Celtic survive late cup scare

Celtic 2 Queen's Park 1

Celtic 2 Queen's Park 1

Celtic slipped uneasily in to the quarter-finals of the Homecoming Scottish Cup with a narrow victory over Queen's Park.

First-half headers from Gary Caldwell and Scott McDonald looked to have put the home side into an unassailable lead but the SPL champions were pegged back by Adam Coakley's 65th-minute strike.

The Spiders' substitute, on for Ian Watt five minutes earlier, was shown a yellow card for celebrating his goal before he was sent off 11 minutes from the end after picking up a second caution for a foul on Celtic defender Lee Naylor.

It was a valiant effort from the part-timers but as a warm-up for next week's crunch Old Firm derby at home against Rangers, it was an unconvincing display by a strong Hoops' side who, perhaps unsurprisingly, appeared to slacken after the break.

The amateurs Queen's Park enjoyed success in the early years of the competition, winning it 10 times but there seemed little prospect of a shock this time.

With a one-sided contest promised, the top-tier of Celtic Park remained closed and even a discounted ticket scheme for children and senior citizens failed to ensure a big crowd.

The Hampden side almost capitalised on Celtic's slack start in the second minute when Artur Boruc had to throw himself to his right to parry a long-distance drive from Spiders' midfielder Ryan Holms, the Hoops' defence eventually clearing the danger.

However, the SPL side settled and, in the ninth minute, Shaun Maloney - back in the side for the first time since December - set up Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink after taking a pass from the big striker just inside the visitors' box.

The Dutchman's first shot from 12 yards was stopped on the line by Queen's defender James Brough before goalkeeper David Crawford blocked the second effort from the rebound.

In the 19th minute, after Spiders defender Martin Ure was booked for a foul on Aiden McGeady, Celtic took the lead and whatever slim chance there was of an upset appeared to dissipate.

Naylor swung a free-kick in from wide on the left and Darren O'Dea rose at the back post to head back across goal, with Caldwell re-directing the ball past Crawford from eight yards.

In the 24th minute, Crawford stretched to his right to gather comfortably from Maloney's 25-yard free-kick and minutes later made a better save from McGeady's drive from the edge of the box.

In the 33rd minute, Marc Crosas worryingly crumpled to the ground after a robust challenge from Paul Harkins.

The Spaniard returned after treatment but had to go off three minutes from the break to be replaced by Massimo Donati.

The contest looked over in the last seconds of the half when, with Naylor again the provider, McDonald grabbed Celtic's second goal when he knocked in a Vennegoor of Hesselink header from a yard out.

Despite the obvious enormity of their task, the Irn-Bru Second Division visitors started the second half with admirable enthusiasm.

In the 50th minute, Harkins drove forward before laying the ball off to Watt but the striker mishit his right-footed shot from 16 yards and it bounced wide of the target.

The part-timers looked to be slowly running out of steam as Maloney was replaced by Irish midfielder Paddy McCourt just after the hour mark.

But Queen's Park kept fighting and, in the 63rd minute, they almost reduced the lead when Holms' driven cross from the right hit striker Steven Nicholas at the front post, the ball going into the side netting with Boruc beaten.

However, in the 65th minute the visitors found themselves back in the game.

Following a Holms cross from the right, Coakley had his first effort saved from Boruc before he pounced on the rebound to knock it in off the far post. He then found himself in the book for over-zealous celebrations.

The Hoops fans inside Celtic Park became agitated as the Second Division side went all out for an equaliser.

The home side, though, still looked far too classy for the visitors and were bolstered by the fresh legs of Georgios Samaras, who replaced Vennegoor of Hesselink with 15 minutes remaining.

In the 79th minute, Coakley picked up a second yellow card for a late challenge on Naylor which ended his involvement in the game and the part-timers' hopes of a replay.

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