The early action was firmly in the Eastwood half, with Craig Hobson one-on-one with Danby who bravely slid in at Hobson?s feet. Eastwood?s tactic of putting the ball into the corners for Peter Knox and Matt Rheade to chase was easily countered by the Celtic back line, until, somewhat against the run of play, Knox was upended by Tim Ryan. It was the opportunity Eastwood had been looking for, and Lee Stevenson?s whipped in free kick deflected off the wall, with Jan Budtz making the initial save, only for the ball to fall to Knox who acrobatically put Eastwood up from close range.
Moments later and Danby, under no pressure, scooped up Michael Simpson?s backpass, giving Celtic a free kick just outside the six yard box. Brogan knocked the ball to Hobson who smashed for goal, only for the eight man wall to do its job and keep Celtic out. Celtic started to put together some good football which kept the Eastwood defence on its toes, with Callum Warburton latching onto Lloyd Ellam?s through ball only for Danby to pull off a good block, the ball falling to Hobson who struck the keeper rather than Danby saving it, and Ellam?s follow up was blocked, the ball falling to Connor Jennings who went for the top corner and missed the net by scant inches as Eastwood threw themselves in front of everything.
There was a sense that a goal was coming, and more build up saw Jennings feed the ball between Simpson?s legs for the overlapping run of Joel Bembo-Lita, his first time cross was over a static and flat footed Eastwood defence to Hobson stood on the six yard line, completely unmarked and with the time to bring the ball down on his chest before lashing it past Danby.
Eastwood looked a little more lively at the start of the second half, and worked a good chance, with Simpson coming in from aan angle only to see Budtz fly to his right and punch the ball for a corner, with was knocked goalward by Lindon Meikle, but a stuck out leg from Kristian Platt gave Eastwood a second corner instead of a goal.
Celtic pushed on, and played their way around a lunging cynical Eastwood side. Lloyd Ellams saw his effort flash narrowly over the bar after he neatly cut inside and made some space, before Connor Jennings jinked his way past two, but fired low and wide. Phil Marsh came on, and his first contribution was to draw to defenders and dummy Steven Brogan?s well weighted pass into the path of Hobson. Hobson?s shot was well stopped by Danby. Moments later and Hobson snuck in past David Haggerty onto Jennings?s pass, only to flick it onto the post.
At the other end, Mat Rheade got the better of Tim Ryan but though his shot was beyond the reach of Budtz, it too hit the post. Meynell found himself just outside the box after exchanging passes with Jack Rea and Steve Brogan, and took the opportunity to have a go, skimming just wide, whilst Brogan got half a chance as he tried to volley a lob over Danby off Callum Warburton?s cross, but it was straight into the Eastwood keeper?s midriff.
Anton Foster, who had already been booked for a dangerous tackle on Glenn Rule less than ten minutes previously repeated the act, this time on Hobson. He was dismissed and to add insult to injury Brogan?s fee kick to the back post saw Hobson leap and twist his head to somehow direct his looping header back over the grasping Danby and into the back of the net to give Celtic a deserved lead.
Celtic played the frustrating possession game to close out the game, and got lucky when Lindon Meikel clashed with Kristian Platt and earned a free kick just outside the box but sent his free kick high and wide. Some good defending kept away an Eastwood side devoid of attacking ideas away from set pieces, though there was a worrying moment from yet another last minute corner until Ryan put his boot the through the ball to clear the danger and send the Celtic fans home with a smile.
|3||Riley, Paul||> 45|
|9||Knox, Peter||> 45|
|15||Shaw, Chris||< 45|
|17||Meikle, Lindon||< 45|