Football: Celtic rue Galloway's slip

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Motherwell. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Arnott 88

Celtic. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Walker 34

Attendance: 10,869

CELTIC had been looking good. Top of the Premier Division and in the semi-finals of the Scottish Coca-Cola Cup, they were playing again with flair and imagination. Yet the defensive frailty which has plagued them over the past five seasons returned yesterday to deny Celtic maximum points and also cost them their pole position.

Andy Walker, the former Motherwell striker, who decided to play despite concern over his father, who is seriously ill, put Celtic in front after 34 minutes with a superb goal from the edge of the box. With clear-cut chances restricted to a minimum for the remainder of the match it began to look as though his side would hold their lead.

Two minutes from time, however, a high ball was delivered into Celtic's box, to which both the keeper, Gordon Marshall, and Mike Galloway reacted simultaneously. Then they stopped, with Galloway on top of the ball and apparently stricken by panic. As Motherwell's Dougie Arnott surged in, Galloway moved again, but too late. He succeeded only in knocking the ball against Arnott and Marshall was beaten.

A share of the points was no more than Motherwell deserved, because they had kept running and trying throughout. The match had started badly for them when they were denied a penalty after Tom Boyd had used the hand to stop a ball played into the Celtic penalty area.

The match degenerated into an unsightly, frenetic affair thereafter, resulting in five bookings. Celtic's Peter Grant was then sent off three minutes before Motherwell's equaliser for his second bookable offence. Andy Roddie, the second-half Motherwell substitute for Billy Davies, taken off after he had been cautioned for a foul on Galloway, was also fortunate he did not incur the referee's wrath. Roddie appeared to throw a punch at the Celtic player, but the referee allowed play to continue.

Afterwards Tommy Burns, the Celtic manager, said he could not believe Galloway's hesitancy, especially since the full-back had been performing well until his aberration.

'This was the third time this season we have suffered by conceding goals like that,' he said. 'It will have to stop.'

James Traynor writes for the Herald, Glasgow