Match Report -
Celtic extend unbeaten run
By Iain Benson
Gloucester came with a game plan and for the first half, it worked. They defended deep and in numbers, frustrating Celtic, and hitting them on the break.

After both sides had gone close with shots, Jack Pitcher was put through one-on-one with Dave Carnell, and though John Hardiker got back to push him wide, Carnell reached for the ball, missed and brought down the City striker. Lee Smith took the penalty confidently, and though Carnell guessed the right way, the ball squirmed under him and put the visitors a goal up.

Gloucester looked content to sit on the lead and defend it, and did so well, but didn't count on Dave Hankin. After twisting Lee Marshall in knots, he felt obliged to have a shot himself, the ball skimming across the face; nobody close enough to get a telling touch. Ten minutes later and he did it again, this time Matty Barlow read his intentions and snuck in scoring with a cheeky back-heel. Gloucester started counter attacking again, but both Jack Pitcher and Mike Symons shot low and straight at Carnell, whilst at the other end, Steve Woods was unlucky when Warren Peyton's free kick came a shade to fast and he couldn't get direction on his header.

The second half was all about Celtic, with the secret to unlocking Gloucester discovered. Andy Smart and Dave Hankin both ran at their fullbacks and whipped in early crosses, one of Smart's grazing the crossbar. A tenacious run from Michael Carr culminated in a low drive that almost fooled Mike Green in the visiting nets, and Green had to fly across the face to deny a wicked free kick from Peyton.

A goal was coming and it came from Dave Hankin, who wove through the defence leaving them chasing each other and shadows, before firing past the outstretched hand of Green. Osebi Abadaki replaced Barlow and immediately started running at his fullback, twisting him around. After bamboozling Neil Mustoe, Abadaki lifted in a cross for Joe O'Neill. O'Neill had plenty to do, bringing the ball around on his chest whilst holding off the attentions of Tom Hamblin, before driving the ball home with nothing Green could do. Abadaki forced a corner, which was played onto John Hardiker's head to thump into the back of the net, and put a shine on the result.

With breathing space, Celtic were content to make Gloucester work, inviting pressure, which the visitors struggled to provide, but eventually got a chance from Will Morford, but Carnell pulled off an excellent stop, and somehow Celtic blocked everything that Gloucester had from the corner, eventually lofting it clear. Mainly it was Celtic playing keep ball, happy with a 4-1 score line until time ran out for the visitors.

1Green, Mike  
2Mustoe, Neil  
3Marshall, LeeYellow Card > 59
4Baldwin, James  
5Hamblin, TomYellow Card > 73
6Palmer, JamesYellow Card > 68
7Smith, Lee  
8Webb, Tom  
9Pitcher, Jack  
10Symons, Mike  
11Harris, Jack  
12Morford, Will  < 68
14Monhan, Nelson  < 73
15Diallo, Naby  
16Brett, James  
17Richards, Marc  < 59