Celtic will look to controversial decisions in both halves, but in truth these hardly affected the outcome.
Blyth barely created anything in the first half, a Paul Brayson effort in the opening minute trying to catch Celtic napping was a straightforward catch for Dave Carnell. They had come to harry and pester Celtic, and it worked for twenty minutes until Joe O?Neill?s shot was saved on the line by Garreth Williams, using his hand quite deliberately; it should have been a penalty, but Celtic were awarded a corner that Keith Briggs headed wide. Moments later and a very poor clearance from goalkeeper Mark Bell fell to Matty Barlow who fired instantly back in, only to see Bell get across to scramble the ball clear. Just before the interval, Warren Peyton tried a curling effort that lacked the curl and went straight into Bell?s midriff.
At the start of the second half, Celtic looked a little disorganised, and slow to the loose balls. When Peyton was shoved in the back by substitute John Brackstone, the Blyth man took advantage of lenient refereeing to run unhindered up the pitch before sliding a ball through for Blyth?s top scorer Paul Brayson who latched onto it, and one-on-one with Carnell, slotted home. That was the signal for Blyth to pull all their players behind the ball. Which gave both Briggs and Michael Carr chance to run at them, but both missed the target, Carr unlucky after good build up play. A Peyton ball over the top for Matty Barlow saw the second controversial decision of the match, as Brackstone clearly used his elbow in Barlow?s face to keep the Celtic man from latching onto the ball, and leaving Barlow on the floor requiring treatment, as last man, he should have walked, but he did not even concede a foul.
O?Neill went extremely close twice, firing across the face only for a defender to sneak in and clear off the line with Bell beaten, and heading a Dave Hankin pearler of a cross five inches wide. A Hankin jink and run gave him the space for a cracking shot, but Bell pulled off an excellent stop. From the corner, the ball came to Barlow who struck an excellent shot in, but Bell again made the save, and Matty?s follow up effort off substitute Connor Jenning?s lay off was also stopped, although more comfortably.
Matty?s night finished when he was denied a chance to get on a free kick by a clear shove from Brackstone, but that went unseen, and when Barlow faced up to the Blyth substitute, Brackstone shoved Barlow away. Barlow should have left it at that, but he reacted, and that was what was seen by the assistant referee, and Barlow saw red. Moments later, and John Hardiker pulled up, and couldn?t continue, opting to leave the field and be replaced by Barrie Keeling. Moments after that, and with all three Celtic subs used, Carr was brushed aside by Chris McCabe at full speed, and left unable to continue.
Even against nine men, Blyth still refused to make a game of it, and the pressure, such as it was, all came from Celtic, but the closest they came was a last minute corner that Briggs headed wide.
|3||Craddock, Darren||> 39|
|10||Bates, Guy||> 85|
|15||Brackstone, John||< 39|
|16||Alexander, John||< 85|