Stranraer 0-3 Celtic: Celtic ease to Scottish Cup win
By Charlie McFaulds
Last Updated: 11/01/16 9:53pm
Celtic swept League One Stranraer aside for a 3-0 victory in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup at Stair Park.
There was no evidence of the apparent crisis at Celtic as Ronny Deila's side controlled the match and never looked like slipping up as the club stretched their unbeaten away run in the competition to 17 games since losing to St Mirren in 2009.
Leigh Griffiths took his tally to 10 goals in nine Scottish Cup ties with a brace, and Carlton Cole netted his first for the club in between.
Celtic had a decent penalty claim turned down by referee Andrew Dallas on 10 minutes when Craig Pettigrew blocked Cole as the striker attempted a shot from eight yards after controlling the ball on his chest.
Cole again found half a yard of space inside the box to take a touch on a threaded pass from Stefan Johansen, but this time Scott Rumsby got across to clear the danger as the Englishman prepared to shoot.
Celtic continued to press and Nir Bitton combined with Jozo Simunovic, who clipped a pass inside to Callum McGregor at the edge of the box and the winger took a touch with both feet to set up Griffiths and he tucked the ball into the corner from 12 yards.
Griffiths came close again when Johansen disposed Paul Cairney just inside the Celtic half and McGregor strode forward to lay the ball in front of the goal scorer who crashed a shot inches over the bar.
Ten minutes before the break Max Currie tipped a dipping effort from Kris Commons over the bar as the midfielder hit a shot on the turn following a passage of play involving Cole, Kieran Tierney and McGregor.
Currie again came to Stranraer's rescue on 41 minutes when Commons hooked a through ball in front of Griffiths who had his effort parried by the advancing 'keeper, who then got back on his line to save from the striker again after Cole nodded the ball across the face of goal.
But a minute later Celtic doubled their lead as Stranraer failed to clear the danger from the original move and Mikael Lustig combined with Commons at the side of the penalty area before Bitton chipped the ball to the back post for Cole to nod over the line.
Celtic twice came close to extending their lead in the opening stages of the second half as Johansen forced his way through four challenges on a 30-yard run to stab the ball under Currie, but Scott Robertson got back to clear off the line.
When the ball was delivered back into the penalty area Cole sent an overhead-kick towards the corner of the net from eight yards, but Currie got across to his right to make a superb save.
Just before the hour mark Griffiths had time and space to turn and blast a swerving shot from 35 yards which Currie dealt with comfortably.
Logan Bailly, making a rare appearance for Celtic, had not made a save by the 67th minute when the stopper's punt bounced to the backtracking Griffiths, who produced an unexpected bicycle-kick which forced Currie to tip the ball over the bar.
Bailly finally made a save 12 minutes from time when Steven Bell rose to meet a corner at the edge of the box and Craig Malcolm diverted the ball with a close-range header, but the Celtic goalkeeper saved on the line.
And Griffiths pounced on an error when Rumsby misjudged an aerial ball and, but Celtic's top scorer was unable to beat the advancing Currie with his shot from 10 yards.
Currie then got down to save at the feet of Scott Allan as the midfielder tried to go round the 'keeper after fellow substitute Tom Rogic created the opening with a piece of nifty footwork.
The unmarked Griffiths had been on for a square pass in that instance, but a minute later he latched on to a weighted through ball from Allan and beat the advancing Currie with the outside of his boot to take his tally to 22 for the season.