REVIEW OF BUDAPEST CELTIC’S SEASON
A new player management team took over from the outgoing John Murphy. Neil Evans, Laurence Coen, and Adrian Courage took up the coaching hot seats and Courage underlined their intentions for the season with a press conference held deep inside the bowels of Rona Utca stadium.
Celtic’s close season transfer activities saw club stalwarts Stevie Gibb, Vinny and Gearoid O’Sullivan head for pastures new. Gibb returned to his hometown of Glasgow to sign for Bearsden Rovers, whilst Vinny found the money on offer from Danish side Hillerod Kommune to much to resist. O’Sullivan had been battling a persistent knee injury all summer and he hung up his boots.
The new management team brought in Scottish full back Joe McCann from Bedfordshire’s You and Whose Army, winger Andy Pickett and defender Andy McDowell as their first signings.
McCann made his debut in the opening match of the season as Celtic beat Ratio Homnia 3-1 at Rona Utca. Evans got his first goal of the season from the penalty spot and there were many more to come.
Celtic’s first real test came in the shape of their old foes Vikings at Epitok a week later and things did not go well despite some brilliant tactical work by the hoops management team.
The Vikings ran out 3-1 winners in the end.
Celtic defeated French outfit Manager United in the Dean Shields cup to set up a future show down with Vikings in the next round.
A bleak October for Celtic saw them pick up one point out of six in the league championship race. They played the unbeaten Accor on the 14th and were leading 2-1 thanks to a Peti Janosi goal. The referee then controversially awarded Accor a soft free kick 20 yards out and the game ended 2-2. It was a scandalous decision that was to have serious repercussions later in the season.
The month ended with Celtic being undone by AGS Paprikas. The French- African side ran out 4-2 winners but again Celtic could feel hard done by as Paprikas clearly fielded a ringer who did not play in any other league match. The said ringer bagged himself all four of his side’s goals.
Celtic only played one league match in this period. They easily swept aside Szigeti source 2-0. Evans again was on the score sheet but the first goal of the match belonged to new American signing Chris Pohald and he would go onto make a fierce contribution to the club.
In late January Celtic pulled off perhaps the greatest signing in the clubs history when they snapped up veteran Israeli play maker Guy Zucker. The 37 year old was paraded in front of 51 fans at Rona Utca. Unfortunately for Celtic, Zucker would only play one match before being struck down by a career threatening injury. We wish him all the best and hope he recovers in time for next season.
On a lighter note a group of Celtic fans achieved chart obscurity when they released a recorded version of their classic terrace chant in honor of Celtic midfielder Fergal Strumble. Fergal sings the blues in which the fans famously ask “can this white man sing the blues?” reached 1078 in the Hungarian pop charts. Here you can watch Strumble take to the stage and perform with the fans at Puskas stadium.
Celtic first game since the extended winter break was a must win as they faced league leaders The Vikings at Rona Utca on the last day of the month. In an epic battle Celtic emerged triumphant after a 3-2 win. Vlad Panov’s winning strike was a contender for goal of the season.
Celtic’s fate was now in their own hands would they be able to hold their nerves and claim the championship title?
Celtic knew that four wins out of their last five matches would be enough to seal the title and if they had the chance to handpick their two next opponents they would surely have plucked for the bottom two sides Manager United and Szigeti Source.
The confidence levels at the club were high after their first win over Vikings, and perhaps some of the confidence was misplaced. Celtic served up a dreadful display at Rona Utca were they squandered two valuable points but worse was to come.
A week later Celtic should have been back on track when they faced Szigeti. Celtic simply showed up and expected to win, they didn’t and although Szigeti scored with the last kick of the game the bottom side richly deserved their point.
It was a crushing blow to Celtic and their players were inconsolable at full time.
The Celtic players now knew that they had to rely on other sides to do them a favor against Vikings, but instead of feeling sorry for themselves Celtic started to play their best football of the season.
