On a bitterly cold, blustery afternoon, this was a fine, battling performance from a new-look Celtic team. With Hayward and Lindsay drafted into wing back positions, and Mark Lees and Kristian Platt shoring up central defence, the home side never looked like breaking through.
Up front new signing Byron Walker lived up and down to his billing as lightning fast and diminutive. His speed, ball control and vision were flamboyantly on display. He never had a prayer of winning any of the many high balls lobbed up into the tower block Oxford defence, but he hassled them enough for headed clearances to go awry and so posed a constant threat to a watchful home defence.
Indeed it was a fast paced foraging attack in the first half that ended with Lindsay sailing in a beauty of a cross which Walker just failed to connect with in front of a wide open goal. Oxford's closest effort in the first half was a speculative long range drive from Jamie Cook, which zipped low and wide of Cairns? right hand post.
Celtic's second half substitutions included Vinny Mukendi. Now he did win stuff in the air. He should, he's six feet six and a giant of a man. He also impressed with a long striding turn of speed and the fiercest shot of the match which no keeper on earth would have kept out had it been six inches on the other side of the goalpost.
Oxford had their debutant keeper Matt Ingram to thank for preventing defeat close to the end. Corey Gregory met Warburton's right wing corner with a deft flick of the head at the near post. Ingram palmed it over the bar when a winning goal momentarily looked certain.
Sad then that the occasion should be besmirched by the over-inebriated antics of a few of the travelling fans. The setting off of the smoke bomb topped an afternoon on which they felt it was OK to hammer on the panels of the covered terrace in which they were taking shelter, and to sing highly offensive Jimmy Savile songs.
No wonder Jim Harvey, whose dugout was only feet away from the incident, held his head in shame. After the shift his players had just put in, he ought to have been holding it high in pride.
|2||Mills, Jack||> 77|
|9||Basham, Steve||> 63|
|11||Wallcott, Jacob||> 54|
|12||Shariff, Nabil||< 54|
|15||Ballard, Andy||< 77|
|16||Stanley, Nick||< 63|