Though Celtic slipped to the bottom of the league with Altrincham winning away at Boston, the gap to safety remains the same, after Celtic's mini-league all suffered reversals. However, there is now one game less to do it in.
The game itself was combative without being dirty, on a pitch that was finally playable after nine weeks without seeing a game. And it was fairly even. Both sides had early efforts deflected over the bar, James Roberts's low shot flicked off the knee of Chris Hunter, and Fraser Horsfall putting his head on Phil Turnbull's edge of the box effort. The decisive moment of the game came when Aaron Chalmers brought down David Furguson with a lunging tackle in the box. No question about it, it was a penalty.
Mark Beck took the penalty, sending Grant Shenton the wrong way.
Shenton went the right way to keep the score down from John Falkington's effort, pushing it past the post for a corner that Beck acrobatically sent well over the bar. Celtic got a chance right at the end of the half, when David Syers sliced through debutant James Roberts. Danny Pilkington curled his free kick too far, though, putting it the wrong side of the post.
Matty Hughes headed a corner just wide at the start of the second half, while Danny Wilkins did the hard work to get into position for Kieran Dunbar's excellent cross to the back post, but Wilkins's nodded header was again off target. Nathan Cartman was on target at the other end moments later when Darlington broke, the shorter of the two front men for Darlington got onto a low cross, Shenton saving well with his legs. Cartman was again denied, as the game went into the last quarter, this time Fraser Horsfall getting across to block on-route, the loose ball coming to David Ferguson who struck his shot sweetly, but right down Shenton's throat. Josh Gillies fired a free kick the wrong side of the post as the game went into the last ten minutes.
With stoppage time looming, Celtic had a stab at finding an equaliser, and with 87 minutes on the clock, finally registered a shot on target when Keano Deacon swept in from the wing, forcing a very good stop from Ed Wilczynski and Porya Ahmadi's follow up drive blocked on the line by Kevin Burgess. Despite six minutes of stoppage time, Celtic simply couldn't register another effort.
There's a simple fact in football, if you don't shoot; you don't score. With twenty-four goals this season, Celtic are the lowest scorers in the league because we don't shoot. Darlington were not a league and were beatable.
|7||Syers, David||> 78|
|10||Cartman, Nathan||> 77|
|11||Thompson, Steve||> 69|
|12||Gillies, Josh||< 69|
|14||Jameson, Peter||< 77|
|15||Galbraith, Terry||< 78|