East Kilbride 0-2 Celtic: Leigh Griffiths on target for dominant Hoops
By Allan Valente
Last Updated: 08/02/16 9:19am
Celtic booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup with a routine 2-0 win over a dogged East Kilbride at Excelsior Stadium.
The Premiership champions were always expected to come out on top against the semi-professional side, who ply their trade in the fifth tier of Scottish football, but were made to work for their win despite their dominance.
A first-half strike from Leigh Griffiths gave his side a slim 1-0 lead going into the break before Colin Kazim-Richards' first Celtic goal secured progression against the Lowland League team.
Indeed, it will be Billy Ogilvie's team who emerge from this one with the plaudits after some resolute defending in the face of constant Celtic pressure.
Erik Sviatchenko went close early on for the Hoops, but his volley was brilliantly tipped on to the post by Matt McGinley.
Griffiths thought he scored the opener after getting on the end of Gary Mackay-Steven's cutback but his effort was cleared off the line before his free-kick from 30 yards landed wide of the post.
Celtic had all the possession and plenty of corners but found the stubborn East Kilbride defence difficult to breach with Charlie Mulgrew delivering two dangerous crosses across the face of the goal.
They eventually broke the deadlock after 21 minutes and it was a scrappy finish.
Mackay-Steven's corner was met by Dedryck Boyata whose header was blocked on the line before being poked into the net by Griffiths. However, the East Kilbride defence had cause to feel aggrieved as the Celtic striker appeared to use a hand before finding the net.
McGinley was on top form throughout the match, pulling off a number of good saves in the East Kilbride goal, denying James Forrest after an Efe Ambrose cutback.
He was well protected for the most part by the likes of Barry Russell, who was resolute at the back and was on hand to block a number of Celtic efforts.
Griffiths was keen to add another and tried to dance his way through the East Kilbride defence, beating men for fun on the edge of the box but, as he shaped to shoot, Gavin Lachlan came across to clear the danger.
Shortly before half-time, PE teacher McGinley was on hand to deny Celtic again, this time saving from a Mackay-Steven volley.
Celtic doubled their advantage six minutes after the break. Griffiths went for the spectacular overhead kick from his side's 13th corner but his effort was blocked on the line only for Kazim-Richards to bundle the ball home from a yard out.
Ronny Deila's side kept up their pressure as they looked for a third with Craig Howie crashing his intended clearance off his own post before Griffiths volleyed wide from the resulting corner.
It was one-way traffic towards McGinley's goal, but stand-in Celtic goalkeeper Logan Bailly did make one routine save from Jack Smith with 20 minutes remaining following a rare East Kilbride attack.
Celtic captain Scott Brown then curled a shot from 20 yards off the outside of a post as the clock ticked down but the game ended with a whimper as the East Kilbride players took the applause from their supporters on the final whistle.