CELTIC let slip another two points in the SPL title race after a dreary 0-0 draw at home to Hibernian.
The Bhoys now sit 12 points behind Rangers at the top of the league after the champions produced a 2-1 victory up at Pittodrie in the early kickoff.
It was the second time both teams had played each other this week with Celtic running out 4-1 winners in the Scottish Communities League Cup on Wednesday night. Old Firm fans alike had created a protest earlier in the day in the heart of George Square and the protest continued in to Celtic Park before kickoff. The FAC (Fans Against Criminalisation) directed their dismay with the Scottish government’s new ‘Offensive behaviour at football and threatening communications bill’. Many fans stating it is anti-football.
Hibs started well in a much more defensive set-up to the one they had for the game in midweek. It was the home side who fashioned the first chance in the game.
A long hopeful pass up the field was directed towards Leigh Griffiths from the away side and the nervy all new centre half pairing at the back for Celtic did not deal with it. Fraser Forster came rushing out his box before connecting with a diving header which cleared the lines. The ball fell to Joe Ledley who drove the ball up field before playing the ball to Anthony Stokes. Stokes has a quick shot which causes Stack to fumble the ball but the English goalkeeper was alert to the rebound. Good goalkeeping at both ends of the field.
A frustrating afternoon already looked on the cards for the home side with the lack of creativity shown from midfield was evident. It would take another twenty minutes before Celtic would even see another sight at the visitor’s goal.
The hoops broke down the left with Anthony Stokes who cut inside in order to get the ball onto his favoured right foot, his shot deflected and again Graham Stack was alert and managed to save the ball with his feet.
This wasn’t just a case of the home side didn’t play well the visitors were well worth their point and if anything maybe could have got more. Their first sight of goal during the game came from the in-form Garry O’Connor.
A neat passing build up from the Hibees forward line created space for O’Connor just outside the area. He fired the shot away quickly but never really got the contact he was looking for as the shot fired wide.
The best chance in the first half fell to Gary Hooper. For the first time in the match Stokes and Hooper linked up well. Hooper picked up the ball and played a one-two with his Irish strike partner, Stokes played the ball back in to Hooper who struck the inside of the post.
It was the first real opening Celtic had in the match but you got the impression that if that chance had fell to Hooper 12 months before the sounds of the Depeche Mode would be ringing around Celtic Park.
Man of the moment James Forrest then took it upon himself to test Stack, who replaced Mark Brown from the game in midweek, Forrest struck the ball well from distance but Stack beat the ball away soundly.
The Boo’s of the home support accompanied Calum Murray’s half time whistle.
In a reverse of the game during the week Hibernian came out the blocks well fashioning some decent chances in the process most notably an audacious freekick from Leigh Griffiths which went just wide of the post.
The man on loan from Wolves tried to chip the ball up and volley it over the wall only for it to fall just wide of Fraser Forster’s goal.
Griffiths followed that daring effort up with an even bolder shot from almost the halfway line that almost caught Forster napping.
Celtic was slow in getting in to the second half as the crowd became more and more restless. A quick freekick from Ki Sung-Yueng found James Forrest who was credited in dispatching Hibs only days before. Forrest cut inside and smashed a shot that looked to be heading towards the top corner.
Unlike in the league cup though the young Scotsmen didn’t dig his team out a hole and instead saw his shot rattle the cross bar.
That man Griffiths was again causing problems for the Celtic defence when he used some impressive trickery to create space inside the box before attempting to beat Forster at his near post but the Englishman made a good save.
Hibs were looking the most likely to break the deadlock when Garry O’Connor bent one towards the top corner from the junction of the box. O’Connor’s effort went narrowly wide. Ivan Sproule, who saw red in the match in midweek, had a similar effort to O’Connor which ended in the same outcome.
Pat McCourt tried to fashion a chance out of nothing which almost paid off but his pass to James Forrest was cut out, the ball fell to Stokes’ whose snapshot ended up wide.
More Boo’s would accompany Calum Murray’s full time whistle as more points slip away on the Celtic Park turf.
The Celtic fans will soon need to justify their claims that they are all Neil Lennon because on recent form the Northern Irishman’s job must be under threat.
Celtic: Forster, Matthews, Mulgrew, Rogne, M. Wilson, Ledley, Kayal (Wanyama), Ki (McCourt), Forrest, Stokes and Hooper (Samaras).
Substitutes: Zaluska, Cha, Majstorovic, El Kaddouri, McCourt, Wanyama and Samaras.
Hibernian: Stack, Hanlon, O’Hanlon, Stephens, Wotherspoon, Galbraith, Stevenson, Osbourne, O’Connor (Thornhill), Agogo (Sproule) and Griffiths (Palsson).
Substitutes: Brown, Scott, Thornhill, Sproule, Palsson, Welsh and Sodje.
Referee: Calum Murray