Since his arrival in Scottish football there has been plenty to like about Sead Haksabanovic. He has that ability to glide past players with poise and balance even if at times there is a propensity – as is often the case with wide players – to overdo it a little.

The one question mark over his game has been his ability to make a decisive impression on a game. In his previous 14 appearances for Celtic across the Premiership and Champions League his goal contributions had amounted to just one assist – his cross for James Forrest – in last month’s 6-1 trouncing of Hibernian at Parkhead.

There has been precious little else to shout about and the overriding suspicion has been that the winger’s end product is lacking.

That was before Saturday, however, when Haksabanovic, whose squad number is No.9, provided a goal return that was certainly worthy of a centre-forward.

His first against Dundee United was a typical striker’s finish, arriving at the back post to steer Jota’s cross over the line.

The second was less so, and required a degree of good fortune with Mark Birighitti, the United goalkeeper, fumbling the Montenegrin’s shot over the line.

It might have taken Haksabanovic until his 15th match to open his account for Celtic but it should be noted that the length of his barren run is out of character when set against all that has come before.

The double on Saturday took his career goals to 43, while his 42 assists combine for a ratio that means he produces one goal contribution in every 2.4 matches.

Alas, with the World Cup break on the horizon, Celtic fans will have to wait to discover whether this is a start of a more productive run for the 23-year-old or merely a blip in the universe.

A thank you to the Murrays

The Billie Jean King Cup, previously the Federation Cup, is the biggest international team competition in women’s sport with more than 100 teams entering annually.

It says plenty about the impact Andy, Jamie and Judy Murray have had on global tennis that this year’s tournament, featuring the 16 best teams in the world, is taking place in Glasgow this week. It gives Scottish tennis fans, whose vast numbers the Murrays can also take the credit for, the chance to watch the sport’s best female players in the world in action. But it is also an opportunity to note the contribution that all three – considered and vocal supporters of women’s tennis – have made to the game.

As Billie Jean, arguably the greatest female tennis player of all time, noted last week: “Maybe it will ignite some child, in their heart and mind, to want to play and be a champion. I hope it really inspires some young person in the stands.

“It’s an opportunity for us to thank Judy Murray, and Andy and Jamie, for what they’ve done for tennis. Judy is a positive, great force. Listen to her. Do what she asks because she understands every facet of the sport. Andy has been a great ally to women, he believes in equality, he’s amazing in that regard. He gets it. Look at how he was raised, he sees how his mother continues to work for our sport.”

What’s On TV

The first round proper of the FA Cup took place in England over the weekend. Mopping up the rest of the ties is a match tonight that pits an Ipswich Town side containing a number of familiar faces to Scottish football fans up against non-league Bracknell Town, from the Southern League on the seventh rung of the English pyramid (STV, 7.45pm) .

Ipswich, previous winners of the FA Cup and at one time in the late 70s and early 80s something of a heavyweight in English football, have fallen on harder times in recent years and reside in Sky Bet League One.

However, following the appointment of former Manchester United assistant manager Kieran McKenna there has been an upturn in fortunes with the Suffolk side sitting in second place.

Portman Road has become something of a rescue home for former SPFL players with former Rangers trio George Edmundson, Dominic Ball and Sone Aluko, and ex-Aberdeen full-back Greg Leigh, all making contributions for McKenna’s side this season.

Ireland a shining example to Scotland

It feels as if every week the Monday kick-off has some kind of pop at Scottish rugby and this week promises to be no different.

Yes, there was a 28-12 weekend victory against Fiji but it was not the kind of landslide triumph over the 12th-ranked nation in the world that it should have been.

On the contrary it was indisciplined and jittery and certainly not a performance that takes Scotland into their match against New Zealand (Murrayfield, Sunday, 2.15pm) with any real vigour or sense of expectation, although the potential return of Finn Russell following an injury to Adam Hastings might alter that mindset even if it is unlikely to change what will in all probability be another Scotland defeat.

The All Blacks walloped Wales in Cardiff on Saturday and have won their last five Test matches in succession but they have also slid to an unheard of fourth in the world rankings, have been beaten by Ireland three times in a year home and away, and also lost to France, South Africa and Argentina in the same timeframe.

Whether it is in the European game or on the international stage, Ireland, a country with similar resources to Scotland, have shown in recent years what can be achieved with proper joined-up thinking, organisation and a commitment to being the best.

Andy Farrell’s side sit at No.1 in the world and beat the world champions South Africa in Dublin at the weekend, the latest in a run of results that Scotland could only dream about recording against one of rugby’s traditional powerhouses.

Ayr’s chance to lay down a marker

Ayr United face a trip to bottom-placed Hamilton Academical, who have won only once in their previous nine games, on Friday night (7.45pm, New Douglas Park, BBC iPlayer) when a win will almost certainly guarantee them top spot until the first week of December with Scottish Cup action on the horizon at the end of the month.

Ayr’s goal difference is vastly superior to that of fellow title chasers Morton, Raith, Dundee and Inverness, so there is little chance of them being overhauled until then but winning will require them to continue the trend of rectifying the indifferent recent away form that brought two defeats in their last three but which show marked signs of improvement in a 2-0 win at Arbroath last weekend.


The number of years Scottish women’s golf has had to wait for a winner on the LPGA Tour before Gemma Dryburgh’s victory at the Japan Classic yesterday.