Match Report -
Celtic within seconds of pulling off a coup
By Deborah Taylor

Celtic almost pulled off the result of the decade, getting within seconds of beating the champions-elect, and it would have been a deserved win.

Straight from the off, Celtic caught South Shields napping. Raul Correia hassled the visitor’s defence and lofted the ball into the path of Harry Benns. Benns considered his run, arcing round and one-on-one with Myles Boney, placing the ball past the Shields’ keeper. Godwin Abadaki almost doubled that lead within minutes, firing from an angle that required a flying stop from Boney. This didn’t deter Celtic, and Domaine Rouse fired in a low shot through a crowd. Between Boney and his defence, the blocked the ball; Benns had followed it in, lifted the ball over the keeper to double Celtic’s lead.

South Shields are top of the table for a reason, coming at Celtic in waves. After Dylan Mottley-Henry had headed a warning over the bar, he powered to the back post to connect with Jordan Hunter’s free kick ball past loan keeper Joe O’Shaughnessy. O’Shaughnessy proved his credentials a second later as he denied Lewis Alessandra’s curling shot from the corner of the box, his finger tips putting the ball out for a corner. O’Shaughnessy positioned perfectly to catch Mackenzie Heaney’s drive as half time approached.

A one goal cushion against South Shields isn’t enough, and right before the interval, as Chris Dagnall collected the ball in the box, he knocked it past Boney as Boney reached for it, catching and bringing down Dagnall instead. Correia stepped up to take the spot-kick, smashing it. Even if it Boney had been in the right place, it would have carried him in.

The second half saw Celtic start off deep, struggling against constant waves from the visitors. Alessandra got into an excellent position on Osei’s cross, but headed past the far post. Abadaki powered into the box at the other end during a rare foray for Celtic, snapping off his shot that took enough of a deflection to put it past the far post. From the corner, Rouse met the ball at the near post, but somehow, Shields threw enough bodies between the ball and the line to keep the ball out. Sensing Shields might be vulnerable, Celtic looked for a goal to finish South Shields off, with Theo Bailey-Jones testing Boney before beating him with a wonderful strike on the diagonal run, only for the crossbar to deny him.

That proved costly when, with four minutes left on the clock, South Shields collected the ball near their own box, with Celtic trying for the corners. With Celtic’s defence stretched, Mottley-Henry put in a cross that former Celtic Osei met with a backwards header, deceiving O’Shaughnessy and putting the visitors only one goal behind. If the pressure from the visitors had been intense before, they doubled it now, pressing on a tiring Celtic. Michael Woods should have equalised from the edge of the box, but blazed over. A superb tackle from Tom Miller denied Osei as Celtic encircled their own six-yard box.

It was always going to be tight, but eight added minutes of stoppage time gave the visitors the time, and Celtic almost managed it, until Jordan Hunter got the final touch in a scrambled moment in the box, to equalise and break Celtic hearts, if not spirits.

1Boney, Miles  
2Hunter, Jordan  
3Adams, BlairYellow Card 
4Liddle, Gary  
5Broadbent, Tom  
6Smith, Martin  > 45
7Heaney, Mackenzie  
8Briggs, Robert  > 45
9Osei, Darius  
10Alessandra, Lewis  > 67
11Mottley-Henry, Dylan  
12Mongoy, Jordy  < 67
14Gomez, Joao  
15Woods, Michael  < 45
16Shokunbi, AdeYellow Card < 45
17Doherty, Josh