Occasionally, you have to hold your hands up and say you were beaten by a better team, this was one of those games. Despite matching the hosts in terms of chances and possession in the first half, a dominant Tamworth second half saw of the Celts.
Neither side were truly dominating in the first half, both defences were playing well. Tamworth were restricted to shooting from distance, and had very little accuracy, with a whole host of shots sailing well over the bar, whilst Celtic's best early chance came from Charlie Ennis and Ben McKenna tricking their way through the box, but eventually coming up against one too many defenders, though McKenna's early shot early on did have James Belshaw scrambling to claim it.
It was going to take luck or something special to break the deadlock, and it was lady luck, shining on the team on an eleven game winning streak, and eyeing promotion back into the Conference. Reece Styche and Liam Dickinson were thirty yards from goal, and Dickinson had won all the previous encounters between the two, Styche looked to be trying to lift it over Dickinson, but it hit Celtic's makeshift defender and bounced into the perfect position for Styche to latch onto and smash past Lewis King.
A couple of minutes later and Styche was handed an early birthday present when Dickinson's back pass had zero power, Styche ran on to the loose ball, King came out, and gave defenders chance to get back across, but despite King making it to his goal-line, and Styche having two defenders to deal with, he still got off a shot into the bottom corner.
Stefan Galinski had to be helped off the pitch after denying another Tamworth attack, adding to Celtic's injury woes. With Kelvin Bleau, Nathan Heath and now Galinksi out injured, Matty Hughes suspended, it was a back four that hadn't played together before now facing Tamworth. And Tamworth almost made Celtic pay, with Dave Hibbert's rocket of a shot superbly saved by Lewis King, holding onto the ball as Styche followed it in looking for his hattrick.
The second half was a much more dominant Tamworth performance, and they scored straight from the off, Connor Taylor getting past Olly Crowley (who had an excellent game) to whip in a cross to the middle of the box. Miscommunication saw no-one pick up Shane Clarke who powered his header into the top corner. Clarke almost added to it straight away, but King again came to the rescue. There were more crosses coming in, but the Celtic defence were gelling as a unit, and keeping Tamworth at bay?generally.
Styche almost got his hattrick when a neat one two put him into a shooting position, his very powerful strike flying past a flying King, only to hit the bar, cannon off the underside, and bounce away, cleared by Dickinson for a corner. Connor Taylor got on the corner, but miscued terribly. Another left wing cross another moment of miscommunication allowed Shane Clarke to get in and repeat his first goal almost identically, except with substitute Kevin Thornton supplying the cross.
Celtic were putting the work in, the score-line suggested it was a walkover for the Lambs, but it was anything but, Celtic were keeping the Tamworth back line constantly on their toes, and eventually it paid dividends, Kevin Holsgrove powering past the full back and whipping in a low near post ball. Dominic Calver-Lewin had been a thorn in the Lambs defence all game, and now he had a cross he could use, he did so, making the goal look ever so simple, when in reality it wasn't, outpacing the defence, getting to the right place at the right time, and placing the ball neatly in the only place Belshaw couldn't reach.
However, it was a glimmer in a game otherwise best forgotten. Holsgrove got himself a second yellow for a second sliding challenge, and was dismissed, whilst Clarke could have twice got his hat-trick, firing too high both times when through on goal.
The stats of the game do tell the story, Celtic only managed to break through one of the meanest defences in the league twice, and scored from one of them, whilst Tamworth were mostly shooting wildly getting half a dozen good chances, and scoring from over half of them. There's a reason they have won a dozen consecutive games, and they showed it.
|2||Vidal, Javan||> 57|
|10||Styche, Reece||> 69|
|11||Taylor, Connor||> 76|
|12||Wilkins, Sean||< 76|
|15||Thornton, Kevin||< 69|
|17||Daniels, Brendon||< 57|