As Celtic crashed out of the Champions League qualifiers in weak fashion to CFR Cluj, they were hit with a double whammy in Falkirk.
Indeed, the Hoops’ under-21 side lost out at the Falkirk Stadium after a 1-1 draw sent their clash into penalties. Falkirk would go on to win the shootout 6-5, with Celtic being knocked out of the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup.
Louis Longridge gave Falkirk the lead on 10 minutes. Impressively, however, Celtic quickly restored parity with an equaliser just one minute later. Scott Robertson was the man who provided it, with Ewan Henderson the architect in the build-up.
Unfortunately, however, that would be as good as things would get. Despite having 11 shots more than Falkirk with 23 in total, Celtic’s youngsters just couldn’t find the second before the shootout.
Celtic missed some great chances on the night through Liam Burt and Jack Aitchison in particular. It would then be Aitchison’s penalty that would be saved by Robbie Mutch – sending Falkirk through to round three of the competition.
A bad night all-round, but a good performance from the youngsters
The Celtic youngsters don’t have anything to be ashamed about last night. It was always going to be tough against Falkirk’s experienced veterans. They had several former Premiership stars in their side, so that experience was always going to be difficult to combat.
Celtic likely missed the menacing feet of Karamoko Dembele, who continued to sit out sidelined. There were chances handed to the likes of Anthony Ralston, Aitchison, Luca Connell, and Armstrong Oko-Flex to name a few. But unfortunately, they just lost out.
It’s not quite the blow of being knocked out of the Champions League for supporters. However, for the players that featured in Falkirk last night, it certainly would’ve been a heartbreaking knock-out for them.
The young Hoops came into yesterday’s match having knocked out Queen’s Park in round one of the competition. And despite impressing at the Falkirk Stadium last night, the journey ends here.
It will be interesting to see who impressed Lennon enough to merit being called up to the senior squad. But you could hardly blame the Celtic gaffer if it’s not the most important thing on his mind right now.
A dreadful night for results, but the under-21s can be safe in the knowledge they performed well on the night.