Celtic defender Alistair Johnston was not good enough in the build-up to the first goal conceded by the Hoops in Monday’s Old Firm clash, says John Hartson.
The Lowdown: Old Firm draw
After only joining Celtic in December, the 24-year-old made his long-awaited Bhoys debut with Ange Postecoglou throwing him straight in at the earliest opportunity in the Old Firm.
The right-back played the full 90 minutes of the 2-2 draw at Ibrox as Celtic maintained their nine-point gap at the top of the SPFL thanks to a late Kyogo Furuhashi equaliser after the Hoops had surrendered a 1-0 lead.
The Latest: Hartson’s unhappiness
However, former Celtic striker Hartson was left unhappy with the Canadian’s defending for the hosts’ equaliser from Ryan Kent, who easily created space to whip a shot around the defender when facing him up one-on-one.
Speaking on The Go Radio Football Show, Hartson said: “It’s a brilliantly taken goal, but if you’re Alistair Johnston, you send him down the left side on his, I say weaker foot, he’s strong on his left side as well.
“He’s cut inside on his favoured right foot, you know what he’s going to do, you know he’s going to try and bend in that far corner beyond Joe Hart, and I just felt from a defensive point of view, it was too easy. I think Alistair Johnston should have done better, should’ve got closer.
“But listen, from Rangers’ point of view, from Ryan Kent’s, he’ll probably think that’s a wonderful goal, and it is a wonderful piece of skill, but defensively, I think you’ve got to get closer there to stop that.”
The Verdict: Had to be tighter
There couldn’t have been a tougher opposition to face on your debut with the unforgiving nature of the Old Firm swallowing up anyone who isn’t 100% at it.
Despite him faring okay on his debut, there was perhaps some naivety from Postecoglou who perhaps should’ve opted to start Josip Juranovic who was eventually introduced at left-back – although he had only recently returned from the World Cup and was rather forced on through Greg Taylor’s injury.
Nevertheless, Johnston wasn’t brave enough to get in the face of Kent and possibly too concerned about making a mistake and giving a potential penalty away on his debut if he dived in.
Kent instead used the 24-year-old as a screen to curl his shot around him and leave Joe Hart helpless, with the goal costing Celtic the lead and potentially three points.
Over the course of the match, Johnston lost the ball 17 times and lost four of his 10 duels, however, he did manage 88 touches, five tackles and an 85% passing accuracy (Sofascore), so we don’t feel this will define his performance nor the start of his Celtic career.