In quite appalling conditions, Celtic scored twice in each half and with Workington throwing everything at Celtic in the closing stages, that cushion was only just enough.
Celtic started well, Oli Roberts with an inch perfect pass for Liam Dickinson, twenty yards out, and he unleashed a rocket of a shot that left Aaran Taylor flying through the air, but unable to reach the ball.
It was a short-lived lead, as Workington might have lost their previous five games, but have been in the top ten of the table all season for a reason. They pressed hard and won a pair of successive corners. The second of which was played over the top to Conor Tinnion who drove into the crowded box; Jack Walton pulled off the save, but Sam Smith was right there to prod home the equaliser.
Celtic were having to defend stoutly against the home side, with Workington at times camped around the Celtic box, Walton maintaining Celtic's parity with a pair of good stops, once from Jamie Mellon's close-range header and moments later at Scott Allison's feet. If Celtic were to get anything it would have to be on the counter, and they did. Alex Honeyball racing upfield after disposing Tinnion, Connor Hughes with him on the other flank, Honeyball's curling cross was behind the defence and Hughes nipped in and tapped home to restore Celtic's lead.
The second half started with Greg Wilkinson giving Celtic a much-needed cushion. Celtic were pressing the home defence. The ball was half cleared and fed across the box by Honeyball to Wilkinson, who volleyed from eight yards out with Taylor left with no chance of reaching it.
It could have been four a moment later when Dan Wordsworth shoved Hughes off the ball as he was through on goal, but despite the shouts, no penalty was awarded. This was even more galling when, moments later, Hughes was penalised in his own box for doing the exact same thing to Tinnion. Tinnion took the spot kick himself, and Celtic's two goal cushion returned to being just one goal.
Again, Walton became the hero as Workington pressed their advantage. Symington's free kick was curled into the box and Sam Smith connected with the diving header, but a flying stop from the young Celtic keeper denied the Workington defender. With Workington increasing the pressure again, Celtic once more countered, as they had in the first half, Hughes controlling the ball well and racing down on the Workington goal, finishing with a cool, curling shot to restore the two-goal lead.
And the cushion was needed as the game went into the last ten minutes and Workington threw everything at Celtic. Wordsworth's header from a corner was hacked off the line by Morton from one corner, and from another, Sam Joel came in unnoticed for a short corner, and curled a shot into the back of the net.
Walton had to be on top form for the remaining minutes and eternity of stoppage time, denying Allison at close range, and the defence denying any clear-cut opportunity, forcing Joel to fire wide in stoppage time. And they deserved it.
|8||Calvert, Josh||> 86|
|12||Whitehead, Tommy||< 86|