STV Sport sponsored by Papa Johns

Celtic denied by Livingston again in goalless draw

The hosts missed a late penalty as they were frustrated by Livingston once again.

Celtic denied by Livingston again in goalless draw SNS Group

Giorgos Giakoumakis missed a stoppage-time penalty as Celtic squandered the chance to go top of the cinch Premiership in a goalless home draw with Livingston.

The Greek striker’s weak effort was saved by Max Stryjek after Abi Obileye had gifted the hosts a rare chance when he hit out at Kyogo Furuhashi in the box and received a red card.

Celtic took even longer to get going than their supporters after a 30-minute silent protest against the board and only managed one other shot on target – an Anthony Ralston effort that was cleared off the line just before half-time.

The home side had 85 per cent of possession but failed to score against David Martindale’s side for the second time this season.

A win would have put Celtic top, at least until Rangers play Motherwell on Sunday, for the first time since they briefly hit the summit after beating St Mirren 6-0 on August.

But they missed the creativity of the injured Tom Rogic and Giakoumakis failed to offer a serious threat after replacing Furuhashi in the starting line-up. Ange Postecoglou also brought in Nir Bitton and Liel Abada while Mikey Johnston dropped to the bench.

Livingston were the last Scottish team to beat Celtic and they again made life difficult for Postecoglou’s side as they stretched their unbeaten run to four matches.

David Martindale had Stephane Omeonga back from a head knock but lost Scott Pittman and the Livi manager went with a three-man central defence which helped limit the space Celtic had to work in.

Several fans’ groups had called for a half-hour vow of silence in protest at claims Celtic are set to hand a senior security role to Police Scotland assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins, an officer they blamed for what they called the “vicious implementation” of now repealed legislation relating to football fans.

Other than a brief outburst of singing from a group of schoolchildren, there were no songs at all during that period. However, Celtic Park was also a chance-free zone.

There was still noise, mostly disapproving roars towards referee Bobby Madden, but also appreciation for a couple of sublime touches from Jota and dangerous crosses from the right which came to nothing.

There were also cheers at the sight of James Forrest warming up following his return to fitness and a convincing piece of penalty-box defending from Cameron Carter-Vickers when Andrew Shinnie looked like he might get a chance to repeat his September winner against Celtic.

The noise returned in emphatic fashion on the half-hour mark and the home team produced a less dramatic upsurge in attacking activity.

Bitton could not control Abada’s through ball, Carl Starfelt headed over and both Ralston and Abada saw shots blocked from decent openings.

The improvement did not continue though with the start of the second half equally as flat as the first.

Postecoglou made a double switch in the 58th minute with Furuhashi and Johnston on for Abada and the limping Starfelt.

Little changed though and Postecoglou handed Forrest his first appearance since August 18 as the game went into the final 10 minutes.

The visiting bench made strong appeals for a penalty when Joe Hart came out to punch a free-kick and left Obileye needing treatment for a facial injury.

Instead it was Obileye who was soon punished. Giakoumakis stepped up despite Josip Juranovic scoring from the spot the previous weekend, and the Greek striker produced an unconvincing effort which Stryjek held.

Both Forrest and Giakoumakis scuffed chances in quick succession before the full-time whistle.