The Campbell’s Footballs Scottish Football Review of the week
Written by Dr. Grant Campbell – @stato_grant
The host of Campbell’s Footballs Dr. Grant Campbell has been casting his eye over an incident packed week in Scottish Football, giving his comments on some of the major talking points over the weekend’s matches. Feel free to discuss and debate the views on various social media channels.
HAKEEM ODOFFIN – AN UNLIKELY TALISMAN FOR ACCIES
Hakeem Odoffin (pictured) is becoming an unlikely talisman for Accies!
The Hamilton defender found the net in the final fifteen minutes on Saturday to secure a vital point at home to Dundee United. Brian Rice’s side showed tremendous character yet again to come back from behind to take something from a game. Indeed, that man Odoffin’s goals have gained Accies over half of their points haul so far and gave Hamilton their first home point of the season as a consequence.
As for Dundee United, I think they’ll be disappointed not to have seen the game out after leading for so much of it thanks to Lawrence Shankland’s second goal in as many matches. They looked impressive throughout with Logan Chalmers, in particular, proving a real threat. However, Micky Mellon’s side were wasteful in good positions and paid the price for failing to kill the game off.
I get the feeling Brian Rice will have been much the happier of the two managers on Saturday.
HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS AGAIN FOR LIVINGSTON
Gary Holt’s men are off the bottom and deservedly so after a very good win against St Johnstone on Saturday.
The damage was done in just under two first half minutes at the Tony Macaroni Stadium as Scott Tiffoney and Alan Forrest got the goals to gain the Lions a second win of the season to follow up their win against Ross County a fortnight ago. Both Tiffoney (pictured) and Forrest have had inconsistent starts at Livingston so far but they both found much renewed form in this game. In fact, the Lions were much better as a team on Saturday.
They played well last week at Celtic Park and I felt if they could put more performances in like that they would take more points off sides in the league. Their home form will be crucial if they are going to stay up. Their away form has been atrocious so they still have that massive issue to sort out.
Nevertheless, home seems to be where the heart is for Holt’s men and he will, I am sure, be delighted to have got a much needed three points in what is still a very tight battle at the wrong end of the Scottish Premiership table.
BELEAGUERED PERTH SAINTS STUTTERING START CONTINUES
St Johnstone (pictured) just cannot get going this season.
This was a fourth defeat in five for the Perth Saints and in all of those games they have failed to score. In fact, Callum Davidson’s side have only scored four times so far in the Scottish Premiership. They don’t concede much but when they do, you just don’t seem them being able to break teams down and get back into things.
It’s clear Davidson’s men have problems at this early stage in the season. I’ve said before they need to go into the market for a striker because their front line is not cutting the mustard right now. They are creating ample chances but their strike force is not finishing them off.
It’s a frustrating time for the McDiarmid Park side and things don’t get easier for them as they host Celtic next week. You cannot see them picking anything up off the Champions, even if they have not been anyway near their best themselves. In the past, St Johnstone have usually been whipping boys for Celtic. The Perth Saints haven’t scored a goal against them since 2017 and haven’t beaten them since 2016.
The omens are not good for Davidson’s men and they will be hoping to find some confidence and goals quickly otherwise it could be a long campaign.
SETTLED KILLIE FLYING BUT BUDDIES PROP UP REAR
Whisper it quietly: Kilmarnock are looking decent just now.
Nicke Kabamba’s goal (pictured) was the difference on Saturday as Alex Dyer’s men recorded their third win in four matches with a 1-0 win over St Mirren. What was so good about this particular result and performance though was the fact that goalkeeper Danny Rogers in goal did not have a save to make.
Dyer’s side has a fairly familiar feel to it nowadays. Even without Eamonn Brophy who was sent off last week against Accies, Kilmarnock have a settled structure to their team. I have often felt that they will not lose many games with Alan Power and Gary Dicker as the engine room in midfield and with Kabamba, Chris Burke and Greg Kiltie in attack, Dyer’s men are beginning to show that they are a very capable side of causing problems to many sides in the division. They also have Youssouf Mulumbu and suspended Brophy to come back into the side as well should they want.
On the flip side, it is now five straight defeats for Jim Goodwin’s St Mirren. I said at the start of the season that I thought they would go down this year. This was based on the fact that they do not score nearly enough goals. In fact, only St Johnstone have scored fewer than St Mirren so far. Goodwin’s sides are also renowned for being solid defensively but the Buddies have conceded 13 goals so far in their first 9 matches with only Livingston conceding more. They have Aberdeen away next week, before three home Premiership matches in a row against Motherwell, Hamilton and Dundee United respectively, with two Betfred Cup games sandwiched in between.
Goodwin’s side, like Callum Davidson’s St Johnstone, need to pick themselves up quickly as they are in a real pickle at the foot of the table.
RAMPANT RANGERS ROUT DESPERATE WELL
Rangers will not pick up many easier wins this season than on Sunday at Fir Park.
A 5-1 away win against Stephen Robinson’s Motherwell side capped off a magnificent week for Steven Gerrard’s men as they maintained their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership standings. A brace of penalties from James Tavernier with a rare Jordan Jones goal sandwiched in between had Rangers in cruise control by half time. Substitute Cedric Itten’s (pictured) double added more pain on Motherwell in the second half and despite an own goal from George Edmondson, it was a very convincing performance from the team from Govan as they ran out 5-1 winners. This was a great follow up performance from an equally impressive showing in Holland in midweek as Gerrard’s men thrashed Willem II 4-0 to reach the play-off round of the Europa League qualifying and a date with Turkish side Galatasaray.
