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Mowbray's in the mire

Tony Mowbray faces an intense fortnight of scrutiny as Celtic's season threatens to go completely off the rails.

The trip to league leaders Rangers on February 28 will carry massive significance with a defeat that day likely to leave the remainder of the SPL season meaningless for Mowbray's side.

The Glasgow grapevine is awash with rumours that Mowbray is on his way out of the club with Saturday's 4-4 draw at Aberdeen the final straw for many supporters.

Celtic's defensive weaknesses have been obvious all season but were highlighted by the points thrown away at Aberdeen. Despite leading the homeside 4-2 with just 18 minutes left to play the fear among the Celtic supporters was justified as Aberdeen roared back to equalise.

Adding to the concerns over Mowbray's results was the bizarre decision and justification given for replacing Robbie Keane with Georgios Samaras.

Keane had headed Celtic in front in the 65th minute and was substituted a minute after Aiden McGeady had added to Celtic's lead in a clear signal to most people that Mowbray considered the game over.

With Keane needing games and goals to boost his confidence after a prolonged spell on the Spurs bench the decision to replace him seemed puzzling.

Mowbray attempted to explain the decision by saying that Samaras was required to help out at the back. He explained: "Robbie couldn't help us with set plays, he's not a giant you know.

"He's not going to head corners away for us, he doesn't even go back for them whereas Samaras does -- he's six foot three. That was part of the thinking, we knew that they would try and put a lot of balls into our box late on, as they did.

"They've got great free-kick delivery and set-play delivery and it was important to get some physique in there. I don't think that (the substitution) had any relevance to the game."

Celtic were badly let down in defence where Artur Boruc was offered minimum protection by the new-look back four.

Darren O'Dea's misery was completed by a 90th minute second yellow card that means he's suspended alongside McGeady for Saturday's game against Dundee United.

O'Dea and Josh Thompson were given a tough time by the Aberdeen strikers while full-backs Paul Caddis and Edison Braffheid were left vulnerable and exposed on the flanks.

Braffheid, on-loan from Bayern Munich, gave away an unnecessary penalty for handball that brought Aberdeen back into the match at 4-3 before Stevie MacLean completed the comeback with his 88th minute equaliser. Afterwards, Mowbray admitted: "We knew before the game about our defensive problems. We didn't stand up to what came our way.

"We scored some great goals and we lost poor goals from set-plays and an inexplicable penalty kick.

"We just ask somebody to go and head the ball -- it's not as if Aberdeen are a huge side, they don't have great height in their side.

"We were looking for somebody to take the lead today, to go and be dominant and that didn't come to fruition."

Meanwhile, Celtic's U19 youth side, featuring Irish internationalists Richie Towell and Darren McCauley recovered from being 4-1 down at Dundee United to win 5-4 and book a place in the semi-finals of the SFA Youth Cup.


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