This midweek saw a full card of SPFL Ladbrokes Premiership fixtures.
Aberdeen 1-0 Partick
Aberdeen bounced back quickly following Saturday’s defeat to leaders Celtic by defeating Partick Thistle at Pittodrie to remain in second place in the SPFL Ladbrokes Premiership.
The match started off scrappy with bottom of the league Partick defending strongly against their hosts in the opening stages. After growing into the match, Alan Archibald’s side created the opening opportunity of the evening as Connor Sammon tested Joe Lewis on 18 minutes, who produced a good save down low to his left-hand side.#
This seemed to kick the game into life; Greg Stewart immediately went up the other end and forced Tomas Cerny into a stop before Adam Barton headed wide from a set-piece for the Jags.
Andrew McCarthy had an effort go wide on 30 minutes for the visitors before Derek McInnes’ men went up the park but couldn’t open the scoring on this occasion as Ryan Christie was denied by Cerny, this time.
Christie had another attempt just before half-time which was off-target in a frustrating opening 45 minutes for the Dons. Christie seemed to be the main man as he tried to open the scoring minutes in to the second-half but that effort was blocked.
Archibald made the first substitution of the match, with Miles Storey replacing Steven Lawless. However, Partick were quickly behind: Christie was the man with the cross this time as Irish striker Adam Rooney grabbed himself a goal from close-range to put the home side into the lead.
Danny Devine headed wide as the away side pushed for an equaliser; Gary Mackay-Steven went off for Scott Wright with 18 minutes to go plus injury time as the hosts tried to find the second goal which would surely kill off the match.
Miles Storey saw a shot blocked before Archibald threw caution to the wind by bringing on another striker – Kevin Nisbet – in place of midfielder Andrew McCarthy.
Stewart forced Cerny into another smart stop before Devine shot wide at the other end as the clock ticked down. Mark Reynolds and Dominic Ball came on for Andrew Considine and Greg Stewart in the closing stages as Aberdeen saw the game out. Despite pushing hard, Partick couldn’t find a late equaliser, with Christie having one last go at getting his name on the score-sheet, but, was unsuccessful with his free-kick effort which went over the bar.
Dundee 0-2 Celtic
In the only match in the Premiership on Boxing Day, Celtic continued their excellent form under Brendan Rodgers with a comfortable victory over the Dees.
The Celts started on-top with James Forrest flashing a shot wide inside the opening 100 seconds before the Scotland international hit the post. Sandwiched in between those two efforts was a blocked attempt by Oliver Ntcham. However, it didn’t take the visitors long to breach Elliot Parish’s goal as Forrest slotted home a Leigh Griffiths cut-back on 8 minutes to give Rodgers’ side a deserved lead.
The game hit a bit of a lull after this, with the next shot at goal coming from Jonny Hayes. The former Aberdeen winger had an effort blocked before he headed over the bar from close-range just moments later. It was to get worse for the Republic of Ireland international however as he suffered a painful injury, which saw him stretchered off. Youngster Mikey Johnston was brought on down the left to replace the playmaker.
The tackle on Hayes was made by Josh Meekings, who also suffered a knock in that incident; former Hoops defender Darren O’Dea came on to replace the ex-Inverness player with 27 minutes on the clock.
Ntcham fired over the bar before he set up Griffiths inside the area, who slotted the ball home to double Celtic’s advantage just on the stroke of half-time. With eight minutes of stoppage time to be played, it meant the hosts would come under severe pressure as the game approached the break.
Mikey Johnston missed two chances while Parish also thwarted Callum McGregor as well as Forrest to give the home side a chance going in at the break, despite trailing by two goals.
Neil McCann’s side started with more purpose in the second period, as O’Dea nodded a corner over the bar in the opening stages, but, Celtic quickly got a grip of proceedings again as McGregor missed the target.
Youngster Jack Lambert was the second switch of the afternoon for Dundee, replacing the ineffectual Faissal El Bakhtaoui, who struggled to get into the game on the left-wing.
