Avoid The Hedge

Has that been three weeks already? So glad the winter break is over just in time for the snow to hit Glasgow.

The farce of our winter break is complete. Pack December full of games to the point we’re exhausted, then waste a few weeks in reasonable weather only to come back and question whether or not we will even have a game.

Hopefully the snow won’t postpone the game today, and I’m not just saying that because I actually have a ticket for a change!

Today we start our defence of the Scottish Cup and hopefully another step towards back to back trebles. To ease us back in, the draw gave us the team currently bottom of the Championship – Brechin City.

A word of caution here. The last time we hosted the team bottom of the Championship it was Greenock Morton in the League Cup under Neil Lennon. They won in extra time. So let’s take nothing for granted here.

Actually, technically they were second bottom when they beat us, but they slipped to the foot of the table the following weekend and never moved away from there, so that pretty much counts the same.

But as bad at Morton were that season, Brechin City are worse. After 21 games in the Championship they have yet to record a single win. With just four points from four draws they are a whopping sixteen points behind Falkirk and Dumbarton immediately above them in the table.

They didn’t win any of their games in the League Cup section either, although they did pick up the penalty shootout victory over Forfar Athletic after a draw in 90 minutes.

Indeed, Brechin City’s only win this season came in the third round of the Scottish Cup to reach this tie. Despite being 1-0 and 2-1 down to Buckie Thistle in the Highlands, Brechin were able to turn it around to win 3-2.

And even that was revenge for the first round exit to Buckie in the Challenge Cup back in August. So it really is Brechin’s only win!

This will be Celtic’s first meeting with Brechin City since 1985 when Davie Hay’s team ran out 7-0 winners in the third round of the League Cup.

We don’t seem to have played Brechin much at all in our entire history. We’ve never met in the league as they’ve never been in the top flight for Scottish Football. But even in the cup competitions the history is sparce.

Our two previous meetings in the Scottish Cup came in the guise of a 6-3 second round win in 1927 and a 3-0 first round win in 1950. All the League Cup meetings were also wins for Celtic so we currently have a 100% record against them.

Hopefully that’s maintained today and we’re safely through to the fifth round. Although we’ll be without the long term injured like Tom Rogic, Patrick Roberts, Jonny Hayes and new boy Marvin Compper, we should still have plenty of good options to choose from in the lineup. It seems unlikely that Brechin will pose much of a threat, but you never know with cup football.

I mean, look at it from their perspective. This is their big day out. A chance to face the holders, the champions of Scotland, in their own stadium. A chance to forget about their own woes in the league and just play a game with no pressure.

It might be a backs to the wall kind of game for them, but it’s a chance to test themselves against the biggest team in the country. Take a chance at the other end and you could be a hero. There have absolutely nothing to lose as this is a cup tie where they’re expected to do just that.

Meanwhile, we’re on the usual hiding to nothing. We have to win and we have to win comfortably. A low score and Brechin take the plaudits. A high score and well that was inevitable. Anything other than a win and it’s at best an annoying replay in from of the hedge, and at worst it’s one of the all time great cup shocks.

This is a game to us to get out of the way as comfortably as possible. One to blow off the cobwebs of the mid-season break. One to just win and move on.

Krys (Twitter @krys1888)

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