on the left with Darnell Fisher and Lewis Kidd partnered together in the centre.
Throughout the first half Celtic dominated and dictated the play but after the break St Johnstone came much more into the match with a penalty save from Robbie Thomson in the 56th minute a turning point with St Johnstone having to wait until stoppage time to find the net.
The Bogle/Watt partnership looks very un-Celtic like with two powerful pacy strikers playing together with Kennedy encouraged by their showing against St Johnstone.
“Omar can be a real threat when he puts his mide to it,” Kennedy explained about the summer recruit from Birmingham City. “His first goal was following the ball in to get a tap in then for the second goal he used his body well to create some space to shoot.
“He’s capable of that and alongwith Tony Watt they gave their back four a torrid time in the first half. Tony was running the channels, getting behind them and with Omar being strong and physical our front two provided St Johnstone with a real headache.
“In the second half we stopped feeding the balls into them as we had, we got a bit slack and that allowed St Johnstone to get some crosses into the box which was a threat.
“We played with the same two strikers against Aberdeen, they did well in that match and also for 45 minutes they worked well together.
“Most of the time we play with one up and two wingers but we need to have another option with two up front, when they are both on their game they are very effective.”
Some noisy action from the match
It looked like being another comfortable victory once Bogle had put Celtic two up but a nasty looking shoulder injury to captain Jackson Irvine further disrupted Celtic’s plans.
Mo Yaqub was the direct replacement with Patrik Twardzik stepping back to left back and Joe Chalmers moving inside to partner Joe O’Brien in central defence.
Celtic failed to force the pace after the break and were grateful for another penalty save from Robbie Thomson to stretch their winning run to eight matches across three competitions.
“The players have a lot to thank Robbie for,” Kennedy said in reference to his goalkeeper. “He kept the two goal advantage, if they had scored their penalty it would have been a totally different game and he also made a great save from a header shortly after.
“Robbie came and collected things, he was tidy and never took any chances. He used his head, he knew it wasn’t an ideal conditions but he organised things and made sure that everyone was on their game.
“Robbie is a strong character, he’s vocal and can be dominant, we need someone like that to organise things because losing Jackson in the first half was a blow, we had to tinker with the personnel which threw us a little bit.”
Kennedy added: “The team showed some determination and character to get the result. The pitch wasn’t great, it cut up and was heavy which made it hard to try and play football and the boys are learning that they can’t always play their passing game.
“In the first half we were excellent, after the break we made life a bit more difficult that we should have but we got a good result and a lot of teams could struggle here.”
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