Celtic kicked off their pre-season friendlies with a 1-0 defeat to Australian outfit Central Coast Mariners. A late goal from Troy Hearfield earned the Mariners a win, despite being under the cosh for much of the game. Despite the defeat, Lennon was pleased with the workout his players received.
However the spectacle for the Sydney crowd was ruined by some elements of the Celtic support, revelling in watching their side playing Down Under, as pitch invasions and drunkenness reigned supreme.
Neil Lennon gave his fringe players and two new signings the chance to gain some valuable match practice and to see what they could do against last season’s A-League runners-up. However it was a case of Celtic’s inabilities coming to the fore once again, as slack defending and a lack of chances proved costly for the Parkhead side.
Neither side had any chances in the first half, as the keepers were as much spectators at the game, as the fans were, but far less drunk.
Into the second half and Celtic dictated the play, however they could not find a way through the stubborn Mariners defence and as the game looked destined for a 0-0 scoreline, and with legs tiring, Celtic conceded a late goal against the run of play.
A ball crossed in from the left was poorly cleared by Joe Ledley to the edge of the area, where Troy Hearfield lay in wait picking his spot and curling the ball into the top corner passed substitute keeper Dominic Cervi.
Celtic went looking for an equaliser and Hooper had his shot cleared off the line by Mariners’ Sam Gallagher, and there were strong claims for a penalty late on when an Anthony Stokes cross was handled in the box but no penalty was awarded.
That was the last action of the game, as Mariners ran out 1-0 winners.
Lennon said after the match: “The players’ condition and the quality, particularly in the second half was remarkable when you consider the week they’ve been through. They’ve been travelling all the way over on Tuesday and Wednesday and then one day’s training, played very, very well in the second half and controlled the game. I thought Mariners scored with their one shot on target but overall I’m delighted with the performance.”
Despite the work out received by the players, the security and police at the stadium also had their own workout as 11 people were arrested at the match for trying to invade the pitch and one supporter was charged with assaulting Police.
The Match Commander, Acting Superintendent Mick Rochester, stated that those arrested are set to face fines and bans from further sporting events.
On top of those arrested 27 people were kicked out of the ground for being drunk, while just under 50 people were refused entry for drunkenness.
Rochester said: ”The message is a simple one – anti-social and criminal behaviour will not be tolerated under any circumstances. If you can’t or won’t heed the message, don’t attend these events. A sporting event is not an excuse to break the law. If your team isn’t performing well, or you disagree with a decision by the referee, you can’t react by getting intoxicated, damaging property, assaulting others or making an idiot of yourself.
”Be warned. Police and event security staff will continue to act swiftly at sporting and other events to ensure any opportunities to disrupt the enjoyment of others are minimised.”
This is another example of why Football and Alcohol do not mix. Recent issues surrounding the Old Firm derbies have been blamed on alcohol, and despite the authorities plans in recent years of changing kick off times, match days etc. the problem still arises. And it is another reason WHY the ludicrous plans of some SPL Chairmen to re-introduce alcohol into our stadiums should never happen.
Celtic have two further games in Australia before heading home in preparation for the new season, with the Parkhead side hoping their ex-pat supporters do not continue to shame themselves and the club.