Strachan: Matches too expensive for fans

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan believes cost rather than over-confidence kept thousands of Hoops fans way from their last two Bank of Scotland Premier League home games.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan believes cost rather than over-confidence kept thousands of Hoops fans way from their last two Bank of Scotland Premier League home games.

Official attendances given for the 1-0 win over Falkirk on Saturday and the 2-2 draw with Dundee United on St Stephen's Day were given as 55,000 and 57,343 respectively but given the empty seats all round Celtic Park, it seemed that many season-ticket holders had stayed at home.

With the Parkhead side odds on to retain their title and showing little signs of collapsing – the 2-2 draw with United were the first points dropped at home this season – suggestions are that the supporters are struggling to muster enthusiasm for what is turning into a procession towards the title.

But Strachan said: “A result like that will make sure that everybody knows that it is not over.

“But I think people can’t afford the two home games over the Christmas period.

“It’s okay having a season ticket but it’s the cost of the travelling, the programmes and everything else that goes with it.”

It is difficult to agree with the Hoops boss about there being life in this title race.

Even after giving the visitors two goals of a start through David Robertson and Collin Samuel, the champions still had enough to come back later and rescue a point.

With 12 minutes remaining, substitute Darren O’Dea pulled one back and two minutes later midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura chipped home a wonderful equaliser.

Those two goals kept the Parkhead side’s unbeaten home record in the SPL intact.

And indeed, Celtic may even have snatched all three points in the dying moments of injury time when substitute Derek Riordan, making a rare appearance as a second-half replacement for Aiden McGeady, struck the post from the outside the box with United keeper Derek Stillie out of his goal.

Riordan had an earlier shot brilliantly saved by Stillie and sent a free-kick from 25 yards narrowly past the post, efforts which summed up the wretched time he has had at Celtic Park since signing in the summer from Hibernian.

However, Strachan insists the performance of Riordan, yet to start an SPL game, was one plus point from the game.

He said: “It is a concern that we didn’t play until we were two down.

“But I thought Derek played very well when he came on.

“He had three attempts at goal. A free-kick came close, the goalkeeper has made a fantastic save from one down low.

“And the one that he hit the post with, the keeper had pushed it on to the post.

“So there are things that came out of the game that can help us in the future.”

Stillie believes the inexperienced United side can take great heart from their performance at Parkhead which was only ruined by their late collapse.

He said: “It was David Robertson’s first start at Parkhead and he scored a goal.

“We don’t have a lot of depth to the squad and there is not as much experience as we might like.

“So it puts a lot of onus on these young guys but it showed that they are capable.

“We would have taken a point beforehand but after the way the game went, and how well we played, we are disappointed.”

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