Match Report -
Celtic go onto the final in style
By Iain Benson

Celtic easily swept aside a strong Northwich Victoria team to progress through to the final of the Cheshire Senior Cup.

It was obvious from the off that the league results were far from the minds of the players as they played some good football. Lewis Hatch fired over from the edge of the box, after a nice lay off from Chris Hall, whilst at the other end neither Scott Harries nor Gary McEvatt could muster a shot that tested Alex Cairns. So it was Celtic that took the lead when Greg Wilkinson's lifted ball over the defence was inch perfect for Tom Buckley to run onto and place the ball out of the reach of the experienced Steve Dickinson in the Vics goal.

Mark Lees effort wasn't as well placed, and Dickinson easily caught, but moments later and Chris Hall outmuscled Paul Mooney to get to the by-line and fire a low cross past the diving Dickinson, to where Tom Buckley was, poking the ball into the back of the goal. Greg Wilkinson almost added to the tally right before the interval with a snapped distance shot that sailed just over the bar.

Northwich started the second half desperately trying to get back into the game, with Harries having couple of efforts, one a straightforward catch, the second knocked wide when he should have done better. Buckley was denied his hat-trick after cutting in from the wing onto Callum Warburton's diagonal ball. Buckley curled the ball around Dickinson, seeing the width of the far post deny him the match ball.

Alex Cairns had to be on his toes for McEvatt's free kick which was wickedly curled up and over the wall to the far post, Cairns flying across the face of goal to tip the ball around for a corner. With half an hour to go, both sides introduced a swathe of substitutions. Mitchell Austin was brought on, and immediately forced Dickinson into a smart stop, whilst Kristian Platt brought the best out of the visiting keeper with a thunderous free kick after Jack Duggan had tripped Austin as the Celtic winger burst past him.

Celtic looked likely to grab a third, and it was a pinball game that Northwich couldn't clear that eventually resulted in Corey Gregory adding to his tally in the competition after Austin's shot was well saved, and Adam Pepper's stab on the loose ball was blocked on the line, the loose ball coming to Austin, whose shot came back off the post to Corey Gregory who wrapped his foot around the ball to smash it into the net.

Both sides could have added to the scoreline, McEvatt unable to add power to his shot, whilst Joe Bunney went for the near post option when there was better options available, and Cairns was right there to deny him. Both Austin and Gregory got into great positions, but on both occasions Dickinson was there to deny them both. It was a solid performance against a well drilled Vics side and Celtic now face Chester in the final.

1Dickinson, Steve  
2El-Harrati, Naim  
3Mooney, Paul  > 60
4Duggan, Jack  
5Mercer, Ricky  
6Summerskill, Brian  
7Harries, Scott  
8McEvatt, Gary  > 60
9Bunney, Joe  
10Wisdom, Danny  
11Rainford, Jamie  > 60
12Alexander, Paul  < 60
14Clarke, Michael  < 60
15Kilford, Ian  
16Leadbetter, Kevin  < 60