Celtic 2-1 Aberdeen extras: James McCarthy's breakthrough display, referee Kevin Clancy's dodgy positioning and Green Brigade's chilblain-inducing Bernard Higgins protest

One Celtic player emerge from a seemingly recent deep-freeze as a section of the club’s support afforded another icy response to their board’s plan to appoint Bernard Higgins.

Members of the Green Brigade get the chills with a sit in protest against the reported appointment of Bernard Higgins following Celtic's 2-1 win over Aberdeen. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Man of the match

It would be easy to follow Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou’s line about how Callum McGregor’s influence - he scored the second and helped set up the first - made driving force for his team. Yet, there is no question the Celtic captain was able to push into the final third to telling effect thanks to James McCarthy’s efficient patrolling behind him.

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The Republic of Ireland international has had a torturous start to his Celtic career. Lack of a proper pre-season, a couple of niggly injuries and a spell out with Covid-19, have hardly made a footballing ‘homecoming’ for a lifelong fan what he would have desired. Taking on the deep-lying midfield role from the increasingly re-appraised Nir Bitton, who missed out with a knock, McCarthy made the most of a first full 90 minutes as a Celtic player, and only a fourth start since the former Crystal Palace performer arrived as a free agent in the summer.The Hamilton Accies product’s career in England with the London club, Everton and Wigan, as well as his international displays, tell that McCarthy is a talented performer. The Aberdeen win may be the day he started to demonstrate that in an environment in which he is so desperate to succeed.

Letdown

On a day when warmth was cried out for, the stuffiness of the encounter - which Aberdeen sought to initiate in order to combat Celtic - meant it didn’t entirely catch fire at any stage. It was a slow burner throughout and, often-times, strangely uninvolving.

Turning point

The break for Celtic that came when Callum McGregor charged down a Jonny Hayes clearance only for it deflect off him and in to the net for the decisive 60th minute goal proved the crucial moment.

Referee watch

It turned into an awkward afternoon for Kevin Clancy... even as he made no mistake when pointing to the penalty spot following Liel Abada’s half-baked challenge on Marley Watkins for Aberdeen to draw level shortly before the break. Celtic’s online analyst community have been quick to question Clancy’s positioning, with the official more than once finding himself in the way as Celtic looked to move the ball through the middle of the park at pace. His booking of Mikey Johnston in the closing seconds for apparently throwing the ball away also seemed excess.

Gave us a giggle

There is no disputing the sincerity, or justification, that lies at the core of the Green Brigade’s weekly protests over Celtic’s reported plans to appoint the wholly unsuitable assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins to a senior security role at the club. Their latest public objections amounted to a sit-in - in the standing area - that led to ultras’ group remaining in the stadium for almost three-quarters of an hour after the final whistle. Their dedication to the cause may have been admirable but you could only but only chuckle ruefully at the poor timing of such a show of dissent. Here was a chilblain-inducing day that had all others in the arena rushing to sit in absolutely anywhere else that afforded warmth.

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