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Ange Postecoglou hits out at Celtic’s attacking display against Livingston

Livingston v Celtic – cinch Premiership – Tony Macaroni Arena
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou admitted his team were “terrible” going forward during a 1-0 defeat by Livingston.

Postecoglou’s side dominated possession and territory at the Tony Macaroni Arena but struggled to carve out clear-cut chances.

Livi goalkeeper Max Stryjek was not seriously troubled during a first half in which Andrew Shinnie fired into the top corner and Joe Hart pulled off a reaction stop from Jack Fitzwater.

Stryjek had more to do after the break, saving well from Stephen Welsh and pulling off an excellent diving stop from Albian Ajeti.

But Celtic generally laboured in the final third as Livingston stood firm to claim their first win of the cinch Premiership campaign and get off the bottom.

Postecoglou started with a front three of Jota and Liel Abada either side of Ajeti and only had Mikey Johnston on the bench to change it with the winger coming on for his first appearance of the season following injury.

“Our front third play was poor, it was probably the poorest it’s been all year,” he said.

“We’ve obviously had some issues defensively, but I just thought today in the front half we were terrible.

“That was everybody, not just the strikers or the attacking players, we lacked a real conviction in going forward to be positive. That falls on me to get it right.”

Postecoglou felt his side’s start had set the tone.

“The problem was we didn’t start the game well, and that’s my responsibility, maybe in the way I prepared the team and maybe the way we prepared for this game wasn’t right,” he said.

“We started the game very sterile, we didn’t really take the game to them.

“We wanted to just ease our way into the game and when they scored we’re obviously chasing the game.

“If we started the game as we normally do and put the opposition under pressure then we wouldn’t have got ourselves in the hole we did, and once we got ourselves in the hole we didn’t really have a great deal of solutions to get ourselves out of it.”

Postecoglou has now lost six of his seven away matches in charge with his side sitting sixth in the table.

When asked if something needed to change on the road, he said: “If we play like today, then yes. In the other away games we were well in the games and played well.

“But you know what? On the other hand, if we don’t get results away from home then we can’t be successful, so that’s still got to change.

“Irrespective of what I think about performances, we’ve still got to get the results, and that’s the reality of it.

“Until we tackle that in the right way, then we’re going to have this problem.”

Livingston manager David Martindale hailed Shinnie’s performance after moving the former Birmingham midfielder into a more advanced role.

The summer signing got in front of Stephen Welsh to meet Jackson Longridge’s low cross in the 25th minute and fired into the top corner from 14 yards.

“I had to come with a different game plan,” Martindale said. “I knew I had to get Shinnie higher up the park and he was incredible.

“All the boys were great but he looked as if he’d played as a number nine all his career.

“I had him in a headlock and told him he was playing number nine. I’m kidding. He’s a great lad, you could play him anywhere because he’s got a very good football brain and would give you a decent shift.

“Technically he’s very good on the ball and it was one of the best number nine performances I’ve seen at Livi. I’m going back to Lyndon Dykes saying that too.

“He reminded me of Dykes with his power and winning things in the air. His use of the ball was brilliant and he’s a very clever player.”