They did not have to get out of second gear to win at Fir Park on Sunday against a Motherwell side who were playing their first match since their return from Israel against Hapoel Beer Sheva in midweek in the Europa League. Much of that was down to an absolutely horrific display from the Steelmen defensively. This may sound harsh but mentally they looked beaten from very early on in the game.
The two penalties Motherwell gave away were both for handball and I don’t think you could have had any complaints with either that were given. Even if Bevis Mugabi and Liam Grimshaw staunchly defended the indefensible. Ricki Lamie also had a day to forget. He was beaten for pace by Jones for the second Rangers goal and generally looked uncomfortable all afternoon against Alfredo Morelos. Yes, perhaps Motherwell should have had a penalty of their own but ultimately they were picked apart time and time again.
Despite the own goal from Edmondson and a free kick from Mark O’Hara that forced a great save from Allan McGregor, it was a toothless display from Well who seemed to accept their fate before the half time whistle had even blown.
Robinson’s men will have to dust themselves down and go again next time out but after a good couple of league performances, this week for me has been two steps backwards for Well.
FULL BACKS AND MIDFIELD MIX KEY LINK FOR CELTIC
It seems like Celtic may be beginning to find their formula for long term success. The 3-5-2 formation looks to be starting to work for Neil Lennon’s side.
Full backs Greg Taylor and Jeremie Frimpong (pictured) were influential in their 3-0 win over Hibernian providing support all over the pitch. Goals from Callum McGregor, Albian Ajeti and Mohamed Elyounoussi gave the Champions a convincing three points as they continue to keep on the coattails of leaders Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premiership. David Turnbull also made his debut for Celtic on Sunday and seemed to slot into the side with little difficulties. I’m looking forward to seeing his progression going forward.
For Hibernian, they will be kicking themselves for passing up some excellent passages of play especially in the first half. Christian Doidge and Kevin Nisbet were causing the three Celtic defenders problems and for a bit of a composure should have got themselves on the scoresheet at the very least. However, the Edinburgh side could not follow up their terrific exploits last week against Rangers and will have to lick their wounds quickly as they face Accies next.
DONS SWEEP ASIDE POROUS COUNTY
What a delight Aberdeen are to watch when they attack teams!
They were dominant in the Highlands on Sunday afternoon as they swept aside Ross County in a convincing 3-0 victory. Goals from Marley Watkins (who got off the mark for his new club) and two Lewis Ferguson (pictured) penalties helped Derek McInnes men back to winning ways after a desperately disappointing display last weekend against Motherwell.
3-0 flattered the Staggies. The Dons right from the first minute were dominant with Watkins, Niall McGinn, Jonny Hayes and Scott Wright missing superb chances. However, they were not made to pay for them and ran away with the match as County struggled to cope with the sea of red coming towards them time and time again. McInnes will hope this is the start of a promising run of results. With St Mirren and Dundee United in their next two games, they should be looking to getting wins in both of those matches for me.
For County, it was another desperately disappointing defensive display at home. They have now conceded 12 goals in their last 4 home matches and manager Stuart Kettlewell will be pulling his hair out at how easily his side was opened up on Sunday. It was like a hot knife through butter at times.
It’s definitely back to the drawing board for the Dingwall team and they will need to be much better than that next Sunday as they face a strong Rangers side at Ibrox.
It could be a case of watching the game behind the sofa for Staggies supporters next week.
MIXED WEEK IN EUROPE AS OLD FIRM FLY SCOTTISH FLAG ONCE AGAIN
On Thursday, four Scottish sides started off in Europa League Third Qualification Round action and by the end of it, only two of them remained.
Let’s start with the good.
Celtic overcame stubborn Riga to squeak through 1-0 in Latvia with Elyounoussi getting a late winner for Neil Lennon’s side. It wasn’t pretty and the Champions made heavy weather of things but they got the job done. Their rivals Rangers had less issues as they romped to a 4-0 win over Willem II.
Now onto the bad. Motherwell started well in Israel before succumbing to a 3-0 defeat against Hapoel Beer Sheva and Aberdeen went down 1-0 in Portugal to Sporting Lisbon. It all feels like an all too familiar story for Scottish sides in Europe. The Old Firm once again flying the flag for Scottish football. I thought Motherwell did well in Israel and to be fair I thought they had the hardest tie on paper away from home in my view. Hapoel had beaten Celtic there in the past. They should have been in front before the home side scored the opener and once Declan Gallagher was sent off and they conceded the second it was game over.
Aberdeen for me though were very negative in Portugal. After falling behind early in the game, Derek McInnes’ side had plenty of time to get back into the game in Lisbon. However, I was bitterly disappointed that they hardly lay a glove on the Sporting backline all game. It was all a bit flat from the Reds and it is now a 6th time in the last 7 seasons that the Dons have failed to make the play-off round in Europe. For me, that is not just down to bad luck. Granted, this was a tough game on paper and in terms of stature. However, with the nature of the play-off rounds down to one off 90 minute games anything can happen. I was frustrated Aberdeen did not ask enough questions of that Sporting defence.
Let me finish with a positive tone!
Good luck to Celtic and Rangers against Sarajevo and Galatasaray respectively. Let’s get two sides into the Group Stages of the Europa League.
The co-efficient needs this to happen.