They dismantled Manager United 8-2 at Fenerbache stadium. This was the same United side who had snatched a point from Celtic only a few weeks before.
Next they dispatched Ratio Homnia with ease running out 3-1 winners. The final game saw Celtic take on AGS Paprikas at Fenerbache in a 12pm kick off. The Vikings would not kick off until 4pm at Rona Utca v Ratio. Celtic swept aside Paprikas in an astonishing 9-1 victory and it was easily the hoops best performance of the season.
The Vikings managed to win their match 6-2 in the end and Celtic had to be content with second place.
Next season Celtic move to their new home of Fenerbache stadium on a permanent basis and it has become something of a fortress already. What other scalps will be claimed by the hoops here in the coming year?
CELTIC CRASH AFTER HEROIC COMEBACK
BUDAPEST CELTIC 2 QUEENS OLD BOYS 3
Budapest Celtic entertained touring side Queens Old Boys of Belfast in a gala friendly at Rona Ucta on Saturday afternoon on the penultimate weekend of the season. Celtic go into next weeks match versus Paprikas hoping for their own helicopter Sunday. The Irish side proved to be more than worthy opponents and the match was played in a great spirit.
Vladaslav Panov returned to the Celtic side, and took up his place between the sticks for the opening half. Gearoid O’Sullivan, Neil Evans, and Niels Boving who was making his first appearance in months all started. Former Celtic player Andy Pickett made a guest appearance.
Evans was the architect of the first Celtic attack. He cut in from the right hand side and picked out an unmarked Adrian Courage eight yards from goal. Courage controlled the ball instantly but he shot wildly past the post.
Queens had underlined their attacking intentions earlier in the match and they took the lead after some slack Celtic defending. Panov’s attempt to dribble out of his area ended in disaster as Barney Brady stole possession and drifted past two defenders. His cross to the back post should have been cleared by Joe McCann but the Scottish full back was caught ball watching and Simon Fitzgerald headed into the empty net.
The Irish side went close on several occasions to making it two nil before the break. Brady went clean through on the Celtic goal; however McCann did just enough to force him wide. Panov clutched a looping cross into his arms with Queens strikers surrounding him waiting to pounce.
Queens finally got the second goal their domination merited in the opening moments of the second half. Shaun O’Callaghan’s corner swerved and dipped in front of the six yard area and Graham Bell slammed an terrific header beyond the helpless O‘Sullivan who had taken over goalkeeping duties at half time.
Celtic were in danger of collapsing completely however they found their way back into the match, thanks largely to the decisive play of Evans and McCann . McCann looked like a different player on his natural side and his crosses from the right were a constant concern to Queens back line.
Evans was outstanding throughout the whole game and he was deservedly named man of the match at full time. Celtic’s first goal came about after some good work by the ever productive Doa. His pass found Boving, who dipped his shoulder and played Evans in on goal. Evans took a touch before crashing his shot high into the roof of the net.
Celtic should have perhaps drawn themselves level moments later. Evans contested a long ball into the Queens area and the ball landed at McCann’s feet who had read the situation well. McCann took a touch before sending a curling cross over the face of the six yard box. Evans and player manager Laurence Coen, who missed the game through injury, later described the ball as a “striker’s wet dream”. Unfortunately for Celtic their attackers were still asleep and the chance was gone.
Celtic were then denied what looked like a certain penalty. Again Evans fed McCann on the right and his first time cross was inches away from Picketts head, the ball broke into Panov’s path and the Bulgarians first time effort was inexplicably blocked by a defenders arm. Celtic were astonished when the referee waved away their appeals.
It wasn’t long before Celtic were celebrating their second goal. Mccann rolled a pass to Courage at the edge of the box. Courage held off a challenge and broke to the bye line. His cross evaded the goalkeeper and was kneed into the net by the energetic Doa.
