Premiership Review: Celtic stumble, Motherwell on the mend

7 mins read

The last time Kilmarnock faced off against Hamilton Accies, they slumped to a 1-0 defeat that kick-started a five-game losing streak through December.

There were to be no such slip-ups this time around, however, with Greg Kiltie’s double ensuring the Ayrshire side are now unbeaten in three and have well and truly reignited their top-six push.

Alex Dyer’s side were by far the dominant side and thoroughly deserved the three points, with the victory made even more commendable by the fact that Accies had come into the game on the back of a moral-boosting win in the Lanarkshire derby a week earlier.

Killie had 63% of the ball, had eighteen shots to Accies’ six and made 416 accurate passes. Their performance will encourage Dyer just as much as the result. 

Kiltie now has three goals in his last three games and his attacking prowess will be invaluable to his teammates as the season progresses – if he can keep it up. 

As for Brian Rice’s Accies, it was a sharp return to reality after that victory against Motherwell. One-shot on target in ninety minutes is never a healthy return, and fans will be hoping for better when Dundee United come to visit this weekend. More wins are needed if they want to escape the dreaded relegation places.

Motherwell travelled to Paisley to begin their new era with Graham Alexander at the helm, and things were certainly much more positive than in previous weeks.

The Steelmen are still without a win since Halloween, but it was only a controversial decision from referee Bobby Madden that prevented them taking all three points on Saturday (although St Mirren probably deserved a draw).

Devante Cole scored the kind of poacher’s goal that Motherwell need more of in the future, and they could have had more before half-time.

St Mirren were stronger in the second period and did deserve an equaliser, even if it was handed to them on a silver platter via some poor officiating. Coming up against a team at the start of their honeymoon period under a new manager is never easy, so Jim Goodwin will certainly take a point that keeps them right in the hunt for a top-six position. 

Alfredo Morelos was back to his clinical best as Rangers laboured to a 2-1 win against ten-man Aberdeen on Sunday.

When Ryan Hedges was sent for an early bath and James Tavernier was given the chance to open the scoring from the penalty spot, the afternoon looked like it was heading in only one direction; a destination with another Tavernier goal, clean sheet and comfortable Gers victory.

He duly fired wide and proceeded to be shunted out of the limelight in favour of Morelos, who’s two finishes showed just how valuable he can be to Steven Gerrard’s title-chasers. 

Rangers were comfortable up until Matthew Kennedy pulled a goal back for Aberdeen (after Tavernier was caught out of position), who defied all expectations after going a man down to put in a valiant performance.

They never made it easy for their opposition, and Derek McInnes can be proud of his players’ efforts. They remain comfortable in third place and now travel to face in-form Livingston on Wednesday.

They’ll have to work hard, though, because it doesn’t look like anyone can stop Livingston at the moment. It’s now eight wins in a row for new boss David Martindale, and they’ve only conceded three times during that run of form. This time it was (perhaps unsurprisingly) Ross County who fell victim, although they were close to seeing out a draw after Charlie Lakin cancelled out Scott Robinson’s early opener. 

Livingston just kept knocking at the door, however, and eventually found a way through; substitute Alan Forrest gave them the lead with nine minutes remaining, before Jack Hamilton rounded off the win in stoppage time. The result keeps them in fifth place in the table, and they could even move to within one point of Hibernian by winning their games in hand – and at this rate, who would bet against them?

As for Ross County, it was another disappointing result that keeps them bottom of the table and with only one league win since September.

They weren’t outclassed by any stretch on Sunday, but it’s results they need. Things don’t get any easier, either, with matches against Aberdeen and Rangers coming up in the next couple of weeks. John Hughes has his work cut out. 

If the title race wasn’t over before, it certainly is now. Two more points dropped for a depleted Celtic side who were without manager Neil Lennon and several key players mean that even if they win their three games in hand, they’ll still be twelve points behind Rangers. It’s insurmountable. 

There were positives, though. David Turnbull turned in another great performance that defied his young years and capped it off with an exquisite free-kick to break the deadlock. Conor Hazard looked comfortable in goals before he flapped at the ball in the build-up to Hibs’ equaliser, and Stephen Welsh looked assured in defence. 

Unfortunately for the Hoops, Hibs were always in the game and arguably had the better chances throughout the contest. Kevin Nisbet’s late strike was well taken, and was their first goal in four matches; it also prevented them from slipping to a fourth consecutive loss.

They strung some nice moves together and mostly restricted Celtic to half chances in their own ground. It even took a sublime free-kick to beat Matt Macey. Alexandros Gogic broke up play well, and Jack Ross will hope this point can reignite the battle for third place with Aberdeen.

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