Celtic ruin McGhee’s return

Mark McGhee was defeated on his return to club management (Pic by Alan Watson)
Mark McGhee was defeated on his return to club management (Pic by Alan Watson)

Mark McGhee’s second spell as Motherwell manager started with a 1-0 home loss to champions Celtic in last Saturday’s Scottish Premiership clash.

In truth, Celtic were well worth their victory and the Fir Park fans had little to applaud other than a pre-match one-minute clap in honour of legendary left back Joe Wark who died earlier this month at the age of 67.

Celtic keeper Craig Gordon was a virtual spectator throughout, with Wes Fletcher’s powder puff fifth minute effort being the hosts’ only effort on target during the whole 90 minutes.

After Celtic had forced a series of early corners, they took the lead after 15 minutes when Nadir Cifti shot home the rebound after Kris Commons’ initial effort had been palmed away by ’Well keeper Connor Ripley.

The dangerous Commons had a 23rd minute effort from 25 yards tipped over by Ripley before the same player hit the bar with a 36th minute free-kick.

’Well – with centre half Louis Laing moving forward into an unfamiliar midfield role – struggled to gain decent possession in a one sided first half.

Dedryck Boyata headed wide for the visitors and it remained 1-0 at half-time.

Josh Law’s fine run and cross was screwed over his own crossbar by Celtic defender Efe Ambrose as Motherwell made a brighter start to the second period.

But the pattern of Celtic attacking continued after the break, with Commons sending a left footed shot just wide on 56 minutes before Stuart Armstrong’s close range shot was saved by Ripley three minutes later.

’Well survived a penalty appeal when defender Kieran Kennedy seemed to handle inside the box.

In a rare breakaway, Kennedy volleyed wide on 61 minutes after Marvin Johnson’s corner had been cleared and then played back into the box.

The hosts then wasted a great chance to equalise when Kennedy failed to control the ball at the back post after Ainsworth’s long free-kick and the ball ran out of play.

Celtic sub Leigh Griffiths forced a late save out of Ripley – who in truth had few stops to make in what was a low key contest.

Motherwell: Ripley, Grimshaw, Laing, McManus, Pearson, Fletcher (McDonald 65), Johnson (Thomas 72), Chalmers, Kennedy, Law, Moult (Ainsworth 56).

Celtic: Gordon, Blackett, Izaguirre, Ambrose, Bitton (McGregor 76), Ciftci (Griffiths 59), Brown, Armstrong (Mackay-Steven 66), Commons, Rogic, Boyata.

Crowd: 8888

Referee: Alan Muir