It was a spell binding come back by Celtic however their joy was short lived. The Celtic defence got themselves into a terrible state eighteen yards from goal and midfield defensive lynch pin Imre Varga cleared the danger. The resultant corner baffled the Celtic back line and the ball eventually was stabbed home by Brady. Brady had lead the line brilliantly throughout the whole match and he richly deserved his goal.
Celtic sought an equalizer and they went close twice in the closing stages of the match. Bence Zlotan got on the end of Doa’s through pass but his left footed effort skewed wide. Evans then saw a shot from an acute angel saved by the Queens goalkeeper.
MAN OF THE MATCH: NEIL EVANS
DEPLETED CELT’S CRACK OPEN THE TITLE RACE
Budapest Celtic 3 Ratio Homnia 1
Celtic’s excellent end of season form continued with another convincing victory over Ratio Homnia at Rona Ucta. A few weeks ago it seemed as if Budapest Celtic’s title hopes were all but over. They had just squandered a 1-0 lead to bottom of the table Szigeti in a match were they looked far from convincing. Celtic regrouped and rethought their approach to the way they went into games. The result has seen them score eleven goals in the last two matches.
Celtic’s squad was severely crippled by the loss of Neil Evans, Heike Bult, Peti Janosi and Vlad Panov. Adrian Courage’s two week battle for flu had ended and he made his long awaited return to the centre of the park. The Asian playmaker Dao made his debut for Celtic.
With such key names missing Celtic needed someone to step up and lead the side towards victory. The veteran Canadian centre half Rob Longworth answered the call by producing an almost flawless and unflustered performance that had a calming influence on those all around him.
The first chance of the game fell to Homina’s Tamer Darwish but Bence Zlotan did brilliantly to claw away the Angolan’s shot.
Chris Pohald was Celtic’s most energetic and effective player in the early stages of the game. He almost profited from some poor defending by Ratio after 15 mins. Pohald broke clear down the right hand side of the pitch and crossed into the box, Ratio were relieved to see their own defenders interception come back against the post. Pohald then set off on another run and this time there were no takers for his well executed cut back.
Pohald was instrumental in the opening goal of the match. Again he found himself unmarked down the right hand side of the pitch and his perfectly timed pass slipped Courage through. Courage held his nerve to slot the ball under Jean-Bernard Robillard from 10 yards out for his second goal of the season.
Celtic should have been two up minutes before the break. Zoltan launched a long ball from his box deep into the Ratio half. Ludovic Rousseau allowed the ball to bounce and Stani Ryjov capitalized by bursting into the Ratio box. Ryjov seemingly had the goal at his mercy however he made the wrong decision by flashing the ball across the six yard area for ? who couldn’t make any contact.
Ratio already looked like a defeated team and they certainly appeared to be there for the taking. Celtic were in complete control of the match. They began the second half brightly and they flowed freely towards Robillard’s goal. Pohald screwed a cross just past the post and Courage went close from distance.
Celtic then got their second goal. Gabor Harnsay fired a ball over the top into the right hand channel. Pohald was on it in an instant and his cut back eventually found its way to Nigel Killen on the edge of the area. Killen swung his right footed shot goal wards and although it appeared to be a tame effort it spun up off the turf and went over Robillard’s head into the net. Robillard like his team seemed to be on their knees.
It came as something of a surprise to everyone present when Ratio found their way back into the game. Zoltan dropped a cross in the area that Celtic still had the opportunity to clear. They didn’t and Thomas Bretonneau prodded home.
Celtic treated Ratio’s goal like a minor inconvience. They stepped their game up another level and tested Ratio’s resolve. It wasn’t long before it was 3-1. Ryjov sliced through the Ratio defence before unselfishly squaring to Kalman. The big striker twisted and deceived Robillard before rolling the ball into the empty net.
The game was as good as over and Celtic even had time to create another chance before the final whistle. The impressive Dao fled past the Ratio defence and laid the ball perfectly to Courage, however the number ten’s shot was mistimed and it flew high over the bar.
MAN OF THE MATCH: ROB LONGWORTH