At a windy Greene King Stadium Celtic saw a repeat of the twenty-minutes of madness that saw Hinckley score five last season. The difference this time round was Celtic were four up at the time instead of two up.
When Andy Gooding brought down Nick Rogan thirty-five yards away from goal, the Hinckley wall was poor and Kristian Platt decided to try his luck and struck the opening shot towards the bottom corner, a wicked deflection wrong-footed Denham Hinds and put the ball in the opposite corner. Hinds wasn't wrong-footed with a powerful shot from Craig Hobson after some sparkling build up play, as he blocked with his feet. Hobson made it two for Celtic when Rogan's low cross through the box was diverted past his own keeper by Calum Flanigan. To save Flanigan's blushes, Hobson snuck in and applied the final touch across the line. Celtic went three up when Steve Brogan put the ball between defenders slow to turn and Hobson ran onto it, calmly slotting past Hinds. Hinds did deny a curling Brogan free kick, almost dropping it at Hobson's feet, and a rising rocket from Greg Wilkinson required an excellent save from Hinds.
It wasn't all about Celtic, Hinckley were getting behind Celtic with as much ease as Celtic were getting behind Hinckley. Craig Farrell turned Danny Newton's cross onto the post and Andre Grey should have done better with his low cross from Farrell. Budtz was finally called into action at the half hour mark, turning aside Farrell's shot after Platt played the Hinckley striker in. Platt was on the line when Grey's flicked header from a corner evaded Budtz with Platt heading off the line. Platt was there again to deny Grey when a free kick was floated over Budtz.
Four minutes before the interval, Celtic looked to have put the game to bed when Rogan burst past loan signing Tendayi Darikwa and crossed over everybody for Hobson at the back post to nod back over Hinds and give Celtic a commanding four goal lead.
What Celtic didn't want was Hinckley scoring just before half time. Budtz did his best superbly blocking Farrell's low shot, and earned a bit of luck as the rebound fell to Danny Newton to blaze over the bar by a considerable margin. However, substitute Connor Deard's inch perfect cross for Colin Farrell to put past Budtz and set the Hinckley fan's bell ringing right on half time.
Celtic needed to keep it tight for the first fifteen minutes.
That plan went out of the window when Deards robbed a dallying Platt in his own box and halved the deficit, with the ball smashing in off the post. After Hobson was called offside, the referee blew his whistle to indicate that Celtic were trying to make a substitution, bizarrely the game continued, but the momentary pause by Celtic allowed Newton the space to run at Budtz and finished well, his shot hitting the far post and going in. Djenny Bembo-Leta came on for his debut, finally allowed to come on, with Hinckley now only a goal behind.
Hinckley were level moments later, just thirteen minutes into the half, when Platt again dallied and Andy Gooding took the ball, played in Andre Grey at the near post who turned in well with a harder chance than the one he missed in the first half. Celtic looked all over the place, and when Budtz went to collect a ball , only to get mixed up with Platt, now at right back with the introduction of Chris Lynch, allowing Grey the easiest goal he will ever score, taking the ball and walking the ball to the unguarded net and tapping home.
There was still twists left in the game, as Hinckley looked to hang onto a one goal lead instead of continuing to press for the final quarter of an hour. This allowed Celtic to settle, and Brogan burst into the box but smashed his shot just over the bar, and then Celtic were level. Andy McWilliams on a trademark run outpaced Darikwa and fired in a first time cross seemingly over everybody, but Rogan had ghosted unchallenged to the back post and had the time to chest the ball down, control it and smash the ball home.
There was still ten minutes left, and the game was still being played at a ferocious pace. Djenny Bembo-Leta could have stolen all three points turning onto his brother's through ball but Hinds was there to smother, and the shares were spoiled in a memorable game.
|4||Lavery, Richard||> 34|
|8||Gooding, Andy||> 84|
|12||Deards, Connor||< 34|
|14||Bragoli, Daniel||< 84|