Celtic looked worlds apart from two weeks ago when they capitulated to Nuneaton, coming close to getting what would have been a deserved draw in a game of few chances at the Shay Stadium.
Celtic were strung out with five at the back, holding the hosts at bay for long stretches, countering quickly. The first chance fell to Danny Wilkins latching onto Andy Owens’s ball, and seeing his strike get deflected around the post for a corner. At the other end, Liam King beat the offside trap to go one-on-one with Tony McMillan, the Celtic keeper standing tall, and blocking the early shot. Wilkins came even closer to scoring on the half hour, when Graham Kelly’s curving ball through the box was met by Wilkins on the volley, Steven Drench static as the ball crashed against the inside of his post and out, cleared by Cliff Moyo.
Halifax were creating problems, but struggling to get past a well marshalled defence. With ten minutes left in the half, a long throw came into the box, Tom Denton went down under the pressure from Matty Hughes and there was a penalty; very similar to the penalty that got Celtic the winner on Tuesday night. Liam King took the spot kick, top corner, McMillan had no chance.
If there were few chances in the first half, the second was almost bereft of them. Tom Denton had the best chance from a deep free kick, heading over the bar, whilst Jordon Burrow’s effort with quarter of an hour to go gave Tony McMillan no problems. It looked like Celtic wouldn’t get another chance, but Danny Wilkins did, in stoppage time, substitute Kurt Sherlock’s pin-point pass in the box left Wilkins with only Drench to beat, and beat him he did, the ball crashing back off the bar. There was still time for a late shot from Sherlock, deflected on route for a corner Celtic couldn’t convert.
Despite the loss, this was a loss vastly different from the early season losses. This was a loss with hope for the season, a loss in which Celtic gave as good as they got, were organised and looked capable.
|7||Macdonald, Josh||> 74|
|8||Hibbs, Jake||> 69|
|15||Sinnott, Jordan||< 69|
|17||Burrow, Jordan||< 74|