Celtic vs. Kilmarnock – Football Match Report – May 9, 2018
Steve Clarke’s Kilmarnock proved problematic once again to champions Celtic as they held out for a goalless Ladbrokes Premiership draw at Parkhead.
The much-changed home team struggled against a resolute Killie side in a rather lifeless first-half and were unable to convert the few real opportunities they were restricted to after the break.
Clarke had drawn with and beaten Celtic since taking over the Rugby Park club in October and will be glad of another point against Brendan Rodgers’ side, their first in four post-split games.
There will surely be more excitement when Celtic collect the league trophy for the seventh successive season against Aberdeen on Sunday before they bid to win a successive domestic treble in the William Hill Scottish Cup final against Motherwell the following week.
However, in the grand scheme of things, neither side had too much to play for at a rain-soaked Celtic Park.
Amid six changes, Celtic started the game without a recognised centre forward as the only fit one, Moussa Dembele, was rested.
Fellow French striker Odsonne Edouard is out with a hamstring complaint which is likely to end his season and Leigh Griffiths returns to training later in the week after a bout of illness.
Returning winger Patrick Roberts led the line as Jack Hendry, Jozo Simunovic, Stuart Armstrong, Scott Sinclair and Calvin Miller also came in to the side.
The well-organised visitors snapped away at Celtic heels in the battle for early possession.
The Hoops controlled the ball for the most part but the first real effort on target took 31 minutes and saw the ball in the Killie net, after Simunovic had climbed to head Armstrong’s free-kick.
However, the flag was up, perhaps for Kristoffer Ajer’s final touch in an offside position.
Celtic then stepped up the pace to finish the half strongly.
Winger James Forrest headed a Callum McGregor cross just over the bar and Sinclair came close with an angled chip over Killie keeper Jamie MacDonald which cleared the far post.
Within three minutes of the restart MacDonald made a great save at point-blank range from Armstrong after Sinclair had jinked into the box to set him up.
Just before the hour mark Miller conceded possession deep in his own half and Greg Kiltie’s drive across the six-yard box was cleared by Hendry on to in-rushing Aaron Tshibola and over the bar. That was as much an attacking threat as Kilmarnock offered.
Tom Rogic and Kieran Tierney came on for Armstrong and Miller in the 66th minute and Hoops found another gear.
In the 79th minute Hendry’s stooping header was cleared close to the line by Tshibola and then, from five yards out, the unmarked former Dundee defender missed the target with a header from another McGregor corner.
Ewan Henderson replaced Roberts to make his Celtic debut and the corner count mounted but the Ayrshire men but ultimately held firm.