The opening saw a physical and cynical Alfreton put under pressure and a superb ball from Connor Jennings put Phil Marsh in the clear. Only a great stop from ex Celtic keeper Paddy Gamble denied his low drive. Minutes later and Gamble tipped Craig Hobson's shot onto the post, and then Hobson's follow up was blocked on route, with Connor Jennings unable to get the loose ball on target. Celtic were made to pay for the miss when Connor Jennings was harshly adjudged to have fouled Anton Brown just inside the Alfreton half, with advantage played for a good ten seconds before being brought back.
Chris Shaw floated it sixty yards, Paul Clayton nodded it back for Anthony Wilson to smash home. The goal knocked the stuffing out of Celtic for a little bit, and with Alfreton's tactics working, it was a struggle for the home side to get back into a rhythm. Alfreton peppered the Celtic box, but the back line held firm, with Jan Budtz only called into action once to deny a spectacular shot from Paul Clayton, that required a great save from the Dane. Alfreton should have been two up just before the break when Celtic were forced to clear over their own bar conceding the corner, but with a free header, Aden Flint headed over.
The second half saw Celtic get back into the game, with Gamble called into action off a well worked corner routine that culminated in Wilkinson's smashing a low shot that Gamble did well to get to never mind hold. Celtic wouldn't be stopped, and Jack Rea lifted the ball over the defence aiming for Hobson's head, but with Aden Flint as his minder, neither player could get off the floor and the ball looked to bounce harmlessly back to Gamble, until Lee Elam and Phil Marsh followed the ball past the bounce, with the Alfreton defence all on Hobson, Gamble had no chance with Elam able to pass sideways to Marsh or do what he did, and send the Alfreton keeper the wrong way with a little dinked shot.
Shortly after, Alfreton lost Aden Flint when he cynically brought down Craig Hobson just outside the box as the big Celtic striker was about to go one-on-one with Gamble.
After this, Alfreton were more of a threat from set pieces that open play, but Budtz did well to Chris Shaw's forty-five yard effort. And although the visitors tried to preserve their chance at a replay, when Celtic broke quickly from an Alfreton corner, Hobson struck the post for the second time in the match when he curled a superb shot between two defenders beyond Gamble's fingertips, off the post and out. Anything Celtic could do, Alfreton could too, and Liam Hearn's thirty five yard effort was over Budtz but crashed against the bar. And if Alfreton could have won it in the dying minutes Celtic could have too, thrice over: Gamble denying substitute's Lloyd Ellam's crashing effort and then again after the Celtic man cut inside, latched onto Hobson's back heel and forced Gamble into a diving stop, and when Wilkinson's lofted ball came in, Hobson got there ahead of Anton Brown, but steered his header wide.
So a replay is required on Tuesday night. And on this showing, Celtic have nothing to fear.
|5||Stride, Darren||> 70|
|6||Wilson, Matty||> 36|
|10||Wilson, Anthony||> 54|
|12||Arnold, Nathan||< 54|
|16||Ross, Ian||< 36|
|17||Howell, Anthony||< 70|