Match Report -
Harrogate victory marred by Hobson injury
By Iain Benson
Celtic eased to a comfortable victory, but the game was not without it's problems. Harrogate settled on the terrible pitch much more quickly, and tried to catch Celtic napping, with Lee Gregory and Richard Dunning testing Dave Carnell with early distance shots that didn't cause any problems, although it required a fine save moments later when Gregory seriously tested Carnell.

Once Celtic got the measure of the pitch, the tide began to turn. Smart blazed a free kick well over the bar and Joe O'Neill flicked his header just the wrong side of the post off Dave Hankin's inch perfect cross. Celtic won a corner, playing it out, with Jody Banim and Richard Battersby trading passes before Warren Peyton gave it to Joe O'Neill who laid out back to Banim who had started the move at the corner, for the Celtic man to rifle an unstoppable shot past the unfortunate Aaron Ratchford. O'Neill then teed up Banim for a second, but slightly off-balance, he blazed over the bar.

Half time couldn't come soon enough for Harrogate as Celtic continued to press, but the second half saw it go downhill for the hosts as Barrie Keeling won the ball at the back, provided Lee Dodgson with a ball to feet. Dodgson evaded a couple of challenges, played a one-two with Banim before evading several more challenges as he twisted and tricked his way right to the keeper's feet before slotting it past Ratchford, a trail of missed challenges in his wake, and Celtic were two up and looking good for it.

The game could have changed with a bit of luck for Harrogate, but when at the bottom, the luck deserts you, and when Cahill's shot off a corner smashed against the bar and down, everybody in yellow thought it was in, appealing for the goal, but Carnell pounced on the loose ball and the assistant shook his head, it had not crossed the line. For a while Harrogate were galvenised, and Ben Muirhead's shot had to be clawed away.

However it was a short-lived burst and Celtic were soon back in action again, a Peyton free kick a whisker wide, before a rash challenge from Simon Sturdy by the corner flag saw him see yellow, and for Celtic to punish him further with Michael Carr ghosting in on Peyton's cross, nodding it just out of the reach of Ratchford.

Craig Hobson was brought on to cause even more problems and he went chasing a long ball only for Ratchford to come racing out of his area and take Hobson out of action. It was a fair challenge for the ball, and Hobson came off second best. Seconds after coming on, Hobson was replaced by Matty Barlow, and the Celtic big man was taken across the road to the hospital.

Barlow's first touch was to chest down Dodgson's ball to Banim, and for Banim to slide the ball between Ratchford's legs to make it four. Barlow could have added one himself when he latched onto Hankin's cross, beat the overzealous offside trap, only for Ratchford to get a shaving of boot stud on Barlow's shot, and put it wide to keep the score line more respectable.

1Ratchford, Aaron  
2Maloney, Jon  
3James, Craig  
4Yeo, Simon  > 55
5Bloomer, Matt  
6Sturdy, SimonYellow Card 
7Harrison, Simon  
8Dunning, Richard  > 55
9Cahill, Tom  
10Gregory, Lee  > 75
11Muirhead, BenYellow Card 
12Hernandez, Steve  
14Naylor, James  
15Wood, Michael  < 55
16Broadbent, Dan  < 75
17Bradley, Jason  < 55