Fulham 0-0 Celtic

Last updated : 19 July 2005 By Kevin Smith

Gordon Strachan's first match in charge of Celtic was a dull 0-0 draw with Fulham, at Craven Cottage on Saturday. The game was a typical pre-season friendly and was one which won't live too long in the memory.

The result was not the most important factor of the day. I am sure the team benefited from a run out together and it gave the new Bhoys a chance to get to know their new team mates.

Celtic supporters took over Fulham for the day, and most Londoners could not get their heads round why there were so many travelling supporters at a meaningless pre-season friendly.

Celts took to the field in their smart new away kit, and a minute's silence was observed in honour of the victims of last week's London bombings.

It was interesting to see the Celtic line-up which started the game. David Marshall started in goals and there was no place all day for new goalkeeper Artur Boruc. Stan Varga and Bobo Balde took their places in defence, they were joined by new signing Mo Camara and youngster Gary Irvine.

As expected, Chris Sutton started in midfield alongside Stan Petrov, Aiden McGeady and Captain Neil Lennon. Jeremie Aliadiere and John Hartson started the match up-front.

Celtic started the game well and looked by far the hungrier of the sides. Aliadiere found himself wrongly judged as being offside early on, this is a trend which we may see emerging throughout the season, as he is as quick as lightning, and most linesmen will struggle to keep up with him.

Fulham had a couple of decent chances and Stan Varga was called to the rescue to clear the ball off the Celtic goal line.

Midway through the first half, in a bizarre moment, all players left the field for several minutes to consume water, in what looked to be a 'time-out.' Celts finished the first half on the offensive but the scoreline was goalless at hhalf time.

The heat in the ground was certainly taking its toll on many Celtic fans in the Putney and Stevenage Road stands, and goals were badly needed to liven the place up.

Stan Petrov was unlucky with a long range drive but in truth, none of the teams looked to be causing any problems to the other.

Just after the hour mark, Gordon Strachan made three changes. Hartson, Aliadire and Petrov made way for Maciej Zurawski, Craig Beattie and Shaun Maloney.

Celtic were awarded a penalty on 81 minutes when Shaun Maloney was brought down inside the box. Maloney gave the ball to Zurawski, who placed a tame shot at goal, which was saved by Mark Crossley.

Michael Gardyne replaced Neil Lennon with a couple of minutes to go, but the game ended in a scoreless draw. The scoreline did not at all put a dampener on the Celtic support, however, who were still in full voice at the final whistle, and throughout the rest of the day.

Obviously, not alot can be taken from a pre-season friendly but a few things stood out. Mo Camara looked the most impressive of the new players and contrary to what many have said, looks a decent player. Aliadiere will stike fear into any team he comes up against with his electric pace. It looks like Chris Sutton will play in midfield for the season but John Hartson better get his act together or he will find himsefl on the bench, if his lazy performances continue.

So it's onwards to Leicester on Tuesday and it will be interesting to see if the same team start the game, though I doubt it. Zurawski should start the match, let's see what he can do with a full 90 minutes under his belt. If the team show the same passion and hunger then we should have no problems.

Celtic: Marshall, Balde, Varga, Camara, Irvine, Petrov (Zurawski), Lennon (Gardyne), McGeady (Wallace), Sutton, Aliadiere (Beattie), Hartson (Maloney)

Come On The Hoops Man Of The Match: Stan Petrov

Come On The Hoops Moment To Remember: The fantastic Celtic support

Come On The Hoops Moment To Forget: The entire 90 minutes