Tony Mowbray side again did more than enough to win a game at Celtic Park last night only to find themselves ruing missed opportunities once more. The Celts crashed out of the Co-operative Insurance Cup at the quarter-final stage last night after a Michael Stewart penalty gave Hearts a 1-0 victory. Mowbray's side have only won twice at home in nine attempts since the manager arrived in the summer and the 19000 fans who could be bothered to turn up at Celtic Park last night let it be known that they were not happy with the result.
Celtic may have regained pole position in the SPL with a win at Hamilton on Sunday but most Celtic fans will look upon last night's defeat as being tantamount to gifting the first trophy of the season - and a big boost in confidence - to a very poor huns team. Celtic's main problem is scoring goals and Mowbray had left mis-firing strikers McDonald and Samaras on the bench, instead electing to start with Killen as a lone striker just ahead of Zheng Zhi but he reverted to his first choice front pairing immediately after Hearts scored. Samaras had ample opportunities to rescue the tie but ultimately that failure to convert the simplest of chances cost us once more.
Tony Mowbray insists that he's not overly worried about the profligacy of his strikers at this moment in time as he thinks that it will all come good soon. "I think we would be concerned if we weren't making chances." he said. "But we are making chances every game we play and it will click. In a stadium that is normally more atmospheric, we showed great desire to win a football match."
"I didn't see a lack of belief." said Mowbray. "I seen a very positive team playing against a team who deserve credit for defending as well as they did. We deserved better than we got but sometimes you don't get what you deserve in football. We take it on the chin and move on to the next game."
Following three consecutive games at home without scoring the manager was asked if he thought one goal at Parkhead would be enough to open the floodgates. "I hope so." he answered. "So long as they do start. If it takes one to win at the weekend against Kilmarnock, then so be it. If we get five or six, which at times our play might warrant, then so be it as well. They're working very hard and giving everything they can but it's not just strikers who have to put the ball into the net, it's all over the pitch. We had opportunities to win many games last night, yet we didn't manage to score."
"If you were not at the match, you would be thinking it was a dour cup tie which we lost 1-0." continued the boss. "Yet we could have won many games. But, there you go, and we have to give Hearts credit for their defending. Teams set up as Hearts did every week, and that is why you don't score five or six because teams generally are very well organised behind the ball. They also counter-attack, and Hearts have a little bit of pace with which to break away. When you commit as many men forward as we do at times, you can leave yourself vulnerable. Yet, I didn't really feel over-threatened by Hearts, only when we ended up chasing the game."