With a gale blowing across the pitch, football was always going to be difficult. Celticâ€™s cobbled together side saw debuts for Josh Edwards and Conor Falls and a return by Dougie Nyaumpembe.
Chances in both halves were few and far between, Justin Johnson getting the first real chance of the game on a diagonal run, but his finish curled away from goal into the side netting, whilst at the other end, Elliott Durrell lacked the power to beat Grant Shenton. Granthamâ€™s best chance of the half came when Lee Shaw beat Shenton on the diagonal, but lacked any kind of power, allowing Kennan Quansah to amble over and clear off the line in case it got blown in. A fabulous cross from debutant Josh Edwards required a diving header from Ashton Hall to put the ball narrowly around his own post. Celtic finished the half the stronger of the two, with Raul Correia and Sam Wedgbury going close without getting an end product.
The second half saw full back Sisa Tuntulwana twice get into excellent positions with the goal gaping, but the first he screwed horribly wide and the other he headed horribly wide. That was it as an attacking threat from the hosts, with the final half hour mainly Celtic. Johnson twice went close, forcing Jim Pollard into a sharp stop and screwing a shot wide with only the keeper to beat. Charley Doyle also forced Pollard into a decent save, trying his luck from twenty yards, whilst deep into stoppage time, Callum Harris could have been the hero with a curled free kick from the edge of the box after Ashton Hall upended Justin Johnson who was through on goal. However, Pollard was well placed to make the stop leaving a largely uninspiring game goalless.A single, dubious early goal was all it took to put Celtic out of the Cheshire Senior Cup.
That goal came in the opening couple of minutes. From a corner Alex Downes forced his way past Raul Correia, leaving Correia with concussion. However, his headed goal stood, leaving Celtic a goal down and without a recognised striker on the pitch.
It could have been worse after the game restarted when Iwan Murrayâ€™s low angled drive had to be palmed just past the post by Liam Hughes, however, Celtic reorganised and Justin Johnson slid up through the gears to get into a great position, requiring Scott Reed to pull off a decent stop in the Linnetâ€™s goal. Celtic were not allowed to settle and Thomas Lloyd Marsh-Hughes battled his way past the defence, Liam Hughes, having to be on hand to block at the near post. The rest of the half saw Celtic waves crash on the Runcorn defence, with very little in the final third providing an opportunity. The closest Celtic came was a Johnson chance he put wide.
The second half was virtually one way traffic, without anything to show for it. Stephen Brogan and Sam McLintock both fired over the bar as more and more Celtic players pushed forward. Even with the gaps at the back, Runcorn barely threatened though Celtic also lost Connor Oâ€™Grady after a clash near the dugouts. Substitute Shane Killock almost had an immediate impact as he got his head on a free kick, but Reed blocked the ball at the near post.
Deep into stoppage time, Celtic finally broke the Linnetâ€™s back line and Justin Johnson angled into the box, with only the keeper to beat, Johnson unleashed a shot the curled away from the keeperâ€™s fingertips but flew the wrong side of the post into the side netting. Itâ€™s unlikely Oâ€™Grady will feature any time soon, and Correiaâ€™s concussion was serious enough to require an overnight stay at hospital.
|Bailey -Nichols, Khallem