One goal, early in the game was enough to give Celtic three points against high flying Harrogate. Though the visitors pushed hard at the end of the game, staunch defending was as important as the initial goal.
The goal was amazingly simple when it came, a long ball from Alex Cairnes in his last game for the Celts before going back to Leeds, Jack Laird outpaced slow moving Harrogate defenders and calmly placed the ball past former Celtic keeper, Craig McGillvray. There could have been more goals for Celtic in the opening period, with Kristian Platt a whisker away from a corner, and Laird forcing a decent stop out of McGillvray when one-on-one, the ball coming back to Mitchell Austin who tried to place the ball between the two returning defenders, and hitting the side netting instead of the back of the net.
Corey Gregory had the game of his life against Harrogate, chasing down everything in the attacking third and giving the visiting defence no time to rest. He almost got his rewards with a fine strike from thirty-five yards that looped over, but McGillvray pulled off an excellent stop. Gregory again found McGillvray on top form with a low shot, before Adam Pepper tried his luck from outside the box, with McGillvray getting down well. Just before the interval, Harrogate escaped again as Austin forced McGillvray into yet another decent stop, the loose ball falling to Gregory; his powerful shot smacking off Dwayne Samuels for a corner that Platt headed wide.
Harrogate must have had a rollicking in the dressing room, for they were a different team after the break and pressed hard. Laird and Gregory went close early on, and another former-Celt, Alan White went close off a corner. After a series of corners, Celtic got it clear, only for Jonny Allan to come straight back and force Cairnes into an outstanding one handed save from the looping effort. Cairnes was there again to thwart Allan, as Harrogate struggled to find their way through the Celtic rear-guard.
The longer the game went on, the deeper Celtic sat, and the more pressure Harrogate applied. However, Celtic did break and both Laird and Austin went close, and substitute Jordan Barrow unleashed a rocket of a forty yard shot that McGillvray did very well to save. With time running out, Harrogate were getting desperate, Chib Chilaka was denied by superb defending from Mark Lees, and Luke Dean fired wide of the mark, allowing Celtic to run the clock down and claim since the start of October.
|Da Veiga, Jose