THE best and worst from Scottish football’s weekend.
1) Celtic were on course to be beaten by Motherwell on Sunday until they were generously given a rather dubious second half penalty by referee Brian Colvin, prompting a collective rolling of the eyes from every supporter not of a hooped persuasion.
There is no doubt that Celtic (and Rangers) benefit from more decisions than their opponents, just in the same way Real Madrid, Manchester United and Milan do in their respective leagues. It’s a flaw in human nature that goes beyond conscious thinking. Would Motherwell have received the same penalty at the other end? Of course not, but then the voices shouting for it would barely have been audible. The roar in the referee’s ear causes him to consider and, ultimately, make the wrong decision.
In this case I also believe he was influenced by Keith Lasley’s attempt to foul just before the penalty “challenge”. The possibility of an infringement was already on his mind before Fraser Kerr lent his arm into Brown. He should have taken a couple of seconds to consider what had occurred. Just like he did before refusing to award Motherwell a first half penalty for a clear handball by Jason Denayer. Yes it’s ball-to-hand, but he’s deliberately making himself a bigger target by spreading his arms out in an ‘unnatural position’.
But hey, don’t worry Motherwell fans, according to Ronny Deila these things even themselves out over the course of the season.
2) Aberdeen surged past a toiling Ross County at the weekend, taking advantage of weak defending to build a two-goal first half lead. Included in the double salvo (to borrow Football Manager terminology) was the second header in as many weeks for David Goodwillie. We don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves, but it looks like the old Goodwillie – the one we remember from his initial spell at Dundee United – is slowly beginning to emerge in an Aberdeen shirt.
The drop off suffered by the Scottish international has been quite startling since he left Tannadice for a £2 million move to Blackburn Rovers three years ago. He’d not only failed to live up to his potential, but actually seemed to have left some of that initial talent behind in Lancashire; bombing in his United return last season and not doing much since signing for Aberdeen.
Whether it was Goodwillie believing his own hype, or if he got used to feeling marginalised from his struggles down south, he seemed to have lost the hard running that marked him out from other goalscorers, choosing instead to play on the periphery of the game and wait for chances in the penalty area. That’s not, and has never been, Goodwillie’s style.
3) The first Friday night game of the Premiership season produced another first as St Mirren finally got off the mark in league play. The bulky Callum Ball (that’s being kind) levelled the match only a couple of minutes after his introduction. The match was almost at an end when Kenny McLean won it with a late penalty, capitalising on the handball foul given against Abdul Osman – the incident was very similar to the Motherwell claim, but without 41,000 people (allegedly) in attendance.
St Mirren hadn’t been as bad as their five consecutive league defeats would have suggested, so it was hard to grudge them a little luck. Besides, without the late award we wouldn’t have been treated to the Partick Thistle fan behind the goal forgetting what football nets are for.
4) Going into Sunday’s derby it appeared that Dundee were poised to end their near-ten year drought without a win over cross-street rivals Dundee United. The home side were undefeated, United were missing their top striker, and manager Paul Hartley had just turned down a potential move away from the club. Everything was coming up Dark Blues! (Terrible nickname – and before you start ‘Dees’ isn’t any better.)
Then the game started and it all fell apart. Gary Mackay Steven won what appeared to be a dubious penalty, which on closer inspection was the right decision, and the hosts collapsed in the second half. Ryan Dow’s goal was the pick of the bunch - even though he got away with being a greedy sod by shooting instead of squaring for teammate Mario Bilate. The silver lining for Hartley and his players is that they immediately get a chance to put things right when the sides meet again in the League Cup on Wednesday.
5) At times on Saturday Hearts were pretty poor against bottom placed Cowdenbeath. This was particularly true during a first half where the visitors stopped them from playing and deservedly went in at the interval with the game tied at 1-1. But if the old rhetoric is true - that it’s the sign of a good team to play poorly and still win - then Hearts must be some side to perform below par and still dish out a 5-1 hammering! Furthermore, it must be encouraging for Robbie Neilson that he’s getting goals from all across the Hearts attack as Dale Carrick netted his first two goals of the league season following his return from injury. The scrappy striker is the third Hearts player in six games to net more than once in a single match, while Osman Sow has three goals in five.
The best from Saturday came via Billy King. The midfielder received a terrific through ball from centre back Danny Wilson before dispatching high into the net.
Time to hand out some weekly awards...
The Fabian Caballero award for best goal goes to Greg Stewart for his consolation in the Dundee derby.
The James Collins award for worst miss goes to David Goodwillie. I may have dished out praise for his overall play but that doesn’t mean he’s exempt from this ignominious prize for a late angled open goal miss on Saturday. John Sutton’s sitter was a strong contender also.
The Ludovic Roy award for best save goes to Mark Brown for his reactionary close range stop from Peter Pawlett.