Coming from behind with minutes left on the clock, after playing an hour a player down is the stuff of dreams.
DJ Pedro got the first chance of the game, cutting in from the wing and curling his shot top corner, but Tom Jackson was up to it, snatching the ball from the air. The nippy loan player seemed to be targeted for special attention by the visitors, and twice crunched between a pair of yellow shirts with no foul given, despite needing treatment both times. When Ben Middleton grasped Pedroâ€™s ankle with both hands to stop him chasing a loose ball, that was missed. What the officials saw was Middleton on the floor, acting like heâ€™d been fouled. Although neither official saw an offence, Pedro was given a booking. So when Pedro went in studs up in a challenge on the half hour mark, he was rightly shown a yellow for that, and dismissed. Fortunately, Belper showed no ambition to take advantage of the extra man for the rest of the half.
Celtic played the second half like a draw would be good enough and Belperâ€™s ambitions remained unadventurous, registering their first shot on target just past the hour mark when Jerome Graves turned in a ben Rhodes low cross, but lacked any power and Connor Leach scooped easily. With Belper still lacking ambition, Ethan Padden came on for Godwin Abadaki, switching Celticâ€™s focus to attack. Theo Bailey-Jones fired across the face and wide, while Kyle Harrisonâ€™s header from a corner was caught. Somewhat against the run of play, a ball over the top into the danger zone following a set-piece gave Jerome Graves a chance, and he finished well, the half-volley dipping under Leach as he flew across his goal.
Celtic thought theyâ€™d equalised almost straight away as Raul Correiaâ€™s looped header over Jackson was cleared from under the bar, but bizarrely he was adjudged to have fouled to reach the uncontested ball. There was no way of ruling out the next one, as Bailey-Jones rode the challenges to get to the by-line and whip in a cross. Padden had peeled to the back post, heading in from six yards with six minutes on the clock.
After a foul outside the Celtic box, Tom Wilson headed the free kick narrowly past the post, giving Celtic a let off going into stoppage time.
And then the drama. James Tague fouled Tom Miller in the third minute of four. Bailey-Jones floated the ball into the box, Belper scrambled, but Kyle Harrison's knock back to Chris Dagnall gave Celtic an opening, a narrow opening, but Dagnallâ€™s composure on the ball, even under immense pressure, showed and he smashed the ball into the back of the net to nose Celtic in front.
In the seventh minute of four, one final life line came Belperâ€™s way. Ethan Padden blocking off Ben Rhodes just outside the box, however, Celtic defended in numbers and snatched a vital three points.