The date is October 15th, 2011, the venue is Rugby Park and Celtic boss Neil Lennon has just watched his side go into half-time 3-0 down against Kilmarnock.
He must have delivered one hell of a team-talk, because the Bhoys staged a late rally to snatch a 3-3 draw thanks to Charlie Mulgrew and a brace from Anthony Stokes.
Still, the comeback merely papered over the cracks as the result saw Celtic slip ten points behind a Rangers team hitting their stride under new manager Ally McCoist.
That gap was extended to 12 points before the end of the month as Hibernian picked up a 0-0 draw at Celtic Park and suddenly the calls for Lennon’s head started to grow louder.
The former Northern Ireland star has admitted that he gave serious consideration to resigning while watching his team capitulate against Killie in that fateful opening period.
Suffice to say, Lennon will be glad he thought better of the idea as since the stalemate against Hibs, the Hoops have reeled off 15 straight SPL wins and 18 in all competitions.
And as if that wasn’t enough to cheer Celtic fans, Rangers, who had already been reeled in and overtaken by their bitter rivals in recent weeks, have now been plunged into a financial crisis.
With administrators called in over an unpaid £9 million tax bill accrued since chairman Craig Whyte’s controversial takeover of the club last May, the Gers have been handed an automatic ten-point penalty.
This means, remarkably, that Celtic find themselves 17 points clear at the top of the table ahead of tonight’s visit of rock-bottom Dunfermline Athletic.
In fact, they could even win the title when they take on McCoist’s men at Ibrox on March 25th if they keep winning and the Gers drop two points in their three games between now and the next Old Firm showdown.
Despite being rooted to the foot of the table and without a home league win all season, Jim McIntyre’s men have the sixth-best away record in the division, having notched four wins on the road already.
It really is an astonishing story and one which proves the adage that football is indeed a funny old game.
So what of that clash with the Pars this evening? Well, it is no surprise to see Celtic as short as 11/100 in bwin’s 3Way football betting market, with the draw at 27/4 and an away win rated as a huge 19/1 shot.
In fairness, despite being rooted to the foot of the table and without a home league win all season, Jim McIntyre’s men have the sixth-best away record in the division, having notched four wins on the road already.
They managed to score on their last trip to Celtic Park – they are at 6/5 to repeat the trick on this occasion – and have actually only lost by a one-goal margin on each of their previous four visits.
Celtic have also failed to score more than twice in any of their last five home matches, so perhaps backing them to win a game featuring less than three goals could provide some value at odds of 31/10.
Admittedly, the current Celtic team are unrecognisable from the one which laboured to a 2-1 success in that meeting with the Pars in November and their 3-0 success at East End Park last month is perhaps a more reliable barometer of the gulf in class between the sides.
And considering the way the Hoops destroyed Hibs 5-0 at Easter Road at the weekend, you could argue that it is simply a question of how many they will score against the worst defence in the SPL by some distance.
Celtic have won their last four league games without so much as conceding a goal and they are available at 67/100 to rack up another maximum haul with a clean sheet here.
But the best option looks to be backing Lennon’s men to win 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0, which factors in a determined display by the visitors, while also giving a nod to the potential for a touch of Celtic complacency creeping in and their (relative) impotence on home soil in recent weeks.
This selection is available at odds of 31/20, which means punters using their free £25 bet for joining bwin.com to successfully back it could pocket a cool £63.75.
Come to think of it, perhaps I should give Whyte a call and get him on the tip – he could probably do with a little pick-me-up….
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