A Dwight Gayle perfect hat-trick secured the three points for Bishop Stortford and a measure of revenge for Celtic’s 3-0 win at their place.
The first half was end to end, but Bishop’s Stortford were out of the blocks the fastest. From their first attack, a corner, the excellent Gayle sneaked in to the back post as Jan Budtz didn’t reach the ball and he nodded in the opener.
Celtic tried to get back into the game, but the visitors defended stoutly, Sean Francis got in the way of Rhys Meynell’s effort from a free kick, the ball falling to Mitchell Austin whose snap shot was well stopped by Jordan Archer.
Celtic were then two behind when Reece Prestedge was tripped on the edge of the box by Kristian Platt. The free kick was well worked, and Gayle’s right foot smashed home his second.
Celtic needed a quick come back, and they got it. A beautiful free kick floated in by Stephen Brogan to the back post was met by Phil Marsh who nodded it back across the face for Platt to smash his header to halve the deficit. As the game zipped from box to box, Austin had a precision effort well stopped, before Brogan laid the ball back for Greg Wilkinson, thirty-five yards out to skim a low drive beyond Archer and Celtic were level.
Wilkinson got another go at a distance effort moments later, but sent it the wrong side of the post, whilst Gayle’s effort as he cut back from the by line was well saved by Budtz. Austin went close with his own angled drive before Prestedge found Budtz in the right place at the right time.
The scene was set for a stonking second half, but as the weather deteriorated so did the play. Phil Marsh managed to get on the end of a lob to try and loop a backwards header over Archer, but the Bishop’s Stortford keeper was well positioned. Neither side was making headway, reduced to half chances that weren’t on target, but when Ryan Melaugh got beyond Mark Lees and fired in a cross, he found Gayle, who twisted and turned, and eventually sent a left foot low drive beyond Budtz and through Chris Lynch’s legs.
With just fifteen minutes left, Celtic had to get behind Bishop’s Stortford, but were unable to do so, it wasn’t until the closing seconds that Greg Wilkinson got half a yard of space and unleashed another shot, but he didn’t get hold of it, and Archer got down comfortably to save, leaving Celtic still chasing a play-off spot ahead of Nuneaton’s six point deduction.
|7||Gayle, Dwight||> 90|
|9||Hunt, Ben||> 80|
|15||Pavett, Jordan||< 80|
|16||Jallow, BMLette||< 90|