Lawal shines with debut goal but Celtic B find difficult Lowland League start

By Euan Davidson

July 17, 2021

Tommy McIntyre’s Celtic B Team knew they’d be up against it, with Bonnyrigg Rose providing stern competition.

The Midlothian side, hosting the first Celtic B Team contest [SLFL] at New Dundas Park, showed physicality and experience from the start. A well-gelled group of players, Rose imposed themselves upon McIntyre’s side from the early minutes.

It took time for the Celtic B Team to find their feet. Rose enjoyed almost all of the ball, keeping Vata and Dobbie quiet. After 15 minutes, they could’ve had a penalty, with Ewan Otoo clearing well from the ensuing stramash.

It was obvious who had enjoyed first-team football in 20-21. Otoo, who spent much of last season with Clyde, did well to deal with some threatening moments in the early stages. Brody Paterson, with Queen’s Park last season, showed similar composure. However, it was Bonnyrigg Rose who had the better of the first half.

B Team keeper Tobi Oluwayemi was kept busy. He imposed himself well at set-pieces, with Rose winning a series of corners around the 20th minute. Rose came close with a shot in the 21st, before Lee Currie struck the post with a deft effort.

Oluwayemi dealt well after Currie struck the woodwork, and was forced into action immediately after. An ensuing corner presented a header from close range, but the ex-Spurs Academy keeper dealt well.

There was little he could do on the 27th minute mark, however. Currie, sharp all first-half, took a lofted pass on his chest, before half-volleying the ball into the net. 1-0 Rose, and it had certainly been coming, with Currie showing excellent technique to get his shot away and past Oluwayemi.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Celtic B Team battle for possession, but Rose experience shows

The pressure continued, but Celtic B Team shed some of the initial nerves at 1-0 down. Youngster Rocco Vata did well to get himself past the Rose keeper, but couldn’t work a tight angle to get a decent shot away. Almost immediately after, Rose found themselves with another opportunity from a corner. Wilson headed close again on the 39th minute, but couldn’t double his side’s advantage.

Celtic began to find some rhythm, with Mackenzie Carse and new Bhoy Bosun Lawal showing some neat touches in possession. It wasn’t for long, though. With Rose advancing deep into Celtic’s half, Ben Wylie had the home support howling. His tackle, as arguably the Bhoys’ last man in defence, only yielded a yellow from the referee.

Rather than opportunity for Rose, the Midlothian side squandered their free kick opportunity, and Celtic broke. An excellent long ball released Dobbie, who took it down with fantastic technique. However, he couldn’t get a decent shot away.

Rose threatened again late on in the first-half, but 1-0 it stayed.

The second half started in a less than positive manner for Celtic. Tobi Oluwayemi was almost immediately injured in a collision, with Ryan Mullen forced on in his place.

Any hopes the Queens Park loanee had of a clean sheet were quickly dashed. Some defensive indecision allowed Rose to get a low cross in, with George Hunter scoring with the help of a deflection on the 53 minute mark.

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Lawal shines as Celtic B Team fight back

Then Tommy McIntyre’s team fought back. Lawal took advantage of a well-worked free kick routine to squeeze the ball just inside the far post. 2-1, and Celtic had their tails up.

Some neat work on the left-flank from Bruno Davidson allowed Brody Paterson to swing in a dangerous cross as Celtic found their footing. Unfortunately, there were no takers.

Celtic enjoyed a brief spell of dominance. Rose looked rattled from conceding, as Letsosa and Carse tried to make inroads into the opposition 18-yard box.

Rose came back, however. Otoo was particularly worked by Bonnyrigg’s intricate one-touch passing, but the hosts couldn’t find a third goal. Not yet, anyway.

That scare was enough to force Celtic back into action. As an entertaining game approached 70 minutes, the Bhoys’ passing showed some real quality. Bruno Davidson got on the ball, repeatedly taking players on, but couldn’t work an opening, until a slaloming run created space. Unfortunately, his finish went wide.

Lawal, Otoo and Davidson impress for Celtic B

It was a very open second-half. Even mandatory water breaks couldn’t halt the momentum, with both teams enjoying spells of possession. Celtic really grew into the game, becoming increasingly confident on the ball.

The lack of experience off the ball showed, however. Lawal picked up a booking for a rash challenge, as Rose hunted for a third, vital goal.

Celtic got the ball in the back of the net around the 80 minute mark. However, it didn’t count, with the Bhoys having a goal from a set-piece ruled back for offside. McIntyre’s team smelt blood, though. Another free kick nearly resulted in a similar opportunity, but Vata couldn’t finish.

Late on, another set-piece yielded another set-piece. In what became a running theme, Celtic picked up free kicks and corners, threatening every time. Lawal, on his Celtic B debut, nearly grabbed a brace, with Adams holding well from a header.

2-1 it finished in New Dundas Park. All in, there were encouraging signs here. However, nobody would reasonably expect a team so young to make a statement against established competition like Bonnyrigg Rose.

In possession, Celtic showed exciting flashes of technical quality, but physically, it’s a huge step up for McIntyre’s youngsters.

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