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Shamrock Rovers v Celtic XI

In Soccerball on February 24, 2010 at 11:10

Shamrock Rovers 1 (Stephen Bradley pen 11)

Glasgow Celtic 1 (Paul Caddis 71)

A youthful and talented Celtic reserve side gave Shamrock Rovers a good pre-season workout at a soggy and wintry Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday night.

Rovers started the match brightly in front of a full-house when Dessie Baker rounded the keeper close to the touchline but his chip into the centre of the box caught Graham Barrett offside. Moments later Celtic centre half Declan Gallagher clumsily took down Barrett inside the Celtic area. The pointed to the spot amid protestations from the Celtic players but a calm Stephen Bradley dispatched the penalty with confidence.

Celtic’s right winger, Paul Caddis, who has featured in the Glasgow side’s first team, was very lively down the Rovers left, keeping Pat Flynn on his toes for much of the first half.

Approaching the half-hour mark, some great play down Rovers right-hand side resulted in a deep cross which Barratt came close to connecting with, but goalkeeper Cervi got his hands to the greasy ball and held on well. The play sharply switched to the other end as Caddis sent a low ball across the face of the Rovers’ goal only for Dan Murray to put it behind for a corner under pressure from James Keating.

Celtic were finding their feet at this stage, and after a spell of prolonged pressure and possession around the Rovers box, a clever cross to the back post by Wilson was nodded behind for a corner by a towering Murray. Celtic kept up the pressure on the Rovers rearguard and with a ball not cleared properly Kris Vallers drove a low ball goalward which Mannus saved comfortably down to his right. First-teamer Caddis was threatening to cause all sorts of problems for Rovers and one of his mazy dribbles was thwarted by an illegal challenge from Murray. The resulting free kick was thumped goalward but Mannus did well to punch the ball to safety.

Celtic came out the stronger team after the half-time break. Caddis again was involved in everything Celtic were creating. He drilled a good low shot early into the second half which Mannus parried away to the right. Just after the hour mark Paul McGowan looked to have breached Rovers’ defence but last man Murray hauled down the youngster. In what would have been a red card under League Of Ireland conditions, only a free kick was awarded and Murray got a ticking off from the referee.

With just 19 minutes remaining,Paul Caddis struck to level the game for the visitors. Great sweeping play from the Glasgow side sprayed the ball from left to right. Scotland B international Mark Wilson found himself in an advanced position on the left-hand side of the Rovers’ penalty area and pulled the ball back to Caddis who dispatched the ball from 12 yards past the diving Mannus.

Celtic could have won the game late on when substitute Philip Tnardzik hit a left-foot curler from 20 yards which thumped against the bar.

Afterwards, Michael O’Neill was pleased with the game: “I think it was a useful workout. We’re playing against good young professionals who are in mid-season and I think in the second half that told a bit to be honest. But the purpose on the friendly was the level of game that we would expect and we certainly got that. It was a competitive game. I’m pleased with a lot of aspects of our game in the first half, we played some really decent stuff. In the second half, I’m not so pleased, though in the last 15 or 20 minutes we had better play.

“It is pre-season, and some players are ahead of others and you’ll always find that. Some of the lads look as if they’re ready to play tomorrow and others look as if they still need a bit of work.”

Celtic reserves manager Neil Lennon was also happy with the performance of his youngsters: “I’m pleased with that. They showed real maturity against a very good Shamrock Rovers side. To go a goal down we could have wilted but we didn’t. It was a real test of our character to play here in Dublin in front of a big crowd. The experience it has given us will do us the world of good.”