FOOTBALL : CELTS FALL LIKE; NINEPINS!; History in Making as Dons Hit Home

Article excerpt

Byline: GORDON WADDELL at Pittodrie


SO they're human after all. After 126 days and 14 games without so much as a dropped point, Celtic have finally lost.

But if the rest of the SPL are waking up this morning with hope in their hearts that some life has just been breathed into the league race they should take a reality check.

There won't be many teams out there, including Rangers, who'll be able to match the 90 minutes of passion, commitment, pace and intensity Aberdeen threw at Martin O'Neill's men last night.

The Dons had their own little slice of history beckoning and set about taking it with a gusto Celts couldn't match for long spells.

Nine wins at home on the trot. Not a point dropped at Pittodrie since July. A run that matches the one Sir Alex Ferguson's legends put together 18 years ago.

They can hang a new sign up outside the stadium today: "Welcome to Fortress Pittodrie."

Dons had earned all the plaudits before now but until they slew one of the Old Firm no- one believed 100 per cent they were unbeatable there.

The odds of 7-1 the bookies were throwing at them last night is testament to that. Ebbe Skovdahl has only taken one point from 27 against Celtic in his time as boss.

The goals record is 35-2 in favour of the Hoops.

But this time Dons did it - and more than that, they deserved every one of the three points.

Robbie Winters' 58th minute penalty and Darren Mackie's injury-time killer, pouncing on a nightmare gaffe by Rab Douglas, sent the Dons fans into a winter wonderland in the snow-covered Granite City.

Add in Derek Whyte's red card and TEN yellows, several acts of snowball- throwing lunacy by both sets of fans, a near-riot on the park caused by some bad sportsmanship on Bobby Petta's part and you have the perfect Christmas TV show.

Celtic returned their top guns to the starting line-up with Henrik Larsson, Neil Lennon, Paul Lambert and Alan Thompson all back after last Wednesday's CIS Cup win over Livingston.

Once again O'Neill opted to go with Chris Sutton playing behind Larsson and John Hartson.

And you have to wonder how much the disruption of his original pairing of Sutton and the Swede up front has had on the team's flow.

The weather was always going to be the other contributing factor - but with the Sky dosh in the coffers and the local police on double time, there was no chance of a call- off, snow or not. And although the surface was a bit treacherous on top, the players were in more danger from the hail of snowballs from the stands in the first few minutes.

Hartson, in particular, suffered a pelting from a few mindless morons, although the Celtic support were just as culpable - only less accurate - as they targeted the home players.

Worse was to come when Celtic won their first corner and Petrov and Thompson struggled to take it under a hail of snowballs that looked more like a meteor shower.

While the Dons fans may feel good about their three points they should hang their heads in shame as their club will surely be hit with an SFA fine for the hooliganism.

Dons seemed to take a lot of confidence from Celtic's stuttering start and had the better of the early chances. Winters looked especially up for it with his darting runs inside from the left.

On the half hour he carved open Celts with a beautiful crossfield run, took a return ball from Eugene Dadi on the edge of the box but his shot looked too tame to trouble Rab Douglas.

We will give the big keeper the benefit of the doubt and say it was the slippy surface but somehow he managed to let the trundler squirm through his hands.

Douglas was lucky the ball hit off his trailing leg and crawled out for a corner - or it was a cert for blooper of the season.

Aberdeen had a great chance to take the lead a minute into the second half. …