Derek McInnes makes 'ridiculous' Celtic observation but reckons fixture quirk can favour Kilmarnock
The two sides meet again at Hampden on Saturday just seven days after Celtic's 2-0 victory over the Ayrshire men in a cinch Premiership clash at Parkhead. Kilmarnock had frustrated the league leaders throughout the first 45 minutes, limiting them to virtually no opportunities, only to concede on the stroke of half-time to Jota. An Ash Taylor own goal early in the second half threatened to open the floodgates but a heavy beating never materialised allowing Kilmarnock to approach the semi-final with confidence.
"I thought it wasn’t ideal [playing Celtic twice in succession] but I actually feel when we had the game Saturday that the players feel more confident going into this one than they were on Saturday," McInnes said. "Everybody reads about Celtic’s domestic record at home, how strong they’ve been in the cup, how many talent players they have and how good they are going. And if we had had a right sore one on Saturday, it would have been a hard sell for me this week. So we set up in a way and were organised enough to stay in the game and we should have been nil-nil at half-time, and we’ve knocked off. And therein lies the danger, where if you just knock off they have the players to punish you.
"I have been at Celtic Park as player and manager when your goal is getting peppered and battered and your goalie is pulling off worldies, and it wasn’t that. It was their first shot on target on Saturday they scored. We took a lot of pride in how we played in the first half. And even parts of the second half. But Celtic were the better team, there is no denying that, and they deserved to win. We’ve got to try and find a way for that not to be the case on Saturday."
McInnes will now look to do what only St Mirren counterpart Stephen Robinson has managed this season and find an answer to keeping Celtic out at one end, while hurting them at the other, the Paisley men having been the only team to defeat Ange Postecoglou’s side in a domestic setting this season. "I don’t think they will be overly worrying about us. I listen to their manager and he is always talking about their level of performance. And likewise I am not going to overly worrying about Celtic because I know what they are. They can change their team, they have options, strength in depth - their bench was ridiculous on Saturday – but I think they’ll know how they’ll want to perform and what the demand is on them.
"I’m not really overly worrying about that. I’m just looking for me to give our players the best chance to overcome that. And it is getting that balance right between attacking and defending. Getting a good structure but also carrying more of a threat this time around. Whether that is a change of personnel, change of whatever, we’ll try and do exactly that."
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