Griffiths then Ntcham saw shots blocked before the French midfielder’s last contribution was to fire high and wide from 20-yards out. Stuart Armstrong then came on for the former Manchester City player in the middle of the park midway inside the final period.
Paul McGowan had the hosts first real shot of the game, as he whizzed a right-footed effort over the bar before Forrest missed once more at the other end just seconds later. Sofien Moussa then headed past the post when he really should have made the goalkeeper work after a free-kick was swung into the area.
Mark O’Hara’s tame header from the edge of the area was simple for Craig Gordon who gathered on the goal-line before both sides made their final substitution of the match. Another teenager, Matthew Henvey, would come on for A-Jay Leitch-Smith up front for the Dark Blues while Moussa Dembele entered the fray in the place of Griffiths.
Johnston missed a guilt edge chance to put the game beyond all doubt in the closing stages as the youngster fired over the bar from close-range with just Parish to beat. It wouldn’t have any bearing on the final outcome though as Celtic saw the game out, with Cammy Kerr having the final shot of the match from distance which Gordon saved.
Hamilton P-P Kilmarnock
This match was postponed at 6:15pm on the evening of the match due to a frozen pitch at the SuperSeal Stadium.
Hearts 0-0 Hibs
It was a Derby Day to forget in Edinburgh as Hearts and Hibs struggled to find the quality required to break the deadlock at Tynecastle.
Jamie Walker had the opening chance of the game but from 10-yards curled the ball over the bar from the left. Then, controversy reigned as Oliver Shaw scooped the ball home from a Martin Boyle cross, but, referee Steven McLean as well as his assistants didn’t give the goal. Video replays show the ball had fully crossed the line and Neil Lennon’s men were denied a legitimate goal.
Anthony Stokes had a shot, but, it was well off-target before Kyle Lafferty saw his free-kick blocked by the visiting wall, before he dragged his left-footed attempt at the follow-up wide of Ofir Marciano’s left-hand post.
John McGinn fired well-wide before the game got scrappy. It took another 20 minutes for an attempt on goal, with Stokes forcing Jon McLaughlin into the only save of the match for either goalkeeper, just before half-time.
Three minutes into the second-half and stand-in right-back, on-loan Liverpool midfielder Connor Randall, was forced to retire through injury, being replaced by experienced head and Northern Ireland international, Aaron Hughes.
Lafferty couldn’t hit the target at one end before McGinn and then Boyle had shots which were also off-target at the other as the match reached the hour mark.
Shaw missed another Hibs attempt before Lafferty was snuffed out before Walker shot wide for Hearts. Boyle had a shot blocked before he missed the follow-up before Esmael Goncalves couldn’t trouble Marciano for Craig Levein’s side.
Simon Murray replaced Oliver Shaw before Manchester City’s on-loan winger Brandon Barker came on in place of the injured Martin Boyle. The winger was straight into the action as he had a shot blocked as the game entered the final 15 minutes.
Ross Callachan came on for David Milinkovic as the hosts hoped for one last push forward would be enough to win the three points. It was the Hibees who continued to look the more dangerous, however, as Murray curled a shot over from 20-yards out.
Barker then got injured himself and was replaced by Lithuanian striker Deivydas Matulevicius but there was no more goal-scoring chances. The Jambos lacked quality but ground-out a result against Hibs who will feel hard-done-by considering Shaw’s goal that wasn’t.
Rangers 2-0 Motherwell
Rangers ground-out an Ibrox victory against a depleted Motherwell side who were missing key men Elliot Frear, Chris Cadden as well as top-scorer and Preston-bound Louis Moult.
It was Stephen Robinson’s side who started brightly as Craig Tanner forced Wes Foderingham into a save in the opening minute before Cedric Kipre headed over the bar five minutes later.
Graeme Murty’s side found their rhythm shortly after with Niko Kranjcar forcing Trevor Carson into a save shortly after James Tavernier had fired wide Rangers’ first chance of the evening.
Alfredo Morelos shot over the bar before, on 20 minutes, Motherwell captain Carl McHugh had to be replaced due to injury by teenage central-midfielder, Allan Campbell.
