Stokes saves Celtic blushes after Mensing turns from hero to villain
Published 13/01/2011 | 05:00
Celtic increased the gap on Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premier League to five points but have played three games more after this encounter, which saw Hamilton finish with nine players and Celtic 10.
An Anthony Stokes penalty in the final minute of normal time (Accies goalscorer Simon Mensing was ordered off for his challenge on Emilio Izaguirre) salvaged a draw for Celtic.
This contest at New Douglas Park took a while to heat up but, when it did, it boiled over.
Fourteen minutes had elapsed before the first opening had been created. Paddy McCourt, the latest Celt to have been targeted by extremists, released Stokes on the left flank but his cutback had too much pace for James Forrest, who arrived a fraction of a second too late to convert.
Flavio Paixao drilled a free-kick towards goal on 28 minutes for the hosts, which Celtic 'keeper Fraser Forster ought to have done better than to push it back out. Mensing displayed great composure to nod it over Forster and under the crossbar from 12 yards but TV replays suggested that Accies defender Martin Canning had been obstructing the goalkeeper's view from an offside position.
Celtic were reduced to 10 men shortly into the second half when Forrest lunged, late and high, at David Buchanan deep inside the Hamilton half.
It was a challenge that didn't need to be made and Neil Lennon stood by as referee Willie Collum produced a red card.
Hamilton then introduced winger Jim McAlister for Mark McLaughlin and, within 60 seconds, he had been dismissed without touching the ball.
Celtic threw men forward at every opportunity but struggled to get behind their opponents' rearguard.
Freddie Ljungberg was then given his first taste of the Premier League when he replaced the ineffective Joe Ledley with a quarter of an hour remaining.
Tomas Cerny produced a superb reflex save to deny Stokes, although the striker knew little about it. Buchanan's clearance from an Izaguirre cross ricocheted off Stokes' back and Cerny dived to his left to claw the ball away.
With six minutes of stoppage time, Celtic could have won it. Stokes headed home a corner at the death but the ball had gone out of play before it reached him, so he and Celtic had to settle for his penalty and a point. (© Daily Telegraph, London)