Celtic concluded their pre-season tour of England and Wales this evening with a goalless draw against Bristol City at the Robins High Performance Centre.
Despite not getting the break they deserved, the Hoops dominated the match from the first to the last whistle, in what was a good workout for Ange Postecoglou’s players.
From kick-off, the Hoops impressed Bristol high as a unit with Callum McGregor, Mikey Johnston and David Turnbull combining especially well at the top end of the pitch.
After six minutes, Johnston showed great determination while sprinting down the inside-left channel before slipping a neat through-ball into the path of Albian Ajeti. The striker did well to hold off his man, but his fierce effort was fired into the side-netting.
Celtic continued to build from the back and were patient in possession, with McGregor dictating much of their play from a high anchoring position. In turn, Bristol were forced to defend resolutely and did so well – often swarming the Hoops’ spare man in attack and doubling up on Celtic’s creative players.
Despite starting positively, Johnston appeared to pull up with a hamstring injury after 25 minutes and was replaced by Adam Montgomery – which was an obvious blow to the winger who is keen to hit the ground running in the new campaign.
Still, Celtic pushed for an opener but were denied by shrewd zonal marking from the home side as they cleared balls high and low into their penalty box.
Keen to hit the Hoops on the counter, the best chance of the half eventually fell to Bristol when they forced a corner after 34 minutes. Stephen Welsh dealt well with the initial danger, before Andreas Weinmann sent a volley through a sea of bodies to the right of goal and off the post.
Karamoko Dembele was then forced to retire early after taking a knock, making way for Ewan Henderson, before Ajeti carved Celtic’s best chance of the first period with two minutes of normal time remaining.
Starting from Bain between the sticks, the ball found McGregor then Turnbull, who slipped a deadly pass into the path of Ajeti to the right of goal. The striker burst into the box, before his low shot was saved well by the feet of Bristol stopper Max O’Leary.
Celtic returned from the break with similar determination as they sought to break the deadlock, but Bristol continued to contain them well in attack. As such, the first half-chance of the second half arrived ahead of the hour mark when Ajeti pounced on a loose ball in the final third before slipping a pass to Turnbull on the overlap.
His effort was blocked by O’Leary, before the ensuing corner was sent deep to substitute Liam Shaw – who headed back across goal to Adam Montgomery, who in turn zipped a low effort wide of the mark.
Chances continued to be at a premium as the match wore on, with Turnbull, McGregor and Shaw again combining especially well together and, off the back of some intense pre-season drills away from matchday, Celtic’s fitness levels were clear to see until the final whistle.
Against the run of play, the best chance of the second half fell to the home side in the final five minutes, when they recycled a corner and full-back Saikou Janneh’s snapshot from 12 yards shaved the outside of the post.
Given their effort off the post in the first period, and Celtic’s overall dominance in open play, a goalless draw was perhaps a fair result in the end as the Hoops concluded their pre-season tour of England and Wales.
Now, Ange Postecoglou’s men turn their attention to Preston North End at Paradise this Saturday, before their UEFA Champions League second round qualifier against Danish side FC Midtjylland in Glasgow three days after that again.
BRISTOL CITY: O’Leary; Simpson, Baker, Atkinson, Dasilva, James, King, Pearson, Palmer, Weimann, Martin
Subs: Wiles-Richards, Vyner, Moore, Pring, Nurse, O’Dowda, Bakinson, Massengo, Janneh, Conway, Morton, Edwards, Bell
CELTIC: Barkas; Ralston, Welsh, Urhoghide, Taylor; Soro, McGregor, Dembele, Turnbull, Johnston, Ajeti
Subs: Bain, Ntcham, Shaw, Robertson, Murray, Henderson, Montgomery, Hjelde, Moffat
SOURCE: (Celtic View)