Declan John then forced Carson into another save before Eduardo Herrera headed over the bar. A lengthy stoppage then ensued as Ryan Jack picked up a nasty injury, with youngster Jamie Barjonas replacing the Scotland midfielder on 41 minutes.
In the 8th minute of added on time at the end of the first period, Craig Tanner screwed his shot wide from the centre of the box as the sides went in level at the interval.
Kranjcar shot over the bar minutes into the second-half before Morelos was again thwarted by Carson. The opener came on 56 minutes, however, as defender Danny Wilson fired home left-footed after being set-up at the edge of the area by defensive partner Bruno Alves.
Robinson went for it on 62 minutes as he brought striker Ryan Bowman on for Andy Rose as Well pushed for an equaliser. It was the Gers who kept carving out chances, though, as Morelos once more and then Barjonas were denied by Carson who was keeping the visitors in the match.
Livewire Tanner saw another attempt blocked before English forward Alex Fisher headed over the bar with 15 minutes remaining. And, it was just a minute later that the hosts doubled their lead.
Morelos wasn’t to be denied this time, with the Colombian slotting the ball home from the centre of the box, into the right-hand corner, leaving Carson with no chance. Fisher had another attempt to quickly reduce the two-goal deficit but dragged his shot wide before immediately being replaced by youngster George Newell.
Mexican Carlos Pena replaced Kranjcar late on, with Scotland Under-21’s striker Ryan Hardie also getting the final few minutes to impress, replacing Morelos. Barjonas and then Tavernier shot over late on as the hosts ran out winners for the final time at home in 2017.
Ross County 1-1 St Johnstone
It was a point apiece in the Highlands after St Johnstone’s early opener was cancelled out by Alex Schalk’s equaliser in the second-half.
It was Tommy Wright’s men who grabbed the initiative early on as Denny Johnstone headed the visitors in front on 2 minutes after nodding home Liam Craig’s cross.
Andrew Davies had a shot saved by Zander Clark as the hosts looked to get back on level terms before Craig Curran couldn’t find the target with County’s next shot on goal.
Chris Millar had a shot go over the bar before he tried another attempt from distance which was blocked away. On 31 minutes, Michael Gardyne headed over for Owen Coyle’s side as the pendulum swung from end-to-end.
Steven MacLean was next to fire on target, with Scott Fox up to task on this occasion. Chris Eagles had an attempt blocked away as the first-half came to a close with neither side on top, but the Perth side in front.
Midfielder Jamie Lindsay replaced captain Andrew Davies at the break in a tactical switch by Coyle; Ross County started the second-half on top and got their rewards just 8 minutes in to the final period.
Michael Gardyne shot over the bar on 52 minutes, but, just 60 seconds later Alex Schalk had the chance to draw the clubs level. Eagles was taken down in the box by Irish defender Joe Shaughnessy; Dutchman Schalk stayed composed as he slotted the ball home to make the score 1-1.
Eagles was replaced shortly after due to injury, with Davis Keillor-Dunn coming on in place of the winger. Billy McKay also came on for Craig Curran up front while Graham Cummins replaced goalscorer Johnstone with just under 20 minutes to go.
The game had became scrappy by this point, with neither side able to create many clear-cut chances. However, that changed as the clocked ticked down. Firstly, Jason Naismith forced Clark into a stop before McKay was also foiled.
Lindsay and then Naismith again saw Clark keep the Saints level as Wright’s side became under severe pressure late on. Tim Chow was next to hit the target but the shot-stopper was able to save his side once more before Keillor-Dunn curled wide from the left.
Blair Alston came on for David Wotherspoon late on but it didn’t stop the tidal wave of Staggies attacks; McKay missed the target with a header before Keillor-Dunn forced Clark into a smart stop down low to the left-hand side.
Kenny Van Der Weg tried his luck but the full-back hit his shot too high over the bar before Gardyne dragged his shot past the post. A final chance fell to the away side, who tried to snatch a late and unlikely winner: Liam Craig drove a free-kick at goal but it was well wide in the end, with Fox in the goal not troubled on this occasion, as the game came to a close.