Revenge sweet for Celtic

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The Independent Online
Raith Rovers 0

Celtic 1

Van Hooijdonk 78

Attendance: 9,300

TRUE to their club's recent masochistic tradition the Celtic fanzine Not The View runs a series called "They embarrass the Hoops" which wallows in miserable Celtic days of the past. The pens may have to rest a while.

Yesterday Celtic performed miserably all right and yet were blessed with victory, evidence of the club's growing rediscovery of winning as a lucky habit.

In claiming the points they atoned for last season's Coca-Cola Cup final defeat by Raith and will entertain the Fifers in an easier frame of mind on Thursday in the fourth round of that competition.

Their goal, like the match, was a grubby affair, although aesthetics hardly bother Pierre Van Hooijdonk. The striker seemed headed for one of his infuriating, uncoordinated days before an ill-directed header by Rudi Vata reached him in the 78th minute. Van Hooijdonk's bald head stooped, the ball slithered in off an ear and Raith were effectively buried.

Before that most of the visitors' hopes flew in the slipstream of Andreas Thom. The swift Berliner has been one of the few East German players to enjoy success after unification, although conquering his new neighbours across the Glasgow divide may prove harder.

Yesterday his rapid advances almost stole a march on the referee. With the kick-off whistle still dying away, Tosh McKinlay's long punt was in Rovers' box and Thom, at full-throttle, had reached it. The striker's lob found Scott Thomson off the line but floated wide.

In the 25th minute, Thom had flashed into Rovers' area again to steal David Sinclair's half clearance. The striker swung his hips to lose a defender but snatched at his shot.

Rovers' best efforts came through their own express train, Tony Rugiea. In the first half he winged down the left to pick out Stephen Crawford. The young striker should have opened the scoring but John Collins, hairing back for Celtic, provided the unlikeliest of barriers.

Late in the second half, when his side dug in against Celtic's assault, only Rugiea continued to look capable of bruising the visitors. From 40 yards he left John Collins' rib cage black and blue, pummelling a free- kick into the midfielder's chest. Collins spluttered and hobbled for several minutes but then Van Hooydonk leant a stooping ear and it was Rovers who finished winded and breathless.

Afterwards the Dutchman was not slow in appreciating the significance of his larceny. "I've only been here seven months but all the talk has been the amount of draws Celtic have. Hopefully this shows we can now turn them into victories," he said.